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Thanksgiving Eve by the Numbers

Thanksgiving Eve by the Numbers

by David Klemt

Two shot glasses garnished with salt rim and lemon wedges

Tonight, guests will be looking to celebrate a bar holiday that’s traditionally lucrative for operators: Thanksgiving Eve, a.k.a. Drinksgiving.

It’s difficult to imagine that any operator or hospitality worker is unaware of Thanksgiving Eve’s status.

Sure, some mark the start of end-of-year celebrations with Halloween or Thanksgiving. However, I feel Thanksgiving Eve truly ushers in the holiday season.

I’d also argue that while retailers have Black Friday and Cyber Monday, operators have the night before Thanksgiving. Yes, New Year’s Eve is also huge, but Thanksgiving Eve is considered the busiest night of the year for bars.

Interestingly, this is a holiday that benefits bars across the nation. In fact, it’s not exclusive to destination cities.

After all, the reason it’s so big, traditionally, is that people are traveling back to their hometowns. And while Thanksgiving is for their families, Thanksgiving Eve is for catching up with childhood and high school friends.

Obviously, there are fantastic bars located in cities outside of their destination counterparts. Hot take, I know.

So, does Thanksgiving Eve deserve its hype ?

The Evidence

Unfortunately, data from 2020 isn’t readily available, for obvious reasons.

However, we do have some data, largely thanks to restaurant management and POS platform Upserve.

One of the simplest ways to analyze Thanksgiving Eve’s impact is to compare it to the previous Wednesday.

Per Upserve, guest counts rose 23 percent in 2018 when compared to the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving Eve.

Looking at data from more than 10,000 restaurants and bars, Upserve found that guest count totaled 496,883 on November 14, 2018. One week later, that number rose to 643,637.

As Upserve content marketing coordinator Stephanie Resendes says in her Thanksgiving Eve article, “More people = more money.”

Of the 10,000-plus Upserve clients whose data was analyzed, net sales were $17.250 million on the Wednesday preceding Thanksgiving Eve 2018. That number jumped to $22.296 million.

So, looking just at a relatively small sample size from 2018, Thanksgiving Eve’s impact doesn’t seem overblown.

The Drinks

According to Upserve, beer was the year-over-year winner through 2018. It saw the most growth by far on Thanksgiving Eve 2018 when compared to the Wednesday prior and the same period in 2017.

Spirits and wine, at least for Thanksgiving Eve 2018, were nearly tied for second place.

Now, looking at the data for Thanksgiving Eve 2019, spirits saw the most growth overall. Resendes shared that shot sales increased 173 percent on Thanksgiving Eve 2019 when compared to the Wednesday prior.

Tequila led the charge for spirits, rising 156 percent. Vodka saw a 144-percent boost, rum increased 120 percent, whiskey went up 65 percent, and gin saw a lift of 47 percent. For its part, beer sales rose 65 percent.

Not content to simply look at traffic and sales numbers, Upserve also split their clients into four regions. In this way, they identified who parties hardest on Thanksgiving Eve and who needs to ramp things up.

The four regions and their net sales growth from Thanksgiving Eve 2019 compared to the Wednesday prior are below:

  • Midwest: 34 percent
  • Northeast: 34 percent
  • South: 33 percent
  • West: 22 percent

Clearly, there was still growth in the Western region. However, the Midwest and Northeast led the way, with the South just behind them.

We’ll have to wait to see how Thanksgiving Eve 2021 plays out. We’re still waiting on the numbers from 2020. However, Upserve’s data shows that Thanksgiving Eve remains crucial to restaurants and bars throughout America.

Image: Alena Plotnikova on Unsplash

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As Guests Learn More, Luxury Grows

As Guests Learn More, Luxury Grows

by David Klemt

Luxury concept featuring Champagne coupes on silver tray

Consumers are drinking better and the luxury categories of several spirits, wine and Champagne are benefitting.

Interestingly, this growth no longer appears to be driven solely by a desire to stand out and be seen.

Instead, according to one Bar Hacks podcast guest, consumers seem to be more carefully allocating their dollars.

Luxury Continues to Rise

The word “luxury” tends to conjure thoughts of expensive, high-end items.

Indeed, that’s certainly still a part of luxury. However, the concept of luxury as unattainable to most people is seemingly falling to the wayside.

Maxime Lecocq, Prestige sales manager in Las Vegas for Pernod-Ricard, shares a similar thought on episode 56 of Bar Hacks.

“The consumption style started to change during the pandemic,” says Lecocq. “So, people are more careful on what they’re drinking, where they’re spending their money.”

Intriguingly, Lecocq doesn’t mean that people were looking to spend as little as possible. Rather, they wanted higher quality for their dollars.

“Instead of having just any Scotch, they’re gonna research more,” Lecocq says. “Instead of spending, like, $25, they’re gonna be like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna spend $40 but I’m gonna be more careful about what I’m gonna drink.'”

As far as Lecocq is concerned, consumers doing more research is benefiting the luxury segment.

Why does he think that? Because it appears that research is leading consumers to spend more on luxury spirits and wine.

Numbers Support Luxury Growth

Early last month, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) shared their research into luxury spirits.

DISCUS data shows that during the period from 2015 to 2020, luxury spirits brands saw sales growth of 125 percent. Further, looking at the first half of 2021, luxury spirits volume is up 25 percent.

For the curious, DISCUS considers any brand that sells 750mL bottles at retail for $50 or more to fall within the luxury segment. So, $10 more than the example Lecocq provides during his Bar Hacks appearance.

There are six luxury categories tracked by DISCUS: American whiskey, Cognac, Irish whiskey, Japanese whisky, Single Malt Scotch, and Tequila.

On his podcast episode, Lecocq discussed three of those categories: Cognac, Single Malt Scotch, and Tequila.

Growth Categories

Per DISCUS, American whiskey has seen annual growth since 2015 of 41 percent. For Japanese whisky, that rate of growth is 42 percent.

Irish whiskey and Single Malt Scotch are also healthy annual growth. However, Irish whiskey’s annual growth is only a third of that of its Japanese counterpart at 14-plus percent.

Single Malt Scotch, in the first half of 2021, is up 5.6 percent.

According to DISCUS, Cognac’s annual growth is nearly 16 percent. Lecocq posits that this rise in interest in Cognac is down to shifting consumer perception.

Once thought of as “your grandparents’ drink,” younger consumers are now more eager to explore this type of brandy.

It’s perhaps tequila that sees the most interesting growth. Given its explosive and seemingly unwavering popularity, I thought the luxury tequila category would see growth in excess of 42 percent.

However, per DISCUS, luxury tequila brands are up 30.7 percent annually since 2015. Obviously, that’s impressive growth, and the category represents 28 million bottles sold.

That’s more than American, Irish, Japanese and Single Malt Scotch whiskeys combined.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that operators should abandon their less expensive spirits and wines. It does, however, show that consumers are willing to pay more for what they perceive to be higher quality brands.

Image: Billy Huynh on Unsplash

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Get Ready for Old Fashioned Week

Get Ready for Old Fashioned Week

by David Klemt

Old Fashioned Cocktail on bar

Old Fashioned Week is returning for its second year to raise money for the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation.

The RWCF is a non-profit restaurant and bar worker advocacy and action organization.

In its inaugural year, Old Fashioned Week set and met a goal of raising $100,000. This year, the goal and mission are the same: Raise $100,000 to help hospitality workers financially.

How to Participate

Lynn House, national spirits specialist and portfolio mixologist for Heaven Hill, shares the details of Old Fashioned Week on episode 52 of the Bar Hacks podcast.

Over the course of nine days, October 15 through 24, Elijah Craig is celebrating the bourbon cocktail they feel best showcases America’s native spirit.

Old Fashioned Week is another win-win-win restaurant and bar promotion. Operators can drive in-person and to-go (where legal) traffic, consumers enjoy an iconic cocktail while supporting the industry, and struggling hospitality workers can receive financial assistance.

Luckily, participating in this philanthropic campaign is simple. First, operators can use their social media channels and guest database to let people know they’re celebrating Old Fashioned Week. Publish posts, send emails, and send out marketing texts.

Second, operators can use the “contact us” form on the Old Fashioned week website. From there, they can ask to have their venue included in the ZIP code search function.

Third, anyone can post pictures of their Old Fashioned to social media. Simply include #OldFashionedWeek and tag Elijah Craig. The brand will donate $5 to the RWCF for every properly hashtagged and tagged photo.

Like I said, it’s simple to participate and raise money for those in need.

Elijah Craig Old Fashioned

Hey, you can make your Old Fashioned however you want. However, if you want to make the signature Elijah Craig Old Fashioned, see below:

Elijah Craig signature Old Fashioned cocktail

Add bitters, simple syrup, Elijah Craig Small Batch, and ice to a mixing glass. Stir—do not shake!—until well chilled. Strain cocktail over a large ice cube in a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a swath of orange and a brandied cherry.

If you’d like to make this classic how Lynn House does, add four dashes of bitters instead of three. Two dashes of Angostura bitters, two dashes of Regan’s orange bitters.

Image: Paige Ledford on Unsplash

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The 30 Days of Bourbon Challenge

The 30 Days of Bourbon Challenge

by David Klemt

Bourbon barrels resting in Buffalo Trace rack house

Today marks the start of Bourbon Heritage Month, the celebration of America’s native spirit.

Unlike National Bourbon Day, which takes place in the US on June 14, September provides us with a monthlong bourbon celebration.

I, for one, couldn’t be more excited to revisit some of the bottles in my home bar.

But there’s another way to celebrate Bourbon Heritage Month. And operators can participate.

Bourbon & Banter

In 2011, bourbon devotee and advocate Patrick Garrett founded Bourbon & Banter.

A team of devoted contributors soon followed and developed.

Bourbon & Banter’s initial mission was simple but powerful: “to spread the Bourbon Gospel.”

However, over the course of ten years, that mission has evolved. A robust community has formed around Bourbon & Banter. Today’s mission is to continue building that community while helping others “drink curious.”

Bourbon & Banter reviews bottles, keeps readers and followers current with relevant news and events, sells merchandise, and more.

But there’s something else this dedicated bourbon bunch does. Something that celebrates Bourbon Heritage Month.

30 Days of Bourbon

Normally, the first of the month is reserved by KRG Hospitality for a roundup of weird holidays. However, we’re disrupting our regular programming in the name of bourbon.

Bourbon & Banter is challenging bourbon aficionados, casual bourbon drinkers, and the bourbon-curious to participate in a monthlong challenge.

The premise of 30 Days of Bourbon is simple: drink a new bourbon every day for the entirety of September.

Equally as simple are the rules:

  • Only bourbons count. Sure, drink whatever you want. But only bourbon counts toward the challenge.
  • Tennessee whisky counts, as technically it’s bourbon. We don’t make the rules for whiskey or this challenge, so don’t @ us.

Speaking of technicalities, Bourbon & Banter provides the following in terms of what differentiates one bourbon from another:

  • Mash bills within a single brand: Each of Four Roses ten mash bills are unique and therefore count as individual bourbons. The same holds true for their limited editions and Small Batch blend.
  • Single barrel bourbons: Using Blanton’s as the example, the stoppers don’t indicate separate bourbons—the barrels do. So, look for different barrels or they don’t count as different bourbons.
  • Proof: Bourbon & Banter says Evan Williams Black and Green Labels are the same but that White Label is different due to the rules for bonded bourbons.
  • Non-distiller producer (NDP) bourbons such as those from MGP count as the final products differ from one another so greatly.

Accept the Challenge

Bourbon & Banter have created a convenient 30 Days of Bourbon calendar. beyond that, they’ve also made logo overlays for participants to use as they post about their progress.

Operators can participate by offering a special or otherwise highlighting a different bourbon each day in September. Encourage guests to return and track their progress using Bourbon & Banter’s calendar.

Use social media to announce the day’s bourbon or mark personal progress. Operators and participants should use the hashtags #30DaysOfBourbon and #BourbonHeritageMonth.

Obviously, operators should give credit to Bourbon & Banter for this challenge and their calendar, so make sure to tag their accounts: Instagram, Twitter and, Facebook. Also, visit them on YouTube and check out their Patreon.

Additionally, Bourbon & Banter has been asking participants to donate $30 to the charity of their choice during the 30 Days of Bourbon challenge for the last five years. Founder Garrett has also been rewarding participants with bourbon-related prizes randomly.

Of course, operators can also come up with their own rewards for completing the challenge at their venue.


Image: Josh Collesano on Unsplash

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How About Some Cheese with that Scotch?

How About Some Cheese with that Scotch?

by David Klemt

Cheese plate with Brie, Parmesan, Pepperjack and white Cheddar cheeses

On Tuesday, July 27, America celebrates National Scotch Day.

Of course, we could round up an array of tempting bottles. However, we’re going in a different direction for this spirited holiday.

Instead of a roundup, we’re sharing cheese and Scotch pairings sure to pique the interest of your guests.

As our Bar Hacks Podcast listeners we know, we love a bonus. So, you’ll also find wine pairings below. You can use those on Sunday, July 25, National Wine & Cheese Day.

So, please share two of our favorite things, interesting food and beverage pairings and bonuses. Cheers!

Lighter Expressions

Scotches with lighter, mellower profiles and sweet, fruit or citrus flavors require pairings that won’t overpower them. Of course, being lighter doesn’t make them any less complex or mean they lack in sophistication.

Comté (French, cow’s milk)

Versions of Comté that have some age on them (18 or 24 months) are known for salty, earthy and creamy notes. Generally speaking, quality Comté is also known for hazelnut and buttery aromas and flavors. These pair well with Scotches with fruit and vanilla on the palate, like those aged in ex-bourbon barrels. (Wine pairings: Bordeaux, Champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir)

Gruyère (Swiss, cow’s milk)

So, you want to pair a Scotch that was aged in ex-Sherry casks with the perfect cheese. You want to offer a Gruyère here, as the nutty, garlicky and oniony notes of some versions will enhance—not overpower—the fruity, mellow notes and smoothness of the Scotch. Interestingly, some Gruyères resemble Comté. (Wine pairings: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chianti, Malbec, Syrah)

Manchego (Spanish, sheep’s milk)

The richness of Manchego stands up to Scotches with citrus, vanilla, spice, and honey notes. Look for curado (aged three to six months) and viejo (aged 12 to 24 months) for the best aromas and flavors. (Wine pairings: Cava, Merlot, Rioja, Tempranillo)

Brie (French, cow’s milk)

This variety of cheese tends toward the subtle, with nutty notes. Brie plays well with Scotches that have fruity and sweet notes. (Wine pairings: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc)

Parmesan (Italian, cow’s milk)

Speaking of nutty flavors, Parmesan pairs well with lighter Scotches that have bright citrus notes or earthier profiles. (Wine pairings: Lambrusco, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Grigio, Prosecco)

Camembert (French, cow’s milk)

Another great selection for lighter Scotches. Camembert features sweet, floral notes that don’t overpower Scotches that also have sweet flavors. (Wine pairings: Champagne, Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc)

Feta (Greek, French, sheep’s milk, goat’s milk)

Interestingly, Feta has seen quite a rise in popularity with home chefs during the pandemic. So, give guests what they want and may have been cooking with themselves. Feta’s tanginess enhances the sweetness and fruitiness of lighter Scotches. (Wine pairings: Albariño, Champagne, Lambrusco, Riesling)

Heavier Expressions

Big, bold, full-bodied. Smoky and peaty. More intense Scotches need rich, sharp, and, oftentimes, creamy cheeses that can stand up to them.

Roquefort (French, sheep’s milk)

A blue cheese like Roquefort is sharp, rich and creamy, so it provides balance to smoky Scotches. (Wine pairings: Ice wine, Riesling, Sauterne, Sherry)

Stilton (English, Irish, cow’s milk)

Stilton, another blue cheese, is not as sharp as Roquefort and some others. However, it has a full body and its finish can be intense. That means it works well with rich, peaty Scotches. (Wine pairings: Gewürztraminer, Port, Riesling, Sherry)

Gouda (Dutch, cow’s milk)

Gouda, with a smoky profile itself, pairs with peaty, smoky Scotches. (Wine pairings: Barbera, Grüner Veltliner, Lambrusco, Zinfandel)

Cheddar (English, cow’s milk)

Have a Scotch that’s heavier on woody, oaky notes than smoke? Cheddar—and there are many options to choose from—plays well with such Scotches. (Wine pairings: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cava, Champagne, Chardonnay)

Remember that executing a pairing at its highest level means including the staff. This will help them sell pairings, upsell pairings, and identify pairings in the first place.

Dietary note: Make sure to read the labels of the cheeses you put on your menu. If any cheese has animal rennet, they’re not fit for vegetarians or vegans to consume.

Image: Jennifer Murray from Pexels

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7 Whiskeys for National Bourbon Day

7 Whiskeys for National Bourbon Day

by David Klemt

Lux Row Distillers Blood Oath Pact No. 7 bourbon whiskey

We celebrate America’s native spirit on June 14, National Bourbon Day.

Certainly, this is a mainstream holiday more than worthy of celebrating. We definitely don’t need an excuse to enjoy a dram and a cocktail, but it’s great to have one at the ready anyway.

Of course, there are far too many labels out there for us to list and honor them all. So, we’ve chosen seven bottlings that span a decent range of prices.


$50 and Under

Evan Williams 1783 Small Batch (Kentucky), $20 SRP

Perhaps owing to their affordable prices, a lot of people tend to sleep on Evan Williams. However, their bottles routinely end up on bartender go-to lists. Their 1783 Small Batch pays homage to the year Williams founded Kentucky’s first distillery,

Wyoming Whiskey National Parks Limited Edition American Whiskey (Wyoming), $50 SRP

Are you and your guests big fans of our beautiful national parks? If so, Wyoming Whiskey National Parks Limited Edition is the perfect whiskey! This straight bourbon, which features Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park on its label, is a five-year-old, 92-proof homage to our natural resources. For every bottle sold, Wyoming Whiskey is donating $50 to the National Park Foundation.

$51 to $99

Woodford Reserve Double Oaked (Kentucky), $57 SRP

If you and your guests are looking for one of the smoothest expressions of Woodford, Double Oaked is the one. This whiskey starts its life as Distiller’s Select but receives a second barreling in virgin, charred-oak barrels. And Double isn’t smooth enough for you, there’s always Double Double

Russell’s Reserve 13 Year Bourbon (Kentucky), $69.99 SRP

The Russell’s Reserve label is part of the Wild Turkey portfolio and honors Master Distiller Jimmy Russell’s legacy. Master Distiller Eddie Russell is Jimmy’s son, has been producing whiskey for Wild Turkey for 40 years, and, like his father, is Kentucky Bourbon Hall of Fame inductee. The Russell’s Reserve 13 Year bottling is, of course, 13 years old, and it rings in at 114.8 proof.

Blood Oath Pact No. 7 (Kentucky), $99 SRP

The Blood Oath series is part of the Lux Row Distillers portfolio. Like Orphan Barrel releases, each Blood Oath release, known as a Pact, is highly sought after. In fact, if you don’t get your hands on one right away, the prices can double or more on the secondary market. Blood Oath Pact No. 7 is a blend of three Kentucky bourbons: one 14 year and two eight years.

$100 and Over

Heaven’s Door & Redbreast 10-Year Master Blenders’ Edition (Tennessee), $99.99 SRP

Alright, so this one is only a penny under $100—we’re rounding up for this one. As the name of this straight bourbon suggests, this is a collaboration between Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door and Redbreast Irish Whiskey. Master Blender’s Edition features 10-year-old Heaven’s Door bourbon given a 15-month finishing treatment in 12-year-old Redbreast casks.

Copper Tongue Orphan Barrel (Tennessee), $100 SRP

As with Lux Row Distillers releases, Orphan Barrel is highly sought after and highly collectible. Aficionados and fans in the know will go out of their way to score a dram if they can find it. Coppper Tongue will be no different, a 16-year-old, cask-strength straight bourbon weighing in at 89.8 proof. The distillery recommends enjoying it neat or, interestingly, with a slice of pear.

Image: Lux Row Distillers

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Play with High West, Protect the Plains

Play with High West, Protect the Plains

by David Klemt

Prairie Dash mobile game from High West and American Prairie

For a limited time, you can help help protect the Great Plains of Montana just by playing a fun mobile game.

High West and American Prairie are partnering for a short time to raise $50,000.

The money from playing Prairie Dash will go toward conserving Montana’s Great Plains.

A Dash of Conservation

High West has long been supportive of conservation efforts throughout the West. For every game of Prairie Dash people play, the distillery will donate $1 to American Prairie, up to $50,000.

Proceeds from sales of High West American Prairie Bourbon from the distillery’s online store or Drizly will also go to American Prairie.

The game is simple but, of course, challenging to play. Using your thumbs, you’re trying to get a pronghorn to its actual, real-world top speed: 61 MPH.

Interesting aside you can share this month while you’re serving guests or out for a drink, the pronghorn is known as the American antelope. However, the Great Plains mammal is most closely related to giraffes.

Each time you get the pronghorn to its top speed, you’ll be presented with a different obstacle-clearing challenge.

The Leaderboard

Players are given a number of entries depending on their scores. So, the higher you score, the more entries you’ll have the opportunity to submit.

The prize, beyond helping conserve the West during Outdoors Month, is incredible.

One winner will head to High West’s distillery in Park City, Utah, for a one-of-a-kind, curated experience.

So, click this link to play Prairie Dash—the game will only be available through the end of June.

“We are committed to celebrating and conserving the beauty and nature of the West, the place we call home. With the launch of Prairie Dash, we’re excited to bring that mission to life and provide both High West loyalists and new brand fans with a chance to take part in the efforts,” says High West general manager Daniel Schear. “American Prairie is truly one of the most fantastic projects of our time, and it’s been an honor to work alongside their team to protect today’s Western habitats for future generations to come. We invite our community to join in on the movement, too, all while enjoying a little friendly competition and sipping on one of our favorites, American Prairie Bourbon.”

Good luck! See you on the leaderboard.

Image courtesy of High West

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The Next Spirits Billionaire?

The Next Spirits Billionaire?

by David Klemt

Close-up of one hundred dollar bill

A recent deal involving a whiskey brand is set to help welcome another member to the exclusive Celebrity Spirits Billionaire’s Club.

Three-division UFC fighter. Two-division champion. Entrepreneur. Billionaire? Conor McGregor may add another comma to his bank account.

Proximo Spirits and Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey will continue their relationship long-term after agreeing to a nine-figure deal.

The terms of the Proper-Proximo agreement are confidential. However, the consensus is that Proper No. Twelve is going to make MMA star Conor McGregor a billionaire.

Money McGregor

One detail that isn’t exactly confidential is the overall value of the Proper-Proximo agreement.

McGregor and his business partners sold their majority stake in the popular Irish whiskey brand. It’s believed the deal is worth up to $600 million, or nearly €500 million.

However, how much of that $600 million is going to McGregor is unknown at this time.

To be clear, McGregor has a ways to go before he becomes a billionaire. Of course, he’s closer than most of us

Per reporting from The Irish Post, Proper No. Twelve is going to make McGregor the first billionaire Irish athlete.

“The terms of the agreement are confidential, however, the most important thing is Conor McGregor will remain a stakeholder of Proper No. Twelve, the brand that will make him a billionaire,” says Karen Kessler, a spokesperson for the former MMA champion.

Rapid Growth

It’s important to remember that Proper No. Twelve is just a few years old. That detail highlights the impressiveness of this deal.

Remember, Proper No. Twelve only launched in 2018. Since then, the brand has shipped over six million bottles. Proper No. Twelve is set to enter additional international markets moving forward.

Mike Keyes, president and CEO of Proximo Spirits, certainly seems to believe Proper No. Twelve isn’t “just another” celebrity spirits brand.

“It is rare to see a celebrity impact a brand the way Conor McGregor has Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey, and I have not seen many brands in the spirits industry catapult to this level of success in such a short period of time,” says Keyes. “This agreement is a vote of confidence in the incredible potential of this brand and a testament to the incredible work of Conor, Audie, Ken and the Proper No. Twelve team, as well as the efforts of Proximo and its distributors, who have all made this success possible.”

Celebrity Spirits Billionaire’s Club

Before proceeding, it must be mentioned that McGregor doesn’t consider himself a celebrity. According to him, “I’m not a celebrity. I break people’s faces for money and bounce.”

Regardless, the face-breaker money-maker is among an elite group of celebs with stakes in lucrative spirits brands.

We’re all well aware of George Clooney’s success with Casamigos, the brand he and his business partners sold for $700 million. There’s another $300 million in it for them if the brand hits performance goals over the next several years.

Diddy’s collaboration with Diageo, which includes CÎROC Vodka and DeLeón Tequila, is pumping up the artist and entrepreneur’s net worth. It seems quite likely that when he reaches billionaire status, it will be in no small part to the success of the Diageo brands.

Like McGregor, Ryan Reynolds got involved in spirits brand ownership in 2018. Retaining his ownership stake in Aviation Gin may catapult the actor, entrepreneur and social media slayer to billionaire status.

Jay Z is a wildly successful entrepreneur. In 2019, the empire he built made him a billionaire. Ace of Spades (Armand de Brignac) reportedly made Jay over $300 million midway through June 2019. D’USSE scored him an estimated $100 million. Jay Z launched luxury cannabis brand Monogram, sure to add much more to his net worth.

Why Should You Care?

Operators, their employees, and their friends and families continue to struggle in 2021. Our industry has fought endless battles. America’s operators just began the process of receiving specific relief yesterday.

So, it can be difficult to discuss the net worth of celebrities given what people are going through. The topic can come across as insensitive. That is by no means lost on me.

Were any of the brands in this post reliant solely on celebrity endorsement, I wouldn’t bother including them. The fact is, the success of these brands relies on consumer demand.

Celebrity endorsement only goes so far—if the product sucks, the shine will wear off and consumers will move on. And today’s consumer moves on quickly. There’s always something shinier, always a celebrity name with more gravitas.

Proper No. Twelve, Aviation, Casamigos, DeLeón, CÎROC, D’USSE, and Ace of Spades are past the honeymoon phase of brand adoption. Consumers have spoken, and these are among the brands they want and expect to see on menus. Your menus.

You certainly don’t need to stock these or any other celebrity brands. Just don’t be surprised if guests become frustrated if they can’t get them at your restaurant or bar.

That goes for any brand. Listen to your guests and what they’re asking for from you. Charge your front-of-house team with doing the same and encourage them to report back to you what they’re hearing from guests. One of the easiest ways to inspire repeat visits and refresh your menu is to simply listen.

Image: Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

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Multi-gen Recipe Becomes RTD

Multi-gen Recipe Becomes RTD

by David Klemt

Fishers Island Lemonade cans and flavors

Not just another RTD, Fishers Island Lemonade is a premium brand that transforms a multi-generational recipe into a can cocktail.

Now, the brand is launching four new expressions, right in time for summer.

Let’s take a look at these craft RTD cocktails.

A Recipe with History

There’s only one place to drink on Fishers Island in New York, the Pequot Inn. The restaurant and bar is known for its signature cocktails.

One intrepid member of the Shillo family, who owned the Pequot for more than two decades, is putting her spin on one of the signature cocktails into cans.

Bronya Shillo tended bar at the Pequot when it was under her family’s ownership. She launched Fishers Island Lemonade (FIL) in 2014.

FIL’s original expression is a 9.0-percent blend of premium vodka, barrel-aged whiskey, lemon and honey. Now, the Original spiked lemonade has four new friends: Spiked Tea, Pink Flamingo, Fizz, and Frozen Spirits Pops.

Brand Expansion

Like Original FIL, the brand’s new lineup consists of signature cocktail recipes. In fact, you’ll find several FIL recipes on the brand’s website.

FIL Spiked Tea and Pink Flamingo both ring in at 7.0 percent ABV. The former is the original recipe with black tea, while the latter is made with cranberry.

Fishers Island Fizz is the lower-ABV version of Original FIL, coming in at a more sessionable 5.0 percent ABV.

Fishers Island Lemonade Frozen Spirits Pops

Perfect for summer, FIL Frozen Spirits Pops are exactly what they sound like: popsicles made with Original FIL.

Finding FIL

Currently, FIL is available in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

However, the brand is utilizing direct-to-consumer sales to reach consumers across America. FIL is also available on Drizly.

A four-pack of FIL RTDs have an SRP of $15.99. The Frozen Spirits Pops come in ten-packs with an SRP of $27.99.

Images provided by Fishers Island Lemonade

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Are You Ready for St. Patrick’s Day?

Are You Ready for St. Patrick’s Day?

by David Klemt

Green neon "DRINKS" sign on brick wall

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Operators need to make sure they’re ready for in-person, delivery and takeout guests eager to celebrate.

An interesting element for this year’s holiday is that many people will be celebrating at home. That makes themed delivery, takeout and pickup packages important.

Over the past 12 months, consumers have grown to correlate drinking occasions with drinking at home. That shift in behavior can make it more challenging to succeed with holidays.

Of course, challenges also present opportunities. Working from and drinking at home has made weekday day-drinking more common. Operators can leverage new behaviors to offer in-person, delivery and takeout packages starting earlier for St. Patrick’s Day.

Such packages can include Irish Coffees for the morning or early lunch, Irish beers for lunch or dinner, Irish whiskey and beer packages for dinner and late-night…you get the idea. Classic and modern riffs on St. Patrick’s Day food mainstays are also a crucial element. The key is to get creative with inventory and offers, attracting a combination of in-person and off-premise consumers.

To give you a helping hand, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite Irish, Canadian and America whiskeys. We’re including the standards but also focusing on innovative and single malt expressions that boost guest spends and overall revenue.

Irish Whiskeys

One thing all operators know when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day: Irish whiskey and high-visibility brands must be represented.

After all, according to the Spirits Business, Irish whiskey generated well over $1 billion for distillers last year in the United States alone.

Jameson, Bushmills, Tullamore DEW, Kilbeggan and Redbreast shine on St. Patrick’s Day. Proper No. 12 is just a few years old but is on its way to becoming a St. Patrick’s standard.

In markets that can bear it, premiumization can help generate more revenue during this year’s holiday.

There’s nothing wrong with OG Jameson but consider premiumization with Jameson Black Barrel or 18 Years, which is finished in first-fill barrels.

When it comes to Bushmills, the original expression is great. Rare Cask 01, however, is the distillery’s Cognac cask premium dram.

For the adventurous guest, Cider Cask Finish, XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, and Old Bonded Warehouse Release from Tullamore DEW will get their attention.

Operators who feature Kilbeggan would do well to consider premiumization in the forms of Single Pot Still and Small Batch Rye.

Redbreast 12 Cask Strength and Redbreast Lustau are undeniable elevations of traditional Irish whiskey.

Canadian Single Malts

When people hear or think about St. Patrick’s Day, they tend to immediately leap to Irish whiskey. However, this holiday can be a time to highlight whiskeys from other countries.

Central City crafts Lohin McKinnon Single Malt with “pure British Columbia” water, per their website. The distiller recommends adding a splash cold, filtered water, a tip you can share with your guests.

Another Central City single malt takes Canadian in an interesting direction. Lohin McKinnon Tequila Barrel Finished instills single malt with unique flavors.

Eau De Claire boasts the distinction of being Alberta’s first craft distillery and first single malt whisky producers. The distillery uses only Alberta barley and rye to craft their liquid.

American Single Malts

There are a number of superlative American single malt whiskeys to consider promoting on St. Patrick’s Day.

Westland produces American single malt in Seattle, Washington. The distillery’s Outpost Range—Garryana, Colere, and Solum—celebrates American tradition, innovation and Pacific Northwest provenance.

Westward aims to craft and bottle the spirit of the American Northwest. Westward Pinot Noir Cask and Stout Cask elevate the distillery’s American single malts.

Those searching for a Rocky Mountain single malt need look no further than Stranahan’s. Each of their expressions is thoughtfully crafted, so it can be hard to choose just one. However, Blue Peak is interesting because it undergoes high-altitude distillation and is also finished using the Solera Method.

Also hailing from Colorado is Deerhammer. The distillery’s American Single Malt mash bill can experience temperature swings of well over 40 degrees in a single day.

Image: Stéphan Valentin on Unsplash