Author: krghospitality

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The Power of an ImpactMAP™

The Power of an ImpactMAP™

by Doug Radkey

KRG Hospitality ImpactMAP, main image

Let’s be honest, the line between success and failure often hinges on the ability to act decisively and act with purpose.

In this article, we’re going to explore two areas of your hospitality business that are under your control: creating a plan, and taking action.

Understanding the Risk of Inaction

The concept surrounding the Risk of Inaction—arguably a new form of ROI—captures the potential losses businesses face when they fail to take strategic actions.

Inaction in the hospitality industry can manifest in various harmful ways. Inaction can also stem from multiple sources: fear of change, lack of resources, or simply underestimating the competition.

Regardless of the manifestation or cause, the consequences are usually the same: stagnation, decline, and, ultimately, a shuttered business.

Let’s put this into context by taking a look at a sample of both a restaurant and a hotel business.

Failure to Innovate

If a restaurant does not act to continuously re-engineer its menu, it risks diminishing profits, providing a low-level guest experience, and mismanaging inventory. Without regular strategic updates, the menu may fail to reflect current culinary trends and guest preferences, which can lead to a decrease in interest and satisfaction.

Additionally, sticking with a static menu can prevent the restaurant from optimizing ingredient use, productivity, and cost-efficiency.

At the end of the day, this lack of adaptation and innovation will result in diminishing sales and profitability, making it difficult for the restaurant to sustain its operations.

Failure to Update Systems

If a hotel on the other hand decides to not use a modern and fully integrated Property Management System (PMS), it risks operating inefficiently and falling behind in today’s technology-driven hospitality environment.

A non-existent, outdated, or fragmented PMS can lead to significant operational issues, such as slow check-in and check-out processes, errors in room availability and booking management, and ineffective communication between different departments. That’s just to name a few crucial issues.

This inefficiency can impact guest experiences negatively, leading to dissatisfaction and potentially harming the hotel’s reputation.

Furthermore, without a modern PMS, a hotel may struggle with data management, limiting its ability to effectively analyze performance metrics, forecast demand, and implement dynamic pricing strategies. These disadvantages will result in lost revenue and reduced competitiveness in a space where guest expectations and operational efficiency are increasingly driven by technological advancements.

In each example above, the risk of inaction leads to missed opportunities and underperformance.

The Power of an ImpactMAP™

To combat the risks associated with inaction, your hospitality business can benefit significantly from developing an ImpactMAP™.

This strategic tool can help you identify where you currently stand, define where you want to go, and outline the steps required to get there, thereby helping you create not only strategic clarity, but drive and accountability.

KRG Hospitality ImpactMAP, flowchart and map

The Assessment

To create an ImpactMAP™ and to take action immediately, you need to first assess your operations.

An assessment of your hospitality business is a comprehensive evaluation process aimed at analyzing various aspects of your business to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement or opportunity. The goal is to gather actionable insights that can help optimize operations, enhance guest experiences, and massively improve your profitability.

The assessment should involve on-site observations, staff interviews, and a deep dive into the following eight categories, culminating in a detailed report that provides recommendations and a strategic plan for future growth and sustainability.

For each of the eight categories, consider a 3x matrix with three responses to the following questions:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • What resources do we need?
  • What’s holding us back?

Then, create a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) goal for each response in your “Where We Want to Go” list.

What are the eight assessment categories?

1. Brand Strategy

Assessment: Review your core values, story, messaging, philosophy, design, and reputation.

Opportunity: Enhance brand alignment across all touchpoints to ensure consistency while refining your brand messaging to better connect with targeted guest profiles.

2. Internal Programming

Assessment: Review your pricing strategy, guest experiences, property / menu / room management systems and programs.

Opportunity: Optimize your offerings based on guest preference data and a profitability analysis, along with potential upgrades to your amenities to enhance guest satisfaction and to compete with today’s market standards. In summary, implement efficiencies to improve guest experiences and operational workflow with a focus on your internal programming.

3. Marketing Plans

Assessment: Review guest profiles, guest journey maps, guest databases, awareness and retention strategies, and your digital marketing portfolio.

Opportunity: Integrate advanced digital marketing techniques to increase reach and engagement while developing targeted promotions and partnerships, and by leveraging data analytics to tailor marketing efforts more precisely to guest behaviors and trends.

4. Tech-Stack Plans

Assessment: Review guest facing technology, POS / PMS system, integrations, and marketing.

Opportunity: Identify current technology gaps and plan for a strategic integration of systems that enhance guest experiences while streamlining operations.

5. Standard Operating Procedures

Assessment: Review of all internal and external systems, plus training programs and SOPs.

Opportunity: Ensuring that all staff are clear on their roles and responsibilities, which enhances overall service quality through the development of standardized procedures that ensure consistency and efficiency across the business. Implement feedback systems to continually refine and improve SOPs based on real-time challenges and successes.

6. People and Culture

Assessment: Review of staff experiences, onboarding, productivity, growth, and retainment.

Opportunity: Strengthen employee engagement through improved communication and support systems. Foster a culture of innovation and openness in which employees feel valued and motivated. Develop leadership from within to enhance management effectiveness and succession planning.

7. Financial Health

Assessment: Review of all financials, including Revenue, COGs, KPIs, Expenses, Debt, and Profit.

Opportunity: Identify cost-saving opportunities without compromising service quality. Explore new revenue streams that align with your brand values and market opportunities. Implement more rigorous financial tracking and forecasting tools (such as technology) to better predict financial trends and react proactively.

8. Mindset

Assessment: Daily habits, work / life balance, decisiveness, communications, and growth-based thinking.

Opportunity: Develop a mindset of continuous improvement among all staff levels (starting with yourself) to foster an environment of excellence. Cultivate resilience by planning for crisis management and business continuity. Promote a guest-centric approach, aligning all business decisions with guest satisfaction and personal development outcomes.

Creating the ImpactMAP™

By following the above 3x strategy for each category, you will have created 24 SMART objectives that will be the foundation of your ImpactMAP™ to move your business forward over the next one to six to 12 months.

Importance of SMART Objectives

What does SMART mean and how does it work?

  • Specific, Clarity, and Focus: SMART objectives provide clear and concise goals that everyone in your business can understand and rally behind. This clarity helps to focus efforts and resources on what’s most important.
  • Measurability and Tracking: By setting measurable goals, your business can track progress and make data-driven decisions. This measurability allows for adjustments to be made in strategies or tactics to ensure the objectives are met.
  • Achievability: Goals that are achievable motivate staff. Setting impossible goals can lead to frustration and disengagement, whereas achievable objectives encourage team effort and commitment.
  • Relevance: Ensuring that each objective is relevant to the broader business goals ensures that every effort made contributes to the overall success of your brand.
  • Timeliness: Incorporating a timeframe provides urgency, a deadline, and accountability, which can help prioritize daily tasks and long-term plans.

However, you shouldn’t try to accomplish all 24 objectives at the same time. Once you’ve set your 24 impactful objectives, prioritizing them is crucial to stabilize your hospitality business and aim for scalable growth.

Best Practices for Prioritizing Objectives

  • Assess Business Needs: Start by conducting that thorough assessment of your business to identify key areas that need improvement.
  • Impact Analysis: Evaluate the potential impact of each objective. Prioritize objectives that offer the greatest benefits in terms of guest satisfaction, revenue growth, and operational efficiency.
  • Resource Availability: Consider the resources available, including budget, people, and technology. Prioritize objectives that align with current resources or where adjustments can be made to accommodate necessary changes.
  • Quick Wins: Identify objectives that can be achieved quickly and with minimal disruption to your ongoing operations. These quick wins can boost morale and provide visible improvements that justify further investments in other areas.
  • Strategic Importance: Some objectives, while not providing immediate benefits, are crucial for long-term success. Prioritize these based on their strategic importance to the business’s future.
  • Stakeholder Input: Engage with various stakeholders, including management, staff, and guests, to gain insights into which objectives they feel are most critical. This can help in aligning the goals with the needs and expectations of those most affected by the changes.
  • Balanced Scorecard: Use a balanced scorecard approach to ensure that objectives across different areas such as guest services, internal processes, financial performance, and learning and growth are all being addressed.
  • Iterative Review: Regularly review the priorities as situations and business dynamics evolve. What may be a priority today might change based on market conditions or internal business changes over the next three to six months.

Once you have your objectives prioritized, it’s time to assign or delegate them as needed and have those assignees (including yourself) take ownership of the objectives with their signature to add another level of accountability.

Implementing the ImpactMAP™

Before starting, ask yourself one final question: What will happen if we don’t take action?

Be detailed and mindful of what the short-term and long-term consequences might be if you don’t act.

Effective implementation of an ImpactMAP™ requires knowledge of these consequences, along with a commitment from all levels of your business. It starts with comprehensive training sessions followed by regular review meetings, which are both essential to assess progress, address challenges, and refine strategies as needed.

Take a SMART-ER approach, which is where you Evaluate and Re-adjust the SMART objectives halfway through the timeline you’ve set.


Risk of inaction is a silent threat that can undermine any business, particularly in this dynamic industry.

Adopting an ImpactMAP™ and making a commitment to take massive action allows you to manage your operations proactively, adapt to changing market conditions, and set a course for sustainable success.

This strategic approach not only mitigates risks but also empowers your hospitality business to thrive in a competitive landscape—but it starts with you and your mindset toward taking action.

Image: KRG Hospitality

KRG Hospitality. Restaurant Business Plan. Feasibility Study. Concept. Branding. Consultant. Start-Up.

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Program for Unique Holidays: June 2024

Program for Unique Holidays: June 2024

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

Do you want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Change how you think about your June holiday programming.

Several holidays are set against every date on the calendar, and this month is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to esoteric.

Pay attention to the “weird” or unique holidays to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing? Why program only around the same holidays as everyone else?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, strange or otherwise. Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

You’ll find suggestions for promotions below. However, the idea behind our monthly holiday promotions roundup is to inspire you and your team to get creative and come up with unique programming ideas.

For our May 2024 holidays list, click here.

June 6: National Gardening Exercise Day

Does your bar, restaurant, or hotel have an herb garden? If so, this is an excellent day to let your guests know about it, and highlight which drinks and dishes feature ingredients from said garden.

June 8: National Rosé Day

Your first instinct may be to feature your still and sparkling rosé wines on this day. However, there are also rosé spirits out there, like vodka and gin. Use this day to make your guests aware of your rosé program. Oh, and June 8 also happens to be World Gin Day, another reason to offer an LTO menu that features rosé gin.

However, you don’t have to stop the festivities on June 8. The next day is Day of La Rioja, and this Spanish province is world-renowned for its winemaking. In fact, there are more than 600 wineries in La Rioja, and some produce rosado or rosato, a.k.a. rosé.

June 10: National Herbs & Spices Day

If your kitchen makes its own spice blends, shout about them to the rooftop on June 10. And if you don’t yet make your own blends but would like to, here’s a tip from Chef Brian Duffy: make ten pounds of it, not just a quart, and store it in a clearly labeled flat tray. You’ll go through it faster than you anticipate if it’s a hit.

June 15: World Tapas Day

Really, who doesn’t love a small plate and sharing with friends? I know I’ve built a meal out of tapas on more than one occasion. Review your menu, get creative, and build your own brand-authentic and concept-specific tapas menu for June 15.

June 16: Turkey Lovers’ Day

This day lands close to the midway point leading to Thanksgiving. So, create a turkey-heavy LTO menu. Turkey tacos, turkey barbacoa burrito bowls, a full-on turkey dinner, turkey breasts…

June 16: World Sustainable Gastronomy Day

I tend to avoid doubling up on holidays but this one is important, so I’m breaking my own “rule.” Leading up to June 16, review your menu and operations to identify what you’re doing that’s producing sustainable dishes. Taking this a step farther, find out where you can improve to be more sustainable, and implement those initiatives by June 16.

June 21: National Take Back the Lunch Break Day

Do you offer pickup or delivery? And are you open for lunch? How fast are your kitchen times? These are all important operational elements to consider, particularly if you want to attract the lunch crowd. Should you feel that your lunch daypart operations are dialed in, lure in guests with intriguing lunch-time promotions.

June 22: National Onion Ring Day

Not only is this the perfect day to boast about your onion rings, it’s an excellent excuse to review their presentation and come up with something impactful and memorable. Consider an array of accompaniments, size and height, and playing with your batter.

June 27: International Pineapple Day

Ah, the pineapple, the international symbol of hospitality. If there was ever a day to go absolutely bonkers with a pineapple-forward F&B LTO menu, this is it!

June 29: National Waffle Iron Day

Who doesn’t love a waffle, particularly a build-your-own waffle? I think you know what to do on this holiday.

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

KRG Hospitality. Bar Consultant. Nightclub. Lounge. Mixology. Cocktails.

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2024 Spirited Awards: Top 10 Nominees

The 2024 Spirited Awards: Top 10 Nominees

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award on top of a bar, next to a cocktail

This is what Shutterstock’s AI thinks a Spirited Award looks like. Close? I guess? Hmm…

Just a month after unveiling their top-ten regional honorees, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation reveals the top-ten nominees for each Spirited Award category.

That’s an impressively quick turnaround for such a monumental task.

So, let’s raise a glass (low-, full-, or zero-proof) to the judges and TOTCF for whittling down each award to just ten nominees.

My Vegas Bias is Showing…

As usual, I’m going to show my bias a bit here. Just two nominees represent Las Vegas, but they’re both incredible.

Nectaly Mendoza is up for Best US Bar Mentor, and his concept Cleaver is a top-ten nominee for Best US Restaurant Bar.

I cut began my hospitality journey in and around Chicago, so cheers to three Windy City bars who have made it to this round of the Spirited Awards.

Best Intentions is still in for Best US Bar Team and Best US Cocktail Bar. Milk Room at the Chicago Athletic Hotel is a top-ten nominee for Best US Hotel Bar, and Kumiko is up against Cleaver and eight other amazing venues for Best US Restaurant Bar.

…But so is My Canadian Bias!

Of course, I also have a “wee bit” of bias when it comes to Canada, given that KRG Hospitality was founded and is headquartered in America’s neighbor to the north. First, congratulations to Kate Boushel! She’s definitely getting the acknowledgement for her leadership and contributions that she deserves. Not only is the revered bartender and mentor a top-ten nominee for International Bartender of the Year, she’s the first Canadian to win the 2024 Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award from North America’s 50 Best Bars.

There are also five Canadian venues in the running for a 2024 Spirited Award.

Atwater Cocktail Club, for which Boushel is the director of beverage and education, is a top-ten nominee for Best International Bar Team. Library Bar at the Fairmont Royal York is in for Best International Hotel Bar. Bar Kismet and Published on Main are both among the ten nominees for Best International Restaurant Bar. So, cheers to Halifax, Montréal, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Setting aside my bias for Vegas-based and Canadian bars, restaurants, and hotels now, congratulations to every nominee on the list below! Each team’s hard work and dedication has earned them the recognition they deserve. Cheers!

US Categories

US Bartender of the Year presented by Pernod Ricard

  • Erika Flowers — Compère Lapin, New Orleans, LA
  • Nicole Giampino — Platform 18/Century Grand, Phoenix, AZ
  • McLain Hedges — Yacht Club, Denver, CO
  • Christine Kim — Service Bar, Washington, D.C.
  • Libby Lingua — Highball, Phoenix, AZ
  • Caer Maiko Ferguson — Drinkwell, Austin, TX
  • Kapri Robinson — Allegory, Washington, D.C.
  • Isabel “Izzy” Tulloch — Milady’s, New York, NY
  • Masa Urushido — Katana Kitten, New York, NY
  • Takuma Watanabe — Martiny’s, New York, NY

Best US Bar Mentor presented Jameson Irish Whiskey

  • Anu Apte
  • Jason Asher
  • Steva Casey
  • Laura Cullen
  • Touré Folkes
  • Kate Gerwin
  • Alex Jump
  • Anne Louise Marquis
  • Nectaly Mendoza
  • Amanda Gunderson and Travis Nass

Best US Brand Ambassador presented Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Tad Carducci — Gruppo Montenegro
  • Cameron George — Ardbeg
  • A-K Hada — Bacardí Rums
  • Benny Hurwitz — Campari American Whiskeys
  • Stephen Kurpinsky — Mr Black Spirits
  • Anna Mains — Monkey Shoulder
  • Mary Palac — Campari Mexican Spirits
  • Aleka Ross — Hotaling & Co
  • Cesar Sandoval —Casa Lumbre Spirits
  • Natasha Sofia — Mijenta Tequila

Best US Bar Team presented by William Grant & Sons

  • Allegory at the Eaton Hotel — Washington, D.C.
  • Best Intentions — Chicago, IL
  • Century Grand — Phoenix, AZ
  • Jewel of the South — New Orleans, LA
  • Martiny’s — New York, NY
  • Milady’s — New York, NY
  • Nickel City — Austin, TX
  • Pacific Cocktail Haven — San Francisco, CA
  • Service Bar — Washington, D.C.
  • Yacht Club — Denver, CO

Best US Cocktail Bar presented by Del Maguey Mezcal

  • Bar Goto — New York, NY
  • Best Intentions — Chicago, IL
  • Double Chicken Please — New York, NY
  • Happy Accidents — Albuquerque, NM
  • Martiny’s — New York, NY
  • Overstory — New York, NY
  • Service Bar — Washington, D.C.
  • Thunderbolt — Los Angeles, CA
  • Trick Dog — San Francisco, CA
  • Yacht Club — Denver, CO

Best US Hotel Bar presented by Grey Goose

  • Allegory at the Eaton Hotel — Washington, D.C.
  • Champagne Bar at the Four Seasons Surf Club — Miami, FL
  • Chandelier Bar at the Four Seasons New Orleans — New Orleans, LA
  • Dear Irving on Hudson at the Aliz Hotel — New York, NY
  • Little Rituals at the Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott — Phoenix, AZ
  • Milk Room at the Chicago Athletic Hotel — Chicago, IL
  • Nubeluz at The Ritz-Carlton New York, NoMad — New York, NY
  • Pacific Standard at the KEX Portland — Portland, OR
  • Raines Law Room at the William — New York, NY
  • The Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt New Orleans — New Orleans, LA

Best US Restaurant Bar presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Accomplice Bar — Los Angeles, CA
  • Amazonia — Washington D.C.
  • Bresca — Washington, DC
  • Cleaver – Butchered Meats, Seafood & Classic Cocktails — Las Vegas, NV
  • Crown Shy — New York, NY
  • Gramercy Tavern — New York, NY
  • Grey Ghost — Detroit, MI
  • Jaguar Sun — Miami, FL
  • Kumiko — Chicago, IL
  • Palomar — Portland, OR

Best New US Cocktail Bar presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Cobra — Columbus, OH
  • Equal Measure — Boston, MA
  • FYPM — Phoenix, AZ
  • Jolie — New Orleans, LA
  • Medium Cool Cocktail Lounge — Miami Beach, FL
  • Murray’s Tavern — Austin, TX
  • Paradise Lost — New York, NY
  • Pretty Decent — Louisville, KY
  • Superbueno — New York, NY
  • Wild Child — Kansas City, MO

International Categories

International Bartender of the Year presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Lorenzo Antinori — Bar Leone, Hong Kong, China
  • Gina Barbachano — Hanky Panky, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Kate Boushel — Atwater Cocktail Club, Milky Way Cocktail Bar, Bon Délire, Montreal, QC, Canada
  • Giulia Cuccurullo — Artesian, The Langham, London
  • Aaron Diaz — Carnaval, Lima, Peru
  • Uno Jang — Jigger & Pony, Singapore
  • Julian Short — Sin + Tax, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Eric van Beek — Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Luke Whearty — BYRDI, Melbourne, Australia
  • Matt Whiley — Re, Sydney, Australia

Best International Bar Mentor presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Simone Caporale
  • Ryan Chetiyawardana
  • Giacomo Giannotti
  • Tato Giovannoni
  • Shingo Gokan
  • Indra Kantono
  • Iain McPherson
  • Danil Nevsky
  • Jean Trinh
  • Christina Veira

Best International Brand Ambassador presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Jenna Ba — Tanqueray
  • Jordan Bushell — Hennessy
  • Claudia Cabrera — Fratelli Branca
  • Jesse Estes —Tequila Ocho
  • Caitlin Hill — Rémy Cointreau
  • Daniyel Jones — House of Angostura
  • Ally Martin — Hendrick’s Gin
  • Dave Mitton — Lot 40 / J.P. Wiser’s
  • Tim Philips-Johansson — Johnnie Walker
  • Charmaine Ann Thio — Hendrick’s Gin

Best International Bar Team presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Atwater Cocktail Club — Montreal, QC, Canada
  • Caretaker’s Cottage — Melbourne, Australia
  • Handshake Speakeasy — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Hanky Panky — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Hope & Sesame Guangzhou — Guangzhou, China
  • Jigger & Pony at the Amara Hotel — Singapore
  • La Factoría — San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Panda & Sons — Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Satan’s Whiskers — London, UK
  • Tayēr + Elementary — London, UK

Best International Cocktail Bar presented by PATRÓN Tequila

  • 🔶🟥🔵— London, UK
  • ALQUÍMICO — Cartagena des Indias, Colombia
  • BYRDI — Melbourne, Australia
  • Handshake Speakeasy — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Kwãnt — London, UK
  • Maybe Sammy — Sydney, Australia
  • Panda & Sons — Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Paradiso — Barcelona, Spain
  • Satan’s Whiskers — London, UK
  • ZEST — Seoul, South Korea

Best International Hotel Bar presented by Fords Gin

  • ARGO at the Four Seasons — Hong Kong, China
  • Bar Trigona at the Four Seasons Hotel — Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • BKK Social Club at Four Seasons Bangkok — Bangkok, Thailand
  • Charles H. at the Four Seasons Hotel — Seoul, South Korea
  • DarkSide at Rosewood Hong Kong — Hong Kong, China
  • Dean & Nancy on 22 at the A by Adina Hotel — Sydney, Australia
  • Fifty Mils at the Four Seasons Hotel — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Library Bar at the Fairmont Royal York — Toronto, ON, Canada
  • Seed Library at One Hundred Shoreditch Hotel — London, UK
  • Side Hustle at The NoMad Hotel London — London, UK

Best International Restaurant Bar presented by Gin Mare

  • ARCA Tulum — Tulum, Mexico
  • Bar Kismet — Halifax, NS, Canada
  • Burnt Ends Bar — Singapore
  • Carico Milano — Milan, Italy
  • Casa Prunes — Mexico City, Mexico
  • CoChinChina— Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • COYA Dubai — Dubai, UAE
  • Danico — Paris, France
  • Published on Main — Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Zuma Dubai — Dubai, UAE

Best New International Cocktail Bar presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Bar Leone — Hong Kong, China
  • Bar Nouveau — Paris, France
  • Bar Us — Bangkok, Thailand
  • Bijou Drinkery Room — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Cat Bite Club — Singapore
  • Dram — London, UK
  • El Primo Sanchez — Sydney, Australia
  • Equal Parts — London, UK
  • FURA — Singapore
  • Tokyo Confidential — Tokyo, Japan

Global Categories

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • DeGroff Bitter Aperitivo
  • Don Fulano 20th Anniversary Añejo
  • Ferrand Dry Curaçao Yuzu Late Harvest
  • J. Rieger & Co. Monogram Whiskey 2023 Kansas City Whiskey – Solera Reserve
  • Joseph Cartron Bergamote
  • La Escondida Sotol Blanco
  • Powers Irish Rye
  • Ten To One Rum Black History Month Artist Edition
  • Worthy Park 109
  • YUZUCO Yuzu Super Juice

World’s Best Cocktail Menu presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Allegory at the Eaton Hotel — Washington, D.C.
  • ALQUÍMICO — Cartagena des Indias, Colombia
  • Angelita — Madrid, Spain
  • Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour — Phoenix, AZ
  • Danico — Paris, France
  • Handshake Speakeasy — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Hope & Sesame — Guangzhou, China
  • Jigger & Pony at the Amara Hotel — Singapore
  • Maybe Sammy — Sydney, Australia
  • Paradiso — Barcelona, Spain

World’s Best Spirits Selection presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Baba Au Rum — Athens, Greece
  • Eleven Madison Park — New York, NY
  • KOL Mezcaleria — London, UK
  • Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library — Portland, OR
  • Origin Bar at the Shangri-La Hotel — Singapore
  • Rumba — Seattle, WA
  • Salón de Agave at Casa Prunes — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Sexy Fish — London, UK
  • The Baxter Inn — Sydney, Australia
  • Tlecān — Mexico City, Mexico

Writing & Media Categories

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Boothby
  • Candra Drinks
  • CLASS magazine
  • Club Oenologique
  • Difford’s Guide
  • Guest Check
  • InsideHook
  • SevenFifty Daily
  • The Cocktail Lovers
  • The Spirits Business

Best Broadcast, Podcast, or Online Video Series presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Bartender At Large
  • Freepour
  • Like•a•ble Cocktails by Kaitlyn
  • no proof with Joshua Gandee
  • Perspectives by Campari Academy
  • Radio Imbibe
  • Served Up the Podcast
  • Shōshin Art Club
  • The Blackbird Podcast by Josh Lindley of Bartender Atlas
  • The Modern Bar Cart Podcast

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • “A New Spirit Confronts the Consequences of Colonialism,” by Adaorah Oduah, for Punch
  • “Facing Rum’s Problematic Past Is Allowing Producers to Embrace the Spirit’s Future,” by Christine Sismondo, for Imbibe
  • “Family Matters: The Mezcal Boom and the Lives of the Families who Make It,” by Noah Arenstein, for Imbibe
  • “Indigenous Women Working in Mezcal Are Ready to Be Recognized for Their Work,” by Shayna Conde, for Wine Enthusiast
  • “Meet the People Keeping Queer Bars Safe,” by Rax Will, for Punch
  • “Mexican Spirits, Philly Energy,” by Craig LaBan, for the Philadelphia Inquirer
  • “Sotol and the Making of the Next Big Drink,” by Rachel Monroe, for The New Yorker
  • “The Ghostly Outline of a Shadow — Tracing the Footsteps of Whiskey Near-Legend of Jokichi Takamine,” by Kara Newman, for Good Beer Hunting
  • “The Martini Whisperer,” by Robert Simonson, for Grub Street
  • “Why Has the Modern Cocktail Movement Ignored the LGBTQ+ Community?” by Brad Japhe, for VinePair

Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • How to Make Better Cocktails: Cocktail Techniques, Pro-Tips and Recipes by Sebastian Hamilton-Mudge, Natalia Garcia Bourke and Andy Shannon
  • Mr Lyan’s Cocktails at Home: Good Things to Drink with Friends by Ryan Chetiyawardana
  • Saved by the Bellini & Other 90s-Inspired Cocktails by John deBary
  • Signature Cocktails by Amanda Schuster
  • Slow Drinks: A Field Guide to Foraging and Fermenting Seasonal Sodas, Botanical Cocktails, Homemade Wines, and More by Danny Childs
  • Strong, Sweet & Bitter by Cara Devine
  • The Book of Cocktail Ratios: The Surprising Simplicity of Classic Cocktails by Michael Ruhlman
  • The Ice Book: Cool Cubes, Clear Spheres, and Other Chill Cocktail Crafts by Camper English
  • TROPICAL STANDARD: Cocktail Techniques and Reinvented Recipes by Garret Richard & Ben Schaffer
  • Wild Drinks: The New Old World of Small-Batch Brews, Ferments and Infusions by Sharon Flynn

Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • A Field Guide to Tequila by Clayton Szczech
  • A Passion for Whisky: How the tiny Scottish island of Islay creates malts that captivate the world by Ian Wisniewsk
  • Hospitality DNA by Dave Nitzel and Dave Domzalski
  • How to Taste: A Guide to Discovering Flavor and Savoring Life by Mandy Naglich
  • ICE: From Mixed Drinks to Skating Rinks–a Cool History of a Hot Commodity by Amy Brady
  • Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs, and Juice: A Cocktail Recipe Book Cocktails from Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks by Toni Tipton-Martin
  • The Absinthe Frappé by Marielle Songy
  • The Encyclopedia of Cocktails by Robert Simonson
  • The Essential Tequila & Mezcal Companion by Tess Rose Lampert
  • The Maison Premiere Almanac Cocktails, Oysters, Absinthe, and Other Essential Nutrients for the Sensualist, Aesthete, and Flaneur: A Cocktail Recipe Book by Joshua Boissy, Krystof Zizka, Jordan Mackay, William Eilliott


The 18th annual Spirited Awards® celebrates global excellence in the drinks industry and recognizes professionals, organizations, and establishments shaping the cocktail community
NEW ORLEANS, LA (May 29, 2024) — Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is honored to announce the Top 10 Nominees for the 18th annual Spirited Awards®. Since its founding in 2007, the Spirited Awards® has become one of the industry’s most sought-after awards, recognizing beverage professionals, products, and establishments across every facet of the spirits and cocktail community on a global scale. In partnership with Forbes–the Spirited Awards® official media partner–TOTCF will honor recipients during the Tales of the Cocktail® (TOTC) conference, which is celebrating its 22nd year in New Orleans, July 21-26, 2024.
The Spirited Awards® are comprised of industry accolades, both domestic and international; writing and media awards; and overall awards that transcend regionality, including World’s Best Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Cocktail Menu.
“Once again we are in awe of the impeccable global talent coming out of our industry, and this year’s Spirited Awards shortlist is no exception,” said Charlotte Voisey, Spirited Awards Overall and International Chair. “We are so impressed by these nominees, their hard work and dedication to creating innovative and exceptional cocktails, and to improving the industry on a global level to provide extraordinary experiences and unmatched hospitality.”
In that spirit, the Foundation is proud to announce the Top 10 Nominees, broken into  International, U.S., Media & Writing, and Global categories.
Note: Please see above, with each category’s finalists listed in alphabetical order, as per Tales of the Cocktail. The categories are in a different order than that of the press release: US Categories, International Categories, Global Categories, and then Writing & Media Categories.

Spirited Awards® 2024

Spirited Awards Top 4 Finalists and the recipients for the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award presented by William Grant & Sons, Visionary Award presented by Johnnie Walker, & International/U.S. Timeless Awards presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation will be named on June 17. All winners will be celebrated on July 25 at the 18th Annual Spirited Awards® Ceremony at the Fillmore New Orleans. Spirited Awards® Ceremony tickets will be available via the TOTCF website on June 17.

Spirited Awards® Judges

Below is a list of Spirited Awards® Chairs, responsible for overseeing the judging process this year:

  • Spirited Awards® Overall Chair
    • Charlotte Voisey
  • Asia Pacific Co-Chairs
    • Sam Bygrave
    • Andrew Ho
    • Symphony Loo
    • Charmaine Thio
  • Canada Co-Chairs
    • Kate Boushel
    • Jonathan Smolensky
  • Europe Co-Chairs
    • Stephanie Jordan
    • Roberta Mariani
  • Latin America & Caribbean Co-Chairs
    • Carlos Aguinsky
    • Georgina Barbachano García
  • Middle East & Africa Co-Chairs
    • Stephen “KOJO” Aidoo
    • Caitlin Hill
    • Nana Sechere
  • U.S. Central Co-Chairs
    • Joshua Gandee
    • Lynn M. House
  • U.S. East Co-Chairs
    • Jackson Cannon
    • Jaymee Mandeville
  • U.S. West Co-Chairs
    • Jason Asher
    • Erin Schaeferle
  • Timeless Co-Chairs
    • Jared Brown
    • Anistatia Miller
  • Writing & Media Co-Chairs
    • Ryan Chetiyawardana
    • Emma Janzen
    • Sandrae Lawrence
Spirited Awards® judges are a collection of respected bartenders, bar owners, educators, and writers from across the globe entrusted with this critical calling. Drawing on their years of experience and their knowledge of the current work being done locally, nationally, and internationally, together the judges can evaluate nominees from far and wide to ensure that the Spirited Awards® represents the breadth and diversity of the global drinks industry.
Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s Spirited Awards® Committee is dedicated to valuing the inclusion of the communities the foundation serves, by ensuring that our judging panel reflects their incredible diversity in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality. Recognizing that inclusion is key to a well-represented committee, TOTCF strives to ensure that we have an equitable representation of gender across the judging panel. The Spirited Awards® are not based on popular vote and all nominations are evaluated by their respective judging committees.

Spirited Awards® Directory

Tales of the Cocktail is pleased to share the Spirited Awards® Directory Giving discerning imbibers a comprehensive compendium of all Spirited Awards® winners and nominees from the past 18 years. This resource is updated annually, making it a go-to guide for planning the perfect drinking and dining itinerary. Access Spirited Awards® Directory to explore award-winning bars.

A Special Thanks: Spirited Awards® Sponsors

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation would like to thank all of its Spirited Awards® sponsors: Del Maguey Mezcal, Diageo Bar Academy, Fords Gin, G. H. Mumm Champagne, Gin Mare, Grey Goose, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Johnnie Walker, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic, PATRÓN Tequila, Pernod Ricard, and William Grant & Sons.
To follow along for additional information on the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, please visit the website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

About Tales of the Cocktail Foundation:

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is a non-profit organization that educates, advances, and supports the global hospitality industry and creates lasting impact in our host communities. Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is the global leader in spirits education and a platform to tackle issues facing the industry. The pillars of the Foundation are to Educate, Advance, and Support the hospitality industry through programs that benefit individuals and organizations in the community and to make a lasting impact in communities that host our events.

About Forbes

Forbes champions success by celebrating those who have made it, and those who aspire to make it. Forbes convenes and curates the most influential leaders and entrepreneurs who are driving change, transforming business and making a significant impact on the world. The Forbes brand today reaches more than 140 million people worldwide through its trusted journalism, signature LIVE and Forbes Virtual events, custom marketing programs and 42 licensed local editions in 68 countries. Forbes Media’s brand extensions include real estate, education and financial services license agreements.

Image: Shutterstock. Disclaimer: This image was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform.

KRG Hospitality. Bar Consultant. Nightclub. Lounge. Mixology. Cocktails.

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Rocky Start to Cali’s Fast-food Wage Hike

Rocky Start to California’s Fast-food Wage Hike

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of a $20 bill with a cheeseburger covering the president's face, in street art style

I instructed AI to draw a cheeseburger on a $20 bill, in street art style. Enjoy.

We’re barely two weeks into the $20-per-hour wage hike for fast-food workers in California and not everyone is happy with the results thus far.

That is, of course, if reports are accurate. However, the stories coming out of the Golden State are raising eyebrows.

On April 1, the minimum wage for fast-food workers in California jumped to $20 per hour. On the surface, AB 1228 appears to be a victory for hourly hospitality professionals employed by fast-food concepts.

Unfortunately, once we go beyond the surface, things aren’t that cut and dry.

Operators in California are implementing all manner of adaptations in response to the state’s minimum wage boost:

  • Increasing menu prices.
  • Cutting staff hours.
  • Reducing staff.
  • Decreasing operating hours.
  • Closing one or more days of the week.
  • Postponing updates and upgrades.
  • Focusing on delivery.
  • Introducing automation.
  • Putting items that require less labor on the menu.
  • Closing locations permanently.

It should go without saying but a wage increase doesn’t do much good if one’s hours are reduced significantly. Further, it does zero good if one’s employer shutters the workplace.

Per reporting, that’s precisely the situation team at one Fosters Freeze location is in currently. On April 1, workers at a Lemoore, California, location received a group text explaining that their restaurant was closing permanently. Understandably, some staff thought the text was an April Fool’s Day prank.

Certainly, the Lemoore Fosters Freeze isn’t the only restaurant closure related directly to the minimum-wage hike. Nor, it seems, will it be the last.

More Pain Points

When people hear about fast-food menu price increases, the assumption is that guests will reduce visits. Or, perhaps they’ll adjust their usual order. Alternately, some people anticipate guests will give their business to a different fast-food brand.

However, there’s another result that some fast-food operators in California are anticipating or experiencing already.

At a certain point, perception of value is affected negatively. Eventually, a consumer will perceive more value in visiting a full-service restaurant than a QSR or LSR. So, it’s likely that fast-food operators in California will lose guests to traditional “sit-down” concepts.

Should that possibility become a reality, traffic will drop. When the traffic drops, workers’ hours are reduced. Some operators, therefore, will lose staff to FSRs; people need to go where the work and money are, after all.

So, beyond the need to adapt to comply with the new minimum-wage law, fast-food operators must compete with FSRs to keep staff and guests.

What’s a Fast Food Restaurant?

Curious about how California defines “fast food restaurant” in AB 1228, I looked up the text of the bill.

The relevant parts are found under section 1474:

“(a) ‘National fast food chain’ means a set of limited-service restaurants consisting of more than 60 establishments nationally that share a common brand, or that are characterized by standardized options for decor, marketing, packaging, products, and services, and which are primarily engaged in providing food and beverages for immediate consumption on or off premises where patrons generally order or select items and pay before consuming, with limited or no table service. For purposes of the definitions in this part, ‘limited-service restaurant’ includes, but is not limited to, an establishment with the North American Industry Classification System Code 722513.”

1474 also includes the following:

“(c) (1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), ‘fast food restaurant’ means a limited-service restaurant in the state that is part of a national fast food chain.”

Interestingly, there’s also this exemption:

“(2) ‘Fast food restaurant’ shall not include an establishment that on September 15, 2023, operates a bakery that produces for sale on the establishment’s premises bread, as defined under Part 136 of Subchapter B of Chapter I of Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, so long as it continues to operate such a bakery. This exemption applies only where the establishment produces for sale bread as a stand-alone menu item, and does not apply if the bread is available for sale solely as part of another menu item.”

Further, AB 610 carves out more exemptions.

Accusations of Corruption

The bakery exemption is fueling accusations of corruption.

Per reports, the exemption is quite favorable for Panera Bread. Why is that particular chain being held up as an example of special treatment and corruption?

As it turns out, should reporting prove accurate, a Panera Bread franchisee and billionaire named Greg Flynn is a Governor Gavin Newsom campaign donor. It’s claimed that Flynn has donated more than $200,000 to Gov. Newsom.

Last month, Flynn, in response to what has been dubbed “PaneraGate,” stated that the minimum wage at his franchise locations would rise to $20 per hour. This announcement was, Flynn claimed, to remain competitive, and in no way a reaction to the controversy surrounding what many perceived to be a favorable exemption for a donor, high school friend, and past business partner.

Again, California is barely two weeks in to this mandated pay rise. To say it’s early days is an understatement. There will be further consequences and adaptations for months and years to come.

So far, however, while many workers and even business owners are happy with the new law, some are already sounding alarms and pushing back.

Image: Shutterstock. Disclaimer: This image was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system.

KRG Hospitality. Restaurant Business Plan. Feasibility Study. Concept. Branding. Consultant. Start-Up.

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XO Night: A New Nightlife Tradition?

Rémy Martin XO Night: A New Nightlife Tradition

by David Klemt

A brand-new release from Rémy Martin seeks to not only solidify itself as a new way to start a night out but also prove Cognac isn’t an old-fashioned drink.

XO Night, the newest member of the Rémy Martin family, is dressed for a night out at the club. Just take a look at the decanter: black, mirrored, and adorned with holographic enhancements.

This is a bottle of Cognac meant to grab attention. There’s no denying that XO Night will stand out on a nightclub back bar. And as far as bottle service…it’s perfect for an over-the-top Las Vegas nightclub-style delivery.

In other words, this isn’t your great-grandfather’s Cognac.

Obviously, the House of Rémy Martin is aiming to alter the perception of Cognac with XO Night. Aesthetically, the bottle is clearly a departure from tradition. Further, by targeting nightlife specifically, Rémy Martin is signaling their interest in courting younger, legal-drinking-age consumers.

Cheekily, Rémy Martin seems willing to set aside tradition to appeal to the nightclub crowd. In fact, the storied Cognac house is taking a shot at changing the way people view Cognac and nightcaps. Rather than a sip intended to signal the end of the evening, Rémy Martin hopes people will choose to begin their night out with XO Night.

In terms of tasting notes, XO Night is XO, but dressed to show out at the club. Expect fruity and floral notes on the nose, and candied orange, spices, ripe plum, and roasted cocoa beans on the palate. The finish is classic XO: smooth, full-bodied, and long.

Personally, I think it’s great to see a Cognac house with nearly three centuries of history thinking about their portfolio differently. Keep an eye out for XO Night activations throughout 2024.


Rémy Martin Reinvents Night-time Celebrations with XO Night Uncapped

NEW YORK, April 9, 2024The House of Rémy Martin, announces the launch of XO Night, a new addition to the Rémy Martin portfolio that lives at the epicenter of night-time celebrations. Radiant, luxurious, and full of life, XO Night is the ultimate cognac of choice for those seeking a new opulent attitude to nightlife.

With Rémy Martin XO Night, the notion of a night uncapped takes on a whole new meaning. Unlike the traditional nightcap which signals the end of the evening, a night uncapped with XO Night signifies the night is just beginning. It’s an invitation to embrace the vibrant energy of the night, to savor every moment, and to revel in the possibilities that lie ahead. Whether enjoying XO Night at a high-end club, a lively rooftop bar, or a chic lounge, each sip of XO Night ignites the senses and sets the stage for unforgettable experiences.

“At Rémy Martin, we’re thrilled to unveil our latest venture into the dynamic world of nightlife. With XO Night, we aim to redefine the traditional nightcap and show how a night uncapped with Rémy Martin has endless possibilities,” says Nicolas Beckers, Chief Executive Officer, Rémy Cointreau Americas. “Through innovative rituals and immersive experiences, we’re engaging our consumers in unforgettable ways, inviting them to unlock new ways to enjoy the night.”


Rémy Martin XO Night dials up the party in a mirrored black decanter. Its signature solarised shape radiates light from every angle. Holographic flashes and UV details ignite it further, with a minimalistic design that pumps up the XO stamp and catches the Rémy Martin Centaur in action.


Rémy Martin will bring XO Night to life with activations throughout the year in key markets across the United States, including New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Miami. These cities are renowned for their dynamic nightlife scenes, making them the perfect backdrop to unveil XO Night and introduce consumers to a night uncapped.


New Rémy Martin XO Night joins Rémy Martin XO classic as a choreographer of celebration. Rémy Martin XO Cognac Fine Champagne is now dressed in two styles, giving you different ways to illuminate every occasion, day or night.

  • Rémy Martin XO Night. The new icon of night-time celebrations. Opulent, edgy and vibrant, XO Night is the go-to cognac for high end clubbing, friends and fun. This is XO dressed for the party.
  • Rémy Martin XO. Rémy Martin XO was launched in 1981 by our Cellar Master André Giraud. It was the first XO composed of eaux-de-vie coming exclusively from Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, thus the first Cognac Fine Champagne XO.


Rémy Martin XO Night captures the creativity of generations. This Cognac Fine Champagne* is a testimony to the magic of assemblage. A rich and unique fusion of eaux-de-vie, the cognac reflects the Maison’s mastery of blending from Cellar Master to Cellar Master. The eaux-de-vie originates from the two prized central crus of the Cognac region, with at least 50% coming from Grande Champagne and the remainder from Petite Champagne. These are extra old, aged for at least 10 years.


Rémy Martin XO boasts a fiery mahogany hue with opal tones, offering a smooth, full-bodied experience. It entices with a powerful yet subtle aroma, featuring fruity notes like plums and dried figs, complemented by hints of honey and floral fragrances. The taste is an astonishing generosity of flavors, from fresh passion fruit enhanced by deeper notes of ripe autumn fruits (mature fig and candied orange) to spicy notes with a hint of nutmeg and freshly ground hazelnuts. The aromas of XO unfurl gradually throughout the tasting, finishing with gourmet notes of roasted cocoa beans, honey, and gingerbread.

For more information, please see HERE and follow along on social media at:

Instagram @RemyMartinUS | Twitter @RemyMartinUS | Facebook RemyMartinUSA

#RemyXONight #XONightUncapped


Vibrant, opulent and radiant, this exceptionally abundant, aromatic cognac is expertly blended from a multitude of eaux-de-vie from Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, aged for at least 10 years. Rémy Martin XO Night is dressed for the evening, at the center of night-time celebrations, lighting up the party, the club and the fun.


Since 1724, the House of Rémy Martin has produced premium spirits that consistently appeal to the world’s most discerning connoisseurs. A profound love of the land, a continuity of family ownership and a passionate commitment to excellence has sustained Rémy Martin for nearly three centuries. As a result of its masterful production and generations of tradition in Cognac, Rémy Martin today produces Cognacs Fine Champagne, including Rémy Martin® XO Night, Rémy Martin® XO, Rémy Martin Tercet®, Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal® Rémy Martin CLUB® and Rémy Martin® V.S.O.P. For more information visit

*The appellation “Cognac Fine Champagne” is an AOC (“Appellation d’Origine Controlée” / Controlled Designation of Origin) and defines a blend of eaux-de-vie sourced in Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, with at least 50% Grande Champagne.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this post.

Image: Rémy Martin

KRG Hospitality. Bar Consultant. Nightclub. Lounge. Mixology. Cocktails.

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Drink Donnybrook: Let’s Talk Screwdriver

Drink Donnybrook: Let’s Talk Screwdriver

by David Klemt

Orange cocktail, like a Screwdriver

Is there vodka in there? Maybe.

As it turns out, the origins of one of the simplest cocktails on the planet—there are just two ingredients in a traditional Screwdriver—are a mystery.

Another interesting note about the Screwdriver: It’s likely a relatively new drink.

If the Screwdriver is an American invention, the earliest most believe it could have been created is the 1920s. That’s when Smirnoff sold the rights to North American distribution to a distiller in the US.

However, it’s possible the cocktail wasn’t invented until some time in the 1940s. Vodka didn’t really become popular among Americans until the ’40s. So, it’s conceivable that the Screwdriver is less than 100 years old.

Still, it’s difficult to believe that someone, somewhere didn’t think to add a splash of vodka to their orange juice in the 1800s. Or that someone didn’t think to “adjust” the taste of the vodka in their glass with a bit of OJ.

Either way, it’s pretty entertaining to know that we don’t have a definitive answer for who created the Screwdriver, where it was first made, and when. When we consider the fact that the recipe calls for just two simple ingredients, maybe it does make sense that we don’t know the who, where, and why. It’s so easy to make that it’s believable multiple people had the same idea around the same time, across the globe.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Drink Donnybrook without checking into some origin theories. So, let’s dive in!

World War II

One theory involves WWII and the US Marine Corps.

It’s quite simple, really. During WWII, stationed overseas, perhaps a few Marines jazzed up their orange juice with a touch of vodka.

Oh, but wait. The Screwdriver may not be attributable to the USMC. It’s possible, according to another theory, that the former US Army Air Forces came up with drink and name when stationed in Ankara, Turkey.

As the predecessor to the Air Force, the USAF may hold claim to the Screwdriver.

If it’s one thing we need, it’s more fuel for the inter-service rivalry between the USMC and USAF.


Two publications mentioned the Screwdriver in the 1930s and 1940s.

According to some historians, Journalism Quarterly at least made reference to a drink called the “Smirnoff Screwdriver” in 1938.

If that’s true, the classic cocktail predates WWII by a year. And if that’s true, it’s possible that American marines, airmen, or soldiers spread it around the world.

In 1949, Time magazine mentioned the Screwdriver. According to the writer, the cocktail was the newest drink grabbing attention at the Park Hotel in New York. Apparently, American engineers, Balkan refugees, and Turkish spies loved the drink.

Interestingly, if Time‘s reporting is accurate, it’s possible the supposed Turkish spies frequenting the Park Hotel bar got the name of the drink from American airmen.

Since apparently no bartenders who worked at the Park Hotel appear to have taken credit for it back in the ’40s, it’s unlikely it was created there.


Okay, so you’re an oil worker. It’s the 1950s and you’re working in the Persian Gulf.

You’re performing back-breaking, dangerous tasks in oil fields. Maybe you need a pick-me-up, and maybe that pick-me-up involves mixing orange juice and vodka together.

But…you don’t have a barspoon. You certainly don’t have a swizzle stick. And you don’t have a coffee stirrer handy.

What you do have is a screwdriver. That screwdriver will definitely stir a drink. It doesn’t take time for this vodka-orange juice concoction to get the name “Screwdriver” because of the stirring utensil.

Well, that’s one theory, anyway.

Two days from now, December 14, you can share all those stories with your guests. Why? Because that’s National Screwdriver Day, a time to celebrate one of the simplest cocktails ever made.

Of course, you and your team can make the Screwdriver your own. Top-shelf vodka, the finest and freshest hand-squeezed orange juice (maybe even blood orange juice), any number of garnishes or rims, a touch of sparkling wine or water… The simpler the drink, the easier it can be to riff on it.


Image: Ryutaro Tsukata on Pexels

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Menu Development Drinks Food

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5 Ways to Elevate the Hotel Experience

5 Inexpensive Ways to Elevate Your Hotel Guest Experience

by Kim Richardson

Boutique hotel room with black and white walls and linens

With all the different amenities today’s travelers are looking for, you’re not going to be able to accommodate all of them.

It’s no secret: Happy hotel guests make for happy employees and happy owners. They’re the true advertisement for our hotel and resort locations.

But as the maxim goes, you can’t make all the people happy all the time. With very exceptionsbrands that can afford to embody the money-no-object version of unreasonable hospitality—it’s not realistic to think you can satisfy every guest’s every whim.

With all the different amenities today’s travelers are looking for, you’re not going to be able to accommodate every single preference. Some of them may not be in your budget, and others may not make sense for your business.

With that in mind, here are some basic items that every hotel location can provide with little to no cost.

Get back to the basics of your business and make sure the machine is running smoothly before you worry about adding things that cost you additional money. A little goes a long way!

1 Create a seamless and friendly arrival experience.

Whether your guests spend days traveling to you or maybe just take a 10-minute car ride, it’s important that their stay starts off with a warm and welcoming experience. This sets the tone for their entire stay.

How does your staff greet them at the door and front desk? Are the details of the reservation correct? Is the room ready on time? Is the room the correct type? Do you and your team acknowledge special details and requests? More importantly, do you follow through to deliver on those requests?

People put a lot of time into planning a trip. A rocky arrival or a mishandled request can really put a damper on someone’s getaway whether it’s for business or pleasure. When they start off with a bad experience, they’re more likely to nitpick the rest of their stay.

The guest experience starts well before arrival. Don’t forget to keep in mind all the interactions they have prior to arrival: ease of reservation process, user-friendly websites, and pleasant interactions with any staff they might have.

2 Personalize the experience. Send a welcome note and acknowledge special occasions.

Sending a welcome note to a guest is a great way to personalize the experience, and I do mean personalize! Try to stay away from generic welcome letters.

Use their name in the letter. If they’re a repeat guest, use phrases such as “Welcome back.” If you see something in the reservation notes about them celebrating a special occasion, be sure to acknowledge it in the welcome note and wish them well.

Welcome notes can be sent as an email, something that is handed to them at the front desk, or a card in their room. Consider sending a small gift when you know someone is celebrating a special occasion. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive; its purpose is to make them feel noticed.

A small treat can be enough.

3 Partner with companies for amenities you are not able to provide (ex: gym, restaurants, transportation, spa/salon).

Partnering with nearby companies is a great way to add extra amenities to your hotel. This doesn’t have to be something that costs you money.

You can discuss the terms case by case with each business. They may be willing to offer a discount coupon (complimentary to you) for allowing them to put collateral in your lobby or on your website. You can also discuss trades of service.

If you’re not a full-service hotel, a discount at a nearby restaurant or cafe can go a long way. Similar to this, if you don’t have a fitness center maybe there is one nearby that is willing to offer your guests complimentary access (or for a discount). Spa/salons are also a great amenity you can feature.

If you’re not located in a walkable area (or maybe there’s a big attraction nearby that’s not walkable), consider teaming up with a transportation company that can be available to your guests.

When partnering with these nearby businesses, it’s important that they actually are nearby and accessible to your guests. We’ve all been in situations, be it a hotel or a membership, that comes with discounts, but then when you go to look at them, they’re not convenient to use. Don’t be that business.

4 Master the basics. Keep a clean property and deliver on all amenities promised.

This sounds like an obvious one, but this is often where we drop the ball as an industry.

It’s not always about being a five-star hotel and having tons of luxurious extras. Meeting guest expectations by following through on what you promised should be a given, but it’s truly not.

Regardless of the level of hotel, a clean property is important. Guests shouldn’t find dirty items from the last guest. All public spaces should be clean and stocked with any amenities you offer.

If you offer complimentary coffee in the lobby until 10:00 AM, make sure it’s really there and available until that time. Don’t put the last container out at 9:00 or 9:30 AM and stop checking on it.

I’m the guest who goes down for coffee at the last minute it’s available. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started filling my cup and heard the trickle of the container running out. Then I’m left with going to find coffee elsewhere or hunting down a staff member to get more.

These types of experiences might not warrant a guest complaint but they do create a feeling of not getting what they pay for.

Keep your guests notified of any unexpected changes to the promised amenities. If your lobby is under renovation, your famous restaurant is closed for a private party, or the pool isn’t available, send proper notification to your guests prior to arrival. Consider offering some type of compensation as a show of good faith prior to the complaints rolling in.

Things don’t always go according to plan, and we can’t always be perfect, but you have the power to dictate whether this is a good or bad experience for your guest.

5 Provide readily available directions and info on the local area (restaurants, local attractions, tours, shopping).

No matter how hard your guests work on researching the area ahead of time, there is nothing better than hearing from the locals about the real places to check out.

Be sure to have a varied list of places to recommend to the guests based on their specific interests. As our travelers often are without a car, make sure you’re able to tell them the best way to get there.

Any additional information you can provide on these places is great. Consider having brochures on hand, websites, apps, and QR codes. Consider compiling a list of your staff’s favorite places to go. This can be posted in a public space, done as a handout that can be given to guests upon request, or distributed electronically.

As you can see, you don’t have to throw tons of money at your hotel to make a big, positive impact on your guests. Thinking ahead, partnering with local businesses, and ensuring your staff adheres to your steps of service, policies, and procedures can deliver big dividends.

For more tips, be sure to sign up for the KRG Hospitality newsletters (email and LinkedIn) and follow me on Instagram!


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KRG Hospitality. Boutique Hotels. Resorts. Properties. Consultant. Feasibility Study. Business Plan

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Loneliness and the Entrepreneur

5 Steps Entrepreneurs can take to Combat Loneliness

by Jennifer Radkey

Empty road leading off to the horizon

Author John Donne may have penned the quote, “No man is an island,” in the 17th century but, like many truths of human nature, it’s still relevant today.

We’re all attached to each other in some way; our humanity is intertwined. It’s when we lose sight of this that we may start to feel lonely. We may also feel as though we’re in isolation from the world around us.

Entrepreneurs often walk a lonely road. The success of your business relies on the effort you put into it daily. With a drive to succeed and a passion for what you are doing, it can often be hard to separate life as an entrepreneur from anything else.

There can be a level of pride in the entrepreneur’s journey that makes it challenging to acknowledge that there’s genuine struggle. When society paints a rosy picture of the life of the entrepreneur—setting your own schedule, doing what you love, earning your own riches, etc.—it can feel as if you aren’t doing something “right” when you’re running a successful business yet feel stress, loneliness, and gloom.

Being an entrepreneur has its perks and many would tell you they can’t imagine doing anything other than running their own business. However, this doesn’t mean that the path is easy or without its risks of social isolation, anxiety, burnout, and depression.

It’s time that we acknowledge all aspects of being an entrepreneur—the good, the bad, and the ugly—to peel back the façade of perfection. We need to allow space for honesty, connection, and self-care.

Below are five steps entrepreneurs can take to combat loneliness as an entrepreneur.

1. Find like-minded individuals who can relate.

Often, entrepreneurs may feel as if no one else understands them, no matter how well-meaning or supportive friends and family may be.

Connect with people who you can be honest with and who will listen with little judgement. This can be through a social group that connects entrepreneurs not for the purpose of business growth and networking, but to build friendships and share stories.

If a group like this does not exist, consider starting one yourself.

2. Practice mindfulness with your external relationships.

 Share with loved ones when you’re feeling particularly disconnected or stressed. They may not understand life as an entrepreneur, but they have your best interest at heart and can help you find balance between your work life and personal life.

Finding time to spend with the people who care for you as a whole person is important. Doing so can remind you to acknowledge and respect all the different sides of who you are, not just the entrepreneur side.

3. Learn how to be in a healthy relationship with yourself.

Acknowledge when you need social time. Recognize when you’re not getting enough sleep. Take time to enjoy hobbies or participate in physical activity. Take time to appreciate your accomplishments and feel proud of what you achieve.

Try journaling or participating in the things you loved doing before you became an entrepreneur to create connections and feel less alone.

4. Share the burden.

As an entrepreneur you often quietly place a tremendous amount of responsibility onto your shoulders. This can lead to feeling entirely on your own—even if you have a team surrounding you.

Learn to place trust in your team and to release some of those responsibilities to others. If you are a solopreneur, perhaps look to other professionals to whom you can outsource some of your tasks ( virtual assistant, social marketer, etc.).

5. Seek professional help if needed.

If you feel alone in the process and don’t have anyone you feel you can speak to, consider seeking a professional to help.

Consider hiring a professional life coach If you’re looking to create stronger social connections; need help with work/life balance or stress management; or wish to manage external relationships better.

If you suspect a mental illness, such as an anxiety disorder or depression, reach out to a registered therapist. There’s no shame in asking for help if it means living a well-rounded life that’s successful not only professionally but personally.

Entrepreneurs are masters of paving the way for their visions to come to life. However, the road they pave doesn’t need to be a lonely one. Applying the same drive to your personal well-being as to the success of your business will only have positive outcomes!

Cheers to your personal and professional growth!

Image: Gustavo Zambelli on Unsplash

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KRG Hospitality now Serving Midwest Region

KRG Hospitality adds Midwest Region

Marina City Towers in Chicago, Illinois


Toronto-based hospitality industry consulting firm with offices throughout Canada and the USA now serving the Midwest through Chicago office.

CHICAGO, IL (March 17, 2023)—Today, KRG Hospitality announces the addition of the Midwest region of the US to their North American service area. The team will operate out of an office in Chicago, Illinois. However, the agency will serve Midwest markets outside of Chicago as well.

KRG is excited to announce their presence in the region and their ability to serve clients effectively. The agency will offer the full suite of their proven hospitality solutions, including: hourly consulting and coaching; complete feasibility studies, fully customized concept plans; in-depth, focused business plans; project support and management; food and/or drink menu development and consulting; and personalized F&B education.

“I was born in Chicago and first entered the hospitality industry in the Northwest Suburbs. I got my first taste of nightlife in Chicago’s incredible bar and nightclub scene,” says David Klemt, partner and director of business development of KRG Hospitality. “Those experiences shaped my entire hospitality career trajectory. It will be an honor to serve the great people of the Midwest and bring their hospitality visions to life.”

“2023 is turning into quite the growth year for KRG, with the addition of team members Kim Richardson and Jared Boller, and now an exciting new market,” says Doug Radkey, KRG Hospitality founder, president, and project manager. “We see great opportunity in the Midwest, not only in Chicago, but many of the surrounding regions. The food, beverage, and hotel scene is incredibly strong, and we’re open to the challenge of not only helping launch new hospitality brands but helping transform existing brands scale and be successful in the new era ahead.”

KRG is ready to work with clients of all experience levels in the Midwest. The consulting agency’s suite of solutions serve new operators looking to open their first concept and veterans seeking a rebrand or expansion. From independent pizzerias and QSRs to multi-unit regional chains and boutique hotels, and everything in between, the KRG team is eager to take client visions and transform them into brick-and-mortar realities.

To schedule an introductory call to learn how the KRG Hospitality team serves clients, please follow this link.

About KRG Hospitality

KRG Hospitality is a storied and respected agency with proven success over the past decade, delivering exceptional and award-winning concepts throughout a variety of markets found within Canada, the United States, and abroad since 2009. Specializing in startups, KRG is known for originality and innovation, rejecting cookie-cutter approaches to client projects. The agency provides clients with a clear framework tailored to their specific projects, helping to realize their vision for a scalable, sustainable, profitable, memorable, and consistent business. Learn more at Connect with KRG Hospitality and the Bar Hacks podcast on social: KRG Twitter, Bar Hacks Twitter, KRG Media Twitter, KRG LinkedIn.

Image: Tobias Brunner from Pixabay

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Do Goals Have an Expiration Date?

Do Goals Expire?

by Jennifer Radkey

Hourglass against red background

A compelling question came up in a recent coaching call with a client: When is the last time you took inventory of your goals?

Like many other people, my client is a goal-setter, and not just small goals but big life goals. These goals follow all of the “rules” of goal setting: they are clearly written, attainable, and measurable.

Some of the goals are achieved and checked off the list and new goals have been made. And yet there is still a feeling of dissatisfaction.

So where is this feeling coming from?

We are always changing and adapting to the world around us. We are changed by life circumstances. We’re influenced by the places we visit and the people we meet. We grow, and over time we come to deeper understandings of what we value and want from life.

As we grow and change our goals do as well…but what do we do with our old goals? What do we do with goals that are no longer applicable to our life?

Do goals expire?

The answer is yes. Goals can expire. What you wanted for your life when you were 16 is most likely not what you want for your life now. The career goals you set in your early 20s probably do not apply to you in your 30s. The goals geared towards interests you had in your 30s may not apply in your 40s, etc.

This doesn’t just apply to personal goals, either.

If you own a business, the goals you have for your business can expire as well. It’s why business plans need to be revisited yearly.

The goals you had when you first opened may have changed in the year(s) since. A business can be likened to a living, breathing entity. It grows and adapts and interacts with the environment surrounding it.

Targets will be hit, new objectives will be identified. So, what do we do with our old goals?

If old, unmet goals are not recognized and processed, they will sit as unfinished business in the back of your mind. You may be acquiring all kinds of levels of success and achieving new goals, but if you are allowing old goals to remain without acknowledging them, it will show up in your mindset.

This can manifest as dissatisfaction, disappointment, confusion, anxiousness, a general feeling that something is “off,” or a never-ending quest for perfection.

So, what do we do with expired goals?

It’s time to sit down and take inventory of all of the goals you have for your life or business. The new and the old. The unmet and those in progress.

If you are like many of us on the path to success and self-improvement, this may be a lengthy list. Try categorizing goals to make them more approachable.

Once you have listed all of your goals it’s time to get real with them and ask yourself some questions:

  • Why was this goal unmet?
  • Why was it important, at the time, to have this goal?
  • What feelings are associated with this goal?
  • Most importantly: Does this goal serve me now?

If the goal no longer fits in your life, if it no longer serves a purpose, it is time for that goal to expire.

It’s okay to let go and move on.

Make peace with the fact that a goal can belong in a previous part of your life but does not need to be a part of your life now.

Accept that it was not completed, give yourself compassion, and move on. That goal does not need to take up space in your thoughts anymore.

If a goal still serves a purpose now and you would like to keep it, ask yourself why it is so important to you to keep that goal. Then ask yourself why it hasn’t been achieved yet.

Is this goal important enough to keep it and strategize new ways to break it down and make it achievable? If the answer is yes, great! Sit down with that goal, rewrite it, and come up with a new action plan to achieve it.

If the answer is no, let that goal expire, and let it go.

This process will take time and introspection but will provide you with overwhelming relief and a new sense of clarity.

Life is too short to hold onto expired dreams and goals! Give yourself freedom to be present and future focused, without unfinished business holding you down.

Cheers to personal and professional growth!

Image: Daniele Franchi on Unsplash

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