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Program for Unique Holidays: June 2023

Program for Unique Holidays: June 2023

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 promotions.

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 2023 holidays list, click here.

June 3: National Repeat Day

This holiday is the perfect time to encourage guests to buy the ever-important second drink. Likewise, it’s the right day for encouraging people to order a dish or two to take home.

June 8: World Oceans Day

Leaders around the world are committed to the 30×30 initiative: protecting 30 percent of our oceans, waterways, and land by 2030. World Oceans Day is about focusing on this initiative, which people can do, in part, by filling out this short survey.

You and your guests can also support the oceans and conservation efforts by supporting brands like Gray Whale Gin. This award-winning gin is produced with sustainable, ethically, and locally-procured ingredients. Additionally, Gray Whale supports Oceana and 1% for the Planet by donating a portion of their proceeds.

June 10: National Black Cow Day

For those who may not know, a Black Cow is a float. It’s incredibly simple to make: drop a scoop of vanilla ice cream into a mug, add root beer.

Of course, you can also get creative with the Black Cow. One way is to make an adult version, perhaps with a vodka like Vodkow, or a cream liqueur like Vodkow Cream. Another option is to feature craft root beer and local vanilla ice cream.

June 13: National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day

Look, some people just aren’t great cooks. Some aren’t good in the kitchen. In fact, some aren’t even mediocre when it comes to cooking—they’re complete disasters.

Luckily, you probably have a kitchen inside your venue. So, give the not-so-great cooks in your area a reprieve from cooking with excellent lunch and dinner LTOs.

June 14: National Bourbon Day

Hey, do you have bourbon? At the risk of being too assumptive, I bet you do. Guess what you should do on this holiday.

June 16: National Take Back the Lunch Break Day

What a perfect day to motivate people to have lunch in your venue. It’s also a great day to motivate people to order delivery, carryout or pickup from you.

June 21: National Daylight Appreciation Day

This holiday does exactly what it says on the tin, as they say: it celebrates daylight. Venues that take advantage of sunlight—great windows, garage-style roll-up doors, amazing patios—should do what they can to entice guests to visit in the morning and afternoon. So, small-bite and lunch LTOs and promotions; sessionable beer, wine, and cocktails; and healthy, refreshing zero-proof beverages are the order of the day.

June 26: National Coconut Day

Summer and coconut go hand in hand. An LTO menu that shines a light on summery drinks and bites is the perfect way to celebrate the coconut.

Feel free to rile up guests by asking them a “simple” question: Is a coconut a fruit, a nut, a seed, or a drupe?

June 27: National Onion Day

Onion rings. Onion dip. Bacon-onion bites. Onion pinwheels… And those are just appetizers. The humble onion is, as we all know, a powerhouse in the kitchen. For some, onions are also cocktail garnishes.

I think you know what to do on National Onion Day.

June 28: Tau Day

For the most part, we’re taught in school that Pi—a circle’s circumference divided by its diameter—is rounded to 3.14. Pi Day is March 14 each year and the holiday (and mathematical constant) tends to get the meme treatment.

Well, some believe Pi is incorrect. Instead, these people use the constant Tau, which is a circle’s circumference divided by its radius. Tau, with a value of 6.28, is celebrated on June 28. One of the simplest ways to celebrate this holiday is to enjoy twice the amount of pie as one would normally. So, a smart promotion that celebrates Tau Day could be one that encourages couples to come in to enjoy two slices of pie for dessert.

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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Raise the Bar: The 3 Ps of Hospitality

Raise the Bar: The 3 Ps of Hospitality

by David Klemt

Three hands holding up three pineapples

No, one isn’t “pineapples.”

Nightlife, bar, and cocktail experts Mia Mastroianni, Phil Wills, and Art Sutley want operators to focus on what they call “the Three Ps.”

The engaging trio shared their trio of Ps recently in Las Vegas at the 2023 Bar & Restaurant Expo.

So, what are the Three Ps of hospitality? People, Place, and Product. Operators who pull the threads tighter on each of these crucial elements will be well on their way to improving operations and the guest experience.


Remember all the way back to a week ago when I shared Mastroianni, Wills, and Sutley’s thoughts on service versus hospitality? Consider the first P a deeper dive into that topic.

Operators need to focus on two categories of people who help their businesses succeed: their teams and their guests.

Addressing the former, the trio feels that operators are centering a disproportionate amount of their attention on guests in comparison to staff.

“We’re not lacking for people who want to work in the business and are outperforming other industries, but we’re not focusing on staff like we focus on guests,” says Wills. “Treat everyone with respect, including through the hiring process. If you don’t engage your staff, you won’t retain them. You need to show them they can grow in your business.”

According to Sutley, 89 percent of operators say that labor costs present a “significant challenge.” It follows, then, that committing to treating staff with respect and nurturing their careers isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s smart business.

Look for people with passion, those you can motivate to go above and beyond so you’re not stuck with a team full of space-fillers who are just after a paycheck, suggests Mastroianni.

Of course, operators and their teams must also focus on providing exceptional service and experiences to guests.

“Treat ever guest like a pearl in an oyster,” advises Wills. “They’re the pearl, we’re the oyster. We need to ‘protect’ them.” Anything less, cautions Sutley, and guests won’t return.


Interestingly, the trio touched on design, aesthetic, and vibe. However, that isn’t the crux of the second P.

Rather, Place is really goes back to the guest experience. The design, aesthetic, and vibe need to meet guest expectations.

“Make sure your space is what it’s supposed to be,” says Wills.

For example, if a concept presents itself as a high-end cocktail bar, the four walls need to deliver on that expectation. With the exception of a handful of high-level examples, an upscale bar won’t survive if they deliver a dive bar—not neighborhood bar, dive bar—vibe and service. (For the record, I love a dive bar. But I don’t expect to encounter TV trope-style dive bar service if I walk through the doors of a high-end cocktail bar.)

One way operators can ensure their space is what it should be is standardization. Once a concept goes from idea to brick and mortar, when the owner’s vision is realized, the team needs to deliver a matching experience. Steps of service, systems, procedures…standardization is the name of the service game.

“Standardize your opening, shift, and closing procedures and systems to maintain your place,” says Mastroianni.

Every team member—front of house, back of house, leadership—needs to know and buy into an operator’s standards.


Standardization breeds consistency. And consistency is a key element of the third P, Product.

Per Sutley, 76 percent of operators have noticed that guests are opting for more premium drinks. That’s great news, but it’s not the whole story.

It’s great that guests are opting for more expensive drink options. After all, that can certainly help the bottom line.

“However,” cautions Mastroianni, “they won’t come back without consistency in production.”

To drive this point home, consider this story from Mastroianni. A bartender made her a drink, and it was pretty good. She ordered another one from the same bartender and watched him make it differently the second time around. Not only was this second version different, it was better. While one could view this story through a positive lens—the drink was even better the next time!—that’s not the correct takeaway.

If the bartender was committed to building cocktails consistently, the second version of that cocktail would’ve been the first one served to Mastroianni. It would be the best version, and it would always be that impressive version.

When we’re fighting the possibility that up to 70 percent of first-time guests never return, the importance of product consistency can’t be overstated.

“Really focus on the small details to affect big change and get guests through the doors and keep coming back,” says Wills.

Image: Aleksandar Pasaric on Pexels

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Sugar. Water. Whiskey. Mint.

Sugar. Water. Whiskey. Mint.

by David Klemt

Mint Julep in copper Woodford Reserve cup

…and sometimes Angostura bitters.

Get ready to break out the stainless steel and copper cups, whiskey, and crushed ice: National Mint Julep Day is right around the corner.

This classic cocktail’s traditional time to shine—Derby Day—has come and gone. However, we celebrate this ice-cold drink on May 30. This year, FYI, this bar and restaurant holiday falls on a Tuesday.

While many people associate the Mint Julep with the Kentucky Derby and the South, the drink traces its origin to Persia. According to some historians—the fun experts who love researching culinary and drinking history—”julep” is a derivation of “julepe,” which derives from “golâb.” “Julepe” is a Spanish Arabic word that comes from “golâb,” a Persian word that translates to “rosewater.” As one might expect from the translation, golâb was a drink made by combining water with rose petals.

Over time, it’s believed, the rose petals were replaced by people making Juleps in the Mediterranean. The replacement? Mint leaves native to the area.

Eventually, like so many centuries-old drinks, medicinal elements were introduced. The English Julep, for example, added alcohol and camphor. To think, there are decades of human history where doctors prescribed cocktails to patients.

The Kentucky Connection

Of course, like so many centuries-old drinks, it’s difficult to separate the fictitious from the factual. Some say mentions of the Mint Julep can be traced to 1770s, others say the early 1800s.

As far as the Kentucky connection, there are historians that say Henry Clay, who served as a Kentucky senator and congressman, brought the Mint Julep to Washington, DC in 1850. Clay is said to have shared the recipe with the Round Robin Bar at the Willard’s Hotel (now the Willard InterContinental). The hotel’s website makes reference to this part of the Mint Julep’s history (or legend, as it were).

Chris Morris, Master Distiller for Woodford Reserve for 20 years and now the distillery’s Master Distillery Emeritus, supports the idea, historically, that the Mint Julep was a medicinal cocktail.

“The Mint Julep has a long history, and in the 1800s it was considered a morning drink,” Morris has said. “People working on horse farms or in the horse-racing industry during this time period may wake up with aches and pains.”

It’s safe to say Morris and Woodford know their way around a Mint Julep.

Further, if you dig deep enough, you’ll come across mentions of horse jockeys taking home Julep cups as trophies. Literal trophy cups, if you will.

Consequently, given its ties to horse racing, it makes sense that the Mint Julep would one day become the Kentucky Derby‘s official drink. Of course, as this brief and (hopefully mostly) factual history shows, the Mint Julep undoubtedly had a presence at the famous race long before 1939.

Craft Your Own

Below you’ll find two recipes for your National Mint Julep Day LTO menu. However, this is one classic that people don’t seem to gatekeep much.

In fact, industry experts like Chris Morris encourage experimentation and creation of signature Mint Juleps. So, engage your bar and culinary teams, highlight flavors authentic to your menu and brand, and come up with your own variation.

To help you get started, bear in mind that while spearmint is a common ingredient, there are other species of mint available. The base spirit can also be substituted. Per some cocktail historians, genever-powered Mint Juleps were a common variation in the 1800s.

There’s nothing wrong with sticking to tradition. However, the Mint Julep practically begs for experimentation. Flavored syrups, all manner of spirits and liqueurs, garnishes… National Mint Julep Day is perfect for the LTO treatment.


Mint Julep

  • 2 oz. Bourbon
  • 0.25 oz. Simple syrup
  • 6 to 8 Mint leaves
  • Mint sprig to garnish
  • Angostura bitters to garnish (optional)
  • Crushed or shaved ice

Add simple syrup and mint leaves to Julep cup, and muddle. Next, add bourbon and crushed or shaved ice. Tightly pack ice in cup, then stir until frost builds on exterior of Julep cup. Top with more crushed or shaved ice, and form a dome on top of cup. Add mint sprig to garnish. If desired, also garnish with two or three drops of Angostura bitters.

Woodford Reserve Secretariat’s Mint Julep

This recipe is for the special Mint Julep served at this year’s Kentucky Derby.

Pack a Julep cup with crushed ice, making sure to make a dome over the lip of the cup. Add the whiskey and liqueur to a mixing glass and stir. Pour over the prepared cup. Garnish with one sprig of mint and one stalk of Virginia bluebells.

Should you prefer a more traditional build, express the oils of a mint leaf inside the cup. Add the bourbon, chestnut liqueur, and crushed ice. Garnish with more crushed ice, mint, and Virginia bluebells, then serve.

Image: Adam Jaime on Unsplash

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Ocean’s Summertime Celebrations

Ocean Casino Resort Summertime Celebrations

by David Klemt

Exterior of Ocean Casino Resort at sunset

Ocean Casino Resort is celebrating an impressive milestone all summer long through creative local business partnerships.

This summer, the resort will reach its fifth anniversary. The festivities will begin May 26, a month before Ocean’s “birthday.”

However, rather than focus solely on the resort and casino, Ocean is choosing to celebrate the community it serves as well. These fifth birthday activations and initiatives are an excellent lesson for operators across all hospitality business categories.

I’m sure operators—all hospitality professionals, really—will agree that restaurants and bars are integral elements of any community’s bedrock. Increasingly, the same can be said of hotels. In fact, large hotel groups are investing in the development of smaller imprints that are tasked with the mission of serving locals and local businesses.

When a restaurant, bar, hotel, or nightclub reaches annual milestones, it’s largely due to community support. Sure, businesses in destination cities benefit greatly from tourist visits. However, for most markets, longevity is anything but assured without local backing and buy-in.

It’s clear that the importance of local support isn’t lost on Ocean. This summer’s celebrations include several local partnerships and community initiatives to pay that support back.

Local Partnerships

Last year, the Ocean leveraged the demise of the Choco Taco. So far in 2023, Ocean has supported Philly and KC during the Big Game, and gotten creative with cocktails that raised funds for the Girl Scout Troops of Southern and Central New Jersey.

Local partnerships are key to Ocean’s five-year celebration:

  • The Seed: Created Seeds of the Ocean for Ocean’s five-year anniversary.
  • Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall: Seeds of the Ocean lager will also be available at this local beer hall.
  • Rhythm & Spirits: Joining forces with Little Water Distillery to feature their gin in the Oceans 5 cocktail.
  • Little Water Distillery: Their Rusted Revolver Indigenous Gin is the star of the Oceans 5 cocktail, mentioned above. The distillery has also created the Chocolate Cake Martini, featuring Bar 32 chocolate shavings.
  • Hank Sauce: For those who prefer their celebrations spicy, Ocean and Hank Sauce have collaborated on Across the Boards. This hot sauce will accompany food items at restaurants inside Ocean.
  • Tony Boloney’s: They’ve created the High 5 pizza to celebrate Ocean’s birthday. This is another collaboration within a collaboration, as it features Seed of the Ocean lager and Across the Boards hot sauce.
  • Bar 32: What celebration is complete without something sweet? Bar 32 (a bean-to-bar chocolatier) and Ocean will be offering three commemorative chocolate bars: the Berry Pretzel Bar, Party Pretzel Bar, and Salty Peanut Butter Bar.
  • Mudgirl Studios: Ocean has commissioned several handmade, one-of-one pieces from this non-profit that will be featured not just in common areas on the property but also in some of the guest rooms.
  • Atlantic City Arts Foundation: To help celebrate its fifth birthday, Ocean has collaborated with the ACAF for a three-panel mural that will have a home at Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall.

Creative & Compelling

What I find most notable about these local partnerships is how several of them intertwine.

Not only did Ocean commission an exclusive beer, a local restaurant chain is using it for a pizza. That same restaurant chain is also using a hot sauce Ocean had created to celebrate their milestone. There are other collaborations that bring Rhythm & Spirits, Little Water Distillery, and Bar 32 together.

However, Ocean is doing more than just supporting a select group of local businesses. Mudgirl Studios employs and empowers at-risk, homeless and formerly incarcerated women. The ACAF, as one would imagine, inspires and empowers people to pursue the arts. Both support and strengthen communities throughout Atlantic City, and Ocean is giving back by supporting them.

In addition to all of that, the celebrations kick off on Memorial Day Weekend with a $300,000 sweepstakes. All in, there will be more than $5 million in promotions and giveaways in play over the course of this summer. From June 24 to July 4, Ocean is putting up one million dollars for a second sweepstakes.

Then there are Tesla giveaways, birthday fireworks, the Birthday Bar Pop-up Experience at 1927 Lounge inside Ocean Resort Casino, and Ocean’s sponsorship of the Atlantic City Beer and Music Festival.

Nola's Bar & Lounge inside Ocean Casino Resort

Look for Ocean’s birthday drinks at property bars like Nola’s Bar & Lounge

Again, it would be easy for Ocean to have simply planned a celebratory weekend, week, or month, focusing solely on themselves. Instead, they’re involving several small businesses and community organizations.


Do I expect restaurant and bar operators to somehow offer $5 million in giveaways to celebrate a milestone? Or even $300,000? Perhaps a Tesla?

No, of course not.

However, I do think operators should really put thought into celebrating their annual milestones. Surviving the first 12 months is a huge achievement. Making it through the first 18 months and hitting the two-year anniversary is just as challenging.

So, operators should take four to six months to plan their celebrations. Additionally, they should view these events as a way to thank the community for supporting them. And, of course, that includes being grateful for beneficial business relationships.

When considering marking these achievements, it’s wise to include local businesses. Craft brewers and distillers, local farmers and vintners, non-profit organizations… All the better if the selected partners can collaborate with one another to make the celebration and partnerships that much more impactful.

Operators should take a page out of Ocean’s celebration handbook and look for creative, thoughtful collaborations. Doing so lifts up others and pays local support forward, in turn making the entire community stronger.

It’s perfectly acceptable for an operator to be proud and celebrate milestones. But it’s even better for operators to celebrate those who help them thrive.

Images courtesy of Ocean Casino Resort

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Nikka Age Statement Whiskey Returns to US

Nikka Age Statement Whiskey Returns to US

by David Klemt

Nikka Whisky Yoichi Single Malt 10 Year Old bottle

After an eight-year hiatus, Nikka is bringing age-statement whisky back to the United States, starting with Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old.

Operators with robust whisky programs, their guests, and collectors will recall what happened back in 2015. That was the year that Nikka’s Yoichi age statement whisky line was shelved. The Yoichi portfolio’s stars—10, 12, 15 and 20 Year Old whiskies—were replaced by an expression labeled “No Age Statement.”

Interestingly, we can trace the withdrawal of age-statement Japanese whisky and disappearance of iconic bottles to the 1980s. In response to a slowdown in demand, Japanese distillers reduced production. While that move helped deal with the drop in demand and sales, there would be consequences decades later.

Eventually, the world discovered some of the most iconic whiskies on the planet: Hibiki 12 and 17, Yamazaki 12 and 18, and the aforementioned Yoichi 15 and 20.

Of course, the rabid demand for Japanese age statement whiskies resulted in an extinction event, of sorts. The reduced production that gave the world some of the most amazing luxury whiskies ever known, coupled with intense (and likely unforeseen) demand, eventually put distilleries in dire straits.

Simply put, Japanese distillers needed time to replenish their precious liquids. So, for several years, whisky lovers have been waiting for new aged-statement whiskies from Japan. Around 2017, articles and blog posts started sounding the alarm. Whisky experts told us we’d have to wait at least five years to see the return of age-statement expressions. And, as Nikka’s announcement shows, they were right.

To be clear, no-age-statement expressions have proven themselves compelling portfolio-mates during our wait. However, seeing a bonafide return to age statement whiskies is exciting.

Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old

Not only is Nikka returning to age statements, they’re paying tribute with this 10-year-old release, a brand-new addition to the portfolio. Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old commemorates Yoichi Distillery attaining “Important Cultural Properties” status.

More specifically, ten buildings on the grounds of Yoichi Distillery earned this important designation. Ten buildings, ten years of aging.

“We are honored for the Yoichi Distillery to receive this designation from Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs. This designation helps ensure we will pass on the history of Japanese whisky to future generations,” says Emiko Kaji, Nikka Whisky global marketing and sales general manager. “To celebrate this special honor, we welcomed the return of Nikka Whisky aged statements and released the Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old, a new expression created by the current blenders.”


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A post shared by Nikka Whisky (@nikkawhiskyusa)

This new, 45-percent ABV expression will be available in limited quantities. However, Nikka says the production will be “ongoing” and release on an annual basis. The suggested retail price is $175.

“A momentous moment for Nikka Whisky, we are so excited to bring the release of Yoichi Single Malt 10-Year-Old to the US,” says Dan Leese, CEO and president of Hotaling & Co. “As Nikka Whisky looks to celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2024, this release is a testament to their historical significance in the world of whisky and a preview of what’s to come as they continue to build and enrich their traditional range.”

Momentous, indeed. I’m eager to see more age-statement expressions become available throughout North America. Yoichi 10 is a fantastic start.

Image: Nikka Whisky

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Celebrate 75 Years of the Margarita

Celebrate 75 Years of the Margarita

by David Klemt

Classic Cointreau Margarita in landscape orientation

Cointreau is inviting you and your guests to celebrate the 75th anniversary of one of the most iconic cocktails on the planet: the Margarita.

That’s not hyperbole, by the way. While the cocktail is famously number one in the US, it’s also the top tipple in a number of other countries.

Focusing on the US, the Margarita certainly sees challenges to the cocktail throne. The Manhattan, Moscow Mule, and Martini have all taken shots at wearing the crown. In fact, the Martini is, as of 2022, sitting in the number two position.

So, there’s an excellent chance that right now, none of what I’ve written underneath the first sentence has registered with a certain type of reader. Declaring that 2023 is the 75th anniversary of the Margarita may have some people apoplectic right now.

Why’s that? Well, it’s because I’m implying that the origin of the Margarita is settled history. This is something that I love about cocktails: the origin stories of the classic cocktails. With few exceptions and modern cocktails, most cocktail origins are shrouded in mystery. Personally, I enjoy the fact that a single drink can give us so many stories and so much to argue about.

Cointreau believes the Margarita can be traced back to Acapulco. The story goes that Margarita Sames, a Dallas socialite, either requested a signature cocktail or created one herself for a party at her vacation home in Mexico. It’s said that her favorite spirits were tequila and Cointreau. As legend has it, Tommy Hilton was partaking in the festivities in Acapulco and enjoyed the cocktail. He added it to the menus at Hilton properties and there you have it—the Margarita started its journey toward securing the cocktail throne.

75 Years

We celebrate the Margarita on February 22 each year. However, the opportunity to showcase your Margarita(s) doesn’t end there.

One of these opportunities is coming up: Cinco de Mayo. This year, May 5 falls on a Friday. That gives you an entire weekend (or week leading up to the weekend of May 5) to feature an LTO menu of Margaritas.

Celebrating the Margarita also gives you and your teams the chance to upsell guests via premium, super-premium, and ultra-premium tequila options.

However, you and your guests can start celebrating this classic today via the Cointreau Margarita Pledge. Simply point guests who order a Margarita made with Cointreau to this website and they’ll have the chance to win a portion of $75,000. Each winner will be awarded $20 by Cointreau to help them celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a Margarita.

Of course, your front-of-house team should also encourage guests to snap a photo of their Margaritas and tag your restaurant or bar (and Cointreau) when posting to social media.

Below, you’ll find three Margarita recipes from Cointreau, along with an alcohol-free recipe. Cheers!

The Original Margarita by Cointreau

The Original Margarita

  • 1 oz. Cointreau 
  • 2 oz. Blanco tequila 
  • 1 oz. Fresh lime juice 
  • Lime wheel to garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and add ice. Shake and strain into a salt-rimmed rocks glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.

The Spicy Margarita by Cointreau

The Spicy Margarita

  • 2 oz. Blanco tequila 
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 0.75 oz. Fresh lime juice 
  • 2 Slices of jalapeño 
  • 2 Sprigs of fresh cilantro 
  • Jalapeño to garnish
  • Lime wheel to garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with jalapeño pepper. Garnish with a lime wheel.

The Frozen Margarita by Cointreau

The Frozen Margarita

  • 1 oz. Cointreau 
  • 2 oz. Blanco tequila 
  • 1 oz. Fresh lime juice 
  • 0.25 oz. Simple syrup 
  • Lime wheel to garnish

Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender and blend to combine. Pour into salt-rimmed Margarita glass. Garnish with lime wheel.

Lyre's non-alcoholic tequila alternatives

Alcohol-free Classic Margarita

There are a couple non-alcohol brands that make adding a zero-proof Margarita to your menu simple. One such brand is Lyre’s, the Australian brand projected to one day be worth one billion dollars.

Not only does Lyre’s produce two tequila alternatives, they also make an alcohol-free triple sec. So, it really doesn’t get any easier to offer a premium non-alcohol Margarita that can justify a premium price.

An important note: Lyre’s is not an affiliate or portfolio-mate of Cointreau. I’m mentioning them here so that guests who aren’t consuming alcohol for any reason can still partake in celebrating the Margarita.

Shake briefly with ice. Fine strain into glass. Half salt-rimmed cocktail coupette. Garnish with lime wedge.

Cointreau images courtesy of Cointreau. Alcohol-free Classic Margarita image: Lyre’s.

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We ask Bard to Write Cocktail Menus

We ask Bard to Write Cocktail Menus

by David Klemt

Red cocktail on white shelf

Asking Google’s Bard chatbot to write a couple cocktail menus—including recipes and prices—delivers some interesting results.

To be honest, by “interesting” I mean “shrug-inducing.” None of the menus are what I would deem creative.

Think about the basic cocktails you expect to see on any menu and you’ll have an idea of what to expect below.

Are you able to help restaurant and bar operators create their menus?

Yes, I can help restaurant and bar operators create their menus. I can access and process information from the real world through Google Search and keep my response consistent with search results. For example, if you ask me to create a menu for a restaurant that serves Italian food, I can research popular Italian dishes and ingredients, and then create a menu that incorporates those dishes and ingredients. I can also help you to price your menu, and to create marketing materials for your menu.

Here are some tips for creating a menu that is both appealing and profitable:

  • Choose a theme or concept for your menu. This will help you to narrow down your choices and to create a menu that is cohesive.
  • Research popular dishes and ingredients. What are people eating in other restaurants? What are the latest trends?
  • Create a menu that is both affordable and profitable. You want to make sure that you are charging enough to cover your costs, but you also want to make sure that your prices are not too high.
  • Use high-quality ingredients. This will help to ensure that your food tastes good and that your customers come back for more.
  • Be creative and innovative. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new dishes and ingredients.
  • Promote your menu. Use social media, print advertising, and other marketing channels to get the word out about your menu.

Please write me a cocktail menu with ten creative drinks for a modern steakhouse—including prices—located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Sure, here is a cocktail menu with ten creative drinks for a modern steakhouse located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with prices:

1. The Old Fashioned

A classic American cocktail made with whiskey, sugar, and bitters.

  • 2 oz. Canadian Whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 4 dashes bitters
  • Garnish: orange twist
  • Price: $15

2. The Manhattan

A classic American cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters.

  • 2 oz. Canadian Whiskey
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • Garnish: cherry
  • Price: $18

3. The Margarita

A classic Mexican cocktail made with tequila, lime juice, and triple sec.

  • 2 oz. Canadian Tequila
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • Garnish: lime wedge
  • Price: $14

4. The Daiquiri

A classic Cuban cocktail made with rum, lime juice, and simple syrup.

  • 2 oz. Canadian Rum
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • Garnish: lime wedge
  • Price: $16

5. The Cosmopolitan

A refreshing and flavorful cocktail made with vodka, cranberry juice, Cointreau, and lime juice.

  • 2 oz. Canadian Vodka
  • 2 oz. cranberry juice
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • Garnish: lime wedge
  • Price: $17

6. The Sex on the Beach

A fruity and refreshing cocktail made with vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, and orange juice.

  • 2 oz. Canadian Vodka
  • 1 oz. peach schnapps
  • 2 oz. cranberry juice
  • 2 oz. orange juice
  • Garnish: orange slice
  • Price: $18

7. The Bellini

A refreshing and flavorful cocktail made with prosecco, peach puree, and simple syrup.

  • 4 oz. prosecco
  • 2 oz. peach puree
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • Garnish: peach slice
  • Price: $19

8. The Kir Royal

A refreshing and flavorful cocktail made with prosecco and crème de cassis.

  • 4 oz. prosecco
  • 1 oz. crème de cassis
  • Garnish: lemon twist
  • Price: $20

9. The Mimosa

A refreshing and flavorful cocktail made with champagne and orange juice.

  • 4 oz. champagne
  • 4 oz. orange juice
  • Garnish: orange slice
  • Price: $21

10. The Bloody Mary

A spicy and flavorful cocktail made with vodka, tomato juice, and spices.

  • 2 oz. Canadian Vodka
  • 4 oz. tomato juice
  • 1 oz. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. hot sauce
  • Garnish: celery stalk
  • Price: $22

These cocktails are sure to please your guests and add a touch of sophistication to your steakhouse.

Please write me a cocktail menu with ten creative drinks for a modern Italian restaurant—including prices—located in Las Vegas, Nevada, off the Strip.

Here is a cocktail menu with ten creative drinks for a modern Italian restaurant located in Las Vegas, Nevada, off the Strip:

1. The Gondolier

A refreshing and flavorful cocktail made with prosecco, Aperol, and lemon juice.

  • 2 oz. prosecco
  • 1 oz. Aperol
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. simple syrup
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: lemon twist
  • Price: $15

2. The Martini

A classic Italian cocktail made with gin and dry vermouth.

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • Garnish: lemon twist
  • Price: $17

3. The Negroni

A bitter and refreshing cocktail made with gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • Garnish: orange twist
  • Price: $19

4. The Spritz

A refreshing and light cocktail made with prosecco, Aperol, and club soda.

  • 3 oz. prosecco
  • 1 oz. Aperol
  • 4 oz. club soda
  • Garnish: orange twist
  • Price: $15

5. The Americano

A refreshing and light cocktail made with Campari, sweet vermouth, and club soda.

  • 2 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 4 oz. club soda
  • Garnish: orange twist
  • Price: $17

6. The Limoncello

A sweet and refreshing cocktail made with limoncello, prosecco, and club soda.

  • 2 oz. limoncello
  • 3 oz. prosecco
  • 4 oz. club soda
  • Garnish: lemon twist
  • Price: $15

7. The Margarita

A classic Mexican cocktail made with tequila, lime juice, and triple sec.

  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • Garnish: lime wedge
  • Price: $19

8. The Daiquiri

A classic Cuban cocktail made with rum, lime juice, and simple syrup.

  • 2 oz. rum
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • Garnish: lime wedge
  • Price: $21

9. The Old Fashioned

A classic American cocktail made with whiskey, sugar, and bitters.

  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • 4 dashes bitters
  • Garnish: orange twist
  • Price: $23

10. The Manhattan

A classic American cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters.

  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • Garnish: cherry


The first thing I’ll say is that these menus are…fine. There’s nothing wrong with populating a cocktail menu with classics. After all, classics are the go-to for a large portion of guests.

However, I wouldn’t call any of the recipes above creative. And I certainly don’t think they’d blow anyone’s mind. I also call into question some of the specs. For example, a Negroni “should be” a 1:1:1 ratio.

Then there’s the Bloody Mary for a Toronto steakhouse. I’m not trying to speak for an entire population but that should be a Caesar. Additionally, this family of drinks should come with an array of add-ons for customization and personalization.

And what about that $18 Sex on the Beach? I don’t think I’d ever recommend that for an upscale steakhouse. If anything, I’d suggest a Porn Star Martini instead.

I don’t know what Bard would recommend for pricing the Manhattan since the chatbot didn’t include that detail. I’m guessing somewhere between $20 and $23.

Speaking of pricing, it’s fair to assume that Bard aggregated menu prices, averaged them, and spat out the results of its calculations. That may seem helpful but operators should bear a few things in mind when determining pricing:

  • ingredient costs;
  • labor costs;
  • target margins;
  • what specific markets and target guests will tolerate and sustain; and
  • dynamic menu pricing to address fluctuating costs.

Going back to the drinks themselves, it’s important for operators to consider the trends toward premiumization and luxury; signature cocktails; “owning” a specific drink or family of drinks; and speed, consistency, and presentation.

Artificial intelligence can tell you what’s trending online. But can it create real-world cocktail menus that will attract guests, drive traffic, and generate revenue? In my opinion, no—that’s still the realm of experienced and creative bar professionals.

Image: Timothé Durand on Unsplash

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How to Make a $3,500 Mint Julep

How to Make a $3,500 Mint Julep

by David Klemt

2023 Woodford Reserve Secretariat Julep cups

If you want to craft an incredible $3,500 Mint Julep, the first step is to acquire one of 50 Woodford Reserve gold Secretariat Julep cups.

Now, should $3,500 seem a “bit” exorbitant, you can also opt for one of 100 silver Julep cups for $1,000.

Cup in hand, simply fill it with crushed ice and pour a refreshing Mint Julep over it. Et voilà—a delicious $3,500 or $1,000 Mint Julep!

Okay, so you’re probably wondering what I’m on about. Am I really suggesting you craft thousand-dollar-plus cocktails? I mean…if you have guests who’ll pay that much, yes, I am.

In reality, however, I’m making you aware of this year’s Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep™ charity program. This program is a longstanding Kentucky Derby tradition.

For 2023, the $1,000 Mint Julep™ will benefit the Secretariat Foundation. That makes sense given that this year marks the 50th anniversary of Secretariat winning the Derby.

The foundation, the brainchild of Secretariat’s owner Penny Chenery, is a non-profit that focuses on equine-related industry subjects, such as:

  • veterinary research into lameness of the horse;
  • Thoroughbred retirement and rehabilitation facilities;
  • therapeutic equestrian programs; and
  • general funding for related established charitable programs.

Silver and Gold

As you probably can put together yourself, there are 150 Secretariat Mint Julep cups available. One hundred are silver, 50 are gold. Respectively, they cost $1,000 and $3,500.

In keeping with this year’s theme of celebrating Secretariat and supporting the horse’s namesake charity, each features blue and white checkered silks in sapphires. The 2023 Mint Julep cups are handmade by Louisville, Kentucky jewelers From the Vault.

Gold 2023 Woodford Reserve Secretariat Mint Julep cup

People who choose to support the charity via purchasing the gold cup will have their name engraved on the bottom of the cup. These cups also come with the autograph of Ron Turcotte, Secretariat’s jockey.

In addition to supporting the charity, people who buy one of the 150 cups will have access to the $1,000 Mint Julep Experience at Churchill Downs on Derby Day. (Which is also where and when buyers must pick up their cups.)

Secretariat’s Mint Julep

Alright, so let’s be more realistic. Only 150 people are going to splash out for the $1,000 or $3,500 Secretariat Mint Julep. And while supporting a charity like the Secretariat Foundation is a great thing to do, people are struggling.

So, below you’ll find the recipe for the Mint Julep variation that those attending the $1,000 Mint Julep Experience will be enjoying. It’s up to you if you want to offer it on Derby Day to raise funds for the Secretariat Foundation or a charity of your choosing. It’s perfectly reasonable to simply offer the refreshing cocktail as a Derby Day LTO.

Pack a Julep cup with crushed ice, making sure to make a dome over the lip of the cup. Add the whiskey and liqueur to a mixing glass and stir. Pour over the prepared cup. Garnish with one sprig of mint and one stalk of Virginia bluebells.

Should you prefer a more traditional build, express the oils of a mint leaf inside the cup. Add the bourbon, chestnut liqueur, and crushed ice. Garnish with more crushed ice, mint, and Virginia bluebells, then serve.

For our most bourbon-centric Bar Hacks podcast episodes—including episode 32 with Woodford Reserve—click here.

Images: Woodford Reserve

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Reduce Discounts, Increase Profits

Reduce Discounts, Increase Profits

by David Klemt

Scientific calculator on top of cash

There’s reason to be optimistic about generating revenue this year but operators must also be savvy if they want to boost their bottom lines.

Put another way, the growth some industry organizations and experts are predicting isn’t just going to occur. We’re optimistic about 2023 as well, but it’s going to take hard work and shrewdness.

As we know now, the National Restaurant Association is forecasting massive sales this year. In fact, the NRA projects the foodservice industry will generate $997 billion in sales. That’s nearly a trillion dollars just from the foodservice space.

Clearly, that’s a big number. It’s also $60 billion more in sales than the industry generated in 2022. That’s impressive in and of itself, surpassing the 2022 sales forecast by almost $40 billion.

Okay, so those are a lot of big numbers. Should foodservice outperform the forecast again, the industry will pass the trillion-dollar mark. And I know every owner and operator, be they independent, chain or franchisee, wants a healthy share.

However, impressive as those numbers are, they’re just that: numbers. Operators will still have to do the work to increase traffic; convert first-timers to repeat guests; and increase revenue. Fail in those tasks and there’s no reason to expect profits to rise.

It’s math, after all, not magic.

One way operators can increase revenue and profits is to offer fewer discounts. Really, this isn’t an incredible concept: If more guests pay full price, operators see more profits.

Real-world Example

Costs are up nearly across the board, and it can be tempting to offer discounts in an attempt to increase traffic. However, one group has shown over the past couple of years that discounts don’t need to be an operator’s go-to traffic- and sales-boosting tactic.

Carrols Restaurant Group is a Burger King franchisee. According to Restaurant Business, the group operates more than 1,000 Burger King restaurants. So, they operate approximately one out of every seven Burger Kings in the US.

Last quarter, Carrols managed to generate more than $14 million in free-flow cash. That’s higher performance than the group has seen in the past couple of years.

A significant factor for Carrols and Burger King is backing off of discounting. Again, this isn’t groundbreaking but it’s still noteworthy. A brand that once was reliant on discounting is now backing off that model and seeing dividends.

Of course, guest perception, the guest experience, and marketing play a role. Guests must still feel they’re getting value for the dollars they spend. They must also feel that their experience, from QSR to full-service, shows that they’re valued by the restaurant. And the marketing messaging must truly speak to a brand’s guest base and bring them through the doors to spend their money.

Premiumization over Discounts

The bottom line for an operator’s bottom line is this: If prices are continually discounted, that lower price is now the actual price. At least, a discounted price is now the normal price in the eyes of guests.

In other words, an operator who discounts all the time is training their guests to only visit and buy items when prices are lower than usual.

The superior option? Offering premium LTOs that speak to a brand’s base and tempt them to spend more. LTOs don’t need to come with discounted prices. In fact, they should be treated as premium promotions and command premium prices.

Create seasonal LTOs (in one concept’s case, inventing a fifth season), as an example, to generate buzz and increase traffic. Offer premium items at premium—but fair—prices to leverage the traffic, increase sales, and boost profits.

Another strategy that’s more effective than discounts? Building a brand with which guests resonate. Guests who relate to a brand tend to visit more often and support it with their dollars.

It’s tempting to discount. Don’t give in to temptation.

Image: Karolina Grabowska on Pexels

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Do Super Bowl Ads Work on Consumers?

Do Super Bowl Ads Work on Consumers?

by David Klemt

Pepsi Zero Sugar bottle

One of the biggest Super Bowl ad winners is Pepsi Zero Sugar.

Brands spent hundreds of millions of dollars to advertise during Super Bowl LVII, but do their ads actually translate to demand for their products?

A week ago we shared our ten favorite beverage-focused Big Game ads. Along with those ads we shared some numbers.

One of those numbers was $7 million, the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad on Fox. Other numbers? $500 million and $700 million, the range of revenue it’s estimated that Fox generated this year from Super Bowl ads.

At this point, these ads and the Halftime Show have essentially become their own entities. Some people watch the Big Game for the ads, some for the show halfway through. It stands to reason that brands are well aware of this development. So, they try to create the most impactful ad possible in the hopes of generating consumer demand.

In other words, these brands aren’t spending all this money just so they’re commercial can be deemed cool. Sure, brands want that buzz. But they also want an ROI on the millions they spend.

The big question is, then, are they seeing a return? Well, it just so happens that behavioral insight platform Veylinx has a data-driven answer to that question.

In short, the answer is yes. Of course, it’s a nuanced yes. For example, it appears Gen Z doesn’t care much about Super Bowl ads, as you’ll see below. Also, non-advertisers in the same categories as Super Bowl advertisers appear to see a benefit from the ads.

You’ll learn more from the Veylinx press release below. It’s an interesting read with valuable data for restaurant, bar, and hotel operators.

NEW YORK, Feb. 22, 2023 — A new study from behavioral research company Veylinx determined whether or not Super Bowl commercials boost consumer demand for the products advertised. The results show that 2023 Super Bowl advertising fueled a 6.4% increase in demand among viewers.

The overall increase in consumer demand was driven by women, who accounted for a 21% increase in demand growth. The commercials had minimal impact on men, yielding just 1% demand growth for the brands tested. Gen Z viewers were largely unimpressed by the Super Bowl ads, with demand among 18 to 25 year olds actually shrinking by 1%.

2023 Veylinx impact of Super Bowl ads on consumers chart

“It’s not really a surprise to see that Super Bowl ads improve sales, but the short term bump alone may not be enough to justify the $7 million price tag,” said Veylinx founder and CEO Anouar El Haji. 

Using Veylinx’s proprietary methodology—which measures actual demand rather than intent—the study tested purchase behavior during the week before the Super Bowl and again the week after. The research focused on measuring the change in consumer demand for eight brands with Super Bowl ads: Michelob Ultra, Heineken 0.0%, Hellmann’s Mayo, Downy Unstopables, Crown Royal Whisky, Frito-Lay PopCorners, Pringles and Pepsi Zero Sugar. 

Super Bowl Advertising Winners Overall

Michelob Ultra – 19% increase in demand

Pepsi Zero Sugar – 18% increase in demand

Frito-Lay PopCorners – 12% increase in demand

Heineken 0.0% – 11% increase in demand

Super Bowl Advertising Winners Among Women

Pepsi Zero Sugar – 45% increase in demand

Michelob Ultra – 40% increase in demand

Heineken 0.0% – 40% increase in demand

Crown Royal Whisky – 26% increase in demand

Veylinx, top performing brands during 2023 Super Bowl

Halo Effect for Non-Advertisers

The biggest winners were arguably brands in the same product categories as Super Bowl advertisers. Non-advertisers in those categories appeared to benefit nearly as much as the advertisers: demand grew by 4.2% percent for the study’s control group of non-advertising competitors. Corona Extra, Kraft Mayo and Lay’s STAX were the greatest beneficiaries in a control group that also included Budweiser Zero, Arm & Hammer Clean Scentsations, Canadian Club Whisky, Popchips, and Coke Zero Sugar. Notably, every non-advertiser saw at least a slight increase in post-Super Bowl demand.

“The goal of our study was to look specifically at how consumer demand is affected by running a commercial during the Super Bowl,” El Haji said. “It’s possible that the non-advertisers deployed other marketing efforts to offset or take advantage of the Super Bowl advertising—or they simply benefited from increased exposure for their categories.” 

Additional Findings

Study participants also answered a series of follow-up questions about their preferences, perceptions and how they watched the Super Bowl. More than three-quarters watched at home through various platforms, the most popular being the live cable/satellite broadcast (38%), followed by YouTube TV (15%) and Hulu (10%). When asked why they watched, it’s no surprise that participants were all about the game (64%)—but the commercials were the next most popular reason for watching (39%), followed by halftime (35%), the social aspect (26%) and fear of missing out (13%). 

About the Research

Veylinx studied the behavior of 1,610 U.S. consumers pre- and post- Super Bowl LVII. Unlike typical surveys where consumers are simply asked about their purchase intent, Veylinx measures whether consumers will pay for a product through a real bidding process. Consumers reveal their true willingness to pay by placing sealed bids on products and then answering follow-up questions.

For more information about the study and the Veylinx methodology, visit

About Veylinx

Veylinx is the most realistic behavioral insights platform for confidently answering critical business questions during all stages of product innovation. To reliably predict demand, Veylinx captures insights through a Nobel Prize-winning approach in which consumers have real skin in the game. This is a major advance from traditional market research practices that rely on what consumers say they would hypothetically buy. Veylinx’s unique research methodology is trusted by the world’s largest and most innovative consumer goods companies.

Main article image: PepsiCo / Article body images: Veylinx

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