Drink holiday

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Celebrating the Baltic Porter

Celebrating the Baltic Porter

by David Klemt

Closeup of dark beer with foamy head

In just over two weeks we celebrate a rich, dark beer style with sweet malty characteristics that traces its history back to the 18th century.

Once a favorite among the working class in London, Baltic Porter is seeing a resurgence. This is, unsurprisingly, driven largely by interest from the craft beer world.

Tracing its own history to 2016, Baltic Porter Day celebrates its namesake beer. The beer holiday takes place every third Saturday in January. So, this year we celebrate Baltic Porter Day on January 21.

That should give operators enough time to prepare. One of the best ways to drive interest in this holiday—and beer style in general—is to look into local breweries. Craft breweries, brewpubs, and microbreweries around the world release Baltic Porters to celebrate this holiday.

Locality and hyper-locality are, as we know, important to many guests. That makes it a smart move to develop relationships with local brewers, distillers, farmers, vintners, etc.

Operators who don’t yet have those relationships need to commit to changing that this year. And, hey, Baltic Porter Day is an excellent reason to begin that change and approach local brewers.

What’s Baltic Porter?

In the 1700s, high-hop Pale Ale wore the beer crown in England. However, some small breweries made a run at the throne. They wanted to see a dark beer on top.

So, according to some beer historians, brewers looking to take on Pale Ale began with sweet brown beer. The beer was higher-hopped, dark, and higher alcohol with cocoa, chocolate, and coffee notes.

Porter was born, named for the working class people who embraced it: dock and street workers.

Eventually, the production and reach of Porter of small brewers was overtaken by larger breweries. This is largely due to maturation time, which translates to higher costs; it can take six to twelve months for a Porter to mature.

Over time, Porter found its way to Northern Europe, including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Those three countries are known as the Baltic states.

Brewers in those countries tried their hand at Porter production. Importantly, Baltic state brewers put their own spins on Porter. Notably, they replaced ale yeast with lager yeast.

Additional changes include replacing British hops with Baltic hops, and blending pale and dark malts. Baltic brewers roasted the malts in a drum kiln. The invention, created by Daniel Wheeler, allowed brewers to roast malts without burning them.

The Baltic Porter was born.

Characteristics of Baltic Porter

Curious operators and teams can find the official Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines for the this style here.

As a quick summary, the following are keys to Baltic Porter:

  • Appearance: Opaque dark brown to dark reddish-copper. Not black in appearance.
  • Aroma: Rich, malty sweetness with some dark malt characteristics. No hops on the aroma.
  • Flavor: A roasted but not burnt flavor. Rich, malty sweetness. Caramel, nuttiness, toffee, molasses. Dried fruit and alcohol.
  • Mouthfeel: Medium to medium-high carbonation keeps the beer from feeling “heavy” on the tongue. Smooth but full-bodied.
  • Finish: Licorice or roast coffee.

Since this beer tends to range in ABV from 6.5 to 9.5 percent, it’s wise to serve this beer with food. Think hearty fare, like barbecue, chili, and burgers, and Gouda as a cheese pairing.

Of course, local brewers should be able to offer up their own ideas for food pairings. After all, they know their beer better than anyone else.

As some sources note, people often serve Baltic Porter in a snifter. However, a pint glass is perfectly acceptable for this beer style.

Image: Peter Fischer from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Celebrate Two August Bar Holidays with Rum

Celebrate Two August Bar Holidays with Rum

by David Klemt

Rum and Coke cocktail

If you and your team have a commitment to programming and promotions, you have to love all the bar holidays available to you in August.

Not only are there six wine holidays in August, there are two holidays that call for rum. In fact, August is National Rum Month.

On August 16 you have the opportunity to program for National Rum Day. Obviously, rum is a legendary spirit with loads of history. So, you’ll want to honor it correctly—get creative and pull out all the stops.

Of course, one excellent way to celebrate rum is with famous perfect builds of classic rum cocktails. One of these classics is the iconic Mai Tai. Oh, yeah—that’s the other rum holiday in August!

After you program for Tuesday, August 16, prepare for Mai Tai Day on Tuesday, August 30.

June 30 is NOT Mai Tai Day

Now, if you Google “National Mai Tai Day” or “Mai Tai Day,” you’ll get an interesting result. You’ll see that some say National Mai Tai Day is June 30.

Well, Trader Vic’s says that’s absolutely not the case. In fact, a proclamation from the City of Oakland declares August 30 is Mai Tai Day.

On August 30, 2009, at-large councilmember Rebecca Kaplan made it official.

But why, I hear you asking (maybe, possibly), should we take Kaplan’s word for it? For me, it’s because Trader Vic’s themselves confirm that August 30 is “the real” Mai Tai Day.

Okay, but why should we take Trader Vic’s word for it? Because Trader Vic himself is the inventor of the Mai Tai.

Fact not Fiction

As I often point out when diving into cocktail history, much of what we “know” about certain drinks is lore. Either we simply can’t be 100-percent certain about a cocktail’s origins or multiple people are given the credit.

I mean, in some cases multiple people take the credit (and the glory) for themselves.

However, that’s not the case with the legendary Mai Tai. We know that Victor J. “Trader Vic” Bergeron is the classic cocktail’s creator.

Getting inspiration from traveling and operator peer Donn “Don the Beachcomber” Beach, Bergeron transformed his bar Hinky Dink into Trader Vic’s.

So, what do many (most, if we’re honest) operators like to do when they open or rebrand their business? Come up with a signature drink or dish.

In the case of Trader Vic’s, the Mai Tai was born.

The Real Mai Tai

Interestingly—perhaps sadly—the Mai Tai is often the subject of “mistreatment.” In part, we can blame Trader Vic for this.

Now, before you break out your pitchfork, I’m not vilifying Trader Vic. However, he did refuse to share his Mai Tai recipe with others. Author Wayne Curtis explains that this secrecy is “why we have so many bad Mai Tais with pineapple juice and other hideous additions.”

Those hideous additions? Juices, an array of rum styles, floats, garnishes beyond a lime shell and mint sprig… It’s likely you’ve never seen consistency in Mai Tai builds.

As Trader Vic himself tells it: “I took down a bottle of 17-year old rum. It was J. Wray & Nephew rum from Jamaica—surprisingly golden in color, medium bodied but with the rich pungent flavor particular to the Jamaican blends.”

So, that dispels the notion that you use a light rum and a dark rum to build a Mai Tai. He also only added orgeat, orange curaçao, rock candy syrup (the recipe calls for demerara simple), and fresh lime juice.

To be fair, it’s said that the popularity of the Mai Tai forced the J. Wray & Nephew rum (almost) to “extinction.” Rumor has it that original bottles can command auction prices of $50,000 or more.

Trader Vic’s Original Mai Tai Recipe

A lot of us like to put our spin on things. However, there’s an official recipe from the official creator of the Mai Tai.

So, let’s honor Trader Vic and his iconic creation. Below is the recipe that most closely follows the Trader Vic’s spec. Obviously, nobody expects you to track down a $50,000 bottle of rum to follow the original with ruthless precision.

  • 1 oz. Light rum
  • 1 oz. Dark rum
  • Fresh lime juice (keep half of the squeezed lime’s shell)
  • 0.5 oz. Orange curaçao
  • 0.25 oz. Orgeat
  • 0.25 oz. Simple syrup
  • Fresh Mint Sprig
  • 1 cup Crushed ice

Add crushed ice to a shaker. Some bartenders also add some ice cubes. Next, add the liquid ingredients, and shake. Pour—without straining—into a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the lime shell and mint spring. That’s right—the original recipe doesn’t call for a pineapple wedge or cherry.

Image: Blake Wisz on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

One White Wine, Two Wine Holidays

One White Wine, Two Wine Holidays

by David Klemt

World of Wine Porto grape wall relief

In August, operators and their front- and back-of house teams can celebrate two restaurant and bar holidays with one white wine.

Obviously, that means two bites at the apple—or grape (my apologies, I’ll see myself out)—in the same week. In turn, that generates revenue and move wine inventory.

Okay, so what wine does double duty in August? Albariño, a popular white wine with origins in Portugal. In fact, there are two countries that dominate Albariño production, Portugal and Spain.

On Monday, August 1, your guests have the opportunity to celebrate International Albariño Day. Just three days later, August 4, we have National White Wine Day. How convenient!

As we know, while many of today’s guests have their favorites and stick to them, they like to try new things. This August, add Albariño to your Chardonnay, Moscato, Pinot Grigio, and Sauvignon Blanc lineup.

So, what do you need to know about Albariño? Let’s take a look at this refreshing white wine below.

The Wine Nerd Stuff

As I say above, Albariño traces its origins to Portugal. In its home country, this varietal’s name is Alvarinho.

Most people who are familiar with Albariño are familiar with bottles from Spain. So, Albariño is the same grape as Alvarinho.

Call it by either name, this white wine is an Old World wine. In fact, some of these vines are a few hundred years old. For those wondering, Old World wines come from Europe, speaking generally. And New World wines? Well, they come from anywhere not in Europe.

However, there is indeed New World Albariño. Also, if you happen to operate a restaurant or bar in North America, these New World versions can be easy to acquire.

Unsurprisingly yet conveniently, there are wineries producing Albariño in California. Of course, these California Albariños are different than their Portuguese and Spanish counterparts. California’s Central Coast wine region is warmer than Spain’s cool Galicia region.

The Flavors and Aromas

Alright, so what’s Albariño like on the nose and palate, and how does it finish? To answer these questions, let’s look at the Old World wine first.

Again, I’m speaking about this white wine in broad strokes. You and your staff will need to taste a few bottles to understand their nuances.

So, Portuguese and Spanish Albariño tends to be light-bodied and dry, with high acidity. On the nose, expect peach and citrus like grapefruit, lemon, and lime. You may also detect a hint of wet stone, owing to its minerality.

On the palate, there’s usually a touch of salinity, plenty of acid, and notes of grapefruit, honeysuckle, nectarine, honeydew, and granite. Expect a long, dry finish.

Now, since Old World versions tend to be grown in cool climates, they tend to be light-bodied. Since Californian Albariño grows in a warmer climate, its characteristics are different.

Generally speaking, California Albariño is medium-bodied in comparison to its Old World counterparts. The Californian wines tend to have both floral and tropical notes on the nose. Along with the notes one would expect from Spanish and Portuguese wines, California Albariño can also feature orange and elderberry flavors.

Don’t Forget the Food

Obviously, wine pairs well with food—that should go without saying. And it would have too, but I said it.

Anyway, maximize guest spend by including your back-of-house team for your International Albariño Day and National White Wine Day promotions.

For this varietal, think lighter foods. Seafood, freshwater fishes, chicken, tofu, salads, grilled vegetables, and fruits pair well with Albariño.

Of course, you’ll also want to consider cheese pairings. So, try your Albariños with Chèvre, Manchego, Burrata, Feta, Gruyère, and Brie.

You have time to add some crisp, delicious Albariños from multiple regions to your menu. Create two promotions that showcase these wines and lure in your guests with irresistible pairings.

Cheers!

Image: World of Wine Porto, Portugal (Hayffield L on Unsplash)

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Cheese Pairings: Wine, Beer, Spirits

Cheese Pairings: Wine, Beer, Spirits

by David Klemt

Wine glasses and cheese board

National Wine and Cheese Day is Monday, July 25, so let’s take a look at pairings that will get mouths watering.

According to historians, people have been pairing wine with cheese for several centuries. And per scientists, this legendary pairing makes a lot of sense.

Cheese is, obviously, fatty. Further, fat is oily. Then we have alcohol, which is astringement. When we eat cheese or other fatty/oily foods, they coat the mouth. As we also know, alcohol tends to dry out our mouths.

So, the theory as to why pairing cheese with wine works comes down to balance. Of course, there’s a term for this balance you likely know: mouthfeel.

However, science has an additional theory about wine and cheese. For this theory, we look at the “flavor spectrum.” Flavors that are far apart from one another are often pleasant to us.

As an example, not many of us would appreciate a slice of cheddar cheese on top of a cheddar cheese-flavored cracker dipped in cheddar cheese sauce. That would be monotonous and boring.

Wine Pairings

  • Chardonnay and Camembert
  • Riesling and Raclette
  • Gewürztraminer and Edam
  • Pinot Grigio/Gris and Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Chenin Blanc and Chèvre
  • Sauvignon Blanc and Gouda
  • Champagne and Brie
  • Prosecco and Asiago
  • Rosé and Havarti or Fontina
  • Pinot Noir and Gruyère
  • Merlot and Camembert or Gorgonzola
  • Shiraz (Australian-style varietal) and sharp Cheddar or smoked Gouda
  • Syrah (French-style varietal) and Pecorino or Roquefort
  • Malbec and Manchego
  • Sangiovese and Fontina or Parmigiano Reggiano

Beer Pairings

Perhaps your guests would prefer to celebrate National Wine and Cheese Day with a substitution. Like, for instance, swapping out wine for beer.

Well, it turns out cheese goes great with many styles of beer.

  • American Pale Ale and American Cheddar
  • Amber Ale and Gouda or Brie
  • Witbier and goat cheese
  • Hefeweisen and Feta
  • American Lager and Mozzarella
  • American Pilsner and Chèvre
  • IPA and Parmigiano Reggiano or Blue Cheese
  • Brown Ale and Gouda
  • Porter and Muenster or Gruyère
  • Stout and Blue Cheese

Spirits Pairings

Hey, beer isn’t the only beverage that we can swap with wine. Interestingly, several categories of spirit pair well with cheese.

As with wine and beer, it’s crucial to try pairings with specific spirits before offering them to guests.

  • Vodka and Cheddar or Blue Cheese
  • Gin: London Dry and Pecorino; Genever and Triple Cream Brie; Plymouth and Époisses de Bourgogne
  • Brandy and Butterkäse
  • Rum and Fontina
  • Mezcal and aged Cheddar or Pecorino
  • Tequila: Blanco and Brie or Feta; Reposado and Manchego; Añejo and Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Bourbon and Parmigiano Reggiano
  • Rye and Gouda
  • Irish whiskey and Brie or Camembert
  • Scotch: Light-bodied and Comté; Full-bodied and Stilton. For a deeper dive into pairing Scotch with cheese, click here.

Image: Allison Kettlety on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

by David Klemt

Whiskey in Fine & Rare NYC glass

This Saturday is the eleventh annual celebration of World Whisky Day, the perfect day to highlight your whisky and cocktail menus.

One revenue-generating method of drawing in guests is a promotion showcasing popular, lesser-known, or rare whiskies. Operators can also create a whisky and beer combo promotion.

Of course, there’s also the specialty cocktail menu. There are a few different approaches to this promotion.

An operator and their bar team can focus on one specific cocktail, offering three or four “takes” on it. Another way to make this work is to take the same cocktail and feature a different whisky in each one.

A different approach is to create a World Whisky Day menu consisting of three or more of the most popular whisky cocktails. To help you identify which drinks to feature we looked into the top whisky drinks. Check them out below.

Old Fashioned

C’mon—you knew this was going to be on the list before you read past the title of this article. Drinks Digest ranked the Old Fashioned the number-one cocktail of 2021.

VinePair‘s list didn’t rank their most-popular cocktails overtly but this classic got its expected mention.

Manhattan

Just like the Old Fashioned, you expected this drink to make this list. While it can certainly be made with bourbon or an array of single malt American whiskies, the Manhattan shines when made with rye.

Whisky Sour

As Drinks International points out, the Whisky Sour may not be the top drink in most bars. In fact, it may not make it into their top three.

However, the simple but refreshing Whisky Sour is at least in the top ten of several bars, making it a solid choice for your specialty menu.

Boulevardier

Want to get some of the cocktail aficionados among your guests to flip out? Tell them loudly and confidently that the Boulevardier is better than the Negroni. That’ll certainly get them talking.

Or, hey, don’t do that. Just perfect this bourbon cocktail, a cousin of the Negroni, and highlight your build for World Whisky Day.

Mint Julep

The Kentucky Derby may be over but summer is just around the corner. People are still craving this centuries-old cocktail and VinePair called it “essential” last year.

Sazerac

Like many classics, the Sazerac was “medicinal” when it was first created in the 1830s. In 2008, this drink was made the official cocktail of New Orleans by the Louisiana state legislature.

The Sazerac is another cocktail recipe that VinePair said was an essential one for bars in 2021.

Vieux Carré

It’s difficult to overstate the important role New Orleans has played and continues to play in American cocktail culture.

The recipe, created about 100 years after the Sazerac, combines American whisky (rye, traditionally), Cognac, Bénédictine, sweet vermouth, and Peychaud’s bitters.

Penicillin

Created by Sam Ross when he was behind the stick at Milk & Honey, this is my favorite whisky cocktail. The recipe was one of Punch’s most popular last year, and it was on Drinks International’s top 50 list for 2021.

On a personal note, this is one of my all-time favorite whisky cocktails. In fact, the Penicillin is one of my favorite cocktails in general.

Honorable Mentions

These may not be top sellers for most bars (if any) but they’re worth consideration for World Whisky Day.

The Chauncey is a 1:1:1:1 combination of rye whisky, Cognac, gin, and sweet vermouth plus two dashes of orange bitters, served up.

Of course, there’s also the Mule, which lends itself to an incredible number of riffs. Select a whisky or two to come up with specialty Mules of your own.

Irish whisky stands out in an Irish coffee, which can be served iced/frozen when it’s hot outside.

And then we have the Rob Roy. If you want to be glib about it, this is a Manhattan made with Scotch rather than rye whisky.

Your Own Data

There’s an excellent resource for determining what drinks to feature at your restaurant or bar. It’s quite literally at your fingertips: your POS.

If you want to know what your guests are drinking and what they want, run a report.

How deep you get into the data is up to you, of course. Monthly, quarterly, seasonally, annually… There are myriad methods to determine your World Whisky Day’s best options.

Sure, you can probably safely assume that your top whisky cocktails are the same as those above. But why not be absolutely certain with your own data? You invest money and time into your POS—wring everything you can out of it.

Also, your bar team and servers. Ask them what whiskies guests have been asking for that you don’t have.

Use your POS to identify the whiskies gathering dust in your stockroom, then find a way to move them quickly (a well-priced LTO should work) and replace them with what guests want.

Image: YesMore Content on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: Feb. ’22

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: February ’22

by David Klemt

Stay Weird neon sign with purple background

Want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Then commit to keeping it weird.

Several “holidays” are set against every date on the calendar, and February is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to food-centric to weird.

Pay attention to the latter to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, weird or otherwise. And this month’s list in no way includes every odd holiday.

Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

For last month’s list, click here.

February 1: Work Naked Day

Actually, ignore this holiday. But wow, February is coming out swinging.

February 2: Play Your Ukulele Day

Does anyone on your staff play the ukulele? What about your guests? If you think you can handle it, encourage them to bring their ukuleles and throw down at your restaurant or bar. Live entertainment has never sounded so tropical.

February 7: E-Day

This holiday, contrary to what you may be thinking, isn’t about celebrating electronics, email, or vaping. Rather, E-Day is dedicated to honoring the mathematical constant e. Your Pi Day fans will likely appreciate you celebrating E-Day, which you can do by offering F&B items that begin with the letter “E.”

February 8: Laughy and Get Rich Day

If only it were that easy, eh? This holiday is all about having fun, having some laughs, and appreciating simple pleasures. If any holiday is about the pursuit of happiness and enriching our lives with fun and laughter, this is it.

February 15: National Gumdrop Day

With all the candies out there, do people still know about gumdrops? They can be traced back to the 17th century and were first written about in the 1850s. Talk about a throwback! If you can get your hands on some, they make great garnishes for the right cocktails.

February 18:  National Crab Stuffed Flounder Day

Do you have flounder? Do you have crab? And do you have a kitchen staff that can stuff the latter into the former? Then you have everything you need to celebrate but this simple, seafood-focused holiday.

February 22: National Cook a Sweet Potato Day

Of course, if you’re operating a restaurant—or a bar with a kitchen—you can cook more than one sweet potato. Rich in nutrition and flavor, sweet potatoes can be the star or an incredible co-star in a wide range of dishes. Come up with a sweet potato-focused holiday menu and promote it on social media.

February 24: National Toast Day

This holiday is great for featuring breakfast all day, breakfast for dinner, toasted sandwiches… You can also plan and execute an event during which you host a group toast with a specific drink. Cheers!

February 26: National No Brainer Day

Knowing your guests and community will really help you celebrate this holiday. If there’s a food or beverage item or a local custom or event you know your guests love, this is the day to create a promotion around it.

February 28: National Floral Design Day

It’s interesting that this holiday takes place two weeks after Valentine’s Day, a holiday that has traditionally involved giving or receiving flowers. Intended to celebrate the art of floral design, you can celebrate this holiday with edible flower garnishes. Such garnishes just happen to photograph very well for social media, so your guests can help promote your venue.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

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