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5 Books to Read this Month: December 2023

5 Books to Read this Month: December 2023

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative December book selections will help you and your team transform your operations and F&B programming.

This month, we look at books covering an array of topics. There’s an alcohol-free cocktail recipe book, an exploration of some of America’s most unique hotels, and more.

To review the book recommendations from November 2023, click here.

Let’s jump in!

The Mocktail Club: Classic Recipes (and New Favorites) Without the Booze

Some people find the word “mocktail” is one of the best to label their alcohol-free drinks. Others find the word condescending. Regardless of which camp you find yourself in, The Mocktail Club should help you expand your zero-proof menu.

From Amazon:The Art of Mixology meets mocktails in this beautiful collection of 75 alcohol-free recipes for classic drinks, new flavor concoctions, and twists on old favorites, so you can experience the joy of cocktail creation without the booze!

Pre-order it today. This book is available on January 2, 2024.

Hotel Kitsch: A Pretty Cool Tour of America’s Fantasy Getaways

We love a creative independent hotel brand, unique resort, or one-of-a-kind motel. Any place with endless details to discover and appreciate that places value on offering unforgettable experiences during a guest’s stay. This book captures such hotels and motels in a series of photographs that should inspire operators to follow through with their incredible visions.

From Amazon: “From the photographers and inveterate travelers behind the social media sensation A Pretty Cool Hotel Tour, Hotel Kitsch celebrates dozens of creative, nostalgic, one-of-a-kind hotels that span the heart of the Poconos and across the United States to Mexico, Spain, and the UK. Discover, in the middle of Iowa, a jungle room with fake trees and foliage surrounding the bed as if it had taken its cue from Where the Wild Things Are. Or Jules’ Undersea Lodge in Key Largo where the rooms are reached by scuba diving. An Arctic Cave room at a hotel in Kentucky with its carved blue walls and not a window to be found. And on the California coast, the iconic Madonna Inn featuring 110 rooms, each themed and no two alike.”

Grab it today.

The Hospitality Mentality: Create Raving Fans Through Your Guest Experience

This book is so new it isn’t available until tomorrow, December 5. New book, fresh ideas to lead you into the new year.

The Hospitality Mentality is all about empowering your team to deliver impeccable service and unforgettable memories, keeping them coming back to your venue for more.

From Amazon: “Business leaders will gain inspiration to take their service standard to the next level, knowing that this is an area that cannot plateau. Readers will be motivated to go above and beyond guests’ expectations through creating hyper-personalized experiences, amplifying enthusiasm, anticipating needs, and crafting superior ‘wow’ moments that solidify memories that take satisfaction to the next level. By maximizing the benefit of guest feedback and directly addressing complaints, service providers can strengthen their relationship with their guests, ultimately leading to business/brand loyalty.”

Get the paperback today!

Reinvent: Navigating Business Transformation in a Hyperdigital Era

This business book has earned a number of accolades since its publication earlier this year:

  • Wall Street Journal bestseller
  • Silver for Best Business Book in the 2023 Globee® Awards for Business, The 21st Annual American Business Awards®
  • 2023 Best Business Book of The Year, Silver Stevie Winner

The hospitality industry, as operators are all too aware, has been making massive strides when it comes to technology the past few years. However, as Reinvent also says, you can’t just plug in a tech solution, expect it to work, and say your brand and business are transformed.

From Amazon: “From top to bottom, organizations will be compelled to change entire mindsets, attitudes, and assumptions about how they operate, how they can grow, and even the very reason for their existence. This book introduces readers to ideas, concepts, and a comprehensive framework (LIFTS) that they can use to better position themselves and their organizations to reap the greatest number of benefits that business and digital transformation can afford. It’s a journey rich with promise that explains complex concepts in an understandable common language.”

Order the hardcover today.

Bar Hacks: Developing The Fundamentals for an Epic Bar

This informative and conversational book is the perfect read for aspiring or seasoned bar, pub, lounge, or even restaurant owners, operators, and managers looking for that competitive edge in operations! If you’re looking for both fundamental and in-depth planning methods, strategies, and industry focused insight to either start or grow a scalable, sustainable, memorable, profitable, and consistent venue in today’s cut-throat industry, Bar Hacks is written just for you.

Pick up the paperback from Amazon today!

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Gen Z Shifting the Restaurant Landscape

Gen Z Shifting the Restaurant Landscape

by Nathen Dubé

People holding phones over a pizza

I think we can admit every demographic snaps pics of their food now.

The next wave of restaurant guests is ready to be won over. Our industry is on the cusp of a monumental shift, and Generation Z is at the helm.

As they come into their own, both socially and economically, this vibrant generation is poised to redefine dining as we know it. With their digital-first mindset, staggering spending power, and penchant for loyalty, Gen Z is a demographic that no restaurant can afford to overlook.

Comprising nearly a quarter of the American economy, Gen Z is a force to be reckoned with. Born in 1993 or later, they command an awe-inspiring $250 billion in spending power.

But what’s truly remarkable is their approach to dining. Generally speaking, eating out is not an occasional indulgence for this generation; it’s a regular part of life.

In fact, the majority of Gen Zers frequent restaurants at least once a week, a statistic that’s all the more astonishing when you consider that many are not even old enough to drive.

As this generation matures and their financial standing improves, they are set to become the next wave of loyal restaurant patrons. To capture their attention and build lasting relationships, restaurants must focus on three pivotal areas: cutting-edge technology, customizable menus/personalization, and one-of-a-kind experiences.

By proactively adapting to meet the unique needs and desires of Gen Z, restaurants can not only win their business but also secure a prosperous future in an ever-evolving industry.

So, the question isn’t whether to adapt to Gen Z. Rather, the question is, how quickly can you do it?

The next generation of restaurant-goers is not just knocking at the door, they’re already here. And they’re ready to dine.


Generation Z is a digitally native cohort, seamlessly integrating smart technology into every facet of their lives—from smart cars to smartphones.

To engage with this generation of guests effectively, it’s imperative for restaurants to have a mobile-optimized online menu. Given Gen Z’s penchant for quick, easily digestible information, a streamlined, fast-loading menu is key.

Highlighting elements like flavors and health-conscious options can serve as compelling selling points.

The Digital Investment Dilemma

While the allure of digital innovation is undeniable, it comes with its own set of challenges, primarily financial.

However, there is good news.

Investing in robust digital systems is essential for ensuring a smooth guest experience. This investment often yields dividends in the form of operational efficiency and heightened customer loyalty—two factors crucial to long-term success.

Gen Z, in particular, is quick to embrace modern conveniences like alcohol delivery and digital ordering, signaling a clear trajectory for the restaurant industry’s future.

Additionally, many innovative tech solutions integrate with platforms operators use currently. Where this is the case, the new tools can enhance operations, automation, marketing campaigns, back of house, etc., which justifies the initial outlay.

Augmented Reality: A New Frontier in Dining

Augmented reality (AR) in the dining space is an emerging trend with boundless potential. Although the initial costs of integrating AR can be steep, the payoff in terms of guest engagement is substantial.

Imagine a dining scenario during which guests can use AR glasses or goggles to access nutritional information about their meal instantly. The possibilities are as limitless as they are exciting.

Staying ahead of the curve with tech ensures restaurants not only attract Gen Z but also offer an enhanced dining experience that sets them apart in a competitive market and attracts guests of all ages.

The future of dining is here, and it’s digital, customizable, and incredibly interactive. Are you ready to be a part of it?

Social Media

When it comes to capturing the attention of Gen Z, social media is a goldmine.

While Facebook may not be their platform of choice, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are where they’re most active.

These platforms are ideal for sharing quick, engaging six- to 15-second videos that resonate with Gen Z’s fast-paced and humorous nature. Bear in mind, video not only killed the radio star, it has surpassed static photography as the engagement format of choice.

And don’t underestimate the influence of even the youngest among them; they often have a significant say in family dining decisions.

Social Media: The Modern-Day Word-of-Mouth

In today’s digital landscape, social media isn’t just a platformit’s a potent marketing arsenal.

Gen Z is particularly vocal about their dining experiences, often sharing them online for their followers to see. This user-generated content serves as invaluable, organic marketing that can drive both foot traffic and revenue.

In essence, social media has become the new word-of-mouth, and restaurants should actively encourage this form of authentic promotion.

The WiFi Factor

Offering free WiFi isn’t just a courtesy, it’s strategic.

By becoming a wireless hotspot, you’re also positioning yourself as a dining hotspot.

Free WiFi enables Gen Z patrons to stay connected, even while enjoying a meal with family or friends. They can easily share texts, photos, and perhaps even a glowing review, providing your restaurant with the kind of word-of-mouth advertising that money can’t buy.

By embracing these digital and social strategies, restaurants can not only attract the Gen Z audience but also create a dynamic, interactive dining environment that appeals to all.

The future of the restaurant industry is undeniably digital, and those who adapt will not just survive but thrive. Are you prepared for this exciting new chapter in dining?


The culinary landscape is evolving, and Gen Z is at the forefront of this transformation.

Authentic and Global Flavors: The Culinary Passport

In an era marked by globalization, Gen Z’s palate is as diverse as their worldview.

Their affinity for authentic, global flavors is more than a trend, it’s a reflection of a world where borders are increasingly blurred. As international cuisines become more accessible, they’re also becoming a staple on restaurant menus.

For restaurateurs, this provides an opportunity to diversify and enrich their culinary offerings.

Fusion: The Art of Culinary Innovation

Fusion foods are not merely a passing fad. Truly, fusion is a celebration of culinary creativity.

This trend allows chefs to push the boundaries of traditional cooking, often creating unique, high-value dishes that enhance a restaurant’s revenue potential.

In many ways, fusion embodies the inclusive and diverse spirit of Gen Z, making this culinary approach a hit among this demographic.

Experiential Dining: The Rise of the Experience Economy

The move towards experiential dining is part of a larger shift in consumer behavior, where experiences are valued over material goods.

Restaurants offering interactive experiences like cooking classes, wine tastings, or farm-to-table events are tapping into this lucrative trend.

Gen Z, in particular, is drawn to such experiential dining options, as well as to culinary fusions and fresh, natural ingredients.

A New Wave of Flavors and Dining Options

Unique flavors like yuzu, tamarind, and lemongrass are more than just exotic additions. These flavors and ingredients are becoming mainstream, particularly among Gen Z.

Educational food services, from grade schools participating in the National Restaurant Association’s Kids LiveWell program to college campuses offering “campus cuisine,” are also playing a role.

These institutions are introducing Gen Z to a wide array of international flavors and dietary options, including vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free choices.

By understanding and embracing these trends, restaurants can position themselves as forward-thinking establishments ready to meet the diverse needs and preferences of Gen Z.

The future of dining is here, and it’s as varied, interactive, and global as the generation it serves. Are you ready to be a part of this culinary revolution?

Crafting the Ultimate Customizable Dining Experience

When it comes to dining, Gen Z values customization above all else. They want their meals tailored to their preferences, and they want them now.

While staples like burgers and pizza remain popular, it would be a mistake to pigeonhole their tastes.

According to Technomic’s The Generational Consumer Trend Report, Gen Z has a broader palate, embracing a range of global cuisines like Chinese, Mexican, and pasta at rates higher than any other generation.

A Melting Pot of Influences

This global appetite is more than just a random preference. Rather, it’s a reflection of Gen Z’s diverse background and the adventurous spirit of their Gen X parents.

But the driving force behind it all is the allure of customization.

Imagine a dining table where each person has their own uniquely crafted taco, creating a communal dining experience rich in personalization. This aligns perfectly with insights from Flavor & The Menu’s Generational Flavors report, which highlights the importance of affordability, value, and convenience to Gen Z diners.

The Customization Kings: Why Subway and Chipotle Reign Supreme

It’s no coincidence that eateries like Subway and Chipotle are among Gen Z’s favorites. These establishments have mastered the art of customization while also offering affordability and convenience—three key factors that resonate with this generation.

By recognizing and capitalizing on these trends, restaurants can craft the ultimate dining experience that not only appeals to Gen Z but also sets them apart in a highly competitive market.

The future of dining is customizable, diverse, and incredibly exciting. Are you prepared to meet the demands of this new generation of discerning diners?

Social Responsibility

A Win-Win for Brands and Consumers

For Gen Z, social responsibility isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a way of life. And this focus translates into tangible economic gains for restaurants.

Brands that actively engage in social responsibility have seen a four-percent uptick in sales. This demonstrates that doing good is also good for business.

This generation is more likely to patronize establishments that resonate with their values, making corporate social responsibility not just an ethical imperative but a savvy business strategy.

Health and Wellness: The New Currency

Gen Z’s emphasis on better-for-you options extends to their dining choices.

According to Technomic, features like recycling, sustainable food practices, and health-conscious menu items can significantly boost restaurant traffic.

But it doesn’t stop there.

This generation is willing to pay a premium for quality and health benefits, opening up lucrative revenue streams for restaurants that offer premium, health-focused menus. This is not a fleeting trend but a market shift, propelled by Gen Z’s prioritization of quality over quantity.

Sustainability: The Green Dividend

The push for sustainability is evolving from an ethical stance to an economic imperative. With government incentives encouraging eco-friendly practices and a consumer base willing to pay extra for sustainable options, going green is increasingly profitable.

This creates a virtuous cycle where businesses can contribute to environmental conservation while also boosting their bottom line.

By aligning with these core values—social responsibility, health and wellness, and sustainability—restaurants can attract the discerning Gen Z but also position themselves for long-term success in a rapidly evolving market.

The future of dining is socially responsible, health-conscious, and eco-friendly. Are you ready to embrace it?

The Social Hub

Coffee Shops as Gen Z’s Gathering Grounds

Starbucks and similar coffee shops have become social hubs for Gen Z.

Offering specialty coffee experiences in an adult-like setting, these establishments have become the go-to spots for socializing among those too young for adult beverages.

A Diverse Palette of Beverages

When it comes to drinks, Gen Z’s preferences are as diverse as their food choices.

While soda remains a popular option, this generation is also more inclined than others to opt for healthier alternatives like lemonade, bottled water, fruit juice, and smoothies.

Highlighting these better-for-you options can be a smart move for restaurants looking to cater to this health-conscious demographic.

Nutritional Transparency: A Win for All

In a world where regulatory scrutiny around food labeling is intensifying, transparency is key.

Restaurants that provide nutritional information voluntarily not only cater to the health-focused mindset of Gen Z but also position themselves as responsible businesses in the eyes of both regulators and the broader community.

In Conclusion: The Future of Dining is Here, and It’s Gen Z

As we’ve explored, Gen Z is redefining the dining landscape in numerous ways—from their penchant for customization and global flavors to their focus on social responsibility, health, and sustainability.

By understanding and adapting to these multifaceted preferences, restaurants can not only attract this influential demographic but also set themselves up for long-term success in an ever-changing industry.

The future of dining is not just about food; it’s about creating an experience that resonates with the values and lifestyles of the next generation of consumers.

Are you ready to be a part of this exciting culinary evolution?

Image: Yoav Aziz on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality. Bar Restaurant Hotel. Project Support. Project Management. Start Up.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: November 2023

5 Books to Read this Month: November 2023

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative November book selections will help you and your team transform your operations and F&B programming.

This month, we look at a new branding and marketing book. We also dive into agave spirits and cuisine from the Canadian Prairies.

There’s an eye-opening exploration into the topic of technology, culture, and the “alignment problem,” as well.

To review the book recommendations from October 2023, click here.

Let’s jump in!

The Restaurant Marketing Mindset: A Comprehensive Guide to Establishing Your Restaurant’s Brand, from Concept to Launch and Beyond

If you haven’t had the opportunity to hear Chip Klose speak, look into his books. His latest The Restaurant Marketing Mindset, came out in early October. As the title suggests, this book is for anyone who’s struggling with branding and marketing, or who simply wants a fresh perspective on this crucial element of operations.

From Amazon: “Restaurants boast some of the highest failure rates of any industry, yet even worse is the sheer number of concepts that struggle just to break even. In The Restaurant Marketing Mindset, Chip Klose introduces a series of mindset shifts and actionable frameworks to help owners and operators finally take control of their marketing.

With more than twenty years of operational experience—plus an MBA in food marketing—Klose has the authority, experience, and track record needed to speak confidently on the subject. Each lesson stacks one on top of the other, giving the reader a step-by-step plan to attract more diners, retain those diners, and spark word of mouth with the ones who matter most.

This book is for any chef, owner, or operator who’s ever felt overwhelmed when it comes to marketing their restaurant. Each chapter is filled with powerful insights to help you build a more profitable (and sustainable) business.”

Pick it up today!

Prairie: Seasonal, Farm-Fresh Recipes Celebrating the Canadian Prairies

This engaging cookbook features 1oo traditional and creative recipes highlighting Canadian Prairie cuisine. These seasonal, farm-to-table recipes are sure to impress your guests.

From Amazon: “No matter the season, the Prairies are all about preserving every ounce of food, so of course there’s also tons of helpful tips and tricks on reducing food waste. There’s even a Staples chapter with recipes for stocking your pantry to keep you cooking all year long. Both a love letter to Canada’s grandest provinces and an indispensable collection of recipes, Prairie is as inviting and bountiful as the region it celebrates.”

Agave Spirits: The Past, Present, and Future of Mezcals

The authors of this informative book visited eight Mexican states to learn all they could about mezcal. By extension, they learned not only about traditional production but also where this hugely popular spirits category is headed for the future.

From Amazon: “The result of the authors’ fieldwork and on-the-ground interviews with mezcaleros in eight Mexican states, Agave Spirits shows how traditional methods of mezcal production are inspiring a new generation of individuals, including women, both in and beyond the industry. And as they reach back into a rich, centuries-long history, Nabhan and Suro Pinera make clear that understanding the story behind a bottle of mezcal, more than any other drink, will not only reveal what lies ahead for the tradition―including its ability to adapt in the face of the climate crisis―but will also enrich the drinking experience for readers.”

The Alignment Problem: Machine Learning and Human Values

When we build automated systems, we’re placing a lot of trust in our expertise. And because humans are fallible, the systems we build are far from perfect.

From Amazon: “Today’s ‘machine-learning’ systems, trained by data, are so effective that we’ve invited them to see and hear for us—and to make decisions on our behalf. But alarm bells are ringing. Recent years have seen an eruption of concern as the field of machine learning advances. When the systems we attempt to teach will not, in the end, do what we want or what we expect, ethical and potentially existential risks emerge. Researchers call this the alignment problem.”

Hacking the New Normal: Hitting the Reset Button on the Hospitality Industry

The world around us has changed. The food and beverage industry has changed. The hospitality industry has changed. But will some ways of life change for the better? Will perhaps the restaurant, bar, and hospitality industry come out even stronger? With the right changes to the previous status quo, it is possible. There’s no question, resets are major undertakings, but a major reset will provide us with a clean start and that’s what this industry needs.

Pick up KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey’s second book today! Click here.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality. Business Coach. Restaurant Coach. Hotel Coach. Hospitality Coach. Mindset Coach.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Last-minute Halloween Cocktails!

Last-minute Halloween Cocktails!

by David Klemt

Jameson Irish Whiskey Witches' Brew cocktail

If you perhaps let Halloween preparations get by you, have no fear: here are three Jameson Irish Whiskey cocktails that pair well with different candies.

These aren’t just any three cocktails, however. Instead, Jameson is recommending these drinks because they happen to pair well with three distinct flavors:

  • Tart and sour;
  • sweet; and
  • chocolate.

Makes sense, right? As guests arrive, hopefully in costumes, they may bring candy with them. Or, you may be serving up some mini-candies along with the drinks crossing your bar.

Either way, the drinks below will enhance the guest experience by pairing with an array of candies.

Cheers! Or, boo! Whatever you think is clever, I dunno.

Tart & Sour

Let’s say a guest is munching on some SweeTARTS, Sour Patch Kids, or Warheads. Basically, they’re enjoying tart and/or sour candies this Halloween.

The drink below, according to Jameson, will pair well with those candy flavors.

Jameson Irish Whiskey Witches' Brew cocktail

Witches’ Brew

Out of these three cocktails, this one requires the most prep. You’re going to steep teabags in boiling water and let it cool.

And if you choose to make your own raspberry syrup, your bar team will have to simmer water with sugar and raspberries for a couple of minutes. This will also have to cool before use.

However, this is a large-format drink, so the following recipe allows you to prebatch before guests descend on your bar.

  • 1 bottle Jameson Irish Whiskey
  • 1 carton Cranberry juice
  • 17 oz. Mint tea
  • 3.5 oz. Raspberry syrup
  • 6 Whole limes
  • 1 Orange
  • 12 Raspberries

Start by filling a large vessel with 17 ounces of boiling water. Add six mint teabags and let steep. Once cool, remove teabags. Juice the limes, slice the orange, and add to the vessel with the raspberries. Add the Jameson, cranberry juice, and syrup. Serve in a rocks glass over ice and garnish with raspberries and lime zest.

To make the syrup: In case you haven’t made syrup before, simply add 250mg of water, 250mg of sugar, and 100 grams of raspberries to a pot or saucepan and boil. After reducing to a simmer for two minutes, remove the pot or pan from heat. Let the syrup steep until cool, strain, bottle, and toss in a fridge.


Does your guest have a sweet tooth? Are they chowing down on sweet, overly sugary candy? Maybe they’re throwing handfuls of candy corn down their gullet.

This is the drink for them!

Jameson Irish Whiskey Blood Rising cocktail

Blood Rising

From the most complex cocktail on this list to a simpler recipe.

Per Jameson, this cocktail is also known as the Blood Boiler.

  • 1 2/3 parts Jameson Black Barrel
  • 1 2/3 parts Lillet Rouge
  • 1 2/3 parts Orange juice
  • 1 1/6 parts Berry Syrup
  • Orange wedge to garnish
  • Berries to garnish

Prepare a rocks glass by placing a large ice cube inside. Combine all the liquid ingredients in the glass over the cube. Stir, then garnish with the orange and berries

To make the berry syrup: See the instructions above for the raspberry syrup.


I mean…chocolate. C’mon, it’s a loaded Halloween candy category. Snickers, Kit Kat bars, Milky Way bars, M&Ms, it doesn’t matter.

If a guest can’t resist the siren song of chocolate, the cocktail below will pair well with chocolatey notes.

Jameson Irish Whiskey Cold Brew Bittersweet Goodbye cocktail

Jameson Cold Brew Bittersweet Goodbye

If you’ve left your Halloween drink menu to the last minute, this is probably the quickest recipe on this list.

  • 1 1/3 parts Jameson Cold Brew
  • 1 1/3 parts Campari
  • 1 part Blood orange juice
  • 3 parts Tonic water
  • 1 Slice of a blood orange or red grapefruit to garnish

Fill a highball with ice, then add the first three ingredients. Add the tonic water and garnish.

Note: Orange also goes well with chocolate, so consider playing with Jameson Orange Whiskey if you have the time.

Images via Jameson Irish Whiskey

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Menu Development Drinks Food

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

These are the 50 Best Bars of 2023

These are the 50 Best Bars of 2023

by David Klemt

Tres Monos bar in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tres Monos in Buenos Aires is number 11 and the winner of the Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award.

According to the World’s 50 Best, these stunning examples of operations, service, and atmosphere from around the globe are the best bars of 2023.

For the first time, the incredible collection of bars was revealed during a ceremony in Singapore. I watched this year’s ceremony via the World’s 50 Best Bars live stream and the energy was palpable just through the screen. We’ll have to consider attending the 2024 ceremony in person.

The 50 bars that have earned placement on this list should serve as inspiration for operators and hospitality professionals throughout the world. Whether considering operations, service, building a top-performing team, menu, design, or atmosphere, these bars are reaping the rewards of hard work and a commitment to hospitality.

As we’ve had the incredible honor of speaking with a number of the bars on this year’s list for our Bar Hacks podcast, we’ve linked a few of the bars below to their episodes.

The Numbers

The 15th edition of World’s 50 Best Bars ranks bars in 28 cities from around the globe.

Among individual cities, London claims the most bars on this year’s list with five. Further, two of those bars are in the top ten.

Mexico City is home to four bars on the list, while New York boasts three, plus the winner of the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award. These two cocktail bar titans will go head to head for some time from what I can see, and we’re all the better for this friendly rivalry.

Overall, the UK is home to six venues on the 2023 list. Also performing well are the US and Italy, with each claiming five bars on the 2023 list. With four bars, each in Mexico City, Mexico also does very well for 2023.

This year’s host city, Singapore, boasts three bars, along with the Bar Design Award recipient. Greece also earns three spots, with one bar taking home the Legend of the List Award. There are three bars on the list in Argentina as well, all in Buenos Aires. One of these bars offers such outstanding service that it’s this year’s Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award recipient.

Another country with three bars on the list is Spain. Not only can the country now boast about being home to the bar holding the number one spot, it’s also where number four is located. Oh, and the number four bar just happens to be last year’s top bar in the world. Clearly, Barcelona is staking a claim to the Cocktail Capital of the World.

Sadly, Canada isn’t represented on this year’s list. However, Civil Liberties in Toronto does hold the number 73 spot.

Congratulations to the bars and their teams on the 2023 list, and the individual award winners! Cheers!

The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023

  1. Galaxy Bar (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  2. Jewel of the South (New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America)
  3. Atlas (Singapore)
  4. The Clumsies (Athens, Greece)
  5. Locale Firenze (Florence, Italy)
  6. Baltra Bar (Mexico City, Mexico)
  7. L’Antiquario (Naples, Italy)
  8. Carnaval (Lima, Perú)
  9. 1930 (Milan, Italy)
  10. Scarfes Bar (London, England, United Kingdom)
  11. Mimi Kakushi (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  12. Panda & Sons (Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom)
  13. The Cambridge Public House (Paris, France)
  14. Bar Benfiddich (Tokyo, Japan)
  15. The SG Club (Tokyo, Japan)
  16. 🔶🟥🔵 A Bar with Shapes for a Name (London, England, United Kingdom)
  17. Argo (Hong Kong, China)
  18. Freni e Frizioni (Rome, Italy)
  19. Sago House (Singapore)
  20. Röda Huset (Stockholm, Sweden)
  21. Florería Atlántico (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  22. Wax On (Berlin, Germany)
  23. Satan’s Whiskers (London, England, United Kingdom)
  24. Katana Kitten (New York, New York, United States of America)
  25. CoChinChina (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  26. Baba Au Rum (Athens, Greece)
  27. Café La Trova (Miami, Florida, United States of America)
  28. Caretaker’s Cottage (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
  29. Hanky Panky (Mexico City, Mexico)
  30. Drink Kong (Rome, Italy)
  31. Coa (Hong Kong)
  32. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar (Bangkok, Thailand)
  33. Zest (Seoul, South Korea)
  34. Overstory (New York, New York, United States of America)
  35. Salmon Guru (Madrid, Spain)
  36. Maybe Sammy (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)
  37. Jigger & Pony (Singapore)
  38. BKK Social Club (Bangkok, Thailand)
  39. Line (Athens, Greece)
  40. Tres Monos (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  41. Himkok (Oslo, Norway)
  42. Alquímico (Cartagena, Colombia)
  43. Tayēr + Elementary (London, England, United Kingdom)
  44. Licorería Limantour (Mexico City, Mexico)
  45. Little Red Door (Paris, France)
  46. Connaught Bar (London, England, United Kingdom)
  47. Paradiso (Barcelona, Spain)
  48. Handshake Speakeasy (Mexico City, Mexico)
  49. Double Chicken Please (New York, New York, United States of America)
  50. Sips (Barcelona, Spain)

2023 Awards

  • Roku Industry Icon Award: Renato “Tato” Giovannoni
  • Rémy Martin Legend of the List: The Clumsies; Number 47 (Athens, Greece)
  • Best Bar in Australasia (sponsored by Naked Malt): Maybe Sammy; Number 15 (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)
  • Best Bar in Asia (sponsored by Torres Brandy): BKK Social Club, Number 13 (Bangkok, Thailand)
  • Best Bar in Europe (sponsored by Perrier): Sips; Number 1 (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Best Bar in the Middle East and Africa (sponsored by Amaro Lucano): Mimi Kakushi; Number 40 (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  • Best Bar in North America (sponsored by Tia Maria): Double Chicken Please; Number 2 (New York, New York, United States of America)
  • Best Bar in South America (sponsored by Scrappy’s Bitters): Alquímico; Number 9 (Cartagena, Columbia)
  • Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award: Tres Monos; Number 11 (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Best New Opening (sponsored by the London Essence Co.): Line; Number 12 (Athens, Greece)
  • Disaronno Highest New Entry: Zest; Number 18 (Seoul, South Korea)
  • Nikka Highest Climber: Himkok; Number 10, climbed 33 positions (Oslo, Norway)
  • Ketel One Sustainable Bar: Röda Huset; Number 31 (Stockholm, Sweden)
  • Altos Bartenders’ Bartender: GN Chan; Double Chicken, Please (New York, New York, United States of America)
  • Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu: The American Bar at Gleneagles; Book of Berries menu (Auchterarder, Scotland, United Kingdom)
  • Campari One to Watch: Lady Bee; Number 52 (Lima, Perú)
  • Bareksten Best Bar Design: Night Hawk (Singapore)
  • The Blend Scholarship: Apoorva Kohli (New Delhi, India) will intern at Sips (Number 1) in Barcelona and Alquímico (Number 9) in Cartagena in 2024.

Image: Tres Monos

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Celebrating the Espresso Martini

Celebrate the Espresso Martini with Mr. Black

by David Klemt

Two Espresso Martinis on a bar

For the second time in its brief but exciting history, Mr. Black Espresso Martini Fest is coming to bars throughout America.

Last year, 70 bars in eight cities across the US took part to celebrate the Espresso Martini. This year, participation more than doubles.

Fourteen cities in ten states will play host to more than 200 bars during the fest. For 2023, Austin, Boston, Dallas, Denver, Nashville, Phoenix, and Seattle are joining in on the fun.


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I, for one, expect Espresso Martini Fest to have the same staying power as other cocktail celebrations. The inaugural event took place in 2016 in Australia. In 2018, the Fest spread to the UK. After launching in the US, the week-long event growth has doubled over the course of just one year.

Logically, Mr. Black Espresso Martini Fest should join the ranks of Negroni Week, Old Fashioned Week, and Bee’s Knees Week.

Now, I know I’ve called the Espresso Martini “the cocktail that won’t die.” And yes, I’ve pointed out that it’s not technically a Martini, and that many bartenders hate it for the time it can take to make. That doesn’t mean participating in Espresso Martini Fest is a bad idea.

This is a cocktail that guests enjoy. It’s a drink that generates headlines each year. And clearly it’s a beverage that can drive traffic and generate revenue. At the end of the day, participation is a smart move.

2023 Espresso Martini Fest Cities

Given that the Fest runs from October 9 to 15, it’s unlikely the organizers are still vetting venues for participation. However, at the time of this article’s publication, the portal appeared to be open. It’s a worth a shot if you want your bar to join Espresso Martini Fest!

At least you’re aware of the event now so you can prepare to sign up next year.

Bars in the following cities are taking part in this year’s Fest:

  • Austin, Texas
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Denver, Colorado
  • Houston, Texas
  • Los Angeles, California
  • Miami, Florida
  • Nashville, Tennessee
  • New York, New York
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • San Diego, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • Seattle, Washington

I certainly anticipate this list growing by at least 50 percent for 2024. Cheers!

Image: Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

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Canadians Preparing for NHL Opening Week

Canadians Preparing for NHL Opening Week

by David Klemt

Vintage tabletop hockey game toy

Now nobody can accuse me of showing any NHL teams favoritism. Go Knights Go!

As one should expect, Canadian hockey fans are preparing for the 2023-2024 NHL season opener, and those preparations include on-premise visits.

On Tuesday, October 10, three teams will face off to start the regular season.

First, the Nashville Predators take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then, the Chicago Blackhawks will face the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Finally, after raising their brand-new, first-ever Stanley Cup championship banner, which they won just six seasons after their founding, the fastest an expansion team has accomplished this feat, the Vegas Golden Knights will welcome the Seattle Kraken to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

According to on-premise data from CGA by NIQ, Canadian hockey fans are planning to celebrate the start of the season at bars and restaurants. That means operators have less than two weeks to finalize plans to attract these guests to their venues.

In particular, operators in four provinces need to ensure their NHL opening week plans and promotions are good to go. Per CGA’s data, consumers in Québec are showing the greatest interest in watching this season’s opening games in bars and restaurants. Following and driving on-premise interest are British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta.

Of course, operators throughout the provinces who serve sports fans should be ready to welcome hockey fans.

For our Canadian readers, the Montréal Candiens will take on Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, October 11. On that same day, the Ottawa Senators face the Carolina Hurricanes; the Edmonton Oilers face off against the Vancouver Canucks; and the Winnipeg Jets will battle the Calgary Flames.

Click here for the full opening week schedule.

Why Does this Matter?

I may catch some flack for this but technically, any bar with televisions events can be a sports bar.

Yes, I understand that’s a very simplistic view. And yes, of course that comes with the caveat that sports should be authentic to a given concept. Also, showing sports should take into account the expectations of bar or restaurant’s guests.

In other words, most bars and restaurants can benefit from sports but they’d likely be a hindrance to some high-end cocktail bars and fine-dining concepts.

With that out of the way, operators who want to establish themselves as the go-to spot for sporting events need to nail opening week. That means having all of their ducks in a row.

Do they have the proper business TV packages in place? Will promotions and programming appeal to the target audience? Are the screens and audio system high quality for the best viewing experience? Does the menu offer sports fans what they want for great value? Is the team pulling out all the spots to make viewing fun?

Regarding the menu, CGA by NIQ has a couple of valuable insights. First, beer is the top beverage alcohol category among those planning to celebrate NHL opening week on-premise. Second, among those who plan to consume spirits, tequila is the top pick. Sounds like offering beer and tequila shot pairings could perform well.

However, operators should certainly take into account their own data. What F&B items are selling the best? Which items performed the best this same time last year?

Between 15 and 16 million Canadians follow hockey. That’s a vast pool of potential customers to convert to loyal guests. The importance of becoming their sports home base, their third spot, cannot be overstated.

This coming opening week, lay the groundwork to become the go-to place for hockey fans, fantasy sports competitors, and sports bettors.

Image: cottonbro studio via Pexels

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Time to Rethink Your Loyalty Program?

Is it Time to Rethink Your Loyalty Program?

by David Klemt

Two pepperoni pizzas in open boxes

So, you have a loyalty program in place. That’s great, but is it time to review its performance and implement meaningful changes to improve engagement?

I know, I know—that feeling of “if it ain’t one thing, it’s another” never seems to go away. That’s part of operator life.

The good news is that, if you have a loyalty or rewards program and it has been working, you’re a step ahead of many other operators. In that way, it’s similar to implementing an actual onboarding process and including an employee manual.

But what should you do if you notice engagement dropping? Well, it may indicate that while there’s interest in your program, it’s getting stale. Or, perhaps people don’t like the rewards or think they’re earning rewards quickly enough.

If engagement isn’t at the levels you want or is noticeably declining, it’s time to review your program with a critical eye.

In fact, it’s a great idea to ask your team for their feedback regarding loyalty. After all, your team hears guest feedback in real time. Also, they likely have some ideas of their own that can help refresh the program. After all, some people on your team may be members of loyalty programs themselves and have some thoughts.

Engagement via Gamification

The word “gamification,” much like “pivot,” may be a word that annoys you. That doesn’t make it any less relevant.

Millions of people are on their phones nearly every waking moment of the day. And millions among those millions engage with brands and apps via games or game-like features. It keeps these people coming back for more.

One restaurant chain that understands the power of gamification is Jimmy John’s.

First, the brand’s loyalty and rewards program has an interesting name: Freaky Fast Rewards. Second, they issue challenges that drive member engagement.

For example, for Q1 2023, Jimmy John’s threw down the Gauntlet via the Freaky Fast Rewards program. Members had until the middle of March to purchase every sandwich on the menu. The reward? A branded beanbag chair that looks like a bag of Jimmy Chips.

Of course, the program engages its members in other gamified ways. There are achievement badges to earn, for instance. And there have been challenges that were narrowed down to daypart to drive traffic and engagement.

Free food and merchandise are common rewards, but there are also surprises that members can earn to keep things fresh.

Program Updates

Another brand giving their loyalty program a refresh is Domino’s.

Rather than do what some other companies have done, the pizza giant is lowering the threshold to earn rewards.

Around a year ago, Chipotle experienced significant backlash from loyalty program members when they went the other direction. In response, one would think, to rising costs, the brand increased the amount its members had to spend to earn rewards.

That went about as well with many of their customers as you’d expect, of course. Loyalty and rewards programs are meant to increase traffic and spend per guest, not alienate them and drive them away.

Enter: The Domino’s Rewards refresh.

“We are thrilled to give the brand’s loyal customers additional ways to earn free Domino’s items more often,” said Mark Messing, Domino’s vice president of digital experience and loyalty, via press release. “At a time when most brands are scaling back their loyalty programs and making it more difficult to earn and redeem points, Domino’s is doing the opposite. We want to make it easier to reward our customers and give them more options so they can get rewarded faster.”

Members can not only earn points more quickly (every $5 spent equals 10 rewards points), they can redeem more quickly as well. For example, a 16-piece Parmesan bread bites is just 20 points. Free stuffed cheesy bread is only 40 points now. And that’s to say nothing of offers that are exclusive to members.


Only you, of course, can know how to adjust your loyalty program. You need to look at your data to understand the best solution for waning engagement.

The last thing you should do is lower points thresholds without knowing your numbers. And if you’re considering gamifying your program, you need to know if that’s an approach your guests will actually like.

In other words, don’t rush to upgrade or update your loyalty program. Take time, collect relevant data, engage your team, and move forward with any changes with strategic clarity.

Image: Polina Tankilevitch via Pexels

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Rémy Martin Pays Homage to Sobremesa

Rémy Martin Pays Homage to Sobremesa

by David Klemt

Josué Gonzaléz for the Rémy Martin "Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa" campaign

Mixologist Josué Gonzaléz for the Rémy Martin “Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa” campaign

Rémy Martin is teaming up with the Hispanic Restaurant Association to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by honoring a post-dinner tradition.

That tradition, an important element of a number of Hispanic cultures, is called “sobremesa.” Translating to “at the table” or “upon the table,” sobremesa is the period of time after a meal during which people relax, chat, and digest.

This is, of course, one of the most important elements of a great meal and gathering of friends and family. While sobremesa may fly in the face of the “turn-and-burn” approach to operation, a hallmark of a wonderful time out at a restaurant is the post-meal vibe.

Are guests lingering with smiles on their faces, ordering post-dinner drinks and chatting, giving off a good energy? That would indicate an operator and their team have delivered excellent service and a memorable guest experience.

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and sobremesa, Rémy Martin is launching a new campaign: “Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa.”


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Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa

A core element of this collaboration between Rémy Martin and the Hispanic Restaurant Association is bringing food and beverage together.

To achieve this, Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa is bringing together three influential F&B professionals.

Chef Paola Velez for the Rémy Martin "Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa" campaign

Hailing from the Bronx with a career that has brought her to Washington, DC, Chef Paola Velez is an entrepreneur, activist, and the founder of Bakers Against Racism.

Chef Carlos Gaytán for the Rémy Martin "Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa" campaign

A restaurateur with restaurants in Mexico and Chicago—and his sights on California’s dining scene—Chef Carlos Gaytán is the first Mexican-born chef to earn a Michelin star.

Miami native and revered bartender Josué Gonzaléz brings an understanding of the culinary to his craft, beginning his journey in hospitality as a Johnson & Wales culinary student. His résumé includes some of the best bars and restaurants in America.

This powerhouse trio has been tasked with creating cocktails and culinary pairings that feature Rémy Martin and shine a spotlight on sobremesa. Their hard work will be showcased through immersive experiences throughout the US. Click here for Chef Velez’s recipes, here for Chef Gaytán’s creations, and here for Gonzaléz’s recipes.

However, Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa doesn’t stop with the conclusion of a meal. Rémy Martin, the Hispanic Restaurant Association, and their featured chefs and bartender also seek to add a new element to sobremesa.

Rather than sobremesa representing the end of a night out, Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa aims to transform the tradition into the start. In other words, “last call” now signals “the first call of the rest of the night.” Instead of asking, “When can we do this again,” the campaign encourages friends and family to ask, “What’s next tonight?”

The Mambo Mango Royale

To provide an idea of the creations coming from the Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa collaborations, here’s a cocktail recipe from Josué Gonzaléz.

  • 1.5 oz Rémy Martin Tercet
  • 0.75 oz Mango Syrup
  • 0.5 oz Lemon Juice
  • Bar spoon Galliano
  • Champagne to top
  • Decorative mango and edible flower to garnish

Add the first four ingredients and ice to a shaker. Shake vigorously for about ten seconds, then add a splash of Champagne. Pour into a flute or cocktail coupe, then garnish.

For more information, please read the press release below in its entirety. Cheers!


Notable culinary and cocktail personalities come together to share custom recipes featuring Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal and Tercet and create lively experiences while embracing cultures of excellence and the tradition of Sobremesa

NEW YORK—To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Rémy Martin is launching Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa, an homage to Sobremesa, the post-dining tradition found throughout many Hispanic cultures. The campaign brings influential culinary and mixology tastemakers together, including award-winning chefs Carlos Gaytán and Paola Velez, and renowned Mixologist Josué Gonzaléz, to create a variety of curated cocktails featuring Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal and Tercet along with culinary pairings showcasing how Sobremesa comes to life across different Hispanic cultures. The tastemakers and their pairings will be presented at a series of immersive events across the country.

With nearly 300 years of excellence producing Cognac Fine Champagne and symbolizing the diversity of craft and tradition, Rémy Martin continues to be at the forefront of moments that bring people together. As the kickoff to Hispanic Heritage Month, Rémy Martin is immersing cocktail connoisseurs in Sobremesa, a tradition where one finds themself lost in deep conversation – talking, sipping cocktails and spending time with those who matter most – often for hours after dining.

Getting lost in conversation and savoring the post-dinner experience is the essence of Sobremesa and with Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa, Rémy Martin will challenge the notion of “last call” by signaling Sobremesa as the start of the night ahead. After all, the most dispiriting words heard when you’re out are “last call” and “kitchen’s closed” – but with Rémy Martin the last call can now be the first call of the rest of the night.

“Rémy Martin’s passion for excellence, family values and traditions offer a moment for us all to partake in Sobremesa and we are thrilled to be teaming up with a variety of notable personalities to kick off the celebration this Hispanic Heritage Month,” said Tina Reejsinghani, Vice President of Luxury Brands at Rémy Cointreau Americas. “Enjoying classic recipes and sparking conversations around the table is at the heart of Hispanic heritage and Rémy Martin is excited to lead in the festivities of the time-honored tradition.”

As part of the campaign and the brand’s ongoing commitment to advancing the world of gastronomy, Rémy Martin is teaming up with the Hispanic Restaurant Association (HRA) and their Global Ambassador, Chef Fernando Stovell to support and further the careers of aspiring chefs, culinary entrepreneurs, restaurant managers, and industry professionals within the Hispanic community, uplifting the next generation of gastronomic excellence.

“At the Hispanic Restaurant Association, our vision is focused on fostering education and uplifting the Hispanic community across generations,” said John Jaramillo, Co-Founder and CEO of the Hispanic Restaurant Association. “As we work to elevate the culinary artistry within the Hispanic community, our partnership with Rémy Martin will play an integral part in extending our mission and vision across the country, allowing us to continue fostering a richer culinary perspective and build lasting bridges within the community.”

Throughout Hispanic Heritage Month, Rémy Martin will invite cocktail and culinary aficionados in New York and Miami to join the brand at the Rémy Martin Sobremesa Social Club. The events will feature lively entertainment alongside the unique dishes and cocktails curated by Carlos Gaytán, Paola Velez and Josué Gonzaléz, each inspired by their backgrounds. Chef Carlos, Chef Paola and Josué Gonzaléz will make appearances at the events, to showcase their creations and celebrate Sobremesa with guests. For more information and to purchase tickets for a VIP table experience, please visit Rémy Martin Sobremesa Social Club. Proceeds will benefit the Hispanic Restaurant Association.

Rémy Martin will also be capturing the essence of the Sobremesa tradition with a series of curated craft cocktails that highlight the opulent and complex flavor profiles of Rémy Martin 1738 Accord Royal and Rémy Martin Tercet. To keep the flavors going strong and accentuate each Rémy Martin expression, world-renowned chefs Carlos Gaytán and Paola Velez and Mixologist Josué Gonzaléz have created a variety of culinary and cocktail recipes representing their own cultures. From the Flamingo 1738 cocktail inspired by Josué’s childhood in Cuba and Chef Carlos’s nod to the sweet and savory elements of Mexican cooking with the Foie and Chocolate dish, to Chef Paola’s Nutmeg Pavlova recipe which combines her Dominican roots with the flavors of autumn, this campaign will take patrons on a culinary journey around the world.

The Que Viva Rémy Sobremesa campaign was developed in collaboration with creative agency FRED & FARID New York and will be featured across billboards and kiosks in Houston, TX; Los Angeles, CA; Miami, FL and New York, NY in addition to digital media and social content throughout Hispanic Heritage Month. For more information on the campaign, recipes and events, visit RemyMartin.com and follow along on social media on Instagram @RemyMartinUS | Twitter @RemyMartinUS | Facebook RemyMartinUSA

#QueVivaRemySobremesa #TeamUpForExcellence


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, the House of Rémy Martin produces award winning Cognacs Fine Champagne including Rémy Martin® XO, which was named Cognac of the Year 2022 by USA Spirits Ratings, and The Cognac Masters gold medal winning Rémy Martin® Tercet®, Rémy Martin® 1738 Accord Royal and Rémy Martin® V.S.O.P.


Looking ahead, our vision is focused on fostering education and uplifting the Hispanic community across generations. We aspire to create a comprehensive impact by fostering economic growth and entrepreneurial endeavours through a range of interconnected networks, educational platforms, events, and supportive infrastructure.


A native of Mexico, chef and restaurateur Carlos Gaytán has made his mark in the culinary industry. From a young age, he was enamored with cooking, exploring a full spectrum of flavor while perfecting heirloom recipes alongside his mother. With a seamless unification of his Mexican heritage and his love of French culinary style, Carlos became the first Mexican-born chef to earn a coveted Michelin star in 2013. Gaytán appeared on Bravo’s Top Chef in 2013 and has since been widely featured as a host and judge on numerous culinary programs. He has opened two award-winning restaurants — one in Mexico in 2017, and another in Chicago in 2019. In 2024, he will open three new restaurants in California.


Award-winning chef, entrepreneur and community activist Paola Velez is the multihyphenate for a new generation of lifestyle personalities. Growing up between the Bronx and the Dominican Republic, Velez is fluent in cultures of city and island life, bringing infectious positivity and a keen eye on the micro-trends of the moment to the table. Her unique perspective has catapulted her to the pages of Food & Wine, and garnered her a nomination for Rising Star Chef by the James Beard Foundation, “Pastry Chef of the Year” from Esquire and “Best New Chef” from Food & Wine. Most recently, Paola founded the organization Bakers Against Racism as a social community, connecting bakers and creatives all across the globe to fight against racism in all of its forms. Looking ahead, under her lifestyle brand Dōekï Dōekï, a reflection of her Afro-Latina heritage, Velez is launching a series of collaborations and pop-up dinners across the country in addition to her first cookbook in 2024.


Josué Gonzaléz is a Miami native with a true passion for hospitality. As a culinary student at Johnson & Wales University, he accepted a barback position at Zuma Miami to gain industry experience, setting a decorated front-of-house career into motion. Josué found a friend and mentor in renowned Miami bartender Rob Ferrara, helping both achieve great success with openings at Swine Southern Table & Bar, Lure Fishbar and The Rum Line. As an individual, Josué was named one of Zagat Miami’s 30 under 30 in 2014, and went on to win and place in the top of various cocktail competitions. As part of the opening team at Sweet Liberty Bar & Supply, Josué was integral in the venue as it was awarded Best New Cocktail Bar in America at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.  In 2018 Josué moved to Washington DC to open and manage the bar at Seven Reasons, a Latin concept, with Enrique Limardo. The restaurant was named Best New Restaurant in America 2019 by Esquire Magazine. Josué brings his talents and experience back to Miami in his work with Unfiltered Hospitality where he makes experiences better for people in every facet of the service industry.

Image: Rémy Martin

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Drink Donnybrook: Let’s Talk Daiquiri

Drink Donnybrook: Let’s Talk Daiquiri

by David Klemt

Red Daiquiri with lime wheel garnish on bar

Like some other simple cocktails, the Daiquiri makes the case for building drinks with but a few elements and with the proper technique.

The keys are the quality of the ingredients, technique, and hospitality. Made with just three items—rum, lime juice, and sugar syrup—the Daiquiri has etched itself onto Cocktail Mount Rushmore. That imaginary cocktail landmark also includes the Margarita, of course.

So simple is the Daiquiri that it’s used to gauge bartender proficiency, much like its peer the Margarita.

Many a well-known bartender—revered, infamous or otherwise—will throw down the Daiquiri gauntlet after encountering an upstart boasting about their latest 10-ingredient, split-base cocktail tomfoolery.

Sure, they can make you a drink that takes ten minutes to build, and you’ll likely remember the experience, for better or worse. But can they knock your socks off with a simple Daiquiri?

But where does the Daiquiri come from? Just like I’ve done with the Martini, Piña Colada, and Whiskey Sour, let’s dive into this classic’s history.

History Lesson

I’m sure you’ll be absolutely aghast to learn that the exact origins of the Daiquiri aren’t crystal clear. However, it’s widely accepted that the cocktail was invented in Cuba two years before the Spanish-American War kicked off in 1898.

The creator was Jennings Cox, a claim backed up by the discovery of a recipe card signed by Cox and dated 1896. It’s believed that the drink was named for the port town of Daiquiri.

Just over a decade later, the Daiquiri was introduced to the United States in 1909 by Rear Admiral Lucius W. Johnson. After trying one in Cuba and liking what he tasted, he brought the recipe back to the Army and Navy Club in Washington, DC. Members introduced others to the Daiquiri, and it eventually became one of the most popular cocktails in the world.

That is, unless you choose to believe the rumor that the drink found itself in New York in 1902.

Going down this path of Daiquiri lore, US Congressman William A. Chanler (D-NY) bought iron mines in Cuba. While he was in Cuba he was introduced to the Daiquiri. In turn, Chanler brought the Daiquiri to New York City, sharing it with several clubs of which he was a member, such as the New York Yacht Club and Knickerbocker Club.

Recipe Refinement

The Daiquiri’s story doesn’t end there, however. There are two important bartenders who deserve credit for refining the original recipe.

First up is Emilio “El Maragato” Gonzalez, who tended bar at the Hotel Plaza in Havana, Cuba. Whereas the Cox build was served in a tall glass over cracked ice, El Maragato is credited as the first to shake and strain the Daiquiri, serving it up it in a coupe. And while Cox used brown sugar in the original, Gonzalez used white sugar.

Then, we have Constantino “Constante” Ribalaigua Vert. Constante owned and worked behind the stick at a bar you may have heard of, El Floridita, also in Havana. If you can’t quite put your finger on why you know that bar’s name, it’s because Earnest Hemingway plays a role in its fame.

Ribalaigua invented the frozen Daiquiri, and subsequently the Papa Doble or Hemingway Daiquiri, which was Constante’s original build with less (or zero) sugar and double the rum.

Jeff “Beachbum” Berry says in his book Potions of the Caribbean that Hemingway once put down 15 Papa Dobles. In another book, To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion, author Phillip Greene says Hemingway managed seventeen.

Those who have visited Herbs & Rye, one of the best cocktail bars in America, know that the first cocktail under the Prohibition Era section of the menu is a Hemingway Daiquiri.

Below you’ll find a traditional Daiquiri recipe and the Hemingway Daiquiri build. Cheers!


  • 2 ounces Light rum
  • 1 ounce Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ ounce Demerara sugar syrup
  • Lime twist to garnish

Either fill a coupe with ice or pull a chilled coupe from your refrigerator. Set aside. Add all ingredients minus the garnish to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into the prepared coupe, garnish, and serve.

Papa Doble aka Hemingway Daiquiri recipe

  • 2 ounces White rum
  • ¾ ounce Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • ½ ounce Maraschino liqueur
  • Lime wheel to garnish

Follow the build instructions above; it’s that simple!

Image: Tai’s Captures on Unsplash

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