Drink

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A New Empress Lays Claim to the Gin Throne

A New Empress Lays Claim to the Gin Throne

by David Klemt

The award-winning Empress 1908 Indigo Gin and Elderflower Rose Gin are welcoming a new addition to the Empress 1908 Gin portfolio, just in time for summer.

Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin is here to take a shot at the gin crown.

Inspired by afternoon tea, Cucumber Lemon pulls the flavor threads tighter, tying the portfolio together. Indigo, the first expression in the Empress 1908 lineup, is a balance between citrus and warm, earthy, herbal tones. This gin also made a splash due to its use of butterfly pea flower, not only imbuing the liquid with an enticing hue but shifting colors when interacting with different mixers.

Released last year, Elderflower Rose plays citrus against rich floral notes. On the palate, this expression also delivers subtle sweetness and spice.

That brings us to Cucumber Lemon. Whereas Indigo can be characterized as herbal and Elderflower Rose is floral, the newest expression is bright and energetic. Citrus is the star here, but cucumber, jasmine, and understated spice ensure the drinking experience is a balanced one.

Below, six cocktail recipes that showcase Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon’s unique flavor profile. Scroll even further to learn more from the press release announcing this new expression’s release.

Cheers!

Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin Cucumber & Tonic cocktail

Cucumber & Tonic

  • 2 oz. Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin
  • 3 oz. Premium tonic water
  • Thyme sprigs to garnish
  • Lemon wheels to garnish
  • Cucumber slices to garnish

Fill a copa glass with ice, add Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin and premium tonic water. Garnish with cucumber and lemon slices and thyme sprigs.​

Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin Jasmine Sour cocktail

Jasmine Sour

  • 2 oz. Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin
  • ¾ oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. Jasmine syrup
  • Egg white
  • Dried jasmine blossoms to garnish

Add all ingredients to a shaker tin and dry shake (without ice). Add ice to tin and shake again to chill. Double strain into cocktail glass and garnish with dried jasmine blossoms.

Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin Gherkin Martini cocktail

Gherkin Martini

  • 2 oz. Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin
  • 0.5 oz. Dry vermouth
  • 0.5 oz. Gherkin brine
  • Lemon twist to garnish
  • Gherkin to garnish

Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Express lemon oils over the cocktail and garnish with a twist and gherkin.​

Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin Lemon Spritz cocktail

Lemon Spritz

  • 1 oz. Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin
  • 1 oz. Limoncello
  • 0.5 oz. Lemon juice
  • Dry sparkling wine to top
  • Soda water to top
  • Lemon slice to garnish

In a copa glass filled with ice, add gin, limoncello, and lemon juice, and top with sparkling wine and a splash of soda water. Give a quick stir to combine and garnish with lemon slice.

Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin Little Saigon cocktail

Little Saigon

  • 1.5 oz. Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin
  • ¾ oz. Lemongrass ginger syrup
  • ¾ oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 2-3 Mint and basil leaves, each
  • 3-4 Bird’s eye chili slices (optional)
  • Lime yuzu soda to top
  • Cilantro sprig to garnish
  • Bird’s eye chili to garnish

Gently muddle basil and mint with syrup and lime juice in shaker tin. Add gin and chili slices, and shake over ice. Strain into Collins glass filled with ice, top with soda, and garnish.​

Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin Cantaloupe Smash cocktail

Cantaloupe Smash

  • 2 oz. Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin
  • ¾ oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ oz. Simple syrup
  • 4 Mint leaves
  • 3 Cantaloupe cubes
  • Mint sprig to garnish
  • Cantaloupe balls to garnish

In a shaker tin, muddle cantaloupe cubes with the liquid ingredients. Add mint leaves and lightly press to express oils. Shake over ice and strain over crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprig and cantaloupe balls.

EMPRESS 1908 GIN RELEASES CUCUMBER LEMON GIN

MAY7, 2024 (VICTORIA, B.C.)–Empress 1908 Gin, the fastest growing and #1 ranked ultra-premium gin in the U.S., today announces the U.S. launch of Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin. This premium, handcrafted gin is produced in small batches and distilled in copper-pot stills by Victoria Distillers, one of Canada’s oldest artisan distilleries.

The refreshing new expression is crafted with eight unique botanicals including juniper berries, lemon, jasmine, star anise, cucumber and fresh lemon zest. Inspired by traditional afternoon tea, Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin boasts lively citrus notes and bursts with extraordinary flavor.

The fusion of vibrant lemon zest and crisp garden cucumber beautifully complement the juniper, a subtle hint of cardamom spice and the delicate aroma of jasmine. Empress Cucumber Lemon Gin elevates the palate with its refined flavors, offering a delicate and refreshing finish.

“We always strive to create balanced, high-quality blends that inspire creativity and offer inviting flavors. Following the overwhelmingly positive reception of our Elderflower Rose Gin last year, we leveraged our Master Distillers’ extensive botanical expertise to introduce our next innovative flavor: Cucumber Lemon,” said Eric Dopkins, CEO and Chairman of Milestone Brands. “We are excited to see Empress Cucumber Lemon Gin support Empress Gin’s mission of creating the most distinctive cocktails.”

This new, ultra-premium expression joins the Empress portfolio ininviting consumers to join the Empress GINeration: The most distinctive gins, making the most distinctive cocktails. Other expressions include Empress 1908 Indigo Gin—the fastest growing and top ultra-premium gin in the U.S.*—and Empress 1908 Elderflower Rose Gin, which climbed to #4 in the ultra-premium gin category within just six months of its release. With the addition of Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin, the Empress portfolio expects to top 250,000 9L cases in North America this year.

Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin is best enjoyed in the signature Cucumber & Tonic cocktail, served with premium tonic water and garnished with a fresh cucumber slice and a lemon wheel to enhance the botanicals in the gin.

Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin is 42.5% ABV and is available nationwide in select retailers for a suggested retail price of $39.99 for a 750ml bottle. For more information on Empress 1908 Gin and its portfolio of products, visit www.empressgin.com and follow on social media @Empress1908Gin.

About Empress 1908 Gin

Handcrafted in small-batch copper-pot stills, the portfolio of award-winning Empress 1908 Gins are made by Victoria Distillers, one of Canada’s oldest small-batch spirits companies located in Victoria, British Columbia. Founded in 2017, the distillery has been recognized for its excellence by New York World Wine & Spirits Competition 2017, World Gin Awards 2018, Canadian Artisan Spirits Awards 2019 and Beverage Dynamics’ Spirits Growth Brand Awards in both 2021 and 2022. The Empress 1908 Gin spirits portfolio is crafted by Master Distiller Phil Lecours and comprises Empress 1908 Indigo Gin, Empress 1908 Elderflower Rose Gin and Empress 1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin. Empress 1908 Gin is the perfect combination of exquisite taste, delicate aroma, soft texture, and remarkable presentation that provides the perfect base for a new aesthetic of cocktail creation and enjoyment. Please visit www.empressgin.com for more information.

Empress 1908 Gin is a part of the family of Milestone Brands LLC, a premium spirits company based in Austin, Texas, that was founded in 2016 by two local entrepreneurs and veterans of the beverage and spirits industry, Eric Dopkins, former CEO of Deep Eddy Vodka and Chad Auler, creator of Savvy Vodka and co-founder of Deep Eddy Vodka. As a national spirits supplier, acquirer, innovator and marketer of alcohol beverage brands, Milestone’s portfolio also includes Dulce Vida Spirits, Campo Bravo Tequila, Naranja Orange Liqueur, and American Born Whiskey.

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

Main image: Kyla Zanardi. Recipe images: Empress 1908 Gin

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Meet Your Next Love: Amante 1530

Meet Your Next Love: Amante 1530

by David Klemt

Ana Rosenstein at a table watching a bartender shake up an Amante 1530 cocktail

A beautiful new luxury amaro from Italy is committing to becoming your nextand bestlover, whether you enjoy it straight up or in a fabulous cocktail.

Produced in Tuscany, Italy, at the Il Palagio 1530 estate, Amante 1530 hits a multitude of sweet spots.

Whereas Aperol comes in at 11-percent ABV and Campari hits between 24- and 29-percent ABV, Amante 1530 rings in at 15 percent. Further, this amaro has less sweetness than the former and less bitterness than the latter.

I sat down with Ana Rosenstein, the brand’s CEO, for an episode of the Bar Hacks podcast. Declaring herself a nerd, she explains that Amante 1530 falls in between Aperol and Campari, and can serve as an aperitivo or a digestivo.

Notably, the team behind Amante 1530 isn’t out to replace Aperol, Campari, or other well-established amari on the market. During our conversation, Rosenstein shares that she believes the brand speaks to an amaro consumer that hasn’t, until now, found the product that truly speaks to them. (You’ll also gain some invaluable insight into succeeding with investors during this episode.)

Below, four recipes that highlight Amante 1530’s key flavor notes of citrus, ginger, and honeysuckle. That said, I think you’ll find that Rosenstein’s recommendation of enjoying it neat or on the rocks with a slice of Amalfi lemon delivers an elegant and refreshing experience. Cheers!

 

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The Last Lover

  • 1.5 oz. Amante 1530
  • 1 oz. Blanco tequila
  • 0.5 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 2 oz. Quality soda water
  • 4 cucumber rounds
  • 1 barspoon Agave nectar (optional)

Muddle the cucumber rounds in a shaker, then add ice and the first three ingredients. As an option, you can add a barspoon of agave nectar. Shake, then strain into a Collins or highball glass. Top with soda water.

Moonraker

  • 1.5 oz. Gin
  • 0.75 oz. Amante 1530
  • 0.75 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. Green tea simple syrup
  • 3 Cucumber rounds
  • 2 Cucumber ribbons to garnish

Muddle the cucumber rounds in a shaker. Fill shaker with ice. Add gin, Amante 1530, lemon juice, and green tea simple syrup. Shake well, then double-strain into cocktail coupe. Garnish with ribbons/lengthwise slices of cucumber, and serve.

Amante 1530 Amante Spritz cocktail

Amante Spritz

  • 2 parts Amante 1530
  • 3 parts Prosecco
  • 1 part High-quality soda water
  • 1 Amalfi lemon wedge to garnish

Prepare a stemmed balloon glass or goblet by adding ice. Next, add the Prosecco to the glass, followed by Amante 1530. Top with soda water, then squeeze the juice from the Amalfi lemon and drop in the wedge to garnish.

Amante 1530 Palombo tequila cocktail

Palombo

  • 1.5 oz. Reposado tequila
  • 0.75 oz. Amante 1530
  • 0.25 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 0.25 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz. Simple syrup
  • 3 oz. Soda water
  • Lemon wheel to garnish

Prepare a Collins or highball glass by adding quality ice. To a shaker filled with ice add all the liquid ingredients except the soda water. Shake, then strain into the prepared glass. Top with the soda water, then garnish with the lemon wheel and serve.

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

Images: Amante 1530

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New RTD Sprinter Kicks off Coachella

New Vodka Soda RTD Sprinter Kicks off Coachella

by David Klemt

In partnership with GoPuff, Sprinter, the new vodka soda RTD founded by Kylie Jenner, is kicking off Coachella with a surprise delivery activation.

Available in four flavorsGrapefruit, Lime, Peach, and Black Chery—Sprinter is one of the newest RTDs to hit the market.

These ready-to-drink Vodka Sodas are made with just three core ingredients: premium vodka, real fruit juice, and sparkling water. Weighing in at just 4.5-percent ABV, Sprinters are intended to delivery bold fruit flavor in a sessionable format.

Sprinter aims to make a splash during Coachella, headlined this year by No Doubt, Lana Del Rey, Tyler the Creator, and Doja Cat. Anyone of legal drinking age in Palm Springs, Coachella, and Indio who places an order for Sprinter could be in for a surprise.

That surprise? A delivery of Sprinter swag in decked-out Sprinter vans, along with GoPuff swag. The delivery platform, which leverages “micro-fulfillment centers” to deliver orders quickly, is Sprinter’s chosen partner for this activation.

Now, if you’re an operator, bar or restaurant leadership team member, or bartender, you may wonder what this Sprinter promotion has to do with you. It’s simple: fulfilling guest expectations.

There’s little question that guests will be on the lookout to try Sprinter this summer. The RTD is owned by Kylie Jenner and will garner plenty of attention during Coachella. This will translate to nationwide (if not international) interest. Adding Sprinter to your menu may prove lucrative.

Check out the press release below for more information. Cheers!

Kylie Jenner Introduces Sprinter, A Premium Canned Vodka Soda

Launching nationwide March 21, Sprinter Vodka Soda features four fruit flavors, no added sugar and only 100 calories

Los Angeles, CA—Today, entrepreneur Kylie Jenner announces Sprinter, the ultimate vodka soda in a can. Made with simple, high-quality ingredients—premium vodka, sparkling water and real fruit juice—and created in four true-to-fruit flavors, Sprinter is a bold and refreshing new entry into the RTD space.

“Sprinter is my answer to the growing consumer demand for quality canned cocktails—we’re adding to a market dominated by only a few players with an incredibly delicious vodka soda in a can,” says founder Kylie Jenner. “Not only does Sprinter have a unique bold branding that captures the feeling of fun with your friends, it is also the best tasting vodka soda I’ve ever tried—and I’ve tried a lot. I can’t wait for people to taste it for themselves.”

Jenner tapped Chandra Richter, a female beverage development expert with over 20 years of beverage alcohol industry experience and a PhD in molecular biology, to serve as Head of Product Development and Operations at Sprinter. After over a year of taste testing, the duo achieved the perfect balance of flavors and Sprinter was born—a 100-calorie, 4.5% ABV canned vodka soda made with real fruit juice and with no added sugar, available in four fruit-forward flavors: Black Cherry, Peach, Grapefruit and Lime.

“It’s been such a pleasure developing Sprinter with Kylie,” says Chandra Richter. “We held numerous tastings over the past year to ensure each of our four flavors are as natural and true-to-fruit as possible. Sprinter is a mouthwatering vodka soda in a can that makes every moment an occasion.”

Bold, vibrant and eye-catching on the shelf, Sprinter will be available in an 8-can variety pack for an SRP of $19.99. Sprinter launches nationwide on March 21. To sign up for more information and to find Sprinter near you, visit @drinksprinter and drinksprinter.com.

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

Can image: Travis Rathbone

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XO Night: A New Nightlife Tradition?

Rémy Martin XO Night: A New Nightlife Tradition

by David Klemt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RÉMY MARTIN UNVEILS XO NIGHT, A NEW MEMBER OF THE XO FAMILY

Rémy Martin Reinvents Night-time Celebrations with XO Night Uncapped

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

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

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

THE LOOK

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

THE EXPERIENCE

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

THE RÉMY MARTIN XO FAMILY

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

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

THE CRAFT

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

TASTING NOTES

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

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

Instagram @RemyMartinUS | Twitter @RemyMartinUS | Facebook RemyMartinUSA

#RemyXONight #XONightUncapped

ABOUT RÉMY MARTIN XO NIGHT

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

ABOUT RÉMY MARTIN

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

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

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

Image: Rémy Martin

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Program for Unique Holidays: April 2024

Program for Unique Holidays: April 2024

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

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

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

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

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

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

For our March 2024 holidays list, click here.

April 5: Walk to Work Day

Operators who with bars and restaurants in walkable areas should leverage this holiday. People who walk to work should reward themselves by walking to a bar or restaurant for dinner and a drink after work. Of course, operators open for breakfast and dinner should encourage guests to walk in for a treat to start their day, and another treat (or two) to end it.

April 6: New Beer’s Eve

As the name implies, we celebrate this holiday the day before another holiday in the US: National Beer Day.

Operators who really want to help New Beer’s Eve gain a loyal following among their guests can bring in new beers for their guests to try on this holiday.

April 8: National Empanada Day

How would you rate your empanadas? How would your guests rate your empanadas? If you and your team are proud of your emapanadas, this is their time to shine.

April 10: Golfer’s Day

If you have Golden Tee in your bar, or you operate an eatertainment concept that revolves around golf, this is the perfect holiday to celebrate golfers. Of course, this also holds true if you operate a bar or restaurant within a community that loves golf.

You’re already (hopefully) your guests’ third spot; become their 19th hole on Golfer’s Day as well.

April 12: World Licorice Day

Sambuca, ouzo, xtabentún, absinthe… World Licorice Day is a great holiday for showcasing the licorice-flavored spirits in your inventory on your menu.

April 17: Blah Blah Blah Day

So, this day encourages people to try or start something that friends and family have been telling them do repeatedly. I would interpret this holiday as one during which to encourage your guests to try a new dish or drink rather than just ordering their usual again.

April 21: National Tea Day

Not only does tea make an excellent mixer for an array of cocktails, it really shines as the base for non-alcohol drinks. The depth of flavors that tea delivers really makes on impact on the palate and the guest experience.

National Tea Day is the perfect time to dial in your tea-based cocktails, be they low-, full-, or zero-ABV.

April 23: German Beer Day

Do you have German beers on your menu? I’m going to give you one guess as to what you should do with those beers on German Beer Day.

However, I have another thought, as well. There’s nothing that says you can’t come up with a creative LTO menu that introduces American or Canadian craft beers that taste similar to a German counterpart…

April 26: National Pretzel Day

Sure, you could just offer bowls of pretzels to guests on this holiday, providing a snack that goes with their beer.

Or, you could activate your kitchen team, make large pretzels in-house, and put pretzel charcuterie boards on an LTO menu. They may just prove to be a hit among you guests worthy of repeat appearances.

April 30: National Bubble Tea Day

Gee, if only there were a holiday that celebrates bubble tea, one that operators with bubble tea on their menu could build an LTO around. Oh, look! There is one!

Operators and their bar teams can also interpret this holiday a little differently. Tea cocktails and zero-proof drinks given the Flavour Blaster treatment? That could be rad…

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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Loud Luxuries: Martinis and Caviar

Loud Luxuries: Opulent Martinis & Caviar Bumps

by David Klemt

Taking a look at what’s going down in the bar and restaurant world, it appears that luxury sips and bites are the latest darlings in the F&B space.

In particular, I’m talking about the stories going around about $40 Martinis. Oh, and the interest consumers are showing in caviar. Specifically, caviar bumps, though people seem to be craving this luxury bite any way they can get it.

At the risk of coming across as snobby or hipster-ish, Las Vegas has been offering guests caviar bumps at parties and restaurants for several years now. A close friend of mine has hired a caviar bump service for private business events and personal parties on more than one occasion.

To explain, a caviar bump is a much less formal way of consuming salt-cured roe. One takes a small spoon, dabs a bit of caviar in the area of their hand between their thumb and index finger, and licks it off. Contrary to what some people think (probably only once), the caviar isn’t snorted. Although, I’m not here to police how people choose to consume their food.

Interestingly, there are plant-based “caviar” brands on the market. So, vegetarian and vegan guests can get in on the caviar bump fun.

Now, back to the $40 Martinis. If that makes some operators and bartenders raise an eyebrow, their jaws will likely drop when they read what’s next. It’s not difficult to find Martinis that cost well in excess of $100.

This trend is belongs to the “loud luxury” movement. As one can infer reasonably, the phrase describes spending a lot of money on an item or experience because it’s expensive. Engaging in ostentatious spending is the point.

Given the state of many people’s finances these days, such flashy displays are justifiably viewed as vulgar by some. However, if recent stories are to be believed, 2024 is the year of loud luxury.

Get Loud

Or, more accurately, operators should encourage their guests to get loud.

That is, of course, if loud luxury matches the concept and market. Although, having a $40 Martini on a dive bar menu is only silly if it costs an operator money. There’s nothing wrong with putting such a drink on a menu if it doesn’t offend a venue’s base of loyal guests and run them off.

So, what’s in a $40-plus Martini? Pricey booze, put simply. These luxe libations aren’t made with $20 or $30 gins or vodkas. Rather, these spendy sips feature spirits that cost $100 or more.

Further, these trendy, tony tipples pair quite well with caviar bumps. There’s no reason an operator can’t leverage both of these extravagant trends simultaneously. Depending on which caviar is on offer, bumps can command upsell costs of $10 to $20 (or more).

That can mean that an operator’s $40 Martini can become a $50 or $60 Martini-and-caviar pairing experience.

Again, offering guests such an extravagant experience requires careful consideration and execution. Operators need to make an informed decision that includes understanding how their guests will respond to these loudly luxurious menu items.

That said, if a concept and brand can deliver such an over-the-top experience without alienating their guests, it can be fun, memorable, and profitable.

Something to consider as we approach Espresso Martini Day, which takes place on March 15. Who wants to take a shot at making one that costs more than $40?

Image: Ambitious Studio* – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

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Clash of the Coffee Cocktails

Clash of the Coffee Cocktail Titans: Espresso Martini vs. Carajillo

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of a Carajillo cocktail next to an Espresso Martini

It took quite a few attempts for AI to generate a Carajillo without a lemon wedge or wheel garnish, with oddly placed ice on top of the foam.

It’s National Espresso Martini Day on Friday, March 15, the day we celebrate a cocktail that has been having “a moment” for decades.

I doubt the man behind the Bramble thought the Espresso Martini (originally the Vodka Espresso) would take on the life it has. The late, legendary Dick Bradsell created this modern classic in London in the 1980s. Oh, and he was also leading the charge for London’s cocktail scene revival at the time.

For whatever reason, the Espresso Martini (also known as the Pharmaceutical Stimulant when served on the rocks) enjoys immense popularity but also suffers widespread mockery. Hey, I’m also guilty of cracking jokes at this stalwart’s expense. Although, my issue is the annual articles saying, “Espresso Martini, so hot right now. Espresso Martini.”

The drink itself? I’ve enjoyed my fair share. And, damn it, I’ll do it again.

Now, I’m mainly writing about National Espresso Martini Day to put it on your radar. This Bradsell creation is wildly popular, and this year’s holiday falls on a Friday. So, there’s ample opportunity to engage with guests, increase traffic, boost revenue, and get creative.

However, I did use the words “clash” and “versus” in the title of this article for a reason…

Clash of the Coffee Cocktail Titans

I submit that National Espresso Day is the perfect time to make guests not in the know aware of the Carajillo.

Look, I know it’s not cool to steal someone’s thunder on their big day. We know we shouldn’t propose to our significant other at someone’s wedding reception. And it’s poor form to pull focus on someone’s birthday with big life event news.

Still, I’m going to propose that operators use National Espresso Martini Day to introduce guests to its rival.

A great rivalry tends to be beneficial for both participants, so why not stoke a friendly feud between these two coffee cocktail heavyweights? To get people’s promotional wheels turning, allow me to suggest an approach.

One way to get guests acquainted with both cocktails is to have them order them back to back. Encourage the ordering of a traditional (or signature) Espresso Martini. Then, have the guest order a Carajillo, traditional specs or otherwise. Right there, operators have gotten a guest to order the important second drink.

If an operator really wants to lean into this approach, they can even create a prix fixe cocktail menu featuring the Espresso Martini and Carajillo. A third drink could be a signature or personalized riff on whichever cocktail the guest enjoyed most.

Espresso Martini

  • 2 oz. Vodka
  • 1 oz. Fresh-brewed espresso
  • 0.5 oz. Coffee liqueur
  • 0.25 oz. Simple syrup
  • 3 Coffee beans to garnish

Add ice to a cocktail glass to chill it. Alternatively, keep some chilled cocktail glasses on hand. Add all liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, then strain into prepared cocktail glass. Garnish with three coffee beans.

Carajillo

  • One part Licor 43
  • One part coffee
  • 3 Coffee beans to garnish (optional)

Add equal parts Licor 43 and coffee to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake very well to create a foamy texture, then pour into a cocktail glass.

It’s important to note that a Carajillo can be poured over ice or served up. Also, one can use any type of coffee they prefer, including cold brew. Further, some people make a Carajillo with horchata, while others serve it with a small bowl of sugar. There are also people who use cinnamon sticks and chocolate shavings for garnish.

Going even deeper, some bars serve the Carajillo as a layered, stacked, or pousse-café drink, also known as puesto style.

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

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Woodford Reserve 2024 Derby Bottle

Woodford Reserve Unveils 2024 Kentucky Derby Bottle

by David Klemt

Woodford Reserve 2024 "Adorned with Flowers" bottle

Commemorating the 150th running of the iconic Kentucky Derby, Woodford Reserve’s 2024 Derby bottle is now available for purchase.

In keeping with tradition, the bottle’s label features a Kentucky artist’s work.

For 2024, Woodford Reserve collaborated with artist Wylie Caudill, who crafted the painting “Adorned with Roses.” The art is a clear nod to another tradition: adorning the winning horse with a garland consisting of hundreds of roses, the Derby’s official flower.

This should grab an operator’s attention for a few reasons. To start, some operators enjoy collecting bottles. So, they can now get their hands on this annual release.

Further, it’s time to start thinking about this year’s Derby, which takes place on May 4. Millions of people watch the Kentucky Derby every year. Operators need to ensure their Mint Juleps and riffs are dialed in, including the appropriate drinkware.

Impressively, while it has been postponed twice, it has never been cancelled.

Traditionally, the Derby is run on the first Saturday in May. The race was run in June in 1945 due to World War II. And in 2020, Covid-19 restrictions pushed the race to September. Incredibly, a world war and a pandemic couldn’t thwart the Derby.

2024’s race is the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby. It stands to reason that even more people will show an interest in watching and celebrating this year’s race. Woodford’s commemorative bottle at least be on the back bar of any venue running a Derby promotion. It would also make for a great raffle item on race day.

Finally, we celebrate International Whiskey Day this month. The more special edition whiskeys available on March 27, the better.

Learn more about this year’s Woodford Reserve Derby bottle below. Cheers!

Woodford Reserve Releases 2024 Bottle Celebrating 150th Anniversary of the Kentucky Derby

Bottle features the art of Kentuckian Wylie Caudill 

Versailles, KY (March 5, 2024) — Woodford Reserve®, the Presenting Sponsor of the Kentucky Derby®, is honoring “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports®” with the release of its 2024 commemorative Derby bottle.

This year’s special release celebrates the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby® and features the artwork of Kentucky native Wylie Caudill, known for his bold, repetitive patterns, and his signature roses. His painting, “Adorned in Roses,” depicts a racing thoroughbred covered with red roses, with a background of multi-colored roses.

The one-liter bottle retails for $55 and is available for purchase globally. A special presale on ReserveBar begins March 5. It also is for sale at Woodford Reserve Distillery and in the Woodford Reserve online store starting March 5.

“Wylie’s artwork embodies the spirit of Woodford Reserve, the liveliness of Churchill Downs during race day, and the heart of Kentucky,” Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall said. “We’re thrilled to have a Kentuckian’s artwork on our bottle during this monumental year.”

Caudill grew up drawing and painting in Cynthiana, Kentucky. During college, he spent his free time creating chalk drawings, leaving his mark around campus and leading to his title ‘chalk guy’ among locals. He expanded his public street art to painting murals in Lexington after college, and many of his murals can be seen across Kentucky today. Caudill also created the Official Art of the Kentucky Derby for Churchill Downs for the 150th Derby, marking the first year that Woodford Reserve and Churchill Downs used the same artist.

“As a Kentucky native, I am honored to be a part of this milestone celebration,” Caudill said. “I have painted my signature roses many times over the years, but this one is truly special. The colorful roses symbolize the diverse Derby fans from around the world, connecting people beyond the track.”

Woodford Reserve’s Derby bottle has been an annual collector’s item anticipated by bourbon and racing fans since 1999.

About Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve, “Presenting Sponsor of the Kentucky Derby,” is crafted at the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery, tucked in the heart of thoroughbred country in Versailles, Kentucky. A National Historic Landmark, the Woodford Reserve Distillery represents craftsmanship with a balance of historic heritage and modern practices. Woodford Reserve is a product of the Brown-Forman Corporation, a premier producer and marketer of fine quality beverage alcohol brands including Jack Daniel’s, Finlandia, Korbel, Tequila Herradura, Old Forester, Sonoma-Cutrer and Chambord. Please enjoy your bourbon responsibly. To learn more about Woodford Reserve, visit us www.woodfordreserve.com  or check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/woodfordreserve.

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 45.2% Alc. by Vol., produced and bottled by the Woodford Reserve Distillery, Versailles, KY ©2024

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

Image provided by Woodford Reserve

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Program for Unique Holidays: March 2024

Program for Unique Holidays: March 2024

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

Do you want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Change how you think about your March 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 February 2024 holidays list, click here.

March 5: Cinco de Marcho

Supposedly, this holiday is meant to “train the livers” of people planning on getting slightly wild on March 17. They have 12 days to get ready to party.

Well, we at KRG Hospitality think this sounds a bit irresponsible. We don’t want any operators or their teams to run into any legal trouble. So, I recommend offering a spin on the Coronarita as a nearly two-week-long LTO.

Build a Margarita with Irish whiskey, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and agave syrup. Serve it in a salt-rimmed pint glass, schooner, or mason jar. Invert a Harp Lager, Smithwick’s Pale Ale, or Guinness Blonde Lager in the glass.

March 7: National Crown Roast of Pork Day

Here’s a fun one based on a culinary classic. Put simply, a crown roast is anywhere from a dozen to nearly two dozen pork rib chops. When arranged in a circle, they look like a crown.

It’s old school, and it’s certainly a shareable dish. Dress this LTO up with a wine pairing, or dress it down with a bucket of beers.

March 8: National Proofreading Day

Your menu is a billboard. It’s a crucial marketing and branding tool. So, it can be embarrassing when there are typos and other issues on your menu.

If you don’t want to proofread it yourself, or you just want to engage your guests, put a “bounty” on misspellings and grammatical errors on your menu. Watch how quickly any mistakes are found, if any exist.

March 14: National Potato Chip Day

Housemade potato chips are among the best appetizers and sides. If your kitchen team is up for it, consider housemade chips as an LTO side. Think about making them a permanent (or semi-permanent) addition to your menu if all goes well.

March 18: National Sloppy Joe Day

So, it’s March 18. Some people may have gotten after it pretty hard for St. Patrick’s Day. They need comfort food.

If your kitchen team can make delicious Sloppy Joe’s from scratch (maybe served with housemade potato chips), they may be just what the doctor ordered.

March 19: National Poultry Day

Does your restaurant or bar serve dishes featuring poultry? Guess what you should do on this day…

March 21: World Vermouth Day

The days of low-quality vermouth are gone. For a few years not at least, people have discovered that premium vermouth makes a great cocktail base. This holds particularly true for low-ABV drinks, like reverse cocktails.

March 22: National Goof Off Day

This year, National Goof Off Day falls on a Friday. Really, that timing couldn’t be much better.

Encourage your guests to set aside their responsibilitiesas long as it won’t get them firedand goof off at your bar.

March 29: Smoke and Mirrors Day

When a cocktail is served with smoke, people take notice. Often times, when one is served, people watching the show want one of their own.

This is the perfect holiday to show off your smoking cocktails. To really embrace the holiday, smoke and serve them in a glass and chrome smoker box. By the way, these boxes work well when it comes to smoking food items, too.

March 31: National Tater Day

Much like poultry day, I bet you can figure out what to do on National Tater Day. Celebrate the potato! Tater tot nachos? Done. Sriracha French fries? Awesome. Fully loaded potato skins and baked potatoes? Classics.

Get creative. The humble potato is a fantastic canvas for enticing dishes.

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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Update Your Margs with Mezcal and Sotol

Update Your Margaritas with Mezcal, Sotol, and More!

by David Klemt

Contraluz Cristalino Mezcal bottle on a drinks tray

We all know how to make a classic Margarita, so for this National Margarita Day we want to put some new recipes and ingredients on your radar.

The cocktail recipes below swap out the tequila for mezcal and sotol.

For a quick refresher, all tequila is mezcal in a technical sense. Mezcal is made with agave plants. Tequila producers use a specific agave plant, Blue Weber. Further, tequila must be produced in one of five Mexican states: Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, or Tamaulipas.

Then we have sotol. You may have seen sotol thrown in with agave spirits on cocktail or spirits roundups. To clarify, however, sotol is a typo of shrub known as the desert spoon, and it’s not an agave plant.

So, all tequila is mezcal, mezcal is agave, and sotol is…sotol.

Swap Out the Tequila

Being National Margarita Day, you certainly need to have a classic Margarita on your menu. It’s all the better if your bar team makes them so well and so consistently that really, your top-selling Marg is one of your signature cocktails.

That said, it’s also a good idea to play with classics to give your guests new drinks to discover. The two recipes below are two great examples of riffs on the classic Margarita that should get your and your bar team’s creative wheels turning.

Allow me to introduce you to Contraluz Cristalino Mezcal and Nocheluna Sotol, if you’re not already acquainted.

Contraluz lays claim to the title of “world’s first cristalino mezcal.” Made from 100 percent espadín agave, this is a crystal-clear, small-batch reposado mezcal. On the nose, expect aromas of agave, along with citrus and floral notes. You may also detect smoke, cedar, and honey. In terms of flavor, Contraluz delivers notes of vanilla, clove, cacao, and cooked agave, with a sweet, long finish.

The second cocktail below is made with Nocheluna Sotol, which is crafted using 100-percent wild sotol from Chihuahuan desert. This particular sotol is the result of a collaboration between a fourth-generation master vintner, and a master distiller.

A unique spirit, Nocheluna delivers a delicate balance of sweet, herbal, dried fruit, and mineral notes. These notes come through via both the aroma and taste, although you may detect oak and smoke as well. Interestingly, Nocheluna says the finish may include a taste of pecan wood, along with wet earth.

 

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A post shared by Nocheluna Sotol (@nochelunasotol)

But Wait, There’s More!

Along with Contraluz and Nocheluna, you’ll see three bottles that may be new to you below. The Light and Soul cocktail calls for Alma Finca Orange Liqueur, Nixta Licor de Elote, and HAGAVE Spiced Nectar.

The first is an orange liqueur produced by the same company that makes Montelobos Mezcal. The second liqueur, Nixta Elote, is essentially liquid elote seasoning, and it comes in a fantastic corn-shaped bottle. Finally, HAGAVE is exactly what it says on the label: a premium, spiced agave mixer.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely plan to get my hands on each of these bottles. Just imagine what you can do to engage with your guests by introducing them to a crystal-clear, artisanal mezcal, an expertly crafted sotol, and liquid elote in a corn bottle.

Cheers!

Contraluz Cristalino Mezcal, Light and Soul cocktail

Light and Soul

  • 2.0 oz. Contraluz Cristalino Mezcal
  • 0.5 oz. Alma Finca Orange Liqueur (or a triple sec or different orange liqueur if unavailable)
  • 0.5 oz. Nixta Licor de Elote
  • 1 oz. Lime cordial
  • 0.5 oz. HAGAVE Spiced Nectar

Place a large ice cube or sphere in a rocks glass. Add all liquid ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake well, and strain into the prepared rocks glass. Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel.

Nocheluna Sotol cocktail, the Sotolita

Sotolita

  • 1.5 oz. Nocheluna Sotol
  • 1.0 oz. Triple sec
  • 1.0 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 oz. Apple juice
  • Apple slices to garnish
  • Chiltepin salt for rim (sea salt blend with chiltepin peppers)

Prepare a rocks glass by adding quality ice and rimming it with chiltepin salt. Add ice to a shaker, then add all liquid ingredients. Shake well, then strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with an apple-slice fan.

Images provided by LaFORCE

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