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Life is Peachy with These Cocktails

Life is Peachy with These Pantone-inspired Cocktails

by David Klemt

Greek Spritzer drink

According to Pantone, the 2024 Color of the Year is Peach Fuzz, which communicates warmth, community, collaboration, and a sense of welcoming.

There’s a lot that operators can do with Pantone’s annual announcement.

For those who are curious, the 2023 Color of the Year was Viva Magenta, a bold, purplish shade of red. And in 2022, the color was Very Peri, a dynamic shade of blue.

If an operator is looking for a complete venue refresh, Peach Fuzz may be an effective choice. For example, people can leverage the 2024 Color of the Year with feature walls, seating, tablecloths, and physical menus.

Of course, not every operator is looking to undergo a redesign. In this case, there’s still plenty of opportunity to splash Peach Fuzz throughout a bar or restaurant. One simple and effective way is through the drink menu.

Below are three peach-forward cocktail recipes. They’re visually appealing, which is helpful since we tend to “drink” with our eyes first. And with peach brandy, puree, or bitters, they impart more than just color: peach fans will appreciate the flavor.

You’ll also find a recipe for the Cosmopolitan, the famous cocktail created by Toby Cecchini. It turns out Aubrey Plaza, the modern face of the Margarita, is also the spokesperson for the Cosmo. Just like they say there’s no Negroni without Campari, there’s no Cosmo without Cointreau.


Frankly, My Dear cocktail

Frankly, My Dear

  • 0.75 oz. Cointreau
  • 0.75 oz. Tequila
  • 0.75 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. Peach puree
  • 3 oz. Prosecco to top
  • Peach wedge to garnish

Prepare a Collins glass by filling it with ice. Add all ingredients except for the Prosecco and garnish to a shaker with ice. Shake well, then strain into Collins glass. Top with Prosecco, garnish with a peach wedge, and serve.

Fish House Punch cocktail

Fish House Punch

Add ice to a rocks, Collins, or other glass. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, then add all ingredients except for garnish. Shake well, strain, garnish with lemon zest, and serve.

Peach Spritzer cocktail, also known as Greek Spritzer

METAXA Peach Spritzer

  • 1.5 oz. METAXA 7 Stars
  • 1.5 oz. Prosecco or other sparkling wine
  • 0.75 oz. Tonic
  • 3 dashes Peach bitters
  • Peach wedge to garnish
  • For winter: Star anise and tree leaf to garnish
  • For spring: Jasmine flower to garnish

For this cocktail, start by selecting a red wine glass. Add METAXA 7 Stars, then add bitters and ice. Stir, add tonic, then top with Prosecco or other sparkling wine. Garnish with a peach wedge.

Cointreau Cosmopolitan cocktails

Cointreau Cosmo

  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 2 oz. Vodka
  • 1 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz. Cranberry juice
  • Orange twist to garnish

Your bartenders probably know how to make a Cosmo. But just in case, start by preparing a coupe or cocktail glass by chilling it. Add all the liquid ingredients and ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake well, then strain into the prepared glass. Garnish and serve.

Images belong to their respective brands.

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

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5 Books to Read this Month: January 2024

5 Books to Read this Month: January 2024

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative January 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: becoming a great boss; gaining perspective when analyzing your business; and more.

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

Let’s jump in!

Single AF Cocktails: Drinks for Bad B*tches

You may roll your eyes at the title of this cocktail book but there’s no denying it has your attention. In that way, it’s much like a well-curated, themed cocktail menu split into cleverly named sections. In fact, this book is separated into sections that match its overall theme. For example, Honeymoon Phase, Betrayal, Devastation, and Resilience. If you have reality show fans among your guests, they’ll likely know author Ariana Madix from Vanderpump Rules and Dancing with the Stars. So, they’ll probably dig these drinks.

From Amazon: “The newly solo Ariana serves up her own recipes and perspective in a unique exploration of the stages of a doomed relationship. In her own words, Ariana takes back the narrative of her very public breakup while inspiring others to find inner strength in their own troubles. Each drink tells part of the story from her point of view, from when she first met her ex, through the insidious affair and its painful aftermath, and to her present state, coming out the other side, stronger than before.”

Grab it today!

How to Be a Great Boss

Entrepreneurs, when working with a team, need to be leaders. That means being a great boss. However, that doesn’t mean being a tyrant. If you want to earn buy-in from your team, if you want to get the most out of each person, you need to get them excited and engaged.

From Amazon: “Studies have repeatedly shown that the majority of employees are disengaged at work. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Often, the difference between a group of indifferent employees and a fully engaged team comes down to one simple thing: —a great boss.

“In How to Be a Great Boss, Gino Wickman and René Boer present a straightforward, practical approach to help bosses at all levels of an organization get the most from their people. They share time-tested tools that have worked for more than 30,000 bosses in every industry. You can learn to be a great boss—and dramatically improve both your organization’s performance and your team’s excitement about their work.”

Pick up the hardcover today.

Same as Ever: A Guide to What Never Changes

As a business owner, it’s smart to see what’s changing. However, it’s also crucial to identify what’s not changing to gain perspective and understand the whole picture.

From Amazon: “With his usual elan, Morgan Housel presents a master class on optimizing risk, seizing opportunity, and living your best life. Through a sequence of engaging stories and pithy examples, he shows how we can use our newfound grasp of the unchanging to see around corners, not by squinting harder through the uncertain landscape of the future, but by looking backwards, being more broad-sighted, and focusing instead on what is permanently true.

“By doing so, we may better anticipate the big stuff, and achieve the greatest success, not merely financial comforts, but most importantly, a life well lived.”

Click here for the hardcover, or here for the paperback.

Bar Hacks: Developing The Fundamentals for an Epic Bar

This informative and conversational book written by KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey 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!

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

Doug’s followup book to Bar Hacks! 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

Business Plan for Boutique Hotel Motel Resort Property

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Program for Unique Holidays: January 2024

Program for Unique Holidays: January 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 kick off the new year with your January 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 December 2023 holidays list, click here.

January 2: Thank God It’s Monday Day

We all know the Monday trope: It’s the day of the week to fear, inspiring the Sunday Scaries.

Well, this month encourages people to change how they look at the start of the workweek. Your venue can play a role, offering F&B promotions and entertainment programming that puts people in good spirits on a Monday.

January 3: National Fruitcake Toss Day

Another trope? Fruitcake somehow becoming a rock star during the end-of-year holiday season. I suppose this divisive dessert gets the “rock” part right…

If you have the space, you can hold a fruitcake tossing competition. Nobody’s going to eat the fruitcakes they were given, so they may as extract some joy from them.

January 9: National Cassoulet Day

This French dish is warm and comforting. And according to Tastewise, social conversations were up 20 percent in 2023.

However, less than one percent of restaurants have cassoulet on their menus in the US. Could be an excellent opportunity for savvy operator and kitchen team.

January 13: National Peach Melba Day

Each December, Pantone announces the next year’s Color of the Year. At this point, it’s a tradition.

For 2024, that color is Peach Fuzz. So, it makes sense to put peach dishes and drinks on your menu. The Peach Melba is a dessert consisting of peach wedges resting in raspberry sauce, accompanied by vanilla ice cream. However, there’s no reason your kitchen team can’t make this their own by getting creative with ice cream flavors and other accompaniments.

January 14: Start of National Mocktail Week

This is an excellent way to help guests celebrate Dry January. However, it’s important to note that some sober guests find the term “mocktail” disrespectful. I can see their point: the word has “mock” in it. So, perhaps call your celebration Alcohol-free Week, Non-alcohol Week, or Zero-ABV Week.

Either way, this is the time to dial in your zero-proof menu.

January 15: National Strawberry Ice Cream Day

Celebrating this holiday with the Peach Melba is a great way to get the most out of promoting your guests’ favorite new dessert. All you have to do is serve your Peach Melba with, you guessed it, strawberry ice cream instead of the standard vanilla.

January 20: National Cheese Lover’s Day

Getting creative to celebrate this holiday will take some effort. However, if you nail it, this promotion can be recurring and become a sought-after experience.

Wine, beer, and spirits pair with a vast array of cheeses. You can create an entire tasting experience, pairing specific cheeses with a curated selection of wines, beers, whiskeys, or other spirits. Check out this guide for pairing ideas.

January 20: National Use Your Gift Card Day

I don’t usually double up on holidays for this monthly KRG Hospitality feature, but here we are.

If your business offers gift cards, this is the day to encourage people to come in and redeem them. Send a targeted email campaign, include a link to your reservation system, and you’ll have an excellent way to track how many gift cards you can expect to show up for redemption.

January 25: Clashing Clothes Day

Why should October and December get all the dress-up fun? There’s no reason your guests have to pull out all the stops for Ugly Christmas Sweater gatherings and then wait another year to do it again.

If you pull this off well and make it a “thing,” you and your team can own Clashing Clothes Day and make it an annual promotion.

January 30: National Croissant Day

The humble but delicious, flaky croissant is a tasty canvas. Sure, you can just offer croissants, but what about going harder and offering an array of croissant sandwiches or desserts?

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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KRG Releases 2024 Start-Up Guide

KRG Hospitality Releases 2024 Restaurant Start-Up Cost Guide

by David Klemt

2024 KRG Hospitality Start-up Costs Guide


Toronto-based hospitality industry consulting firm with offices in key markets throughout Canada and the United States of America unveils their latest restaurant cost guide and interactive hospitality calculator.

December 21, 2024 (TORONTO)—Today, KRG Hospitality releases their 2024 Bar & Restaurant Start-up Costs Guide, which is free to download. The Toronto-based consulting firm specializes in startup restaurant and bar projects along with boutique hotels, experiential concepts, and entertainment venues. KRG Hospitality’s American headquarters is located in Las Vegas, Nevada.

For the past six years KRG has researched, reviewed, and published the annual start-up cost guide, one of the industry’s leading resources dedicated to restaurant project costing.

And each year this informative and transparent guide is used as a trusted budgeting tool by developers, lenders, contractors, consultants, and aspiring restaurateurs. The guide is founded upon KRG Hospitality’s proprietary database of previous project costs, which includes project data from restaurants, bars, and cafes developed over the past 24 months.

Further, this annual KRG Hospitality guide also includes the interactive KRG Hospitality Calculator, which is updated for 2024.

The costs to start a restaurant have been on a steady rise over the past six years. Major drivers are increases in inflation, interest, labor, construction, and equipment. Of course, there are also the unique materials required to deliver a scalable, sustainable, memorable, profitable, and consistent on-premise, off-premise, or hybrid-style concept.

Drawing upon this comprehensive guide, an industry-leading expert has analyzed the information and provided a succinct and user-friendly summary of the findings for each major start-up category. This isn’t simply a couple of pages identifying a few costs. Rather, the sixth annual guide is a deep dive that provides real insight into what to expect in 2024.

The guide is available now as a free download via this link.

About KRG Hospitality

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


While using this guide helps develop a rough preliminary financial and strategic milestone plan, it is strongly recommended that you seek professional expert advice to provide you with a more precise, project specific estimate as each concept and market will be slightly different. KRG Hospitality Inc. is not responsible for any project that is not currently under contract within the company.

Image: KRG Hospitality

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Grubhub Reveals 2023 Order Trends

Grubhub Reveals 2023 Order Trends

by David Klemt

A veritable sea of pickle chips

Just under the wire Grubhub releases their annual end-of-year report, revealing their customers’ top ordering trends of 2023.

Uber Eats and DoorDash unveiled their reports at the end of October and start of November, respectively.

To revisit 2022 for a moment, the top food item ordered via Grubhub was the burrito. So, the unofficial theme of last year’s annual report was warmth and comfort wrapped in layers.

I’m providing that context because this year’s report also comes with a theme. This year, it’s “doing it for the vibes.” For Grubhub, this means that users of the service broke out of their comfort zones to try new F&B items.

Providing an example, one of the standout trends for 2023 is heat. As in, Grubhub users added spice to quite a lot of orders, as you’ll see below.

Click here to review Grubhub’s top 2022 food orders, and here for their 2022 beverage orders. To review this year’s Grubhub report in its entirety, click here.

Now, let’s take a look at a number of this year’s ordering trends.

Soft Drinks & Coffee

Usually, I start with food items when reviewing these reports. Well, once you become predictable, you become beatable. So, I’m going to shake things up and begin with beverages.

According to Grubhub, a TikTok trend—#dietcokebreak—is responsible for the growth of Diet Coke on the platform. In fact, the third-party delivery service says that in-office orders of Diet Coke grew by 17 percent. No surprise, then, that the soda grabbed the top spot in 2023.

Top 5 Sodas

  • Diet Coke
  • Coke
  • Sprite
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Ginger Ale

Next, coffee orders. Per this year’s Grubhub report, people weren’t shy about ordering coffee outside of the breakfast and lunch dayparts.

According to their data, more than 10 million coffee orders were placed after 5:00 PM.

Top 5 Coffee Orders

  • Iced Coffee
  • Caramel Frappe
  • Mocha Frappe
  • Cappuccino
  • Hot Coffee

Food & Flavors

Here’s an interesting revelation: more than 600,000 Grubhub users chose to order salads with a side of French fries.

In fact, the French fry is the top ordered side in 2023 on the platform. So, Grubhub ranked fries by style.

Top 5 French Fry Styles

  • Classic cut
  • Waffle fries
  • Cheese fries
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Curly fries

Hey, let’s reignite the pineapple on pizza debate. According to Grubhub’s year-end report, pineapple as a pizza topping grew by 33 percent in comparison to 2022.

However, Hawaiian pizza has some more growth to do if it wants to take the number one spot.

Top 5 Pizza Styles

  • Cheese Pizza
  • Margherita Pizza
  • Pepperoni Pizza
  • Buffalo Chicken Pizza
  • Hawaiian Pizza

Finally, top flavors. In short, heat is a hit.

Grubhub users added spice to a staggering 53 million orders this year. For further context, sriracha was added to more than 91,000 orders.

And when it comes to chicken wings, Buffalo was the dominant style. I find it interesting, though, that no style of wing made the top five for this category.

Top 5 Spicy Items

  • Spicy potato soft tacos
  • Spicy chicken sandwich
  • Spicy tuna roll
  • Hot and sour soup
  • Drunken noodles

Bringing this report to a close, the item with the most growth. Pickles grew by 89 percent in 2023, accounting for 6.9 million orders.

So, I guess make sure your pickles, French fries, cheese pizzas, and salads are on point as we head into the New Year.

Image: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Transactional vs. Experiential Service

Is Your Business Transactional or Experiential?

by David Klemt

Gloved chef's hand pressing down on cheeseburger bun

When you consider your restaurant or bar honestly, is the service you and your team are providing to guests transactional or experiential?

It’s an important distinction, and it applies to every restaurant and bar category. Whether operating a QSR or FSR, today’s guests want more for more their money.

Further, they expect more just for choosing to leave their homes. A recent report from CWB Franchise Finance, in partnership with Circana and fsStrategy, indicates strongly that experiential concepts are on the path to weathering economic challenges and achieving long-term success.

Now, to be clear, of course all businesses are transactional. In that regard, restaurants and bars are clearly no different from other businesses.

Guests come in, they place orders, and they pay for the goods they receive. Transactional, right?

However, restaurants and bars are in a position to deliver memorable experiences.

Sure, for some people those memories are fleeting. There are those who are always seeking the next thing. But operators who become known for providing more than just menu items will remain on the radar of even the most fickle guest.

When a restaurant or bar delivers goods plus phenomenal services, when the guest experience involves more than just ordering and paying, it becomes experiential.

Think back to the times this year you’ve popped into a QSR or fast-casual restaurant. Can you remember much about the experience? If yes, fantastic—that operator understands the power of an experiential business model. Should the answer be no, that operator sees value only in being transactional.

Which are you happy to return to in the future?

Experience is King

I’m going to assume you’re much happier to return to an experiential concept than a strictly transactional one. And if that’s a correct assumption, you should apply that to your own restaurant or bar.

According to studies Circana has conducted over the past couple of years, Canadian consumers are reacting to economic uncertainty and financial instability as one would expect: cutting back on discretionary spending.

Generally speaking, that means reducing their spending at restaurants and bars. However, there’s a bit of good news tucked into those Circana studies.

Per Circana, half of Canadians plan to increase spending on something in particular: experiences. Further, 91 percent of Canadians say they’ve spent money at experiential restaurants recently.

“A restaurant visit isn’t necessarily just about nourishment, but instead is a platform for socializing, entertainment and exploration,” reads the joint CWB, Circana, and fsStrategy report.

Importantly, an operator need not go to extremes to deliver an experience. Something as simple as creating an LTO around craveable drinks can pay huge dividends. For proof of that, simply look at McDonald’s in the US and the hype that surrounded the berry-flavored Grimace Shake.

Operators throughout Canada and around the globe need to understand how impactful being experiential can be.


It’s true that operators are competing against one another. However, it goes deeper than that now.

Operators are also battling convenience and comfort. Between working from home, pandemic-induced isolation, and technology, people are used to staying in and ordering whatever they want.

So, not only are operators faced with the challenge of standing out from one another, they’re up against the phones in people’s pockets.

For many people, choosing to leave home to dine and drink in person is a big deal. To some, restaurants and bars are about celebrating special occasions or socializing. For others, the motivation is as simple as the need to finally get out of their home.

It’s imperative, therefore, for operators to be more than transactional. Being experiential, whether the experience is small but impactful or over the top and unforgettable, is the way forward.

Restaurants and bars that deliver a memorable experience are better positioned to remain top of mind for a guest’s future in-person visits, delivery and takeout orders, and large-party special events. Don’t think of being experiential just in terms of nailing each visit, think of elevating the guest experience to capture future business.

A focus on the experiential builds loyalty from existing guests, and it encourages those guests to become ambassadors of your brand. Ask what you can do with your menu, team, and space today to become more experiential than transactional.

Image: Thiago Miranda on Pexels

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Will Whiskey Bring Us Together?

Will Whiskey Bring Us Together?

by David Klemt

Kentucky Peerless Distilling Co. whiskey barrels

A letter penned by Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and signed by a bipartisan group of senators shows that we’re capable of coming together.

There’s seemingly no escape from messages that America is divided like never before. And, when inundated with that message, it’s easy to believe. Sadder, when we believe that message it’s too easy to plunge into despair.

However, 17 senators, Democrats and Republicans, are coming together in support of American whiskey.

These senators are seeking the permanent removal of tariffs on American spirits and wine by the European Union. That 25 percent tariff, first imposed in June of 2018, is in retaliation over a dispute over aluminum and steel. This was a response to the US imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports, and ten percent on aluminum.

Unfortunately, after a suspension  in 2021, the tariffs on American whiskey will jump to 50 percent on January 1, 2024. So, Sen. Cortez Masto and a bipartisan group of senators are urging the Biden administration to work with the EU to permanently suspend or otherwise eliminate tariffs on American whiskey.

If Ambassador Katherine Tai and the White House are unable to broker a deal with the EU, the tariffs would be catastrophic for many American whiskey distillers. In turn, their whiskeys would become more costly for restaurant, bar, nightlife, and hotel operators. And, of course, for consumers.

Here’s to hope. Hope that a deal can be reached, and hope that somehow, some way, our elected officials will engage in more bipartisan efforts moving forward.

Bipartisan Support in the Senate

Below, the text of the letter that Sen. Cortez Masto (D-NV) sent to Ambassador Tai and the White House.

The following senators signed this letter in a show of bipartisan support:

  • Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
  • Katie Boyd Britt (R-AL)
  • Mike Braun (R-IN)
  • Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
  • John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • Mike Crapo (R-ID)
  • Bill Hagerty (R-TN)
  • Tim Kaine (D-VA)
  • Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
  • Joe Manchin (D-WV)
  • Roger Marshall (R-KS)
  • Rand Paul (R-KY)
  • Gary Peters (D-MI)
  • Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
  • Mark Warner (D-VA)
  • Todd Young (R-IN)

If only restaurants and bars, venues where American whiskey is bought and sold, had received this type of support when seeking RRF replenishment.

The Letter

“Dear Ambassador Tai,

“We write today to request an expedited agreement with the European Union (EU) to secure the permanent removal of retaliatory tariffs on spirits and wines. While we applaud the Administration’s efforts to suspend retaliatory tariffs for five-years on spirits and wines in the WTO Large Civil Aircraft Dispute and the two-year pause on American Whiskeys in the steel and aluminum dispute, we are deeply concerned that a lack of a permanent fix risks the re-imposition of tariffs. As of now, a 50 percent tariff is set to hit American Whiskeys on January 1, 2024.

“Spirits have had a significant cultural impact in our country, and currently have a profound impact on the U.S. economy. In 2022 alone, U.S. distilled spirit exports reached $2.06 billion. But the impact of the retaliatory tariffs was devastating. For the American Whiskey industry, exports decreased from $702 million to $440 million, a loss of 20 percent between 2018 and 2021. In 2022, American spirits exports rebounded over 2017 pre-tariff levels – the last full year before retaliatory tariffs – due in large part to the suspension of retaliatory tariffs. For many in the hospitality industry and others such as retailers, grocers, importers and distributors, many of which are small, locally-owned businesses, the impact was severe, compounded by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“While we understand that you continue to negotiate towards a deal to settle the dispute related to steel, we believe that the targeting of spirits is extraneous. Likewise, a permanent fix is needed as the two-year pause on American Whiskey tariffs is set to snapback soon.

“Understanding that tariffs are a ‘tool in the toolbox’ in negotiating a deal, the imposition of additional tariffs on this industry would be detrimental. There are mutual benefits in finding a path forward, and our belief is that spirits and wines are a point where there can be consensus to limit the damage for all parties.

“We look forward to your support in finding a permanent fix for retaliatory tariffs on spirits and wines.”

Image: Daniel Norris on Unsplash

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Drink Donnybrook: Let’s Talk Screwdriver

Drink Donnybrook: Let’s Talk Screwdriver

by David Klemt

Orange cocktail, like a Screwdriver

Is there vodka in there? Maybe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

World War II

One theory involves WWII and the US Marine Corps.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Well, that’s one theory, anyway.

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

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


Image: Ryutaro Tsukata on Pexels

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

FTC Targets Restaurant Fees and Surcharges

FTC Targets Restaurant Fees and Surcharges

by David Klemt

The Federal Trade Commission Building

The Apex Building, also known as the Federal Trade Commission Building in Washington, DC.

Well, that didn’t take long. Less than two months after asking for the public’s input, the Federal Trade Commission is proposing legislation targeting additional fees and surcharges.

The proposed rule is known as the “Unfair or Deceptive Fees” rule. As one may imagine, the FTC is going after hidden and so-called “junk” fees.

As it stands, according to multiple outlets, this rule would prohibit restaurant and bar operators from surcharges that are commonplace. For example, larger-party fees, delivery surcharges, and even credit card processing charges would be banned by the rule.

Instead, operators would be compelled to list total prices on menus, whether for goods or services. Further, the FTC is directing operators to provide larger groups with “larger group” menus. These separate menus would show total prices calculated to include any surcharges.

Even further, it’s being reported that the FTC is also addressing tips. The Commission’s rule directs operators who charge service fees in place of tips to remove the fee and return to tipping.

Interestingly, the National Restaurant Association is reporting that the FTC never identified restaurants as a targeted industry when asking for public comments about junk fees. However, other sources claim that restaurants were indeed included when the FTC put forth the request for public feedback.

Regardless, it’s a fair statement to say that the Commission doesn’t understand restaurant operation and costs. It appears that the FTC either didn’t work with any operators when drafting these proposed rules. Or, if they did seek out restaurant operator input, they put very little stock into it.

Costing Independents

One thing that’s clear is these proposed rules will cost operators. In particular, compliance will cost independent operations, which account for nearly 70 percent of American restaurants.

According to the NRA, the cost of changing menus will cost nearly $5,000 per operator, for starters.

“The FTC doesn’t take the realities of the restaurant industry into consideration,” reads the Association’s fact sheet. “Its estimated compliance cost—$3.5 billion—would equal a cost of $4,818.27 per operator for menus alone. Small independent operators run on a 3-5% margin and make an average of $45,000/year. The cost of making this change would be approximately 10% of their total income.”

As independent operators can attest, credit card swipe fees are a dynamic cost that affects them disproportionately in comparison to their chain restaurant counterparts. Since these fees are calculated on a per-transaction basis and not fixed, adjusting menu prices to comply with the FTC’s rule puts them at a costly disadvantage.

Then there’s the simple fact that when restaurants raise prices, traffic tends to drop. When traffic drops, revenue goes with it. And when traffic and revenue drops, hours are cut back, and people lose their jobs.

Harmful Legislation

As far as I can tell, this is another example of a government agency attempting to impose rules on an industry it doesn’t understand.

When drafting legislation that affects restaurants, a group of operators and industry advocates that truly represents those who will be impacted should be impaneled. Input should be taken into thoughtful consideration before drafting rules, and drafts should be provided to the panel to receive feedback.

Unfortunately, the past few years have made it clear that our industry has very few friends the federal government. Our lobby, such as it is, simply isn’t respected as valuable enough to warrant consideration before imposing harmful rules on the industry.

This, despite the fact restaurants and bars in America employ more than 12 million people. That’s a lot of voters too many elected lawmakers are willing to dismiss as unimportant.

Image: ipse dixit on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

af&co. x Carbonate: 2024 Trends to Watch

af&co. x Carbonate: 2024 Trends to Watch

by David Klemt

Paddle and ball on pickleball court

Marketing and creative agencies af&co. and Carbonate Group‘s 16th annual Hospitality Trends Report provides in-depth insight across several categories.

This is an in-depth, insightful report operators should review in its entirety. The “Sweet Sixteen” edition of this yearly report is available for download here.

There are two interesting details toward the end of af&co. and Carbonate’s report. First, a list of 2023 clients. Second, an explanation for the design of the report itself.

This makes sense: Carbonate is a creative agency that works in the hospitality space, after all. Further, af&co. is a hospitality industry marketing agency.

Now, I won’t be sharing every trend or insight found in these two agencies’ report. Rather, I’m highlighting a number of items across four of the report’s six categories. Again, I think operators and leadership team members should download the report for themselves.


While af&co. and Carbonate identify specific cuisines and items that are trending, it’s their 10,000-foot view of food that I find most compelling. In terms of the big picture, “rigid” adherence to authentic cuisine is falling out of favor.

Chefs, in the agencies’ opinions, are taking a more modern approach to menus. Instead of following the “rules” of certain cuisines, they’re creating dishes and programs that defy labels. Of course, for those who feel the need to label, one could call this approach “contemporary fusion.”

Examples given are Good Luck Gato’s Okonomiyaki Baked Potato, and the Birria Dumplings at Little Bull.

Cuisine Trends

Of course, af& co. and Carbonate also zoom in on food. Their Cuisine of the Year goes to Korean.

Dessert of the Year goes to the Pavlova or Eton Mess. So, one can argue that operators should connect with their back-of-house teams about meringue-based desserts.

Other food trends include making pastries with buckwheat; getting inventive with mortadella; serving borek in snack and entree size; and Brazilian-style pizza.

However, it’s a presentation trend that stood out the most to me. Accompanied by a timeline complete with images, the agencies state confidently that we’re in the “Crescent Moon” era of plating.

Visualize a plate, then place all of the food along the edge, with roughly two-thirds of the space open. That’s the crescent moon presentation.


A number of the trends in this section aren’t exactly new. That tells me that some are likely on the brink of moving from trend to ubiquity.

That, or they’re at risk of bumping against their expiration date.

Two trends that have been popping their fins out of the sea of cocktails for a bit make it into the af&co. and Carbonate report. One is clarified cocktails.

Spend a bit of time looking up cocktails on social media and you’ll see these are a bit divisive. Some bartenders are all for them, some appear to absolutely despise this trend. Guests, however, seem to like the novelty of well-known, opaque or translucent classic turning transparent.

Another drink trend? Culinary cocktails. For food-driven concepts, it makes perfect sense to encourage the bar team to work closely with the kitchen team. Offering culinary cocktails is one method of pulling a concept’s threads tighter, telling a more complete story.

Along those lines, the agencies identify another divisive cocktail trend: cheese.

Personally, cocktails that feature cheese aren’t my thing. However, these drinks are, at the minimum, going to grab a guest’s attention. And those who order these drinks aren’t likely to forget the experience any time soon, good or bad.

That last point is important for operators and their teams to remember. A negative experience can be more powerful and stick with a guest longer than a positive one. So, pursue trends with caution.


One of the biggest hotel developments the Hospitality Trends Report identifies is the dual-brand hotel. This is also a trend with which KRG Hospitality is well acquainted, both through industry research and client projects.

So far, the most common approach tends to include two towers, a shared lobby and fitness center, and shared F&B concepts. However, there are properties that incorporate not only brand-specific design for each tower but separate the bars and restaurants as well.

Notably, Marriott opened the first-ever tri-brand hotel in Nashville in 2019. The hotel and resort colossus combined an AC Hotel, a Residence Inn, and a SpringHill Suites.

Another interesting hotel trend? Eco-friendly, pre-fab construction. An excellent example of this approach is Moliving. To learn more about this brand, check out Bar Hacks podcast episode 68 with Jordan and Hanna Bem.

Interest by consumers in supporting eco-friendly brands informs two other trends identified by af&co. and Carbonate. One of these is hotels and resorts including e-bikes among their amenities.

Another is rewarding guests for engaging in a number of green initiatives. For example, cleaning up the beach in front of a hotel, or helping to plant trees on or near the property.

Speaking further of amenities, hotel and resort operators are likely aware that if they have courts for racquet sports, they need to include pickleball.


Operators considering a refresh or starting from a clean slate for a new space may want to work with a designer on the following approach: maximalism.

According to the 16th annual Hospitality Trends Report, this bold, playful design language is on the rise. Following this trend, af&co. and Carbonate think that maximalism is working particularly well for “concept-driven, design-forward” bars.

As far as colors and materials operators may want to ask designers about, the agencies suggest pink, bronze, gold, and velvet. These colors are warm and welcoming, exactly what a hospitality venue should be.

To download the Hospitality Trends Report, click here. Two categories not covered in this article are Marketing Ideas and Social Media Trends, so follow that link!

Image: Mason Tuttle on Pexels

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