Moscow Mule

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

by David Klemt

Whiskey in Fine & Rare NYC glass

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

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

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

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

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

Old Fashioned

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

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


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

Whisky Sour

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

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


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

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

Mint Julep

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


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

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

Vieux Carré

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

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


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

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

Honorable Mentions

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

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

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

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

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

Your Own Data

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: YesMore Content on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hang On: That Drink Probably Isn’t Russian

Hang On: That Drink Probably Isn’t Russian

by David Klemt

Three clear vodka or gin cocktails

In response to the invasion of Ukraine, some restaurants and bars are pouring out spirits or renaming cocktails they believe are Russian.

Doing so is one way some operators are showing support for Ukraine.

However, people may want to do some research before they pour out a bottle or rewrite their menus. The reason is simple: That bottle or drink may not be Russian.

White or Black Russian

This classic cocktail has zero Russian roots. It was created by a Belgian bartender. Further, the bartender, Gustave Tops, created the drink at a hotel in Brussels.

Unfortunately, that hotel operated for 125 years before closing in 2020.

According to cocktail historians, the drink only has “Russian” in the name because it’s made with vodka.

In fact, people have created riffs on the White/Black Russian just by replacing a single ingredient. Variants include the White Belgian, White Cuban, and White Canadian.

Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule is 81 years old. And it was born in…Santa Monica. One of the most notable things about Santa Monica is that it’s located in California, which is in America.

As the story goes, a salesman representing Smirnoff strolled into the Cock ‘n Bull Pub. The owner of the pub had purchased a bunch of ginger beer he was having trouble moving.

In the 1940s, supposedly, it was difficult to sell vodka or ginger beer. But what about vodka and ginger beer? According to legend, the two men created the Moscow Mule in a mutually beneficial sales move. The rest is cocktail history.

Obviously, the name has Russian roots. Smirnoff vodka was at one time a Russian vodka (more on that below). But no, the cocktail isn’t a Russian cocktail in so far as it was invented in America.

There are companies that have made copyright claims but they’ve largely gone nowhere.

Smirnoff Vodka

Pouring out bottles of Smirnoff isn’t going to stick it to any Russians. The brand is now owned by Diageo, a British company.

The vodka itself is produced in several countries, including Canada, Ireland, and the US. Not a drop is made in Russia.

Originally, the vodka was produced in Moscow. Pyotr Arsenyevitch Smirnov founded the distillery in 1864. However, Smirnov had to sell the brand in 1904 after Tsar Nicholas II nationalized the Russian vodka industry.

Smirnov and his family fled Russia in 1917 in response to the October Revolution.

In reality, with the exception of very specialized bars and off-premise shops, it’s not common to come across authentic Russian vodka. Beluga, Jewel of Russia, Mamont, Russian Standard, and Zyr are some of the few people may come across at a restaurant, bar, or liquor store.

The Problem

It may seem like a middle finger to Russian president Vladimir Putin to erase the country from menus. Renaming cocktails or removing Russian brands feels like a show of solidarity, on the surface.

In reality, doing so is dangerous. It’s a vilification of all Russian people, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Pulling certain brands may put a dent in someone’s bottom line. However, “sanitizing” a menu by removing everything Russian may send an irresponsible, unintended message: Russian people are bad.

We don’t have to look far back into history at all to see what can happen when we vilify an entire group of people. Violence, harassment, discrimination… In these tense, divisive times, it’s all too easy for people to become desensitized and even engage in truly horrible behavior.

I’m appalled by what’s happening in Ukraine. Everyone at KRG Hospitality is horrified by Putin’s invasion. A single drop of blood spilled is too much; Putin’s hands are covered in innocent blood.

But I’m not going to show my support by declaring or otherwise acting like all Russians are bad people. One person—and his complicit inner circle—is responsible for the ongoing attack on Ukraine.

Let’s not forget that, and let’s not forget that words and actions have consequences. It’s all too easy for people to take things too far and for innocent people to get hurt.

Image: Vinicius “amnx” Amano on Unsplash