by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Delicious ‘Mistake’ Causing an Uproar

The Delicious ‘Mistake’ Causing an Uproar

by David Klemt

Overhead shot of hand holding cocktail

Are you hearing your bar team or fellow bartenders debating Negroni specs or catching them rolling their eyes when a guest orders a particular variant?

Well, there’s a good reason. For some reason, the Negroni Sbagliato is getting roasted across social media.


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Perhaps it’s for the way it’s apparently being ordered. If the memes are anything to go by—a portion of a sentence I can’t believe I just typed—guests are asking for, “A Negroni Sbagliato, with Prosecco.”

It’s possible that some bartenders are bristling at the “with Prosecco” portion of the order. A Sbagliato, which translates to “mistake,” “bungled,” or “incorrect” from Italian, is a gin-less Negroni. As you may already know or are putting together by now, sparkling wine stands in for the gin.

There’s also another possibility as well: some bartenders can’t stand when a cocktail suddenly explodes in popularity and it’s all they seem to make for weeks on end.

Of course, it could just be that some bartenders don’t feel that the drink is worthy of the hive-mind ordering frenzy. I’ve seen more than one comment on social media posts (again, I can’t believe that’s a relevant method of providing context, but here we are) pointing out that there’s nothing groundbreaking about the Sbagliato.

“All that’s happening is gin being swapped out for sparkling wine,” is a common refrain. It’s a good point.

If the phrase, “No Negroni without Campari,’ holds true, how can a Negroni be a Negroni without gin?

Guest Experience

So, that’s the gist of this “scandal” or “outrage.” Really, it just seems like a bit of fun from the bartender and cocktail communities. Why not vent a little spleen at something innocuous if nobody gets hurt?

Unless, of course, the guest experience is being affected negatively. There was a time not long ago during which a number of “serious” cocktail bar teams belittled guests for any number of reasons, and seemed to get away with it.

Didn’t know something about a particular element of ingredient of a drink? Ridicule. Asked for a drink “beneath” the bar team? Outward contempt.

Not great, as you can imagine, for the guest experience, growing a loyal base, and earning repeat visits.

Personally, I have no issue with front-of-house team members rolling their eyes at someone causing problems. Being rude or creepy to team members and/or guests? Difficult guests get what they deserve if they’re mocked, set straight, and kicked out.

But for ordering what they want to drink, well within reason? Sorry, but I don’t feel like that’s worthy of outward scorn. It’s not the spirit of hospitality, and it’s certainly not good for business.

However, I don’t think anyone has addressed the Negroni Sbagliato (non)issue as well as bartender Giuseppe González via Instagram:

If you don’t want to check out the post, even though you should, here’s a relevant snippet:

So I say this with love: Unless they are ordering a Pumpkin Spice Negroni Sbagliato, let it go and look at this human knowing one thing: it’s actually a really cool drink and I’m not mad at it.

Negroni Sbagliato

Remember, one of the keys to the balance that defines the original Negroni is the 1:1:1 ratio. For this riff on the classic, that ratio remains the same—it’s an ingredient change that makes the difference.

As you’ll see below, the Sbagliato recipe calls for Prosecco rather than gin. While the substitution is simple, the change to the cocktail is significant in terms for flavor and mouthfeel.

I’d also say this an fun fall or winter cocktail, so why not put one on your menu?

  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. Sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz. Prosecco
  • Orange slice or peel to garnish

First, prepare an Old Fashioned glass with a large ice cube or sphere. Next, add ice, Campari and sweet vermouth to a mixing glass. Stir until well chilled, then strain into the prepared glass. Now, add the Prosecco to the glass and stir once more. Finally, garnish with orange slice or peel.

If you so choose, you can build this drink entirely with Campari portfolio elements. There’s Campari itself, of course. Then there’s Cinzano Vermouth Rosso and Cinzano Prosecco.

Image: Matheus Frade on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

by David Klemt

Whiskey in Fine & Rare NYC glass

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

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

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

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

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

Old Fashioned

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

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


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.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

7 Coffee Liqueurs You Need to Know

7 Coffee Liqueurs You Need to Know

by David Klemt

White Russian cocktail made with Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur

Whether you and your bar team are making Espresso Martinis, riffing on classics or creating something new, consider these coffee liqueurs.

National Espresso Martini Day takes place on Tuesday, March 15. Leading up to this bar holiday, the cocktail is experiencing yet another resurgence.

In fact, this cocktail more than any other seems to maintain an enviable rate of “surging back” in popularity. Maybe it’s time to just admit that it’s a modern classic people love to hate…but still order and enjoy.

Below are seven coffee liqueurs that shine in an Espresso Martini, Old Fashioned, Negroni, Irish Coffee, or any number of rich, flavorful cocktails. Cheers!

Mr. Black

Most of the reviews out there place Mr. Black at the top when it comes to coffee liqueurs. Once you’ve sipped it neat, you understand why. The coffee flavor is outstanding, and that should come as no surprise. After all, Mr. Black is crafted in Australia, a country with a rich coffee culture.

Additionally, Mr. Black occasionally releases special batches. In the past, the brand has produced Single Origin Ethiopia, Single Origin Colombia, and collaborations with WhistlePig and St. Ali Coffee Roasters. They also have a coffee amaro available.

Grind Espresso Shot

You really can’t go wrong making an Espresso Martini with an espresso liqueur. Grind Espresso Shot gives Mr. Black a run for their money in the coffee liqueur showdown.

This blend of Caribbean rum, espresso, coffee, and coffee extract that shines in just about any cocktail.


As the saying goes, respect your elders. Kahlúa is a coffee liqueur that dates back to 1936 and there’s a reason the brand is still so visible.

Not only does the brand claim it takes seven years to produce a bottle of Kahlúa, their range is deep is flavorful. The current lineup consists of more than just the original Kahlúa expression. There’s also Blonde Roast Style, Vanilla, Mint Mocha, Chili Chocolate, Salted Caramel, and Especial currently.

Jägermeister Cold Brew

We can argue back and forth about whether Jägermeister is a schnapps or an amaro. Either way, it serves as a fantastic base for a rich coffee liqueur.

Jägermeister Cold Brew blends the original herbal liqueur with arabica coffee and a touch of cacao. There’s a Dark Matter coffee available produced by washing Guatemalan coffee beans in Jägermeister’s coffee liqueur.

Caffè Borghetti

Who among us is unfamiliar with Fratelli Branca’s products? From Fernet-Branca and Brancamenta, to Antica Formula, Punt e Mes, and Carpano, it’s difficult to imagine a bar that doesn’t have at least one Branca product in their inventory.

So, when it comes to coffee liqueur, you can’t really go wrong with another of Fratelli Branca’s bottles: Caffè Borghetti. Sweet and imbued with the rich taste of Italian espresso, this is a liqueur that deserves a place behind your bar.

Flor de Caña Spresso

Produced in Nicaragua, is not just a highly sought-after and awarded rum, Flor de Caña is also the world’s first spirit to be fair trade and carbon neutral certified.

Their coffee liqueur, Flor de Caña Spresso, is made with the producer’s 7 Year Gran Reserva rum expression. You guests will know their enjoying a premium rum-based liqueur that’s sustainably and responsibly crafted.

Jameson Cold Brew

Combine world-famous Jameson Irish whiskey with arabica coffee beans from Brazil and Colombia and you get Jameson Cold Brew.

Not only do you get intense coffee aroma and flavor, you’ll also discover notes of toasted oak. So, your guests won’t have to worry that the coffee overpowers the whiskey or vice versa.

And c’mon—if you’re going to make an Irish Coffee, why not do it with a liqueur crafted with Irish whiskey? Interestingly, Jameson Cold Brew also pairs well with cream soda or cola.

Image: YesMore Content on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Science of Bitter Flavors

The Science of Bitter Flavors

by David Klemt

Selection of cocktails on table on patio of bar

Not only do bitter cocktail ingredients add depth and complexity to drinks, individual DNA plays a role in how we perceive them.

Campari, one of the best-known bitter aperitifs, adds herbal bitterness to cocktails.

However, not everyone perceives bitterness the same way. This is why some of your guests love bitter drinks, some can’t stand them, and others don’t have much of a response at all.

The Bitter Response

Dr. Danielle Reed is associate director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center. As her research summary states, why different people taste and smell differently, and how genotypes play a role in that perception.

A recent Campari digital event, “In a Sense: Decoding the Science of Bitter,” dives into the bitter response of humans. During this webinar, host Alison Mouratis, a Campari portfolio representative in Chicago, hosts Dr. Reed and Micah Melton, beverage director at the Alinea Group.

In the webinar, Dr. Reed asks, “Where does bitter come from?” The answer is: plants.

Obviously, plants can’t defend themselves like animals. If a predator chooses a plant as its prey, it doesn’t really have to worry about teeth and talons.

Instead, plants employ secondary defense chemicals, and they do so in an instant. Some of these defense chemicals are poisonous and humans perceive them as bitter. Often, bitter flavors activate our salivary glands to dilute the poison and protect us.


Yes, that. Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) is a chemical compound that tastes bitter…to some of us.

As Dr. Reed explains, not everyone can detect PTC. Our parents determine whether the receptor that picks up PTC is broken or not.

In some of us (about 30 percent of people), the receptor is broken. Turns out, it’s broken in yours truly. In others, one parent passes on the receptor. And for some people, both parents pass it on and the reaction to PTC is strong.

Test Your Receptor

I discovered my receptor is broken during the Campari event on screen with more than a dozen other participants.

How does one test their reaction to PTC? Via PTC strips. One takes a strip, places it in their mouth, and they’ll know quite quickly if their receptor is active.

Not only is this interesting to do just out of personal curiosity, operators can host an event similar to Campari’s. Guests are looking for new ways to engage with the brands, restaurants, bars, and bar teams they support.

PTC strips are available for on Amazon, and they’re not expensive. Vials of 100 PTC strips can cost as little as five dollars.

Not only is this type of event educational, it’s entertaining and can help drive drink sales.

Image: Chino Rocha on Unsplash