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Top Kitchen Design Trends of 2024

Top Commercial Kitchen Design Trends of 2024

by Nathen Dubé

A young male chef preparing a dish in a clean, modern commercial kitchen

Commercial kitchen design continues to evolve, driven by advancements in technology, an emphasis on sustainability, and the need for efficiency and flexibility.

The latest trends reflect these priorities, offering solutions that enhance both functionality and aesthetics in professional kitchens.

This article explores the top commercial kitchen design trends of 2024, highlighting their benefits and offering practical implementation tips. Going further, I also include real-world examples of successful trend adoption.

1. Sustainability and Eco-friendly Practices

Sustainability is at the forefront of commercial kitchen design in 2024.

Restaurants and foodservice operators are increasingly adopting eco-friendly practices. Key reasons include reducing their environmental footprint, and meeting consumer demand for responsible business practices.

Key Trends

  • Energy-efficient appliances: The use of ENERGY STAR-rated appliances that consume less energy, and reduce operational costs.
  • Sustainable materials: Incorporating materials like recycled steel, reclaimed wood, and eco-friendly countertops.
  • Waste reduction systems: Implementation of composting and recycling systems to manage waste more effectively.

Benefits

  • Reduce operational costs through lower energy consumption.
  • Enhance brand reputation by demonstrating a commitment to sustainability.
  • Meet regulatory requirements and green certification standards.

Implementation Tips

  • Choose ENERGY STAR appliances: Invest in appliances that are certified for energy efficiency to cut down on utility costs, and reduce environmental impact.
  • Incorporate sustainable materials: Opt for materials that are durable and have a lower environmental impact, such as recycled or reclaimed materials.
  • Implement waste management systems: Set up composting and recycling systems to manage kitchen waste efficiently.

Client Story

A farm-to-table restaurant I worked with revamped their kitchen to include energy-efficient appliances, reclaimed wood decor, and a comprehensive waste management system.

These changes not only reduce their operational costs but also enhance their brand’s commitment to sustainability, attracting environmentally-conscious customers.

2. Smart Kitchens and Technology Integration

Technology is transforming commercial kitchens, making them more efficient, safer, and easier to manage.

Smart kitchens equipped with advanced technology are becoming the norm in 2024.

Key Trends

  • Smart appliances: Ovens, refrigerators, and dishwashers that can be monitored and controlled remotely.
  • Automated inventory systems: Systems that track inventory levels in real-time, reducing waste and ensuring timely reordering.
  • Kitchen management software: Software that integrates scheduling, task management, and equipment maintenance.

Benefits

  • Enhance operational efficiency, and reduces labor costs.
  • Improve food safety, and quality control.
  • Streamline inventory management, and reduces waste.

Implementation Tips

  • Invest in smart appliances: Choose appliances that offer remote monitoring and control capabilities for better efficiency and oversight.
  • Use automated inventory systems: Implement inventory management software to keep track of stock levels, and reduce food waste.
  • Adopt kitchen management software: Integrate software solutions that help manage kitchen tasks, staff schedules, and maintenance routines.

Client Story

A high-volume catering QSR company integrated smart kitchen technology, including smart ovens and automated inventory systems.

The approach allows them to monitor cooking processes remotely, optimize their inventory management, and streamline operations. The result is significant cost savings, and improvements to service quality.

3. Flexible and Modular Kitchen Designs

Flexibility and adaptability are key considerations in modern commercial kitchen design.

Modular kitchens that can be easily reconfigured to meet changing needs are becoming increasingly popular.

Key Trends

  • Modular equipment: Equipment that can be moved and reconfigured as needed.
  • Multi-functional spaces: Areas that can serve multiple purposes, such as prep stations that double as serving counters.
  • Open kitchen concepts: Designs that promote transparency and interaction with customers.

Benefits

  • Adapt to changing menu requirements and operational needs.
  • Maximize space utilization and efficiency.
  • Enhance the dining experience by promoting transparency.

Implementation Tips

  • Choose modular equipment: Invest in equipment that can be moved and reconfigured easily to suit different needs.
  • Design multi-functional spaces: Create areas that can serve multiple purposes to maximize space efficiency.
  • Consider open kitchen designs: Implement open kitchen concepts to enhance customer interaction and experience.

Client Story

A fast-casual restaurant redesigned their kitchen to incorporate modular equipment and multi-functional spaces. This flexibility allows the operator and their team to adapt to menu changes easily.

In addition, the change increases functional space, and streamlines their operations, leading increases in efficiency and customer satisfaction.

4. Enhanced Food Safety and Sanitation

Food safety and sanitation are paramount in commercial kitchens.

In 2024, new design trends are focusing on creating hygienic environments that minimize contamination risks.

Key Trends

  • Touchless technology: Faucets, dispensers, and doors that operate without physical contact.
  • Sanitization stations: Dedicated areas for handwashing, and sanitizing equipment.
  • Antimicrobial surfaces: Use of materials that resist bacteria, and are easy to clean.

Benefits

  • Reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.
  • Meet health and safety regulations.
  • Enhance the overall cleanliness of the kitchen.

Implementation Tips

  • Install touchless technology: Implement touchless faucets, dispensers, and entry systems to reduce contamination risks.
  • Create sanitization stations: Designate areas specifically for handwashing, and sanitizing tools and equipment.
  • Use antimicrobial surfaces: Choose materials that are resistant to bacteria, and easy to clean for work surfaces and high-touch areas.

5. Ergonomic and Worker-friendly Designs

Ergonomic designs that prioritize the well-being and efficiency of kitchen staff are gaining traction.

These designs focus on reducing physical strain, and improving workflow.

Key Trends

  • Ergonomic workstations: Adjustable workstations that reduce strain and fatigue.
  • Improved ventilation systems: Systems that provide better air quality, and reduce heat stress.
  • Ample lighting: Sufficient and well-placed lighting to reduce eye strain and enhance visibility.

Benefits

  • Increase staff productivity, and job satisfaction.
  • Reduce the risk of workplace injuries.
  • Enhance the overall efficiency of kitchen operations.

Implementation Tips

  • Design ergonomic workstations: Invest in adjustable workstations that can be tailored to individual needs.
  • Improve ventilation: Ensure your kitchen has effective ventilation to maintain air quality, and reduce heat.
  • Enhance lighting: Use ample and strategically placed lighting to improve visibility, and reduce strain.

Client Story

A large-scale restaurant redesigned their kitchen to include ergonomic workstations and improved ventilation.

These changes have resulted in a more comfortable and efficient working environment, leading to higher staff morale and productivity.

Address Your Kitchen’s Design

The commercial kitchen design trends of 2024 reflect a focus on sustainability, technology integration, flexibility, food safety, and ergonomics.

These trends not only enhance the functionality and efficiency of commercial kitchens but also address the growing demands for environmentally responsible and worker-friendly environments.

Are you ready to transform your commercial kitchen with these cutting-edge trends? Contact us today to learn how we can help you implement these designs and create a kitchen that meets the demands of modern culinary operations.

Image: Rene Terp via Pexels

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Difference Between a Plan and Playbook

The Difference Between a Plan and a Playbook

by Doug Radkey

An AI-generated image of a business plan on one side, versus a playbook on the other side

Sometimes AI comes up with impressive images. This is one of them.

You’ve likely heard that 80 percent of hospitality businesses fail within the first five years.

When you ask those in the industry the question of why there is such a high rate of failure, they reply with a fairly predictable list of factors. These tend to be location, concept or brand confusion, lack of service standards, toxic workplace culture, sub-par marketing efforts, and mismanaged funds.

Many operators who fail try to quickly blame external factors, such as the economy.

When you ask the next questionwhat are the other 20 percent of operators doing differently to surpass five years in businessyou get one simple answer. The difference between those who drive a sustainable profit of 12, 15 or 20 percent (or more) and those who don’t boils down to one thing and one thing only: they have strategic clarity.

It’s not that the successful 20 percent did not battle challenges or the same tough economy or labor struggles. What they had was clarity, and a playbook detailing how to overcome a multitude of challenges.

So how do you achieve strategic clarity? Well, it’s much more than just writingor filling out a template fora business plan.

What is Strategic Clarity?

Strategic clarity is the comprehensive understanding and alignment within your hospitality business regarding its identity, direction, purpose, and the means to achieve its goals.

It involves clear communication and consensus on key aspects of the business, ensuring that everyone is working towards the same objectives. Below, the key components that define strategic clarity.

1. Understanding Who We Are

  • Core Identity: This includes the mission, vision, and core values of your business. It defines what the business stands for, and its fundamental purpose.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses: Recognizing the business’ strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) aids in identifying the core competencies and areas for improvement.
  • Culture: The shared beliefs and practices that characterize the business’ internal environment, and how it interacts with both staff and guest perceptions.

2. Knowing Where We are Going

  • Vision: A clear and compelling picture of what the business aspires to become in the future. It serves as a guide for choosing current and future courses of action.
  • Long-term Goals: Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that outline the desired outcomes over an extended period.
  • Milestones: Intermediate targets that mark progress towards the long-term goals.

3. Understanding Why We are Doing This

  • Purpose: The fundamental reason for the business’ existence beyond making a profit. It encompasses the broader impact the business aims to have on its community.
  • Motivation: The driving force behind the business’ actions and strategies. This includes the values and principles that guide decision-making, as well as behavior.
  • Stakeholder Alignment: Ensuring that the goals and activities of the business align with the interests and needs of its stakeholders: guests, employees, investors, and the community.

4. How We are Going to Get There

  • Strategy: The overarching plan that outlines how the business will achieve its vision and long-term goals. It includes the allocation of resources and the selection of strategic initiatives.
  • Tactics: The specific actions and steps that will be taken to implement the strategy. This involves detailed planning, delegation, resources, and execution.
  • Performance Metrics: The criteria and tools used to measure progress and success. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and other metrics help track the effectiveness of strategies and tactics.
  • Continuous Improvement: The process of regularly reviewing and refining strategies and tactics based on performance data and changing circumstances.

Strategic clarity is essential for the cohesive and effective functionality of your bar, restaurant, or hotel business. This leadership approach ensures that all members understand and are aligned with the business’ identity, direction, purpose, and methods.

By achieving strategic clarity, organizations can navigate challenges, seize opportunities, and build upon sustainable long-term success. What we have found over the years that attributes to long-term clarity and success is a series of playbooks.

Understanding Plans and Playbooks

Let’s first dive into the critical distinction between a plan and a playbook, and why this matters for your bar, restaurant, or hotel. Understanding and utilizing both can significantly impact your business’ ability to start strong, stabilize effectively, and ultimately position you to scale successfully.

A traditional business plan, as you may know it, is a document that outlines your goals, and the steps you will take to achieve them. It’s often the number one consideration to secure funding and to set strategic direction.

However, it is, more often than not, missing plenty of crucial information, strategies, and guidance that end up planting a false sense of security.

A playbook, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive guide filled with detailed processes, best practices, and adaptable strategies tailored to your specific operations. Within this dynamic industry, you need more than a standard business plan if you want to be successful.

In fact, you should have eight different playbooks in place to position yourself within the top echelon of this industry.

The Power of Playbooks in Hospitality

While plans are often static or rigid (and often forgotten about shortly after they’re written), playbooks are designed to be flexible and adaptable.

Playbooks provide a step-by-step guide, ensure consistency and efficiency, and offer adaptable strategies and best practices to start, manage, and grow effectively.

Playbooks go into more granular details, and provide actionable steps. In this way, they’re notably different from a singular business plan.

The Eight Playbooks

No matter if you are operating a coffee shop, bar, restaurant or hotel (or any other concept within the hospitality industry), the following eight playbooks should be looked at as non-negotiables.

  1. Feasibility Study/Playbook: The foundational guide for assessing the viability of your hospitality business idea. It involves a comprehensive analysis of the market, competitive landscape, financial projections, and operational requirements. This playbook helps you determine whether your concept is realistic and profitable before committing significant resources.
  2. Concept Playbook: Focuses on refining your hospitality business idea into a clear and compelling concept. This playbook guides you through creating a unique value proposition, defining your target market, and outlining the core elements of your business, including service style, interior design, and internal programming.
  3. Prototype Playbook: A step-by-step guide to developing a tangible representation of your hospitality concept. This playbook helps you create a prototype that can be tested and refined before a full-scale launch. This playbook covers design specifications, operational workflows, fixtures/furniture/equipment, and detailed budgets.
  4. Brand Strategy & Identity Playbook: Defines the strategic approach to building and maintaining a strong brand. This playbook covers the creation of your brand identity, messaging, and positioning to ensure consistent and impactful brand communication. It involves color psychology, core values, mission statements, brand experiences, and more.
  5. Marketing Playbook: Outlines the strategies and tactics to attract, build, and retain your target guests. This playbook provides a roadmap for creating and executing effective marketing campaigns across various channels. It provides a step-by-step guide on content, social media management, database building, email marketing, partnerships, and community activations, along with detailed guest journey maps.
  6. Tech-stack Playbook: Provides guidance on selecting and implementing the correct technology solutions to enhance your hospitality operations. This playbook ensures that your technology infrastructure supports your business goals and improves efficiency. This playbook identifies technology gaps, software solutions, hardware requirements, and integration plans, plus training and support on technology.
  7. Financial Playbook: A comprehensive guide to manage your hospitality business’ finances. This playbook covers budgeting, financial forecasting, accounting practices, and financial performance analysis. It should highlight financial contingency plans, mock labor schedules, daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal traffic reports that align with the business, and financial objectives.
  8. Operational Playbook (a.k.a. Business Plan): Outlines the day-to-day operations in great detail, along with long-term strategies. This playbook ensures that all aspects of your operations are well-coordinated and aligned with your overall business goals, and the other seven playbooks. It should highlight standard operating procedures, labor plans, supply chain management, guest services, and measurable operational metrics.

You’ll notice there are seven other playbooks written before the business plan. Far too often, this is where people start. Without the other seven playbooks, it will be nearly impossible to craft a winning playbook for your day-to-day operations.

When Should You Use Playbooks

  • To Start: These eight playbooks are crucial to craft your success story right from the beginning. Build the foundations before signing a lease or purchasing a property.
  • To Stabilize: If you’re currently underperforming (profit margins under 12 percent for bars and restaurants, and under 15 percent for hotels), use playbooks to generate impactful results.
  • To Scale: These playbooks will help ensure that both your first locationand the next locationare prepared for consistent operations without diminishing your brand equity.

Strategic planning within detailed playbooks is essential for your hospitality business’ success.

Regardless of your current position, evaluate your use of business plans, and consider developing comprehensive playbooks instead. Make the time and commitment to achieving true clarity in your business, and position yourself to be on the correct side of this industry’s statistics.

AI image generator: DALL-E

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Cien Años Después: Michelin Hits Mexico

Cien Años Después: Michelin Guide Hits Mexico

by David Klemt

In news that may come as a shock to many, the Michelin Guide is covering Mexico for the first time in its 124-year history.

If, like me, you’re surprised, I think that’s justifiable. I raised an eyebrow when I learned that the Michelin Guide didn’t cover the US with an American edition until 2005.

Should you be curious about what cities were featured in that first American guide…it was only New York. From what I’ve gathered, 500 restaurants throughout the city’s boroughs received coverage. Of the 50 hotels included in that guide, all were in Manhattan.

And when it comes to Canada, Toronto and Vancouver guides didn’t exist until 2022. So, to learn that the Michelin Guide has just now arrived in Mexico was mind blowing.

However, the country is certainly attempting to make up for lost time (a total of 124 years of lost time). Coming out swinging for their first guide, more than 150 restaurants throughout Mexico earned recognition.

In 2024, 97 restaurants earned Michelin recommendations. A total of 42 Bib Gourmands were awarded. Six restaurants in Mexico earned Michelin Green Stars. Five restaurants received Michelin Special Awards, such as the Exceptional Cocktail Award, and the Mentor Chef Award.

Now, on to the “big” awards: Michelin Stars. Sixteen restaurants in Mexico now have one Michelin Star. Just two, both in Mexico City, earned two Michelin Stars: Quintonil, and Pujol.

Interestingly, both restaurants also earned placement on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2024 rankings. Pujol grabbed 33 on the list, while Quintonil is number seven.

Unfortunately, not a single restaurant in Mexico has been awarded three Mexican Stars. But, I think it’s only a matter of time.

But wait…

Finding out that the Michelin Guide hadn’t come to Mexico until 2024 piqued my interest. So, I did some digging and found myself sliding down a rabbit hole.

It may be difficult to believe at first glance, but the entirety of France was home to less than 3,000 cars in the year 1900. That’s not great if you happen to be in a few businesses: automobile manufacturing, tire manufacturing, and hospitality.

The demand for privately owned automobiles would need to increase if manufacturers were to succeed. This includes tire manufacturers. New vehicles coming off assembly lines would mean more tire sales. More drivingmore miles driven, specifically—would mean more tire repairs and replacements. And with more people driving across an entire country, tourism would increase. That, of course, is great for hotels, restaurants, cafes, pubs, and taverns.

So, to increase the demand for automobiles, and therefore tires and tourism (but mostly the tires), two brothers hatched a plan.

Édouard and André Michelin published the first Michelin Guide. Or, more accurately, the first Guide Michelin. Around 35,000 copies of the guide were distributed throughout France. 1900’s Guide Michelinwhich was free—contained maps; locations of hotels; locations of gas stations and repair shops; and instructions for repairing and replacing tires.

I haven’t read it, but I feel like the main instruction is, “Buy another Michelin tire. In fact, buy four more. No, five more—get yourself a spare. Or, hey, get eight so you have four spares, as long as they’re Michelin.”

…there’s more…

The iconic (or infamous) Star system was first introduced in 1926, with only one Star awarded. Five years later, the full Star system was developed (none, one, two, three). Yet another five years later, the meaning of each Star rating was revealed to the public.

As far as other countries not receiving Michelin Guide coverage, Italy first got a guide in 1956…and zero stars. Great Britain has received coverage off and on, but the Michelin Guide as we know itnarrowing its focus strictly to restaurants and hotelscame out in 1974. This edition also featured Ireland.

Okay, now it’s time for what’s truly astonishing: countries, cities, and city-states, apparently via their tourism boards, pay for Michelin Guide coverage.

I’ve heard “accusations” of corrupt lists, and payment in exchange for coverage of a certain city or country. However, I didn’t pay much heed to these claims.

But, apparently it’s confirmed that countries and cities do see the Michelin Guide as a worthwhile investment in their tourism industries.

While I’m not certain that I’d go so far as to label this exchange corruption, I do agree that it’s eyebrow-raising.

…and more.

For example, Atlanta, Georgia, became the seventh American city to receive a Michelin Guide. And according to an interview between travel news and research site Skift and Discover Atlanta CEO and President William Pate, the city invested $1 million in the Michelin Guide for three years of coverage.

Per Pate, restaurants featured in the Atlanta Michelin Guide saw growth of 30 percent. Further, restaurants not even featured saw a bump of about ten percent.

South Korea reportedly paid about $1 million in 2016 for a Michelin Guide, and it’s said that the government was unhappy with the coverage. I suppose that’s where some of the accusations of corruption or “scandal” could stem from. It’s reported that Thailand paid well over $4 million for Bangkok to receive five years of coverage, starting in 2017.

Turning our attention to Canada, the UAE, Malaysia, and Vietnam, sources claim they paid for coverage. However, in each case, the sum is described as “an undisclosed amount.”

A Smart Investment?

I can certainly understand why a country or city may choose to invest in Michelin Guide coverage. If it’s true that restaurants in Atlanta that weren’t even featured saw increased sales and traffic, that’s a commendable ROI.

According to several sources, restaurants that receive a recommendation or up to three Stars can see increases in business of anywhere from ten to 30 percent. In some cases, their business doubles. So, again, it may be wise for tourism boards to make these investments and put their restaurants scenes on the map. Or, in the case of known scenes, give them a significant boost.

I should note that, from what I’ve found, the Michelin Guide doesn’t hide their financial relationships. They appear to be open about payments (investments, contributions…choose your favorite term) received from government agencies or tourism boards.

At this time, I can’t state with any certainty if Mexico invested in the Michelin Guide to receive coverage. Therefore, I can’t say how much they invested to have their first guide published.

What I can say is that it’s about time that Mexico’s rich, vibrant, and sophisticated dining scene received this recognition.

Image: Raul Angel on Unsplash

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Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024 Reveals #1

Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024 Reveals 1 to 50

by David Klemt

The interior of Virtù bar in Tokyo, Japan

Virtù in Tokyo, Japan. Number 11 on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024 list, and the winner of the Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award.

Cheers to the Best Bar in Asia, which also happens to be the Best Bar in Hong Kong, and the winner of the 2024 Disaronno Highest New Entry Award.

Connecting the dots, that means the bar that has earned the number one spot has achieved something stunning. Looking back at the previous eight editions of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, no other bar has taken the top spot on its first appearance on this list.

The top bar in Asia is taking home three awards, plus a record.

Now, let’s look back at last week’s list. In revealing the expanded rankingbars number 51 to 100—I identified three cities that appeared to be on the rise. These are Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; Nara, Japan; and Tainan City, Taiwan.

I was curious as to whether any (or all) of these cities would be home to bars on the one to 50 list. While they weren’t, I think it’s only a matter of time before a bar in at least one of the cities breaks into the main list. On the topic of keeping an eye out, Dry Wave Cocktail Studio in Bangkok, Thailand, earned this year’s Campari One to Watch Award.

In perhaps unsurprising news, Singapore boasts the most bars on this year’s list, claiming 11 spots. If we were to combine all of mainland China plus special administrative regions of the People’s Republic of China, there are 15 bars to Singapore’s eleven. Seoul, South Korea, is home to five bars that earned placement this year, including Zest at number two. Bangkok, Thailand, claims four bars, with BKK Social Club landing at number seven.

Take a look at the list below to find out which bar is the best in Asia. Cheers!

Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024: 50 to 11

  1. Pine & Co (Seoul, South Korea)
  2. Atlas (Singapore)(Rémy Martin Legend of the List Award 2024; Bareksten Best Bar Design Award 2024)
  3. Le Chamber (Seoul, South Korea)
  4. The Haflington (Hanoi, Vietnam)
  5. Alice (Seoul, South Korea)
  6. Mostly Harmless (Hong Kong, China)
  7. The Public House (Taipei, Taiwan)
  8. CMYK (Changsha, China)
  9. Fura (Singapore)(Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award 2024)
  10. Reka (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
  11. ZLB23 (Bengaluru, India)(The Best Bar in India)
  12. Barc (Kathmandu, Nepal)(The Best Bar in Nepal)
  13. Employees Only (Singapore)
  14. Bar Mood (Taipei, Taiwan)
  15. Bar Trigona (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
  16. Analogue Initiative (Singapore)
  17. The Bellwood (Tokyo, Japan)
  18. The Curator (Manila, Philippines)(The Best Bar in Philippines)
  19. Origin Bar (Singapore)
  20. Native (Singapore)
  21. Vender (Taichung, Taiwan)(The Best Bar in Taiwan)
  22. Smoke & Bitters (Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka)(The Best Bar in Sri Lanka)
  23. Craftroom (Osaka, Japan)
  24. Pantja (Jakarta, Indonesia)
  25. Quinary (Hong Kong, China)
  26. Offtrack (Singapore)
  27. Penicillin (Hong Kong, China)
  28. The SG Club (Tokyo, Japan)
  29. The St. Regis Club (Macau) (Macau, China)(The Best Bar in Macau)
  30. Bar Us (Bangkok, Thailand)
  31. Bar Cham (Seoul, South Korea)
  32. The Savory Project (Hong Kong, China)
  33. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar (Bangkok, Thailand)
  34. Darkside (Hong Kong, China)
  35. Night Hawk (Singapore)
  36. Sago House (Singapore)
  37. Hope & Sesame (Guangzhou, China)(The Best Bar in Mainland China)
  38. Vesper (Bangkok, Thailand)
  39. The Cocktail Club (Jakarta, Indonesia)(The Best Bar in Indonesia)
  40. Virtù (Tokyo, Japan)(Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award 2024)

Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024: 10 to 1

  1. The Aubrey (Hong Kong, China)
  2. Argo (Hong Kong, China)
  3. Penrose (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)(The Best Bar in Malaysia; Nikka Highest Climber Award 2024)
  4. BKK Social Club (Bangkok, Thailand)(The Best Bar in Thailand)
  5. Nutmeg & Clover (Singapore)
  6. Bar Benfiddich (Tokyo, Japan)(The Best Bar in Japan)
  7. Coa (Hong Kong, China)
  8. Jigger & Pony (Singapore)(The Best Bar in Singapore)
  9. Zest (Seoul, South Korea)(The Best Bar in Korea; Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award 2024: Dohyung “Demie” Kim)
  10. Bar Leone (Hong Kong, China)(The Best Bar in Asia; The Best Bar in Hong Kong; Disaronno Highest New Entry Award 2024)

Cheers to Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024! For more information, please review the official press release below.

The Bar Leone team from Hong Kong

Cheers to Bar Leone!

BAR LEONE IN HONG KONG NAMED THE BEST BAR IN ASIA, SPONSORED BY PERRIER, AS THE ASIA’S 50 BEST BARS 2024 LIST IS REVEALED

The prestigious list and several special awards were announced at a live ceremony in Hong Kong, featuring bars from 18 destinations across the region

  • Bar Leone ranks 1 and is named The Best Bar in Asia, sponsored by Perrier, and The Best Bar in Hong Kong
  • Bar Leone also wins the Disaronno Highest New Entry Award
  • The list features 15 new entries spanning 11 destinations
  • Singapore leads with 11 bars on the list, as Jigger & Pony ranks No.3 and is named The Best Bar in Singapore for the fifth consecutive year
  • Singapore’s Atlas wins the inaugural Bareksten Best Bar Design Award in Asia, as well as theRémy Martin Legend of the List Award
  • The Savory Project in Hong Kong is the recipient of the London Essence Best New Opening Award
  • Bar veteran Yangdup Lama of New Delhi’s Sidecar is awarded the Roku Industry Icon Award
  • Penrose, Kuala Lumpur, is named winner of the Nikka Highest Climber Award after rising 42 places in the rankings
  • New entrant Fura in Singapore takes the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award
  • Dry Wave Cocktail Studio from Bangkok receives the Campari One To Watch Award
  • Nest by Pun, Taipei, takes the Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award
For the full 1-50 list, please scroll to the top of this article.

16 July 2024 – The list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024, sponsored by Perrier, was announced at a live awards ceremony this evening in Hong Kong. The ceremony, hosted in collaboration with destination partner Hong Kong Tourism Board, featured bars from 18 cities across Asia, including 15 new entries, culminating in Bar Leone in Hong Kong being named The Best Bar in Asia.

Bar Leone has achieved the remarkable feat of debuting at the coveted No.1 spot, clinching The Best Bar in Hong Kong title, as well as the Disaronno Highest New Entry Award. This marks the first time in 50 Best Bars history that The Best Bar in Asia has been a new entry on the list. The one-year-old neighbourhood bar in Central, Hong Kong, founded by bartender Lorenzo Antinori, embodies the Italian ethos of ‘cocktail popolari’ or ‘cocktails for the people’. With behind-the-bar experience at Argo in Hong Kong and top bars in Seoul and London, Antinori brings expertise to a beverage programme focused on classic, approachable cocktails that are inspired by the traditional Roman bars of his home country.

The bar programme focuses on revived classics made with a low-intervention, seasonal approach, and is complemented by minimalist garnishes, like manicured citrus peels and quality olives. The relaxed and fun vibe mirrors Lorenzo’s playful personality, with decor featuring burnt orange banquettes, a mahogany bar, church candles, Italy-themed posters, a 70s-80s Italian pop soundtrack and personal knick-knacks – all of which combine to create a space that feels both homely and high end.

Emma Sleight, Head of Content for Asia’s 50 Best Bars, says: “We are thrilled to be back in Hong Kong celebrating Asia’s vibrant bar community. The region’s bars continuously redefine exceptional drinking experiences, showcased by the talent and creativity at this year’s winning establishments. With 15 new entries, the list is bound to entice and excite even seasoned cocktail enthusiasts. Huge congratulations to the tour de force that is Lorenzo Antinori and the whole team at Bar Leone for the impressive – and previously unheard of – feat of entering the ranking at No.1. This is undoubtedly a strong testament to the bar’s irreverent and casual approach to cocktails, design, service and hospitality.”

At No.2 is the intimate low-waste bar, Zest in Seoul, which has ascended three spots, making it The Best Bar in Korea. A consistent presence in the top five is Jigger & Pony in Singapore at No.3, making it The Best Bar in Singapore for the fifth year running. Last year’s top spot holder, Coa, comes in at No.4, and No.5 is Tokyo’s Bar Benfiddich, which takes the title of The Best Bar in Japan.

Destination Success Stories

A total of 15 bars from Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan made the list this year, while Hong Kong leads the region with nine spots, with Coa at No.4 and Argo at No.9. The 25th-floor izakaya with sweeping views of Victoria Harbour, The Aubrey, has risen seven spots to No.10. Darkside comes in at No.17 and new entrant The Savory Project debuts at No.19. Penicillin rises two places to No.24, while Quinary climbs five spots to No.26 and Mostly Harmless rounds off Hong Kong’s showing at No.45.

From Taichung, the vending machine-themed craft cocktail den, Vender, climbs 11 places to No.30, earning the title of The Best Bar in Taiwan. In Taipei, Bar Mood re-enters the rankings at No.37, while The Public House is at No.44. Guangzhou’s Hope & Sesame, a technique-driven speakeasy, is now at No.14, ascending 25 spots and holding onto The Best Bar in Mainland China title. CMYK from Changsha debuts at No.43, where award-winning bartender Ethan Liu has created a high-energy, multi-room drinking den inside an old residential building. This also marks Changsha’s first appearance in the rankings. Additionally, The St. Regis Bar at No.22 is Macau’s sole representative and is named The Best Bar in Macau.

Singapore tops the rankings with 11 coveted spots: alongside Jigger & Pony (No.3), Nutmeg & Clove, founded by bar veteran and former Roku Industry Icon winner Colin Chia, rises to No.6. Sago House follows at No.15, while new entrant Night Hawk debuts at No.16. Offtrack, another new entry at No.25, offers a music-focused drinks experience with local DJs and lesser-known classic cocktails.

Native climbs 11 places to No.31, and Origin, another new entrant at No.32, features interiors resembling an old-school train station with cocktails themed around the city’s five districts. Analogue Initiative is at No.35, followed by Employees Only at No.38. Newcomer Fura comes in at No.42, while Atlas rounds-off Singapore’s showing at No.49.

Bars from Seoul secured five positions on the list, led by Zest at No.2, making it The Best Bar in Korea. Sustainability-forward Zest is helmed by Dohyung ‘Demie’ Kim alongside Korean bartending stalwarts Sean Woo, Jisu Park and Noah Kwon. Bar Cham is at No.20, followed by Alice at No.46 and Le Chamber at No.48. Closing the list at No.50 is new entrant Pine & Co, a bar resembling a scientist’s R&D lab, known for its future-forward cocktails.

In Japan, Tokyo’s Bar Benfiddich secures the No.5 spot, maintaining its title as The Best Bar in Japan for the third consecutive year. Following closely is Virtù which climbs nine places to No.11, The SG Club takes No.23, while The Bellwood has surged 15 places to No.34. Hailing from Osaka, newcomer Craftroom debuts at No.28. This petite, six-seater bar, led by revered bartender Ryu Fujii, offers classic cocktails within a seasonally changing menu.

Bangkok also holds five spots on the list, with BKK Social Club leading the pack at No.7, also earning the title of The Best Bar in Thailand. Vesper follows at No.13, while the funky, fun and immersive Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar climbs four spots to No.18. Finally, new entrant Bar Us debuts impressively at No.21, offering a high-concept ‘drinking room’ with all-black interiors and bartenders sporting freshly-pressed white lab coats.

Penrose in Kuala Lumpur makes an impressive climb of 42 places to reach No.8, earning the title of The Best Bar in Malaysia and earning the Nikka Highest Climber Award 2024. Also hailing from Kuala Lumpur, Bar Trigona maintains its position at No.36 while newcomer Reka, a self-proclaimed ‘post- modern flavour lab’, enters the list at No.41. Indonesia is represented by two bars from Jakarta: The Cocktail Club ascends seven spots to claim No.12 and secures the title of The Best Bar in Indonesia, followed by Pantja, which enjoys a two-spot hike to No.27.

India is represented on the list by Bengaluru’s ZLB23 at No.40. This newcomer claims the title of The Best Bar in India, serving prohibition-style cocktails in a venue accessed through a secret entrance hidden within a working kitchen. Hiriketiya’s Smoke & Bitters climbs 11 places to No.29 and is crowned The Best Bar in Sri Lanka. From Kathmandu, Barc debuts at No.39 as The Best Bar in Nepal, offering an upmarket, elegant space accompanied by a sophisticated selection of cocktails. Manila’s The Curator ascends one spot to No.33, earning the title of The Best Bar in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, Hanoi’s The Haflington enters the list at No.47 – this immersive, vintage-themed space offers an adventurous cocktail menu inspired by The Jungle Book, securing the title of The Best Bar in Vietnam.

Special Awards

Dry Wave Cocktail Studio, Bangkok (No.73 on the 51-100 list), has won the Campari One To Watch Award, hand-picked by the 50 Best team as a bar that it feels has the potential to break into the 1-50 list in the future. Dry Wave Cocktail Studio runs a stellar beverage programme of classic and creative libations, led by veteran bartender-owner Supawit ‘Palm’ Muttarattana, who formerly helmed Vesper (No.12 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 and No.55 on The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023).

Bartender, entrepreneur and author Yangdup Lama has been crowned the Roku Industry Icon 2024.

Owner of New Delhi’s Sidecar, Lama is a legendary figure in the industry and the subcontinent’s leading mixologist. Under his leadership, Sidecar has earned several placements in Asia’s and The World’s 50 Best Bars rankings. Lama inspires with his creative cocktails and advocacy for regional ingredients, and as a mentor and trainer, he proudly showcases India’s bartending talent on the global stage.

Singapore’s Atlas (No.49), a jazz-age-inspired gin bar, has been honoured with the Rémy Martin Legend of the List Award, recognising an establishment that has consistently performed well in the rankings since the list’s inception in 2016. It is a double win for Atlas this year, as it also receives the inaugural Bareksten Best Bar Design Award in Asia for its spectacular art deco style and a 15-metre-tall gin tower housing around 900 labels. This new accolade celebrates bars with thoughtful designs emphasising accessibility, sustainability and market appropriateness.

The Savory Project, Hong Kong, is awarded the London Essence Best New Opening Award and enters the list at No.19. Founded by the award-winning team behind former top spot holder Coa, this newcomer spotlights craft cocktails with savoury and umami notes made with unorthodox ingredients.

Fura (No.42) in Singapore wins the Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award for its groundbreaking, low-carbon footprint cocktails, circular ethos and commitment to low-waste practices. Fura exclusively uses local ingredients in its drinks, highlighting its dedication to a sustainable beverage programme.

The Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu award goes to Nest by Pun in Taipei. This reservations-only speakeasy features a thematic menu reflecting its bee and honeycomb design elements, enhancing its mysterious charm. The menu is thoughtfully crafted to help patrons narrow down their drink choices based on preferred ingredients and flavour profiles. Guests can expect not only cocktail mastery, but also a captivating storytelling experience.

Pre-announced special award winners that accepted their accolades at the live awards ceremony include Virtù in Tokyo, winner of the Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award, and Dohyung ‘Demie’ Kim from Seoul, winner of the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award.

The Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024 awards ceremony was streamed live and is available to view on The

World’s 50 Best Bars Facebook and 50 Best Bars TV YouTube Channel.

Voting Process

50 Best works with professional services consultancy Deloitte as its official independent adjudication partner to help protect the integrity and authenticity of the voting process and the resulting list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024. See more details on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars voting process here.

About Asia’s 50 Best Bars

Asia’s 50 Best Bars is the first regional event of The World’s 50 Best Bars brand, created in 2016 with the purpose of showcasing the best and most innovative talent in the drinks industry in this region. The annual ranking is based on the votes of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars Academy, comprising the most knowledgeable and travelled members of the bar industry, drinks media and mixology experts from across Asia. The Academy spans dozens of cities across the continent, reflecting the relative development and importance of bar scenes in different locations and the diversity of the drinking scene in Asia. Asia’s 50 Best Bars, The World’s 50 Best Bars and North America’s 50 Best Bars are owned and organised by William Reed, the group behind The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and The World’s 50 Best Hotels.

About the host destination partner: Hong Kong Tourism Board

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is a Government-subvented body. Operating 15 offices around the world and representative offices in seven different markets, its primary mission is to maximise the social and economic contribution that tourism makes to the community of Hong Kong, and consolidate the city’s position as a world- class destination. The HKTB works closely with the Government, travel industry and other partners to promote Hong Kong worldwide, widen the range of tourism products and elevate service standards, as well as enhance the experiences of visitors during their stay.

For more details on Asia’s 50 Best Bars and selection process, please visit:

https://www.worlds50bestbars.com/asia/

Our Partners:

  • Hong Kong Tourism Board – Official Host Partner
  • Perrier – Official Water Partner; sponsor of The Best Bar in Asia
  • Michter’s – Official American Whiskey Partner; sponsor of Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award
  • Nikka Whisky – Official Whisky of the World Partner; sponsor of Nikka Highest Climber Award and The Best Bar in Malaysia
  • Ketel One – Official Vodka Partner; sponsor of Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award
  • Siete Misterios – Official Mezcal Partner; sponsor of Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award
  • The London Essence – Official Mixers Partner; sponsor of London Essence Best New Opening Award
  • Disaronno – Official Italian Liqueur Partner; sponsor of Disaronno Highest New Entry Award
  • Roku Gin – Official Gin Partner; sponsor of Roku Industry Icon Award
  • Altos Tequila – Official Tequila Partner; sponsor of Altos Bartenders’ Bartender
  • Matusalem – Official Rum Partner; sponsor of The Best Bar in Mainland China and ceremonial scarves
  • Naked Malt – Official Scotch Whisky Partner; sponsor of The Best Bar in Korea
  • Rémy Martin – Official Cognac Partner; sponsor of Rémy Martin Legend of the List
  • Campari – Official Bitters Partner; sponsor of Campari One To Watch Award
  • Mancino Vermouth – Official Vermouth Partner; sponsor of The Best Bar in Taiwan and ceremonial shakers
  • Amaro Lucano – Official Amaro Partner; sponsor of The Best Bar in Indonesia and ceremonial shakers
  • Tia Maria – Official Coffee Liqueur Partner; sponsor of The Best Bar in Singapore
  • Torres Brandy – Official Brandy Partner; sponsor of The Best Bar in Japan
  • Scrappy’s Bitters – Official Cocktail Bitters Partner; sponsor of The Best Bar in Thailand
  • Bareksten – Official Aquavit Partner; sponsor of Bareksten Best Bar Design Award
  • Rosewood Hong Kong – Official Hotel and Venue Partner
  • The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong – Official Hotel and Venue Partner
  • Aqua Hong Kong – Official Venue Partner

Images courtesy of Asia’s 50 Best Bars/The World’s 50 Best

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024 Reveals 51 to 100

Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024 Reveals 51 to 100

by David Klemt

The Zest bar team, led by Dohyung "Demie" Kim, in Seoul, South Korea

The bar team at Zest (No. 5, Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023) in Seoul, South Korea, led by Dohyung “Demie” Kim.

As we near the ceremony for the ninth edition of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, taking place in Hong Kong on July 16, we can congratulate numbers 51 to 100.

Clearly one of the hottest bar markets in the world, Singapore dominates the 51 to 100 list this year. Unsurprisingly, the city-state also featured the most bars on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 51 to 100 list. Interestingly, Singapore boasted eight bars on the list last year, and the same in 2024.

In second place on the expanded list in terms of number of bars is Bangkok. The legendary nightlife city claims six spots on the 2024 51 to 100 ranking.

Seoul, South Korea, is not only home to three barsincluding number 51the city is also the home to Zest. This is noteworthy in part because Dohyung “Demie” Kim is the winner of the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award 2024, one of two awards announced ahead of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024 ceremony.

Kim is the co-founder of Zest, which took home the fifth spot on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 list. With that ranking, the bar also claimed the title of the Best Bar in Korea. Further, Zest earned number 18 on the World’s 50 Best Bars 2023 list.

On another note, it appears that the we should keep an eye on Tainan City, Taiwan; Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam; and Nara, Japan. Each of these cities holds two spots on the 2024 expanded list, a 100-percent increase over 2023. Last year, Lamp Bar, located in Nara, earned spot number 23 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars list. It’ll be interesting to see if these cities are represented on the one to 50 list for this year.

On that note, we’ll find out which bars are ranked one to 50 on July 16. Mark your calendars. Cheers!

Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024: 100 to 51

  1. Moonrock (Tainan City, Taiwan)
  2. Drinking & Healing (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
  3. Dry Wave Cocktail Studio (Bangkok, Thailand)
  4. Tell Camellia (Hong Kong, China)
  5. Home (New Delhi, India)
  6. Charles H (Seoul, South Korea)
  7. Wu (Nothingness) (Taipei, Taiwan)
  8. Last Word (Singapore)
  9. Sober Company (Shanghai, China)
  10. The Bamboo Bar (Bangkok, Thailand)
  11. Asia Today (Bangkok, Thailand)
  12. Gong Gan (Seoul, South Korea)
  13. The St. Regis Bar (Jakarta) (Jakarta, Indonesia)
  14. High Five (Tokyo, Japan)
  15. Bulgari Ginza Bar (Tokyo, Japan)
  16. The Sailing Bar (Nara, Japan)
  17. Sidecar (New Delhi, India)
  18. Firefly (Bangkok, Thailand)
  19. Southbank Cafe + Lounge (Muntinlupa City, Philippines)
  20. The Hudson Rooms (Hanoi, Vietnam)
  21. Junglebird (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
  22. The Han-jia (Tainan City, Taiwan)
  23. 28 HongKong Street (Singapore)
  24. Cat Bite Club (Singapore)
  25. Gold Bar (Tokyo, Japan)
  26. Bee’s Knees (Kyoto, Japan)
  27. Folklore (Tokyo, Japan)
  28. Opium (Bangkok, Thailand)
  29. Under Lab (Taipei, Taiwan)
  30. The Old Man (Hong Kong, China)
  31. Coley (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
  32. Manhattan (Singapore)
  33. Lair (New Delhi, India)
  34. Honky Tonks Tavern (Hong Kong, China)
  35. Mizunara: The Library (Honh Kong, China)
  36. The Elephant Room (Singapore)
  37. Yakoboku (Kumamoto, Japan)
  38. Stay Gold Flamingo (Singapore)
  39. Tropic City (Bangkok, Thailand)
  40. To Infinity & Beyond (Taipei, Taiwan)
  41. No Sleep Club (Singapore)
  42. The Bombay Canteen (Mumbai, India)
  43. Stir (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)
  44. Republic (Singapore)
  45. Three X Co (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
  46. Lamp Bar (Nara, Japan)
  47. Epic (Shanghai, China)
  48. Tokyo Confidential (Tokyo, Japan)
  49. Backdoor Bodega (Penang, Malaysia)
  50. Soko (Seoul, South Korea)

ASIA’S 50 BEST BARS UNVEILS THE ESTABLISHMENTS VOTED ONTO THE EXTENDED 51-100 LIST FOR 2024

The fourth edition of this prestigious list announces 15 new entries across Asia, with bars from Singapore, Bangkok and Tokyo leading the region

9 July 2024 – Shining the spotlight on an extended collection of bars across the region, Asia’s 50 Best Bars, sponsored by Perrier, releases the prestigious 51st to 100th list for the fourth year running. The ranking is revealed one week ahead of its live awards ceremony in Hong Kong and is created from the overall Asia’s 50 Best Bars voting process, which sees its 265-member strong Academy – consisting of a gender-balanced group of bartenders, bar owners, drinks writers and cocktail aficionados – place independent and anonymous votes for what they believe constitutes a “best bar experience”.

The 51-100 list: A Snapshot

  • This year’s 51-100 list includes 15 new entries from across the region
  • The list comprises bars spanning 19 different cities across Asia
  • Singapore leads with 8 bars on the extended list, among which Cat Bite Club at No.77 is a new entrant
  • Bangkok is represented by 6 bars, while Tokyo follows with 5 places on the list
  • A bar from Muntinlupa City debuts on the list with Southbank Cafe + Lounge at82

For the full 51-100 list, please refer to the accompanying graphic or scroll to the bottom of this release.

Bars from Singapore command eight places on the 51-100 list, with Republic leading the pack at No.57. This ultra-luxe drinking den at the Ritz-Carlton is inspired by the swinging sixties, with a cocktail menu focused on art, cinema, fashion and music. It is followed by No Sleep Club at No.60, which has moved up fourteen places from last year, Stay Gold Flamingo (No.63), The Elephant Room (No.65), and Manhattan (No.69). At No.77, specialising in rice and agave spirits, Cat Bite Club, is a new entrant, while 28 HongKong Street at No.78 and Last Word at No.93 round off Singapore’s showing.

Bangkok follows with six spots on the list, led by Tropic City at No.62 and Opium at No.73. New entrant Firefly, at No.83, is the Sindhorn Kempinski’s lavish lobby bar where whimsical cocktails and live jazz are complemented by a cigar parlour, followed by Asia Today at No.90 and The Bamboo Bar at No.91. Closing Bangkok’s showing at No.98 is another new entrant, Dry Wave Cocktail Studio, which runs a stellar beverage programme of classic and creative libations led by veteran bartender-owner Supawit ‘Palm’ Muttarattana, who formerly helmed Vesper (No.12 on Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 and No.55 on The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023).

Tokyo maintains a strong showing with five bars on the extended list, starting with new entrants Tokyo Confidential (No.53) and Folklore (No.74). The former is an edgy rooftop craft cocktail bar, while Folklore, a modern minimalist space, spotlights avant-garde sake and shochu cocktails. Gold Bar comes in at No.76, followed by another new entrant, Bulgari Ginza Bar at No.86, which promises an Italian aperitivo experience within Tokyo’s iconic Ginza Tower. High Five (No.87) rounds off Tokyo’s representation on the list.

In Hong Kong, Mizunara: The Library has moved up twenty places to No.66, alongside three other bars on the list: Honky Tonks Tavern, which climbs thirty-one places to No.67; The Old Man at No.71; and Tell Camellia at No.97. Topping the 51-100 list is Seoul’s Soko at No.51, followed by new entrant Gong Gan at No.89, a bar housed in a traditional Korean home reimagined with modern design elements and a focus on upcycling. At No.95, Charles H from Seoul rounds off the city’s representation.

Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi and Taipei boast three spots each on the list. From Kuala Lumpur, Three X Co ascends twenty-one places to No.56 and is followed by Coley (No.70) and Junglebird (No.80). While in New Delhi, the modern speakeasy Lair (No.68) is a new entrant, followed by regulars on the list Sidecar (No.84) and Home (No.96). To Infinity & Beyond leads Taipei’s representation at No.61, followed by two new entries, the laboratory-like cocktail den, Under Lab at No.72 and the offbeat, ‘classic cocktails only’ Wu (Nothingness) at No.94.

Ho Chi Minh City, Nara, Shanghai, and Tainan each occupy two spots on the extended list. From the Vietnamese capital, Stir rises twenty-four places to No.58, followed by Drinking & Healing at No.99, a new entrant boasting ‘industrial chic’ interiors and cocktails with local ingredients. Nara is represented by Lamp Bar (No.55) and The Sailing Bar (No.85), which has ascended three places. In Shanghai, Epic moves up sixteen places to No.54, followed by Sober Company, re-entering the rankings at No.92. The Han-jia from Tainan is a new entrant at No.79, offering a luxurious space with industrial design elements, a global whisky selection, and inventive cocktails; and Moonrock rounds off the list at No.100.

Several destinations are represented on the extended list with one bar each. From Penang, Backdoor Bodega re-enters the rankings at No.52, while The Bombay Canteen from Mumbai comes in at No.59. Kumamoto’s Yakoboku ascends twenty places to No.64; Kyoto’s Bee’s Knees is at No.75, and The Hudson Rooms – the 1920s-inspired oyster and cocktail den on the rooftop of The Capella in Hanoi – is a new addition at No.81. In Indonesia, a new entrant from Jakarta, The St. Regis Bar (No.88) enters the list for its New York-inspired signature cocktails paired with a live jazz band and ultra-luxe interiors.

Marking its debut on the rankings is Muntinlupa City in the Philippines, with Southbank Cafe + Lounge (No.82) – a self-proclaimed ‘drinking room’ that focuses on technique-heavy cocktails within a Melbourne-inspired space.

Emma Sleight, Head of Content for Asia’s 50 Best Bars, says: “We are thrilled to welcome this diverse cohort of bars on the 51-100 list as part of this year’s 50 Best rankings. Since introducing the extended list in 2021, we have been consistently impressed by the innovative drinking experiences Asia has to offer, and it is beyond exciting to see the large number of new entries and new destinations that have made the list this year. With this recognition, we are hopeful that more bar talent will step forward annually, creating fresh and dynamic cocktail experiences for enthusiasts across the region.”

50 Best works with professional services consultancy Deloitte as its official independent adjudication partner to help protect the integrity and authenticity of the voting process and the resulting list of Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2024. See more details on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars voting process here.

The ninth edition of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, sponsored by Perrier, will be announced at a live awards ceremony in Hong Kong on 16 July 2024 and is hosted in collaboration with destination partner Hong Kong Tourism Board. The awards ceremony will also be streamed live on the 50 Best Facebook channel via the link here and the YouTube channel via the link here. The announcement of the list and individual awards can be followed via the 50 Best social media channels, with the livestream beginning at 20:25 Hong Kong time/13:25 UK time.

Asia's 50 Best Bars 2024, 51 to 100 chart

About Asia’s 50 Best Bars

Asia’s 50 Best Bars is the first regional event of The World’s 50 Best Bars brand, created in 2016 with the purpose of showcasing the best and most innovative talent in the drinks industry in this region. The annual ranking is based on the votes of the Asia’s 50 Best Bars Academy, comprising the most knowledgeable and well-travelled members of the bar industry, drinks media and mixology experts from across Asia. The Academy spans dozens of cities across the continent, reflecting the relative development and importance of bar scenes in different locations and the diversity of the drinking scene in Asia. Asia’s 50 Best Bars, The World’s 50 Best Bars and North America’s 50 Best Bars are owned and organised by William Reed, the group behind The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and The World’s 50 Best Hotels.

About the host destination partner: Hong Kong Tourism Board

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) is a Government-subvented body. Operating 15 offices around the world and representative offices in seven different markets, its primary mission is to maximise the social and economic contribution that tourism makes to the community of Hong Kong, and consolidate the city’s position as a world- class destination. The HKTB works closely with the Government, travel industry and other partners to promote Hong Kong worldwide, widen the range of tourism products and elevate service standards, as well as enhance the experiences of visitors during their stay.

For more details on Asia’s 50 Best Bars and selection process, please visit: https://www.worlds50bestbars.com/asia/

Image:

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Cheers to the 2024 Tales Catalysts!

Cheers to the 2024 Tales Catalyst Honorees!

by David Klemt

Please join us in congratulating this year’s Tales Catalyst honorees, announced this week by the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation.

In addition to unveiling the 2024 Tales of the Cocktail agenda, and revealing the top four Spirited Awards finalists, Tales is recognizing two industry leaders as Tales Catalysts.

Becky Paskin, an award-winning whisky journalist, consultant, and presenter, and chief curating officer for Pictures and Cocktails LLC, Keyatta Mincey Parker, are this year’s honorees.

Both Paskin and Mincey Parker are being recognized, in large part, for their commitment to community, inclusivity, equity, and innovation. That’s to say nothing of the education they provide to others in the industry.

To learn more about Paskin and Mincey Parker, including their contributions to the industry, please review the official press release below.

Cheers!

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES TALES CATALYST HONOREES

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation names Becky Paskin and Keyatta Mincey Parker as this year’s Tales Catalysts, continuing a 12-year tradition of championing leading industry members who represent marginalized groups and foster meaningful change within their communities

NEW ORLEANS, LA (June 26, 2024) — Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is pleased to announce the 2024 Tales Catalyst honorees, recognizing members of the cocktail community who are elevating the industry to greater heights. The 2024 International Honoree is Becky Paskin and the U.S. Honoree is Keyatta Mincey Parker, presented by Diageo Bar Academy. Tales Catalysts reflects a more inclusive and intersectional space for recognizing and celebrating leaders in the industry, solely for their contributions to making the drinks industry a more inclusive space – without barriers of gender or identity. Tales Catalyst, in partnership with SevenFifty Daily and Beverage Media (Provi publications), the official Tales Catalyst media partners, will take place during Tales of the Cocktail® on Tuesday, July 23 at 3:00 PM, at The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans. The event will feature speeches by the honorees followed by a cocktail hour, with this year’s honorees speaking to their unique vision and personal efforts in fostering inclusivity in the drinks industry.

“I am overjoyed to see these new Catalyst Award recipients being honored at Tales of the Cocktail,” said Catalyst Co-Chair Tiffanie Barriere. “Their innovative contributions and consistent dedication to advancing the cocktail and spirits industry set them apart as true pioneers. Each recipient has demonstrated an exceptional ability to inspire, educate, and elevate our community, making profound impacts through their creativity and commitment. Their recognition is not only well-deserved but also a testament to the future and innovation of our craft.”

This year’s honorees were selected from a pool of over 100 qualified applicants and carefully chosen by Tales Catalyst Committee Members.

“Our two honorees are the definition of community builders. Each a Catalyst in their own way,” said Catalyst Co-Chair Robin Nance. “Keyatta has created and cultivated a space for her community and continues to expand and elevate what is possible. Becky took her disappointment and frustration and created a space that celebrates women in a category that often leaves them out of the conversation. They are both incredibly deserving and I can’t wait to honor them in July!”

Guests are invited to celebrate this year’s Tales Catalyst Honorees during Tales of the Cocktail® on Tuesday, July 23 at 3:00 PM. For those who are interested in attending, tickets may be purchased on the TOTCF website.

2024 Catalyst Honorees:

2024 Catalyst International Honoree:

Becky Paskin

Becky Paskin is an award-winning whisky journalist, presenter, and consultant, and founder of the OurWhisky Foundation. Formerly editor of leading online magazine Scotchwhisky.com and global trade title The Spirits Business, her writing appears in a variety of publications from Club Oenologique and Waitrose to Whisky Magazine and the Daily Beast. She is a regular drinks presenter for television and radio, including ITV’s Love Your Weekend and This Morning, and regularly presents educational seminars at global drinks festivals.

Becky is an advocate for equality and inclusion within the global whisky industry; her work has led her to being named Icons of Whisky Communicator of the Year, IWSC Spirits Communicator of the Year, SevenFifty Daily’s Drinks Innovator of the Year, and listed as About Time Magazine’s Top 10 Women to Watch in Drinks. She is also a Keeper of the Quaich and has been named one of the 50 most influential people in the global drinks industry by Drinks International for the past four years.

2024 Catalyst U.S. Honoree:

Keyatta Mincey Parker

Keyatta Mincey Parker, a prominent figure in the spirits and cocktails industry, serves as the Chief Curating Officer at Pictures and Cocktails LLC. With over two decades of experience in the food service and hospitality sector, she brings a unique blend of expertise, merging her knowledge from hotels, fine dining, dynamic dance clubs, and her rich Liberian heritage. Recognized by Thrillist and Tastemakers as a must-know bartender and one of the Top 50 Bartenders in the South, Keyatta has garnered attention from prestigious publications such as Forbes, Food and Wine, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Southern Living Magazine.

Collaborating with influential spirit brands, chefs, celebrities, and farmers, Keyatta Mincey Parker is known for creating visually stunning and innovative cocktails. As the driving force behind Pictures and Cocktails, she designs bespoke cocktails and experiences. Additionally, she is the Founder and Executive Director of A Sip of Paradise Garden, a non-profit community garden for bartenders and hospitality professionals in Atlanta.

Keyatta’s impressive repertoire includes crafting the celebratory cocktail for the Liberian Olympic National Team, which has been adopted as the team’s official drink. She has been inducted into the Atlanta chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International and recognized as a member of Wine Enthusiast’s 2023 Future 40. Recently, she joined the board of Slow Foods Atlanta, aiming to expand her influence from the creative side of food to food justice, advocating for clean, fair, and healthy food for all.

As an esteemed speaker, Keyatta addresses topics such as philanthropy, community building, mental health, gardening, agriculture, black land ownership, equity in hospitality, and women in leadership. Despite her diverse interests, her passion for cocktails remains a constant focal point.

Tales Catalyst Partners

Catalyst is proud to share its presenting, supporting, and media partners, who help make the 2024 Tales Catalyst possible. Tales Catalyst 2024 is presented by Diageo Bar Academy with support from Don Q Rum, Korbel, Laird & Co, and Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic. Thank you to the Official Water of TOTC2024: Maison Perrier. The official Tales Catalyst Media Partner for 2024 is Provi.

Tales of the Cocktail® 2024

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is a non-profit organization that educates, advances, and supports the global hospitality industry and creates lasting impact in our host communities. Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is the global leader in spirits education and a platform to tackle issues facing the industry. The pillars of the Foundation are to Educate, Advance, and Support the hospitality industry through programs that benefit individuals and organizations in the community and to make a lasting impact in communities that host our events. This year, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation hosts its 22-year anniversary Tales of the Cocktail® (TOTC) conference in New Orleans from July 21-26, 2024, and will celebrate the theme of “Inspire.”

For more information on Tales of the Cocktail or Tales Catalyst, please visit the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

ABOUT TALES OF THE COCKTAIL FOUNDATION:

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is a non-profit organization that educates, advances, and supports the global hospitality industry and creates lasting impact in our host communities. Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is the global leader in spirits education and a platform to tackle issues facing the industry. The pillars of the Foundation are to Educate, Advance, and Support the hospitality industry through programs that benefit individuals and organizations in the community and to make a lasting impact in communities that host our events. This year, TOTCF hosts its 22nd Tales of the Cocktail® (TOTC) conference in New Orleans from July 21-26, 2024, and celebrates the theme Inspire.

ABOUT SEVENFIFTY DAILY AND BEVERAGE MEDIA GROUP:

SevenFifty Daily is an award-winning online magazine about the business and culture of the beverage alcohol industry. Beverage Media Group contains a network of national, market-specific publications with industry insights and printed distributor pricing by region. Covering the three tiers of the alcohol industry, the publications connect a global community of drinks professionals, creating a space that fosters conversation and a platform for showcasing the people and ideas moving the industry forward. Both SevenFifty Daily and Beverage Media Group are Provi publications.

Image: 2023 Tales Catalysts event by Rush Jagoe

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

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

The Power of an ImpactMAP™

The Power of an ImpactMAP™

by Doug Radkey

KRG Hospitality ImpactMAP, main image

Let’s be honest, the line between success and failure often hinges on the ability to act decisively and act with purpose.

In this article, we’re going to explore two areas of your hospitality business that are under your control: creating a plan, and taking action.

Understanding the Risk of Inaction

The concept surrounding the Risk of Inaction—arguably a new form of ROI—captures the potential losses businesses face when they fail to take strategic actions.

Inaction in the hospitality industry can manifest in various harmful ways. Inaction can also stem from multiple sources: fear of change, lack of resources, or simply underestimating the competition.

Regardless of the manifestation or cause, the consequences are usually the same: stagnation, decline, and, ultimately, a shuttered business.

Let’s put this into context by taking a look at a sample of both a restaurant and a hotel business.

Failure to Innovate

If a restaurant does not act to continuously re-engineer its menu, it risks diminishing profits, providing a low-level guest experience, and mismanaging inventory. Without regular strategic updates, the menu may fail to reflect current culinary trends and guest preferences, which can lead to a decrease in interest and satisfaction.

Additionally, sticking with a static menu can prevent the restaurant from optimizing ingredient use, productivity, and cost-efficiency.

At the end of the day, this lack of adaptation and innovation will result in diminishing sales and profitability, making it difficult for the restaurant to sustain its operations.

Failure to Update Systems

If a hotel on the other hand decides to not use a modern and fully integrated Property Management System (PMS), it risks operating inefficiently and falling behind in today’s technology-driven hospitality environment.

A non-existent, outdated, or fragmented PMS can lead to significant operational issues, such as slow check-in and check-out processes, errors in room availability and booking management, and ineffective communication between different departments. That’s just to name a few crucial issues.

This inefficiency can impact guest experiences negatively, leading to dissatisfaction and potentially harming the hotel’s reputation.

Furthermore, without a modern PMS, a hotel may struggle with data management, limiting its ability to effectively analyze performance metrics, forecast demand, and implement dynamic pricing strategies. These disadvantages will result in lost revenue and reduced competitiveness in a space where guest expectations and operational efficiency are increasingly driven by technological advancements.

In each example above, the risk of inaction leads to missed opportunities and underperformance.

The Power of an ImpactMAP™

To combat the risks associated with inaction, your hospitality business can benefit significantly from developing an ImpactMAP™.

This strategic tool can help you identify where you currently stand, define where you want to go, and outline the steps required to get there, thereby helping you create not only strategic clarity, but drive and accountability.

KRG Hospitality ImpactMAP, flowchart and map

The Assessment

To create an ImpactMAP™ and to take action immediately, you need to first assess your operations.

An assessment of your hospitality business is a comprehensive evaluation process aimed at analyzing various aspects of your business to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement or opportunity. The goal is to gather actionable insights that can help optimize operations, enhance guest experiences, and massively improve your profitability.

The assessment should involve on-site observations, staff interviews, and a deep dive into the following eight categories, culminating in a detailed report that provides recommendations and a strategic plan for future growth and sustainability.

For each of the eight categories, consider a 3x matrix with three responses to the following questions:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • What resources do we need?
  • What’s holding us back?

Then, create a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) goal for each response in your “Where We Want to Go” list.

What are the eight assessment categories?

1. Brand Strategy

Assessment: Review your core values, story, messaging, philosophy, design, and reputation.

Opportunity: Enhance brand alignment across all touchpoints to ensure consistency while refining your brand messaging to better connect with targeted guest profiles.

2. Internal Programming

Assessment: Review your pricing strategy, guest experiences, property / menu / room management systems and programs.

Opportunity: Optimize your offerings based on guest preference data and a profitability analysis, along with potential upgrades to your amenities to enhance guest satisfaction and to compete with today’s market standards. In summary, implement efficiencies to improve guest experiences and operational workflow with a focus on your internal programming.

3. Marketing Plans

Assessment: Review guest profiles, guest journey maps, guest databases, awareness and retention strategies, and your digital marketing portfolio.

Opportunity: Integrate advanced digital marketing techniques to increase reach and engagement while developing targeted promotions and partnerships, and by leveraging data analytics to tailor marketing efforts more precisely to guest behaviors and trends.

4. Tech-Stack Plans

Assessment: Review guest facing technology, POS / PMS system, integrations, and marketing.

Opportunity: Identify current technology gaps and plan for a strategic integration of systems that enhance guest experiences while streamlining operations.

5. Standard Operating Procedures

Assessment: Review of all internal and external systems, plus training programs and SOPs.

Opportunity: Ensuring that all staff are clear on their roles and responsibilities, which enhances overall service quality through the development of standardized procedures that ensure consistency and efficiency across the business. Implement feedback systems to continually refine and improve SOPs based on real-time challenges and successes.

6. People and Culture

Assessment: Review of staff experiences, onboarding, productivity, growth, and retainment.

Opportunity: Strengthen employee engagement through improved communication and support systems. Foster a culture of innovation and openness in which employees feel valued and motivated. Develop leadership from within to enhance management effectiveness and succession planning.

7. Financial Health

Assessment: Review of all financials, including Revenue, COGs, KPIs, Expenses, Debt, and Profit.

Opportunity: Identify cost-saving opportunities without compromising service quality. Explore new revenue streams that align with your brand values and market opportunities. Implement more rigorous financial tracking and forecasting tools (such as technology) to better predict financial trends and react proactively.

8. Mindset

Assessment: Daily habits, work / life balance, decisiveness, communications, and growth-based thinking.

Opportunity: Develop a mindset of continuous improvement among all staff levels (starting with yourself) to foster an environment of excellence. Cultivate resilience by planning for crisis management and business continuity. Promote a guest-centric approach, aligning all business decisions with guest satisfaction and personal development outcomes.

Creating the ImpactMAP™

By following the above 3x strategy for each category, you will have created 24 SMART objectives that will be the foundation of your ImpactMAP™ to move your business forward over the next one to six to 12 months.

Importance of SMART Objectives

What does SMART mean and how does it work?

  • Specific, Clarity, and Focus: SMART objectives provide clear and concise goals that everyone in your business can understand and rally behind. This clarity helps to focus efforts and resources on what’s most important.
  • Measurability and Tracking: By setting measurable goals, your business can track progress and make data-driven decisions. This measurability allows for adjustments to be made in strategies or tactics to ensure the objectives are met.
  • Achievability: Goals that are achievable motivate staff. Setting impossible goals can lead to frustration and disengagement, whereas achievable objectives encourage team effort and commitment.
  • Relevance: Ensuring that each objective is relevant to the broader business goals ensures that every effort made contributes to the overall success of your brand.
  • Timeliness: Incorporating a timeframe provides urgency, a deadline, and accountability, which can help prioritize daily tasks and long-term plans.

However, you shouldn’t try to accomplish all 24 objectives at the same time. Once you’ve set your 24 impactful objectives, prioritizing them is crucial to stabilize your hospitality business and aim for scalable growth.

Best Practices for Prioritizing Objectives

  • Assess Business Needs: Start by conducting that thorough assessment of your business to identify key areas that need improvement.
  • Impact Analysis: Evaluate the potential impact of each objective. Prioritize objectives that offer the greatest benefits in terms of guest satisfaction, revenue growth, and operational efficiency.
  • Resource Availability: Consider the resources available, including budget, people, and technology. Prioritize objectives that align with current resources or where adjustments can be made to accommodate necessary changes.
  • Quick Wins: Identify objectives that can be achieved quickly and with minimal disruption to your ongoing operations. These quick wins can boost morale and provide visible improvements that justify further investments in other areas.
  • Strategic Importance: Some objectives, while not providing immediate benefits, are crucial for long-term success. Prioritize these based on their strategic importance to the business’s future.
  • Stakeholder Input: Engage with various stakeholders, including management, staff, and guests, to gain insights into which objectives they feel are most critical. This can help in aligning the goals with the needs and expectations of those most affected by the changes.
  • Balanced Scorecard: Use a balanced scorecard approach to ensure that objectives across different areas such as guest services, internal processes, financial performance, and learning and growth are all being addressed.
  • Iterative Review: Regularly review the priorities as situations and business dynamics evolve. What may be a priority today might change based on market conditions or internal business changes over the next three to six months.

Once you have your objectives prioritized, it’s time to assign or delegate them as needed and have those assignees (including yourself) take ownership of the objectives with their signature to add another level of accountability.

Implementing the ImpactMAP™

Before starting, ask yourself one final question: What will happen if we don’t take action?

Be detailed and mindful of what the short-term and long-term consequences might be if you don’t act.

Effective implementation of an ImpactMAP™ requires knowledge of these consequences, along with a commitment from all levels of your business. It starts with comprehensive training sessions followed by regular review meetings, which are both essential to assess progress, address challenges, and refine strategies as needed.

Take a SMART-ER approach, which is where you Evaluate and Re-adjust the SMART objectives halfway through the timeline you’ve set.

Conclusion

Risk of inaction is a silent threat that can undermine any business, particularly in this dynamic industry.

Adopting an ImpactMAP™ and making a commitment to take massive action allows you to manage your operations proactively, adapt to changing market conditions, and set a course for sustainable success.

This strategic approach not only mitigates risks but also empowers your hospitality business to thrive in a competitive landscape—but it starts with you and your mindset toward taking action.

Image: KRG Hospitality

KRG Hospitality. Restaurant Business Plan. Feasibility Study. Concept. Branding. Consultant. Start-Up.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Fast-food Giant Halts AI Ordering

Fast-food Giant Halts AI Order Taking

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of a caramel sundae surrounded by pats of butter and chicken nuggets

Ironically, this image is AI generated. So, how many pats of butter and nuggies do like with your sundae?

Roughly two years after first experimenting with artificial intelligence-driven ordering technology, McDonald’s is pulling the plug…for now.

The fast-food behemoth made its interest in artificial intelligence abundantly clear in 2019. In Q2 of that year, the company purchased Dynamic Yield for a reported $300 million. Immediately after making the acquisition, McDonald’s implemented Dynamic Yield’s machine-learning tech to an estimated 8,000 drive-thrus.

KRG Hospitality readers may recall that the fast-food company faced a class-action privacy lawsuit in Illinois. The plaintiff alleged that McDonald’s “violated BIPA because it failed to obtain proper consent prior to collecting and disseminating Plaintiff’s and the other class members’ voiceprint biometrics who interacted with its AI voice assistant at its Illinois locations.”

Around six months after making that acquisition, McDonald’s picked up Apprente. Interestingly, the voice-powered ordering tech platform had only been founded in 2017.

Following the purchase, the Apprente team became founding members of McD Tech Labs, a group that fell under the McDonald’s Global Technology Team umbrella. Two years later, McDonald’s would sell McD Tech Labs to IBM.

Put simply, McDonald’s was interested in testing voice-activated “automated order taking” (AOT). In theory, an effective platform could take orders, speeding up drive-thrus and streamlining operations.

Well, it appears that the answer is no. At least, not to the standards of McDonald’s, and satisfaction of the company’s guests.

Speed, Convenience, and Accuracy

A drive-thru needs to be fast. There’s no question about it, that’s the entire point.

The speed, after all, makes a drive-thru convenient. Otherwise, people would just park and place their orders at a counter or kiosk.

However, speed means nothing without accuracy. An LSR, QSR or fast-casual restaurant with a drive-thru could promise a guest will wait in line for no more than ten seconds after ordering. If they don’t get what they ordered, it doesn’t matter.

Poke around social mediaTikTok in particularand you’ll come across some viral AOT moments. There’s the addition of several “butter portions” to an ice cream order. Also, the addition of bacon to an order for ice cream, which I’m not entirely confident I’d correct. At least one guest popping into an AI-powered McDonald’s drive-thru had hundreds of dollars of McNuggets added to their order.

So, by July 26 of this year, as reported by Restaurant Business, the experiment will end. This partnership between McDonald’s and IBM to test AOT will be no more.

However, McDonald’s also said that IBM will remain a partner for other efforts. Further, McDonald’s shutting down AOT (for now) doesn’t seem to have turned other brands off from the idea. Per reporting, IBM says other fast-food chains are inquiring about AOT.

This story makes a few things clear to me. First, McDonald’s is confident that investing in tech is the way forward. They’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars to test and implement new tech solutions. Second, someone has to go first and test in earnest, and it appears that LSRs and QSRs are leading the charge in hospitality.

And third, AI isn’t ready for prime time just yet. It’s wise to keep up to date with AI-powered innovations, but it’s also smart to be cautious.

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

Tech-Stack Consulting for Motels Hotels Resorts

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The 2024 Spirited Awards: Top 4 Finalists

The 2024 Spirited Awards: Top 4 Finalists

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award on top of a bar, next to a cocktail

This is what Shutterstock’s AI think a Spirited Award looks like. At least the spelling is accurate.

We’re excited to share the top finalists in each of the 2024 Spirited Awards categories, announced by the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation.

It’s a monumental task to come up with the top-ten nominees, I’m certain. So, I can only imagine what it’s like to remove six well-deserving nominees from each category.

As regular readers of KRG Hospitality probably know by now, I do have a bit of bias for venues and industry pros in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago, and basically the entirety of Canada. The same can be said for Bar Hacks podcast guests.

However, I’m just excited to see such amazing people, venues, and outlets receive Spirited Awards recognition. This time around, I’ll keep my bar biases to myself.

With that said, we do know four of this year’s recipients already. We’ll learn who took home the rest of the awards on Thursday, July 25.

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award presented by William Grant & Sons
  • Hidetsugu Ueno
Timeless International Award presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation
  • Café Pacifico — London, UK
Timeless U.S. Award presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation
  • The Buena Vista — San Francisco, CA
Tales Visionary Award Presented by Johnnie Walker
  • Colin Asare-Appiah

Congratulations to the winners above, and cheers to the finalists below!

US Categories

US Bartender of the Year presented by Pernod Ricard

  • McLain Hedges — Yacht Club, Denver, CO
  • Christine Kim — Service Bar, Washington, D.C.
  • Kapri Robinson — Allegory, Washington, D.C.
  • Masa Urushido — Katana Kitten, New York, NY

Best US Bar Mentor presented Jameson Irish Whiskey

  • Anu Apte
  • Jason Asher
  • Kate Gerwin
  • Alex Jump

Best US Brand Ambassador presented Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Tad Carducci — Gruppo Montenegro
  • Benny Hurwitz — Campari American Whiskeys
  • Anna Mains — Monkey Shoulder
  • Natasha Sofia — Mijenta Tequila

Best US Bar Team presented by William Grant & Sons

  • Century Grand — Phoenix, AZ
  • Jewel of the South — New Orleans, LA
  • Pacific Cocktail Haven — San Francisco, CA
  • Service Bar — Washington, D.C.

Best US Cocktail Bar presented by Del Maguey Mezcal

  • Double Chicken Please — New York, NY
  • Happy Accidents — Albuquerque, NM
  • Overstory — New York, NY
  • Yacht Club — Denver, CO

Best US Hotel Bar presented by Grey Goose

  • Allegory at the Eaton Hotel — Washington, D.C.
  • Little Rituals at the Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott — Phoenix, AZ
  • Pacific Standard at the KEX Portland — Portland, OR
  • The Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt New Orleans — New Orleans, LA

Best US Restaurant Bar presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Cleaver – Butchered Meats, Seafood & Classic Cocktails — Las Vegas, NV
  • Jaguar Sun — Miami, FL
  • Kumiko — Chicago, IL
  • Palomar — Portland, OR

Best New US Cocktail Bar presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Cobra — Columbus, OH
  • Medium Cool Cocktail Lounge — Miami Beach, FL
  • Paradise Lost — New York, NY
  • Superbueno — New York, NY

International Categories

International Bartender of the Year presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Lorenzo Antinori — Bar Leone, Hong Kong, China
  • Kate Boushel — Atwater Cocktail Club, Milky Way Cocktail Bar, Bon Délire, Montreal, QC, Canada
  • Eric van Beek — Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Luke Whearty — BYRDI, Melbourne, Australia

Best International Bar Mentor presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Ryan Chetiyawardana
  • Iain McPherson
  • Danil Nevsky
  • Christina Veira

Best International Brand Ambassador presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Claudia Cabrera — Fratelli Branca
  • Jesse Estes —Tequila Ocho
  • Caitlin Hill — Rémy Cointreau
  • Dave Mitton — Lot 40 / J.P. Wiser’s

Best International Bar Team presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Handshake Speakeasy — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Hanky Panky — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Jigger & Pony at the Amara Hotel — Singapore
  • Panda & Sons — Edinburgh, Scotland

Best International Cocktail Bar presented by PATRÓN Tequila

  • 🔶🟥🔵— London, UK
  • ALQUÍMICO — Cartagena des Indias, Colombia
  • Handshake Speakeasy — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Satan’s Whiskers — London, UK

Best International Hotel Bar presented by Fords Gin

  • ARGO at the Four Seasons — Hong Kong, China
  • BKK Social Club at Four Seasons Bangkok — Bangkok, Thailand
  • Charles H. at the Four Seasons Hotel — Seoul, South Korea
  • Side Hustle at The NoMad Hotel London — London, UK

Best International Restaurant Bar presented by Gin Mare

  • ARCA Tulum — Tulum, Mexico
  • Bar Kismet — Halifax, NS, Canada
  • Burnt Ends Bar — Singapore
  • Danico — Paris, France

Best New International Cocktail Bar presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Bar Leone — Hong Kong, China
  • Bar Nouveau — Paris, France
  • Bar Us — Bangkok, Thailand
  • Cat Bite Club — Singapore

Global Categories

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Don Fulano 20th Anniversary Añejo
  • J. Rieger & Co. Monogram Whiskey 2023 Kansas City Whiskey – Solera Reserve
  • Worthy Park 109
  • YUZUCO Yuzu Super Juice

World’s Best Cocktail Menu presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Allegory at the Eaton Hotel — Washington, D.C.
  • ALQUÍMICO — Cartagena des Indias, Colombia
  • Handshake Speakeasy — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Jigger & Pony at the Amara Hotel — Singapore

World’s Best Spirits Selection presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Baba Au Rum — Athens, Greece
  • Eleven Madison Park — New York, NY
  • Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library — Portland, OR
  • Origin Bar at the Shangri-La Hotel — Singapore

Writing & Media Categories

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • CLASS magazine
  • SevenFifty Daily
  • The Cocktail Lovers
  • The Spirits Business

Best Broadcast, Podcast, or Online Video Series presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Bartender At Large
  • Like•a•ble Cocktails by Kaitlyn
  • Perspectives by Campari Academy
  • Radio Imbibe

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • “A New Spirit Confronts the Consequences of Colonialism,” by Adaorah Oduah, for Punch
  • “Facing Rum’s Problematic Past Is Allowing Producers to Embrace the Spirit’s Future,” by Christine Sismondo, for Imbibe
  • “Indigenous Women Working in Mezcal Are Ready to Be Recognized for Their Work,” by Shayna Conde, for Wine Enthusiast
  • “Meet the People Keeping Queer Bars Safe,” by Rax Will, for Punch

Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Slow Drinks: A Field Guide to Foraging and Fermenting Seasonal Sodas, Botanical Cocktails, Homemade Wines, and More by Danny Childs
  • The Book of Cocktail Ratios: The Surprising Simplicity of Classic Cocktails by Michael Ruhlman
  • The Ice Book: Cool Cubes, Clear Spheres, and Other Chill Cocktail Crafts by Camper English
  • TROPICAL STANDARD: Cocktail Techniques and Reinvented Recipes by Garret Richard & Ben Schaffer

Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • How to Taste: A Guide to Discovering Flavor and Savoring Life by Mandy Naglich
  • ICE: From Mixed Drinks to Skating Rinks–a Cool History of a Hot Commodity by Amy Brady
  • Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs, and Juice: A Cocktail Recipe Book Cocktails from Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks by Toni Tipton-Martin
  • The Maison Premiere Almanac Cocktails, Oysters, Absinthe, and Other Essential Nutrients for the Sensualist, Aesthete, and Flaneur: A Cocktail Recipe Book by Joshua Boissy, Krystof Zizka, Jordan Mackay, William Eilliott

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES 2024 SPIRITED AWARDS® TOP FOUR FINALISTS

The 18th annual Spirited Awards® celebrates global excellence in the drinks industry and recognizes professionals, organizations, and establishments shaping the cocktail community

NEW ORLEANS, LA (June 17, 2024) — Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is honored to announce the Top Four Finalists for the 18th annual Spirited Awards®. Since its founding in 2007, the Spirited Awards® has become one of the industry’s most revered awards, recognizing beverage professionals, products, and establishments across every facet of the spirits and cocktail community on a global scale. In partnership with Forbes, the Spirited Awards® official media partner, TOTCF will honor recipients during the Tales of the Cocktail® (TOTC) conference, which is celebrating its 22nd-year in New Orleans from July 21-26, 2024.

The Spirited Awards® are comprised of industry accolades, both domestic and international, writing and media awards, and overall awards that transcend regionality, including World’s Best Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Cocktail Menu. Today, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is proud to announce the Top Four finalists of each category, in addition to the recipients of the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award, Timeless U.S. and International Awards, and the Tales Visionary Award. The awards categories spotlight a range of talent from bartenders, journalists, brand ambassadors, and industry luminaries, to brands and media, to ensure each aspect of the industry is represented and recognized for its incomparable contributions.

“It is with immense pleasure that we celebrate those propelling the cocktail industry forward and amplifying their craft within their respective communities,” said Charlotte Voisey, Spirited Awards® Overall Chair. “We are honored to announce our Top Four Finalists for the 2024 Spirited Awards and recognize the incredibly talented individuals receiving the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award, Timeless U.S. and International Awards, and the Tales Visionary Award. Their love-affair with hospitality and dedication to advancing the industry is awe-inspiring. We are excited to celebrate and honor them at the 18th annual Spirited Awards.”

[See above for the top-four finalists in each category.]

The 18th Annual Spirited Awards® Ceremony

The 18th annual Spirited Awards® Ceremony will be celebrated on July 25, 2024, at the Fillmore New Orleans. For those who are interested in attending the Spirited Awards®, two tiers of tickets are now available – Spirited Awards® Ceremony Side Seating and Spirited Awards® Ceremony Stadium Seating. Additional information and to purchase tickets, please visit the Spirited Awards® website.

Spirited Awards® Judges

Below is a list of Spirited Awards® Chairs, responsible for overseeing the judging process this year:

  • Spirited Awards® Overall Chair
    • Charlotte Voisey
  • Asia Pacific Co-Chairs
    • Sam Bygrave
    • Andrew Ho
    • Symphony Loo
    • Charmaine Thio
  • Canada Co-Chairs
    • Kate Boushel
    • Jonathan Smolensky
  • Europe Co-Chairs
    • Stephanie Jordan
    • Roberta Mariani
  • Latin America & Caribbean Co-Chairs
    • Carlos Aguinsky
    • Georgina Barbachano García
  • Middle East & Africa Co-Chairs
    • Stephen “KOJO” Aidoo
    • Caitlin Hill
    • Nana Sechere
  • U.S. Central Co-Chairs
    • Joshua Gandee
    • Lynn M. House
  • U.S. East Co-Chairs
    • Jackson Cannon
    • Jaymee Mandeville
  • U.S. West Co-Chairs
    • Jason Asher
    • Erin Schaeferle
  • Timeless Co-Chairs
    • Jared Brown
    • Anistatia Miller
  • Writing & Media Co-Chairs
    • Ryan Chetiyawardana
    • Emma Janzen
    • Sandrae Lawrence

Spirited Awards® judges are a collection of respected bartenders, bar owners, educators, and writers from across the globe entrusted with this critical calling. Drawing on their years of experience and their knowledge of the current work being done locally, nationally, and internationally, together the judges can evaluate nominees from far and wide to ensure that the Spirited Awards® represents the breadth and diversity of the global drinks industry.

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s Spirited Awards® Committee is dedicated to valuing the inclusion of the communities the foundation serves, by ensuring that our judging panel reflects their incredible diversity in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality. Recognizing that inclusion is key to a well-represented committee, TOTCF strives to ensure that we have an equitable representation of gender across the judging panel. The Spirited Awards® are not based on popular vote and all nominations are evaluated by their respective judging committees.

Spirited Awards® Directory

Tales of the Cocktail is pleased to share the Spirited Awards® Directory giving discerning imbibers a comprehensive compendium of all Spirited Awards® winners and nominees from the past 18 years. This resource is updated annually, making it a go-to guide for planning the perfect drinking and dining itinerary. Access Spirited Awards® Directory to explore award-winning bars.

A Special Thanks: Spirited Awards® Sponsors

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation would like to thank all of its Spirited Awards® sponsors: Del Maguey Mezcal, Diageo Bar Academy, Fords Gin, G. H. Mumm Champagne, Gin Mare, Grey Goose, House of Lustau, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Johnnie Walker, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic, PATRÓN Tequila, Pernod Ricard, and William Grant & Sons.

To follow along for additional information on the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, please visit the website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

About Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is a non-profit organization that educates, advances, and supports the global hospitality industry and creates lasting impact in our host communities. Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is the global leader in spirits education and a platform to tackle issues facing the industry. The pillars of the Foundation are to Educate, Advance, and Support the hospitality industry through programs that benefit individuals and organizations in the community and to make a lasting impact in communities that host our events.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

FAST Act Fallout far from Finished

FAST Act Fallout far from Finished

by David Klemt

A frustrated cartoon slice of pizza carrying a suitcase and leaving the state of California

Have you ever seen a more frustrated slice of pizza in your life? I doubt it.

The battle over the implementation of California’s FAST Act appears to be heating up further, with multiple parties attempting to land blows on one another.

Depending on the source, the Golden State’s fast-food minimum-wage hike to $20 per hour is either killing jobs or adding them. One side says that limited-service and quick-service restaurants have shed nearly 10,000 jobs since Governor Gavin Newsom signed the FAST Act into law.

On the other side, proponents are pointing to data the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released recently to paint the situation in a better light. According to this data, LSRs in California added 4,500 jobs between September of last year and April of this year.

However, those unhappy with the FAST Act have downplayed this net gain in fast-food jobs. According to reports, that increase in jobs represents a recurring seasonal trend. Further, some sources claim that the data showing a gain in jobs includes restaurants other than LSRs, so the information is being spun to look positive.

One group is so unhappy with Gov. Newsom’s implementation of the FAST Act, they released an obituary-style ad to make their grievance known.

“In Memoriam”

Below, a social media post displaying the “in memoriam” ad from the California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA).

The full-page ad is available for viewing here.

Jonathan Maze, editor-in-chief of Restaurant Business, also spoke out against California’s $20 minimum wage for fast-food workers.

During an appearance on FOX & Friends First, Maze addressed how the state handled the pay hike.

“You’ve got two issues, really. You have the fact that it was done almost overnight,” said Maze. “You have the fact that it was a 25-percent increase in the wage rate. Both of those things happening simultaneously, is a really hard thing for restaurants’ bottom line, and you’re seeing the effects of it.”

Brand Relocation

In a development that won’t assuage Gov. Newsom’s critics, a California-born fast-food brand has announced it’s leaving the state.

Blaze Pizza, which opened its first location in Irvine, California, in 2012, has announced the relocation of its headquarters to Atlanta, Georgia. Currently, the brand’s headquarters is located in Pasadena. The move will take place later this year, and it’s not expected to impact the company’s roughly 7,500 employees.

It will, however, impact Blaze Pizza’s taxes. Moving to Atlanta will reduce the QSR’s corporate tax rate by at least a third.

This begs a couple questions: Is this simply a business-savvy move that will reduce Blaze’s taxes and allow it to allocate more resources to further the brand’s growth? Or did the brand analyze the FAST Act’s impact on its bottom line and decide to flee the state for greener pastures?

One can argue the situation is closer to the former than the latter, as Blaze has stated that store-level employees won’t be impacted by the reorganization.

But on the other side of the coin, one can argue the move to Atlanta is a direct response to FAST. Cutting taxes by a third (if not more) may help Blaze avoid restaurant-level job cuts or store closures.

Messy

One thing is mostly clear regarding California and the FAST Act: the situation, so far, is messy.

The tendency is usually to say that as things play out, data will tell the tale. Unfortunately, as this situation is showing us, that’s not always the case. Data is being spun to support agendas.

One thing I’ll say is that I’m happy some fast-food workers’ lives are improving. Or, at least their wages have gotten better. But, of course, if their employers are cutting hours or eventually closing stores, is that improvement sustainable?

And then there are the guests. Reports appear to indicate that more and more Americans now perceive fast food to be a luxury. That doesn’t bode well for LSRs and QSRs in California in particular, nor for fast-food operators across the US.

This situation is complex, with many factors impacting California’s restaurant workers, operators, and guests. We likely won’t know the true impact of the FAST Act until the end of this year, at the earliest.

Other states looking at implementing similar measures should keep their eyes trained on California before moving forward. Legislators need to meet and actually listen to independent and chain operators, along with people representing the workers in good faith.

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

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