Nightlife news

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

XO Night: A New Nightlife Tradition?

Rémy Martin XO Night: A New Nightlife Tradition

by David Klemt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rémy Martin Reinvents Night-time Celebrations with XO Night Uncapped

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

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

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


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


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


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

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


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


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

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

Instagram @RemyMartinUS | Twitter @RemyMartinUS | Facebook RemyMartinUSA

#RemyXONight #XONightUncapped


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


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

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

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

Image: Rémy Martin

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Boutique Brand StandardX to Make Debut

Boutique Brand StandardX to Debut in February

by David Klemt

A white letter "X" painted on a black wall

Like The Standard’s logo, this letter X is upside-down.

Boutique hotel standard The Standard will debut its new brand, StandardX, in Melbourne when its first property opens in February of this year.

Not only will this new hotel be the first StandardX location to open, it’s also the first Standard hotel to open in Australia.

This new boutique hotel brand follows a growing and notable trend within the space. Many hotel groups are focusing on launching brands and imprints that focus on locality.

These brands aim to honor local cultures, striving to serve locals and their communities along with tourists. In fact, some of these brands appear more interested in locals than visitors.

Beyond staycations, these hotels work to gain buy-in from locals in several ways. One of the most obvious is through F&B programs. These new(er) brands seek to menu food and drink items that are authentic to their locations. Likewise, nightlife experiences.

However, it goes deeper than that. Many of these hotels welcome locals to use communal spaces for meetings, art installations, and more. The goal is to establish themselves as a pillars in the communities in which they operate. If done right—deeper than a thin veneer of local support—these hotels prove their locale loyalty.

All that said, only time will tell if StandardX Melbourne will find support in the brand’s chosen Melbourne neighborhood, Fitzroy. On paper, however, it should be a perfect match.

Two Decades of Cool, and Counting

The first Standard opened on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles in 1999. It takes a lot of work be effortlessly cool, and the Standard Hollywood achieved that standard upon opening.

Artists, celebrities, people who wanted to see and be seen… All could be found at the Standard Hollywood. The hotel’s Rooftop bar and pool became one of LA’s hottest hotspots, a seemingly endless party featuring a seemingly endless parade of the cool and connected.

Starting life in 1967 as the Thunderbird Motel, the Standard Hollywood appears in Sex and the City, Entourage, Mortdecai, and Ocean’s Twelve. One of the property’s most notable details, one that undoubtedly generated coverage, whispers, and social media attention, was “The Box.”

This was a living art installation behind reception. Fifteen feet long, it was a box in which models lounged as guests checked in and navigated the lobby.

After a successful and impactful run of over a decade, the Standard Hollywood closed its doors at the start of 2022. While that meant the brand left California completely, the Standard operates seven properties across the globe, with plans for more standard Standards to come.

The StandardX hotels will take a minimalist approach while maximizing the Standard’s view on hospitality.

“This was an opportunity to return to raw, unbridled simplicity that was accessible to the next generation traveler looking to experience a city through the lens of The Standard brand,” said Standard International’s CEO, Amber Asher, in an interview with Travel + Leisure.

Considering how the Standard brand is associated with all things cool, it’s no surprise that their first foray into Australia is one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world.

Position, Position, Position

Yes, I know the maxim is, “Location, location, location.” Well, I’m being clever. See? See how clever I am? Am I cool yet?

Clearly, the Standard has put in the work to be positioned as one of the coolest brands in the hospitality, accommodation, travel, and leisure spaces.

So, it makes sense that they’ve done their homework and designed a brand and selected a location in keeping with that position.

We can argue whether or not being deemed “cool” makes or breaks your status as cool some other time. The fact is, Fitzroy is considered more than just one of the coolest neighborhoods in Victoria. It’s held up as more than just one of the coolest neighborhoods in Australia. Fitzroy is one of the coolest neighborhoods in the world.

The neighborhood is celebrated for its eclectic nature, local pubs, fantastic indie restaurants and boutiques, and killer nightlife. So, again, the StandardX making its debut there is fitting.

Characterized by 125 minimalist rooms, “cultural programming,” and compelling F&B, the StandardX Melbourne is clearly on a mission to establish itself as the coolest of the cool hotels in Australia.

Two F&B venues, BANG and the Roof, will serve up Thai-inspired dishes and “authentic Mexican,” with the latter accessible only to guests. That exclusivity and of itself will likely make the Roof a sought-after nightlife destination in short order.

Oh, and The Box is back. In a nod to a design feature and installation that separated the Standard from the rest, The Box is the property’s retail venue.

After Melbourne, StandardX is aiming to position itself in Bangkok, with Brooklyn and Austin to follow. Look at where the brand is headed and one thing is clear: their chasing the coolest scenes.

Image: Jen Theodore on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality. Boutique Hotels. Resorts. Properties. Consultant. Feasibility Study. Business Plan

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

2023 KRG Recap: Top 8 News Articles

2023 KRG Recap: Top 8 News Articles

by David Klemt

Eight ball floating against black background

We’re kicking off our annual year-in-review article roundup by gathering the top eight news articles of 2023, which address an array of noteworthy developments.

For example, you’ll find a “Big Game” cocktail promotion, SevenRooms innovations, award winners, and legislation affecting our industry.

We look forward to sharing hospitality news with you as it breaks in 2024.


Group of Big Game cocktails at Ocean Casino Resort

Ocean Casino Resort Offers Big Game Cocktails

Ocean Casino Resort, Atlantic City’s award-winning oceanfront casino and resort, is ready for the Big Game with four cocktails that team with the theme.

Now, by “Big Game,” we all know what I’m talking about. We know the sport, we the know the league, and we know precisely which game is under discussion.

However, due to very “enthusiastic” attorneys, we also have to talk like we’re spies or actors in a mob movie. We wouldn’t want to tempt anyone to file a lawsuit now, would we?

And I’m going to encourage you to continue following this childish way of speaking about the Big Game. When you’re promoting your Sunday, February 12 event, don’t use any trademarked terms, logos, images, etc.

Alright, the Big Game legalese is out of the way. Let’s talk themed cocktails!

Big Game Cocktail Inspiration

Midway through last year, Ocean Casino Resort showed us all their marketing prowess. When news of the Choco Taco’s demise made headlines, Ocean created a cocktail homage: the Chocotini.

To ensure the LTO could be enjoyed by most guests, the cocktail was available at four venues on the property.

Now, Ocean Casino Resort is tackling the Big Game. (Note: I’m legally required to include sports puns when writing about any major game.)

Guests have four specialty LTO cocktails from which to choose. Two representing the team from Philadelphia, two for the team in Kansas City. Each drink is available at venues throughout the casino resort, including their Topgolf Swing Suite (largest in America), Nola’s Bar & Lounge, and the Gallery Bar Book & Games.

In news that should appeal to you and your bar team, these drinks are quick to make. That’s a relief when you plan to be slammed on a particular day.

Of course, you don’t have to attempt to replicate these cocktails. They serve as excellent inspiration to motivate you and your team to come up with your own liquid homages and LTOs.

In case you’re wondering what to charge, Ocean is charging $14 each for the Brotherly Love, Hurts So Good, and Big Red cocktails. The Arrowhead carries a price tag of $15.

Click here to continue reading.

Abraham Lincoln's face on $5 bill

What’s up with the Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit?

If you’re wondering what’s going on with the Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit bills in the House and Senate, you’re probably not alone.

And if you find yourself wondering about them, that’s likely because there isn’t much news about the bills. Unfortunately, it appears that no meaningful progress has been made on HR 9574 or S.5219.

A quick check shows that both bills share the same status: Introduced. As for the House bill, HR 9574, that was introduced on December 15, 2022 by Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). The Senate bill, S.5219, was introduced by Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) on December 8, 2022.

It’s important to note that Sens. Cardin, Patty Murray (D-A), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) reintroduced S.5219 in January of this year. However, that apparently didn’t mean much as the trackers show no progress.

Last year, some opined that neither bill would receive a vote until January 2023 at the earliest. That “prediction” has proven true, of course—it’s now the end of March.

Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit Act Summary

Let’s take a quick look at HR 9574 and S.5219.

Both bills propose a $25,000 payroll offset for restaurants. Eligibility requirements are also identical: applicants must have applied for but not awarded a Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant.

Additional, eligible applicants are:

  • restaurants with operating losses of at least 30 percent in 2020 and 2021 in comparison to 2019; or
  • restaurants with losses of at least 50 percent in either 2020 or 2021 in comparison to 2019.

So, those are elements that both the Senate and House bills share. What about the differences between the two bills?

Mainly, differences come down to the number of employees. For S.5219, restaurants with ten employees or fewer could be eligible for the maximum payroll tax credit. That credit, as a reminder, is up to $25,000 for 2023. For every employee over ten, the refund cap drops by $2,500.

Now, HR 9574. Restaurants with ten or fewer employees would receive the full $25,000 payroll tax offset. For restaurants with between 11 and 20 employees, the offset would be “partially refundable.”

Keep reading here.

Front of house staff member using SevenRooms

EHI and Danny Meyer Invest in SevenRooms

EHI and Danny Meyer Invest in SevenRooms

SevenRooms is showing no signs of resting on their laurels, announcing a major new investor: Enlightened Hospitality Investments.

EHI, a private-equity fund, traces its launch back to 2016. The fund, launched by and affiliated with Union Square Hospitality Group, typically makes investments in the $10-25 million range. Generally speaking, EHI makes non-control investments.

As you’re likely well aware, USHG’s founder and executive chairman is none other than restaurateur Danny Meyer. The Shake Shack chairman is also the managing partner of EHI.

Investment in SevenRooms by EHI—and by extension Danny Meyer—is huge news. Meyer now joins other high-profile chef and restaurateur investors in SevenRooms:

“At EHI, we always pay close attention to transformative tech that advances high touch,” says Meyer. “Far more than a reservations platform, SevenRooms provides abundant tools to create highly customized guest experiences and equips both restaurant and hotel teams to do what they do best—deliver truly memorable hospitality.”

Gloved hand pressing down on cheeseburger

A Group of Senators has Questions About ServSafe

The National Restaurant Association and the ServSafe program are now in the crosshairs of a group of Democratic senators.

I doubt any organization or individual wants to learn that lawmakers have questions for them. For those who may not know, ServSafe isn’t just in a partnership with the National Restaurant Association—the NRA owns the program.

That’s part of why six senators, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), have sent a letter to the NRA. To describe the tone of this letter in one word, I think “aggressive” is accurate.

For more, including the text of the letter, click here.

Double Chicken Please cocktail bar interior

The 50 Best Bars in North America in 2023

The buildup toward this year’s World’s 50 Best Bars is growing with the recent announcement of North America’s 50 Best Bars.

Mexico City, the 2023 North America’s 50 Best Bars host city, is home to several of this year’s rankings. A true cocktail destination loaded with extraordinary bars, Mexico City boasts eight entries. Overall, 14 of the 50 bars on the 2023 list are in Mexico.

Of course, New York City also claims an impressive number of bars earning spots on the list. In fact, NYC boasts 12 of the 50 best bars in North America. More than half of the bars—28—are in the US.

Not that anyone asked, two of the bars on the 2023 list are in the city where I was born, Chicago: Kumiko and Milk Room. And I’m going to give a special nod to Herbs & Rye, number 27 and located in my hometown of Las Vegas (and the US headquarters of KRG Hospitality).

Of the 50 best bars in North America, Canada is home to seven. Four of these are in Toronto (where KRG Hospitality’s global headquarters are located), two are in Montreal, and one is in Vancouver.

Just one bar in the Caribbean makes the 2023 North America’s 50 Best Bars list. But what a bar: La Factoría is number 24.

Below you’ll find this year’s rankings; destination awards; and individual awards. Speaking of, congratulations to Julio Cabrera and Christine Wiseman! You’ll see why as you scroll. To review last year’s list, please click here.

Congratulations to all the bars and their bar teams representing the best of North America in 2023!

You can review the list here.

The lobby of ACE Hotel Sydney

The 2023 HD Award Finalists and Winners

As one would expect, the finalists and winners of the 2023 Hospitality Design Awards are a stunning collection of brands from which operators should pull inspiration.

Anyone looking for cutting-edge hospitality design would do well to look into each of the winners and finalists below.

The full list of award finalists and winners, and the architecture, interior design, and purchasing firms (along with owners and operators) can be found on the Hospitality Design website. Just click this link for the full details.

For our past coverage of the HD Expo, please click here.

Lifestyle Hotel


Ace Hotel Sydney (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)

  • Architecture Firm: Bates Smart, Melbourne
  • Interior Design Firm: Flack Studio (hotel), Melbourne
  • Owner: Golden Age Group
  • Operator: Ace Hotel Group
  • Purchasing Firm: Marques Interior Services


Canoe Place Inn & Cottages (Hampton Bays, New York)

Our Habitas San Miguel (San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico)

Sisan·Shuanglang Hotel (DaLi, YunNan, China)

Fan Woods Hotel (Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province, China)

Lifestyle Hotel Public Space



  • Architecture and Interior Design Firms: Morris Adjmi Architects, and ISC Design Studio, New York
  • Owner: Strategic Property Partners
  • Operator: Marriott International
  • Purchasing Firm: The Parker Company


Ace Hotel Sydney (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)

The Standard (Hua Hin, Thailand)

Luxury Hotel


The Londoner (London, England) United Kingdom)

  • Architecture Firm: Woods Bagot, London
  • Interior Design Firm: Yabu Pushelberg, New York and Toronto
  • Owner and Operator: Edwardian Hotels London


Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection (Gardiner, New York)

Kimpton Bamboo Grove Suzhou (Suzhou, Jiangsu, China)

Luxury Hotel Public Space


The Madrona (Healdsburg, California)

  • Architecture Firm: Strening Architects, Santa Rosa, California
  • Interior Design Firm: Jay Jeffers, San Francisco
  • Owners: Jay Jeffers, Kyle Jeffers, and investors
  • Operator: Mosaic Hotel Group
  • Purchasing Firm: Summa International


The Madrid EDITION (Madrid, Spain)

Pillows Maurits at the Park (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Wildflower Farms, Auberge Resorts Collection (Gardiner, New York)

Click here for the full list of finalists and winners.

Hand holding several credit cards

Credit Card Competition Act, Take Three

Here we go again: Bipartisan lawmakers in the House and Senate are taking another shot at the Credit Card Competition Act.

After the incredibly underwhelming progress of the Credit Card Competition Act of 2022, lawmakers are making another move. Now, a bipartisan effort is coalescing around the Credit Card Competition Act of…2023.

The “new” bill was introduced on June 7. On the Senate side, Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Roger Marshall (R-KS) are trying to push the bill forward. In the House, Representatives Lance Gooden (R-TX) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) are driving the effort.

Roughly eight months ago it was revealed that 1,802 merchants drafted, signed, and sent a letter to the House and Senate. To summarize quickly, the merchants were pushing for the bill to become law. Another supporter of the CCCA? The National Restaurant Association, claiming that the bill could save merchants $11 billion a year in fees.

Of course, a lot is going on since the introduction of the CCCA of 2022. For one, it’s being widely reported that House Republicans are “revolting,” blocking bills and effectively paralyzing the chamber. There’s also the matter of the second indictment of a former president.

However, reporters who know far more than I about the inner workings of Congress seem optimistic. While there’s drama in the lower chamber, there are articles circulating that seem to think the CCCA of 2023 has enough bipartisan support to pass.

Continue reading here.

The Pontiac bar in Hong Kong

Asia’s 50 Best Bars 2023 Revealed: 51 to 100

One week from the ceremony revealing bars one through 50 of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, the World’s 50 Best Bars announces venues 51 to 100.

Sponsored by Perrier, the World’s 50 Best Bars will announce the top 50 bars in Asia on Tuesday, July 18. This year’s ceremony will take place in Hong Kong at 20:25 local time.

However, we now know which bars have earned placement on the back half of this year’s list. As Mark Sansom, director of content for the World’s 50 Best points out on episode 82 of Bar Hacks, an expansion for their lists is necessary. There are simply too many outstanding operators and teams to not honor an additional 50 venues.

To that end, the list below represents the third edition of Asia’s 50 Best Bars, 51 to 100. In my opinion, and I think the World’s 50 Best and bar professionals across the world agree, this list is every bit as prestigious as one through 50. Let’s not downplay the fact that these are 50 of the best bars in all of Asia. It’s no small feat to earn a spot on this list.

If you’re interested in finding more amazing venues throughout Asia (and around the world), click here to learn about the World’s 50 Best Discovery tool.

By the Numbers

As you’ll see below, Singapore dominates this year’s 51 to 100 list with eight bars. I expect Singapore pick up even more spots next week.

Japan boasts seven bars on the list, with Osaka, Okinawa, and Kumamoto making debuts. Hong Kong, Taiwan, and India each have claim five slots. Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur are also well represented with four bars each.

Vietnam and China each have three bars among this year’s 51 to 100. Two bars in Seoul, South Korea, earned placement as well.

However, it’s Kathmandu, Nepal, with two bars that stands out the most to me. Numbers 100 and 70 belong to Kathmandu, and are both new to the list.

To review the list on the World’s 50 Best website, please click here.

Keep reading here.

Image: Mediocre Studio on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

2023 KRG Recap: Top Bar Hacks Episodes

2023 KRG Recap: Top Bar Hacks Episodes

by David Klemt

Gold number 10 on a teal or aqua background

For your listening pleasure and convenience we’ve rounded up the top ten Bar Hacks episodes of 2023, also known as season four of the podcast.

Every year we reflect on the caliber of the guests who take time out of their busy lives to come onto the podcast. And every year we’re grateful for the honor of helping to share their stories and insights.

Below are the top ten Bar Hacks episodes of 2023. We’re presenting them in numeric order—no playing favorites here! To make it easy to enjoy these conversations, we’ve embedded the Spotify version of each episode.

And if you’re curious, these ten only just edge out the rest of this year’s episodes. We thank our loyal listeners for giving all of our guests and episodes a listen.


Episode 89 with Doug Radkey

Doug Radkey, co-founder and president of KRG Hospitality, stops by the Bar Hacks podcast. Not only is Doug the co-founder and president of KRG, he’s also the author of the book Bar Hacks and its followup Hacking the New Normal, and the creator of the Bar Hacks podcast.

During his visit, Doug and David talk about their expectations for 2023, what KRG is working on in the new year so far, the importance of technology in hospitality, and dynamic pricing versus dynamic menus. Doug also shares his thoughts on what operators can work on starting today to position themselves for success in 2023 and beyond.

Episode 90 with Mark Sansom

Mark Sansom, content director for the World’s 50 Best Bars, drops by the Bar Hacks podcast to share some big news. After years of dialing in the process and waiting out the pandemic, the World’s 50 Best Hotels will be revealed at a ceremony in September 2023! If you haven’t watched or attended a World’s 50 Best Bars ceremony, they truly take great pains to ensure they’re the Oscars of bar awards. So, we expect the World’s 50 Best Hotel awards ceremony to blow us out of the water.

This list and its accompanying specialty awards completes the hospitality and travel puzzle. Restaurants and bars, after all, are inextricably intertwined with hotels and resorts. Mark shares the details of the World’s 50 Best Hotels Academy Chairs, voting panel, and voting process in this episode. As a bonus, you’ll also get to hear host David Klemt try and fail to say “inaugural awards” without any issue!

Episode 93 with Adrián Michalčík

In September 2022, Adrián Michalčík earned the title of Diageo World Class Global Bartender of the Year. Colloquially, this achievement is known as the Best Bartender in the World. That’s a bold and weighty mantle but as you’ll learn during this conversation, Adrián is humble and focused on his team and guests.

Adrián is the director of mixology at the award-winning Pier 42 inside the Amerikalinjen hotel in Oslo, Norway. The bar has been recognized by the World’s 50 Best and has won Best Bar of Norway twice. In addition to taking home the title of 2022 Diageo World Class Global Bartender of the Year, Adrián has won several bartending competitions throughout the years.

He popped by the Bar Hacks podcast to chat with host David Klemt about his bartender journey. Adrián has worked in several types of bars and each helped him develop the skills that allowed him to elevate his skills behind the bar. Mentors, his endless quest for knowledge, his passion for hosting others, and his focus on empathy have informed his approach to team building, delivering top-level hospitality, and tapping into his creativity to develop Pier 42’s cocktail menus.

Adrián shares the three pillars he believes great bars are built upon, what he looks for in bar team members, transforming people from guests to friends, the importance of storytelling, and much more.

Episode 95 with Bob Peters

We know it’s been a few weeks. Between client projects and trade shows we had to take a little break. But we’re back!

And to make our absence up to you, our loyal listeners, we’re bringing you a great chat with an awesome guest. Bob Peters returns to the Bar Hacks podcast for episode 95!

Bob has big news to share, and you can hear in his voice how excited he is to share it with everyone. He’s taking on the perfect role. In fact, he calls it his dream job during this episode. Cocktails and cuisine are about to get even better in North Carolina and South Carolina…

But it doesn’t stop there! Bob also shares his approach to bar training to make sure everyone is engaged; his assessment of the Charlotte dining and drinking scene; a simple step all restaurants and bars can take today to improve operations, team engagement, and the guest experience; a very cool project he’s taking on; and more.

Episode 97 with Dragos Axinte

Dragos Axinte, the founder of Novo Fogo Organic Cachaça, returns to the Bar Hacks podcast. Axinte and Novo Fogo have been very busy since, his first appearance on the pod.

On this episode, Axinte shares the details and stories behind three important Novo Fogo initiatives and partnerships: Tree-keeper, with Seattle Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei, the Un-endangered Forest, and the brand’s new Chief Alegrias Officers (ChAOs), Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern, also known as SOFI TUKKER.

The two also discuss Axinte’s approach to partnerships—a philosophy that will serve operators and entrepreneurs very well—as well as distillers “discovering” amburana wood finishing. And, of course, Axinte shares product news and insights. If you’re headed to Tales of the Cocktail this year, you’re in for some incredible news. This conversation spans several topics and Axinte always imparts wisdom when he speaks in approachable and helpful ways.

Episode 99 with Michele Mariotti

Bartender Michele Mariotti leads an illustrious career. He has worked behind the bars at some of the best hotels around the world, including the Savoy in London and Mandarin Oriental in Singapore.

As of 2020, Michele has held the title head of bars at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland. In this role, he heads the programs at 11 F&B venues on the property, overseeing dozens of bar professionals.

On this episode, Michele and Bar Hacks podcast host David Klemt talk about mentorship, interviewing potential bartenders, menu development, using a flavor map when assigning new cocktail builds to bar team members, finding inspiration, interesting hotel guests, bespoke glassware, investing in platforms and programs that boost staff retention, and more.

Episode 101 with Ryan Chetiyawardana a.k.a. Mr. Lyan

Ryan Chetiyawardana, also known as Mr. Lyan, is one of the bar world’s true visionaries. He opened his first bar, White Lyan, in 2013 and the venue immediately achieved its intended purpose. Beyond being an award-winning bar and one of London’s best places to grab a drink, White Lyan started a much-needed conversation about sustainability in the industry.

Dandelyan, Lyaness, Super Lyan, Cub, and Silver Lyan would follow shortly after, making an even bigger splash not only in London but also Amsterdam and Washington, DC. All Mr. Lyan venues, while showcasing incredible innovation, accomplish something just as important: each bar is a place people to want to spend their time and money, and where professionals want to work.

During this fantastic conversation, Ryan shares insights into the menu programming processes at each venue; discusses seasonality; provides a look into hiring and engaging each team; the reissue of his book and his foray into the RTD cocktail space; and much more. Cheers!

Episode 102 with Jordan Bushell

Thank you for being patient during our summer hiatus. We’re back with a great conversation with an awesome guest.

Global Hennessy brand ambassador Jordan Bushell returns to the Bar Hacks podcast. While Jordan may know people with more Cognac knowledge, we don’t know anyone who knows more about this spirit category. More importantly, he’s as generous with his time as he is knowledgeable about Cognac. If you have a question about the spirit of Hennessy you can reach out to him and he’ll answer you.

On this episode of Bar Hacks, Jordan talks about special Hennessy releases, initiatives, collaborations, and what sets the maison apart from others in the Cognac region of France. He also talks about how operators can introduce guests to Cognac and Hennessy, including paying attention how they price their menus. Cheers!

Episode 104 with Simone Caporale

Simone Caporale, an internationally renowned bartender and operator, swings by the Bar Hacks podcast to talk spirits, branding, the guest experience, and operations.

Noticing a gap in the industry and seeing a way to lend his expertise to help grow spirits brands, Simone and Luca Missagli founded Cocktail Concierge, a brand-building agency focusing on craft spirits brands. One of the most recent brands Cocktail Concierge has helped introduce to the world is Amaro Santoni.

Of course, Simone is also one of forces behind SIPS Drinkery House, number three on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, and the World’s Best Bar according to Tales of the Cocktail. Simone shares his thoughts on what he thinks makes SIPS so successful, why he views service as a privilege, three tips operators can implement today to plant the seeds for long-term success, and more!

Episode 107 with Anne Becerra

When it comes to curating a beer program, creating a complementary cocktail program, and delivering an incredible beer program, we can’t think of anyone better than Anne Becerra. And lucky for us, she stopped by the Bar Hacks podcast!

Anne is the first female Certified Cicerone in New York City and has been working in beer for more than a decade. More importantly, however, she’s as passionate as she is educated about beer. Anne’s also passionate about hospitality, which comes across in this conversation. Truly, she loves hospitality, the beverage world, and how the two pair to make people feel amazing.

On this episode Anne talks introducing guests to beer; serving beer aficionados, beer neophytes, and the beer wary; how to make guests feel comfortable in a beer-centric concept; what she’s excited about in the beer world; tips for operators who want to succeed with a beer-forward venue; and much, much more. Cheers!

Image: Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

New Cocktail Festival Coming to Africa

New Cocktail & Spirits Festival Coming to Africa

by David Klemt

Colin Asare-Appiah and Mark Talbot Holmes

One of the most influential people in the hospitality industry, Colin Asare-Appiah, is bringing a new cocktail and spirits festival to South Africa in 2024.

Asare-Appiah is, of course, a bartender and spirits aficionado. However, he’s also an industry educator, author, a mentor, and historian. And he’s driven to shine a spotlight on the cocktail scenes throughout Africa.

AJABU, which means “wondrous” in Swahili, is the creation of Asare-Appiah and Mark Talbot Holmes, the founder of U’Luvka Vodka. From March 12 to 13, Johannesburg will be the first city to host AJABU. Cape Town will follow closely, with the festival taking place from March 15 to 16.

To put it plainly, the cocktail community doesn’t seem to pay much attention to African countries. At KRG Hospitality, we focus primarily on North America. So, I have to admit that when it comes to industry coverage, I’m guilty of overlooking African countries as well.

Looking back at industry awards from the past couple of years drives this point home. Bars, restaurants, hotels… If they’re not in Johannesburg or Cape Town, they’re not earning nominations, honorable mentions, or rankings, with very few exceptions.

Asare-Appiah and Talbot Holmes are aiming to change this situation. They duo and their collaborators intend to build international connections between trade, brands, and media through this bi-annual cocktail festival.

To learn more about this new industry gathering, please review the press release below. Cheers!

AJABU Cocktail and Spirits Festival Set to Debut in South Africa

New International Festival will Celebrate the Incredible Growth in the African Hospitality Community in 2024 and Beyond

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – AJABU, Africa’s first bi-annual international Cocktail and Spirits festival, is set to debut in Johannesburg and Cape Town next year, with the first of two week-long events taking place from March 10-18, 2024.

Curated by Colin Asare-Appiah (Bar World 100 Most Influential Figures 2023, Co-Author Black Mixcellence, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s 2023 Spirited Awards® Finalist: Best Bar Mentor) and Mark Talbot Holmes (founder of U’Luvka Vodka). AJABU aims to become Africa’s leading spirits and cocktail festival. It will not only connect the hospitality industry and their community across Africa and beyond, it will also inspire innovation, collaboration, and creativity, while celebrating the continent’s incredible diversity of people, ingredients, and beverages.

The word AJABU means ‘wondrous’ or ‘amazing.’ As the name suggests, the festival will embrace the wondrous diversity of the hospitality industry across Africa, connecting brands, bar trade, media and cocktail enthusiasts, while supporting a new generation of African bartenders and hospitality professionals.

Taking place in both Johannesburg (March 10-13) and Cape Town (March 13-18), AJABU will host each city’s most renowned venues for a line-up of exciting mashups. Participating award-winning international bars include Library by the Sea, Milady’s, Rayo and Trailer Happiness. These teams will partner with bars across Africa such as Front Back and Hero for a week of education sessions, spirited forums, wine tours, and hosted dinners at local Johannesburg and Cape Town venues. In Johannesburg, festival-goers can look forward to experiencing the unique offerings of bars such as Sin + Tax, Saint, Smoking Kills, Cin Cin Zioux, Mesh Club, and Marabi Club. Meanwhile, Cape Town will host festivities at Cause/Effect, Art of Duplicity, Chef’s Warehouse, Hacienda, The Drinkery, House of Machines, Asoka, and Talking to Strangers.

“AJABU is a platform to celebrate Africa’s vibrant spirit and bartending culture,” exclaims Asare-Appiah. “We’re committed to fostering the growth of the hospitality industry across the continent by inspiring and empowering the bartending community to push the boundaries of their craft while providing a unique platform to showcase the diverse and rich culture of African drinks and ingredients.”

AJABU is thrilled to announce its partnership with local industry legends Kurt and Etienne Schlechter as well as award-winning writer & educator Leah Van Deventer as the team on the ground.

The festival will soon announce a lineup of the world’s best bars who will bring their creativity and knowledge to Johannesburg and Cape Town venues. Attendees can anticipate an unforgettable gathering of industry-leading professionals who will surprise and delight attendees with their creativity and innovation.

The March edition of AJABU will be followed by another week-long event across both cities in November, in partnership with Cape Town Beverage Show.

For more information, please visit


AJABU is Africa’s first annual international spirits and cocktail festival, created by Colin Asare-Appiah (Bar World’s 100 Most Influential Figures 2023, Co-Author Black Mixcellence of the Cocktail Foundation’s 2023 Spirited Awards® Finalist: Best Bar Mentor) and Mark Talbot Holmes (founder of U’Luvka Vodka). With a mission to become the continent’s leading hospitality community gathering, AJABU connects the industry across Africa and beyond to inspire innovation, collaboration, and creativity.

Image: AJABU

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