Promotion

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Picture vs. Video: Datassential Weighs In

Picture vs. Video: Datassential Weighs In

by David Klemt

Vintage Rolleiflex camera

If you want to meet guests—both regular and new—where they are, it helps to know how they prefer to consume social media content.

However, I’m not talking about which platforms are the most popular. We’ll get to that, but I’m talking about the content itself.

It appears that two camps are emerging: Team Picture and Team Video. And yes, they appear to follow demographic delineations.

Veteran operators and front-of-house teams know the drill. It’s standard for a server to drop food off and phones to hover over dishes immediately.

Bartenders, of course, also know the routine. In fact, bartenders working behind the stick across the globe know chronically online guests will come seeking specific drinks because they’re “Instagrammable.”

Hey, I’m not above it—I’ve snapped pics at bars and restaurants known for their innovative drink presentations. The same can be said about certain dishes at particular restaurants.

But is that camera just rapid-fire snapping photos? Or is it becoming more common for the guest holding the phone to record video?

Luckily, F&B market research agency Datassential has data-driven answers to those questions.

Still Photography vs. Moving Pictures

Okay, I’ll admit that this subheading title is a bit lame. Whatever—I’m keeping it in.

At any rate, you know what I’m talking about here, pictures versus videos. Interestingly, Datassential suggests that our industry is already at least a bit behind in this debate.

As they say in their latest Foodbytes report, 2023 Food Trends, “It seems like the food industry only just figured out how to cater to the importance of photography and Instagram and now it’s all being replaced by video.”

Specifically, Datassential speaks about short-form video in this report. Essentially, the agency is saying that guests (younger generations, in particular) are “over” still or static images of F&B items.

Today, just like video killed the radio star, video is on a still photography killing spree. And as I mention above, Datassential’s data reveals about what people expect regarding this topic when it comes to age groups.

Unsurprisingly to some, Gen Z is most likely to consume video content. It follows, then, that 67 percent of this group has taken video of food at a restaurant or at home.

Next up, at 54 percent, is Millennials. Forty percent of Gen X says they’ve taken video of food at a restaurant at home. Just 18 percent of Baby Boomers have done so.

Where are People Consuming Video Content?

So, that’s the “who.” Now for the “where.”

According to Datassential, these are the top platforms for video consumption:

  1. BeReal: 11 percent
  2. TikTok Live: 25 percent
  3. Twitter video: 27 percent
  4. Snapchat video: 35 percent
  5. Instagram Reels: 38 percent
  6. TikTok: 41 percent
  7. Facebook Live: 41 percent
  8. Instagram videos: 44 percent
  9. Instagram Stories: 45 percent
  10. Facebook Stories: 48 percent
  11. YouTube: 77 percent

Does this mean you need to create content for each platform? Well, unless you somehow have the time or a digital marketing team, probably not.

Instead, you’ll want to pick the platforms that make the most sense for your brand and audience. There are also cross-posting tools that can save you time and simplify the process.

Takeaway

It’s up to individual operators to choose their social channels. The same is true for what they plan to post, photos or videos.

There’s a different consideration I want operators to keep top of mind. If video continues to dominate social, think about what could happen to dining rooms. It won’t be unusual for “influencers” to break out handheld lighting equipment to create videos. And I think we all know what that will do to the atmosphere in restaurants, bars, and lounges.

As strange as it may seem, operators may need to post signs banning flash photography and lighting for videos. Otherwise, the guest experience will diminish. Who pays the price for that negatively impacted experience? Not the influencer; the operator takes the hit in their reviews and traffic.

If video is here to stay, operators need to observe their dining rooms and adjust accordingly. That doesn’t just mean crafting video-worthy interiors and menu items. Now, it also means protecting the guest experience.

Image: Alexander Andrews on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality, Intro to Garnishes

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Program for Unique Holidays: January 2023

Program for Unique Holidays: January 2023

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

Do you want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Change how you think about holiday promotions.

Several holidays are set against every date on the calendar, and January is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to esoteric.

Pay attention to the “weird” or unique holidays to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing? Why program only around the same holidays as everyone else?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, strange or otherwise. Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

You’ll find suggestions for promotions below. However, the idea behind our monthly holiday promotions roundup is to inspire you and your team to get creative and come up with unique programming ideas.

For our December 2022 holidays list, click here.

January 5: National Whipped Cream Day

There’s a ton you can do with whipped cream when it comes to your F&B. From garnishing shots to piling it on desserts, whipped cream is just a fun time.

This is also the perfect holiday for party spots to offer Whipshots or feature whipped cream-flavored vodkas.

January 6: National Technology Day

There are several ways to approach programming for this day. To focus on one, this would be a great day to highlight your cool bar tech. One item that comes to mind is the Ripple Maker.

For those unfamiliar, this is a device that prints images on top of frothy or foamy drinks via food-safe media. Ripple’s next-gen device, the Ripple Maker Pro II, is available now.

January 7: Old Rock Day

The purpose of this holiday is to celebrate the planet. Earth is an “old rock,” after all. Two programming ideas that come to mind are: celebrating classic rock; showcasing spirits that have been on the market for decades (or even centuries).

January 10: National Cut Your Energy Costs Day

By now we all know that sustainability and responsible business practices matter to many guests. National Cut Your Energy Costs Day is a great time highlight your own eco-friendly policies, potentially raising money for “green” causes.

January 11: Learn Your Name in Morse Code Day

If you want to have some fun with your guests, print an LTO menu with F&B item names in Morse code. Include descriptions that aren’t in Morse code that give guests an idea of what to expect from each item.

There are several Morse code translators online, like this one.

January 17: National Bootlegger’s Day

This is the holiday to celebrate brands or cocktails that:

  • survived prohibition;
  • were created during prohibition; or
  • produce or feature moonshine.

January 20: Penguin Awareness Day

Are you aware of penguins? You’re not? That’s odd.

Anyway, there’s an almost startling amount of cocktails with “penguin” in their name. So, why not create an LTO menu of “penguin” cocktails? Bonus points if some proceeds can go to a penguin-focused charity.

January 21: Squirrel Appreciation Day

Do you appreciate squirrels? Well, you should—it’s believed they plant three billion oak trees every year.

Now, I bet you can guess what I’m going to suggest: celebrating the classic Pink Squirrel. And why not? It has been around since the 1940s and is an icon, after all. If you really want to go all out, slap some foods into a Jell-O mould and get crazy.

January 29: National Puzzle Day

As with other holidays, there are a few ways to celebrate National Puzzle Day. You can provide guests some small puzzles to keep them busy (and keep them at your restaurant or bar for longer). Alternatively, get your hands on a very challenging puzzle, set it up on a card table, and encourage guests to work on it together. Or even ask guests to bring in their own puzzles.

January 31: National Backward Day

Programming for this holiday can be as simple as printing your menu backwards. Of course, you can also get much more immersive—it’s all in the details and recognizing opportunities to help guests walk away with memories.

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: Nov. 2022

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: November 2022

by David Klemt

Stay Weird neon sign with purple background

Want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Then commit to keeping it weird.

Several “holidays” are set against every date on the calendar, and November is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream (Thanksgiving, anyone?) to “weird.”

Pay attention to the latter to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, weird or otherwise. And this month’s list in no way includes every odd holiday.

Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

For October’s list, click here.

November 4: National Candy Day

So, you would think we’d celebrate National Candy Day on Halloween, what with all the trick or treating. But no, we celebrate candy the first week of November.

This could be an excellent day to move any candy-themed menu items that may have somehow survived your Halloween programming. Or, hey, lean into it and garnish a number of cocktails with candy.

November 6: National Nachos Day

I know, I know—nachos aren’t weird. No, they’re one of the most fantastic foods on the planet. In fact, one could argue they’re among the culinary pinnacles of human achievement.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t get a little weird and creative with nachos. Think outside the box (or platter), get with your back-of-house team, and come up with a unique nacho plating or two.

November 8: National Tongue Twister Day

There are a few ways to approach this holiday: create an LTO menu with tongue-twister descriptions; give menu items tongue-twister names; theme some drinks to well-known tongue twisters; or hold a tongue twister contest. Here’s one to get you started:

“Betty Botter bought some butter / But she said the butter’s bitter / If I put it in my batter, it will make my batter bitter / But a bit of better butter will make my batter better / So ‘twas better Betty Botter bought a bit of better butter.” Good luck.

November 12: National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day

I’m including this because I like how oddly specific this holiday is. No thanks to the humble anchovy, apparently!

November 15: National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day

Okay, so I’m not sure I’d actually call this holiday Clean Out Your Fridge Day. Instead, consider creating and adding a specific promotion to your programming repertoire.

For example, if you’re a wine bar, consider using this day to move open but unfinished bottles of still and sparkling wine before they oxidize or go flat. I’m not a fan of operators discounting menu items but in this case, doing so is better than the alternative. This can be done once per week, twice per month, once per month, etc.

November 17: Use Less Stuff Day

This is an excellent holiday to commit to a couple different operational changes. One, do whatever is practical to reduce the waste your restaurant, bar, nightclub, or hotel generates. Two, consider reviewing your menu and simplifying where you can.

November 20: National Absurdity Day

I mean…does any day scream “WEIRD HOLIDAY!” more than National Absurdity Day? The sky’s the limit here: get as weird, wacky, and creative as you can in a way that’s authentic to your brand and market.

November 24: Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day

Have a talented team? Boast a group of talented regulars? Encourage them to show off their unique skills talent show style, offering prizes and capturing your event via social media.

November 25: Blasé Day

The holiday season is stressful. It’s go, go, go, family, family, family, friends friends, friends, for several weeks. So, create a “lazy” promotion that provides your guests with a calm escape from their holiday stress. Be the oasis they need as the year closes out.

November 30: National Mason Jar Day

Ah, the mason jar. Its wide mouth and fit in most people’s hands is both rustic and comforting. They’re also perfect for a wide array of garnishes. In fact, consider serving over-the-top Bloody Maries in your mason jars…or moonshine cocktails…or beer cocktails… just great cocktails.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Possess this Scary Spirit for Halloween

Possess this Scary Spirit for Halloween

by David Klemt

Harridan Vodka Paranormal Reserve hero

If you truly want to imbue your cocktails and the guest experience with the otherworldly this Halloween, you need this spirit.

In fact, this bottle likely contains the most “spirit” forward spirit one can possess. It’s also one of the rarest. Oh, and it took a rest for 30 days inside the Occult Museum.

On October 13, Harridan Vodka will launch their Paranormal Reserve officially. And if you’re after a true small-batch vodka, you’ll want to keep an eye the Paranormal Reserve countdown timer.

This is your opportunity to create and host a frighteningly unique Halloween LTO promotion.

Conjuring the Halloween Spirit

Does the Occult Museum sound familiar to you? If so, you’re likely a horror film fan or into the supernatural.

For those who don’t know, the Occult Museum was started in 1952 by Ed and Lorraine Warren. The two paranormal investigators collected a vast array of artifacts that they claimed came into contact with evil.

One of these objects is Annabelle, a cursed Raggedy Ann doll. According to lore, the doll is so dangerous it’s kept inside its own glass case. A sign attached to the case reads, “Warning, Positively Do Not Open.”

So, what could possibly be frightening about a Raggedy Ann doll? Well, this one is said to have an interesting “attachment.” That is, a demon in search of a human host that has attached itself to the doll.

To keep the demon from achieving its goal—which it reportedly began pursuing in 1970—Annabelle’s case has been blessed. The case has inscriptions of the Lord’s Prayer and Saint Michael’s Prayer. Also, it’s said that Ed Warren would recite a binding prayer over the case from time to time to ensure the demon couldn’t escape.

Supposedly, Annabelle nearly killed a priest who mocked it when he visited the Occult Museum to scrutinize the Warren’s claims of its demonic possession.

This story and more are told in The Conjuring movie series. In particular, Annabelle, Annabelle: Creation, and Annabelle Comes Home. Given that it’s October, it’s the perfect time to watch the first installment and doll-focused movies of The Conjuring universe.

In fact, this would be the month to design a promotion around The Conjuring watch parties with themed LTO cocktails.

A Frightful Rest

Okay, so I can already hear some of you asking what this has to do with Harridan Vodka. Well, calm down—I’m getting to it.

The Warren Occult Museum, located in Monroe, Connecticut, closed to the public in 2019. In other words, if you didn’t get to visit prior to its closure, you’ll most likely never have the chance to see Annabelle or the other occult artifacts contained within.

But you can purchase a bottle of 44-percent ABV vodka that rested for 30 days inside the Occult Museum: Harridan Vodka Paranormal Reserve.

Just 666 bottles are available, and 665 took their 30-day slumber right next to Annabelle. These bottles will retail for $199 on Thursday, October 13.

 

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A post shared by Harridan Vodka (@harridanvodka)

Obviously, that leaves one bottle we need to address. Bottle number 666 was rested inside Annabelle’s case. And while the other 665 bottles are housed inside black Ouija-themed boxes, number 666 is contained within a glass case similar to Annabelle’s.

Of course, this unique bottle comes with an appropriately otherworldly price tag: $13,000. And, hey, the person who makes this bank-balance-slashing purchase might just be in possession of the world’s only vodka infused with evil.

If you’re one of the few who manage to get their hands on these Occult Museum-rested Harridan Vodka bottles, it’s fair to say you can name your price for the opportunity for guests to buy an ounce.

Happy Halloween, ya filthy animals!

Images: Harridan Vodka

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

7 Days Until Old Fashioned Week!

7 Days Until Elijah Craig Old Fashioned Week!

by David Klemt

Old Fashioned cocktail on table

In just seven days operators, their front-of-house teams and guests will have the opportunity to participate in Elijah Craig Old Fashioned Week.

Those who choose to join in on the fun will help generate funds for crucial cause. Further, participation means joining forces with some revered heavy hitters in the industry.

For example, Broken Shaker’s Chicago and Miami locations are taking part, as is Cure in New Orleans. Birdie G’s in Los Angeles, the Denver outpost of Death & Co., and Houston’s Julep are also participating. And then there’s LA Jackson from Nashville, the legendary Leyenda in Brooklyn, DC’s Silver Lyan, and Philly’s R&D all joining the cause.

A Great Cause

As stated, this is more than a cocktail promotion. Elijah Craig Old Fashioned Week supports an important cause and fantastic organization.

The cause is providing F&B professionals who are struggling with financial assistance, and the aide comes from the Southern Smoke Foundation.

Since 2015, Southern Smoke has been dedicated to raising funds to help individuals in the F&B space. The non-profit organization strives to help our industry peers in need persevere through crises.

From raising funds for the MS Society, establishing the Emergency Relief Fund, and providing free mental healthcare, Southern Smoke consistently proves themselves a trustworthy industry partner. By 2021, Southern Smoke had donated more than $5 million in financial aid to industry workers affected by Covid-19.

Take Part

Elijah Craig, the storied small-batch bourbon and rye producer in the Heaven Hill Distillery portfolio, makes participating simple and fun.

Unsurprisingly, we at KRG Hospitality love an activation and promotion that’s easy to execute and fun for everyone in the building. This year, Elijah Craig Old Fashioned Week takes place from October 14 through October 23.

To help raise money for Southern Smoke’s crisis management mission, encourage your bar team and guests to post pictures of their Old Fashioneds to social media. All one has to do is include tag @ElijahCraig and the hashtag #OldFashioned Week. Elijah Craig will take it from there, donating $5 for every post up to $100,000.

I’m confident that over the course of ten days we can all come together and flood social media with 20,000 images of delicious, well-crafted Old Fashioneds.

To learn more about last year’s Old Fashioned week, listen to Bar Hacks episode 52. Our very special guest on this episode is Lynn House, the 2022 Best US Brand Ambassador Spirited Award winner.

Get Creative

Now, I’d normally include the particular drink recipe here but I think—I believe—we all know how to make an Old Fashioned by now. So, I’m going to encourage all participating operators and their bar teams to create a small, signature Old Fashioned LTO menu or Elijah Craig Old Fashioned Week.

Also, to get those creative juices flowing, here’s the recipe for the Elijah Craig Rosemary Old Fashioned:

  • Craft rosemary cinnamon syrup by combining 1 cup of water with 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 rosemary sprigs, and 1 medium navel orange in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, add one cup of Demerara sugar and stir until it dissolves. Strain into a clean, sanitized bottle.
  • Combine 2.5 oz. of Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, a half-ounce of housemade rosemary cinnamon syrup, and three dashes of orange bitters in a mixing glass with ice.
  • Stir and strain into rocks glass over a large ice cube, then garnish with a Maraschino cherry on a rosemary-sprig skewer. If you so choose, light the sprig on fire for a moment to generate some rosemary smoke.

Image: CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Pumpkin Spice Season Descends Upon Us

Pumpkin Spice Season Descends Upon Us

by David Klemt

Jack o' lantern and smoke

Once again, the unstoppable march of the spooky season is upon us, bringing with it a frightening assortment of pumpkin spice items and expectations.

In the blink of an eye, hordes will descend on your restaurant or bar. “Pumpkin spiiiiiice,” they’ll croak.

Okay, so that’s overly dramatic. For the most part, pumpkin spice season is anything but scary. And really, very few people will transform into singularly focused pumpkin spice zombies.

However, fall is nearly here. So, you do need to finalize your fall/autumn menu. Beginning in September, that really does mean considering offering at least one pumpkin spice LTO item.

Interestingly, though, pumpkin spice may not deserve its perception as the flavor of fall. According to Datassential, there are ten flavors that index high enough to give pumpkin spice a challenge for the fall throne.

What are they? Well, it just so happens that Datassential has those answers, along with a bit of useful advice.

Lord of the LTO

Recently, Datassential released “Food Industry Trend Report: 2022 Pumpkin Spice Season.” As the research firm points out, pumpkin spice seems to be encroaching on summer more each year.

How far away are we, I wonder, from pumpkin spice claiming summer for itself? Will we be subjected to pumpkin spice dry rubs at summer barbecues? Is some intrepid operator going to create a pumpkin spice lemonade?

Those terrifying questons aside, pumpkin spice season coming earlier means more opportunities to benefit from LTOs. Just as it seems that pumpkin spice is descending upon us earlier and earlier, it also seems to dominate the LTO space.

In fact, per Datassential research, major chains executed 174 pumpkin spice LTOs. Now, that’s still with a five-percent drop in menuing for pumpkin space over the past 12 months. Further, that number doesn’t include small, regional chains and independents who also launched pumpkin spice LTOs.

Of course, there are also other fall flavors that deserve a place on operators’ menus. And they’re perfectly cromulent as LTO drivers.

Fall Flavor Favorites

To inspire operators to create LTOs that entice consumers this fall, Datassential has identitied ten flavors on which to focus. Helpfully, they separate them into two main categories.

Top five sweet fall flavors:

  • Vietnamese cinnamon
  • Spicy ginger
  • Allspice
  • Eggnog
  • Pumpkin pie

Top five savory flavors:

  • Coconut milk
  • “Oktoberfest”
  • Mustard cream
  • Turkey gravy
  • Cranberry sauce

Personally, I can see operators and their teams needing to get creative to leverage mustard cream and turkey gravy. Interestingly, Datassential suggests a few flavors not on either list above.

According to their report, Datassential expects apple and blood orange to be popular for LTOs this year. According to the firm, apple was popular last year. When it comes to blood orange, Datassential says 38 percent of consumers like or love the flavor.

Whichever flavors you choose, Datassential has the following advice, which we co-sign: Ensure your LTOs are fresh; make sure they’re easy and quick to make; and don’t discount them. In fact, you should create premium LTOs that come with a premium price.

Image: Colton Sturgeon on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Get to Know Grenache and Garnacha

Get to Know Grenache and Garnacha

by David Klemt

Red wine on table at a restaurant

There aren’t as many wine holidays in September as there are in August but this month we celebrate International Grenache Day.

This year, International Grenacha Day falls on September 16, a Friday. That’s excellent for operators: You can lure guests in with a wine promotion to kick off their weekend.

Of course, it will help you and your front-of-house team to know about Grenache ahead of this holiday. After all, the best way to remove wine-timidation and upsell guests is by sharing interesting information.

To that end you’ll find pertinent information about Grenache that will help you and your team succeed with this red wine.

Grenache 101

Reiterating a crucial detail from above, Grenache is a red wine varietal. Additionally, it’s one of the most widely grown grapes in the world.

You’ll find vineyards growing Grenache in:

  • Spain
  • France
  • Italy
  • Australia
  • USA
  • Rumors indicate a presence in China as well.

Now, you may be more familiar with another name for this varietal: Garnacha. Interestingly, it’s also known as Garnatxa in Spain. As an aside, many experts believe that’s Grenache’s country of origin.

For the most part, Grenache is a still red. However, you can find rosé and sparkling bottles as well. Grenache (or Garnacha) also has a tendency to find its way into red wine blends. Most often this is to add body and sweeten a blend’s flavor profile. There’s also Grenache Blanc, and there are fortified wines that use Grenache for sweetness.

In short, Grenache’s defining characteristics are:

  • Medium body and acidity.
  • Medium to high ABV.
  • Lighter in color than some other reds.
  • Smoke, tobacco and herbal notes in Old World versions.
  • Candied fruit, strawberry, raspberry, and black cherry in New World versions.
  • Some people detect a note of blood orange.

Succeeding with Grenache

Now, you and I both know that it won’t be enough to just throw some Grenache or Garnacha on your menu. You’ll have to make more of an effort than than.

However, it is wise to add or otherwise bottles to your menu. Equally as smart is creating a specialty LTO menu with three to four Grenache wines by the glass. Of course, bottle purchase prices should be listed as well.

With your by-the-glass and bottle LTO done, you can move to food. As you know, guests love a pairing, particularly with wine.

Below are some of the best Grenache and Garnacha food pairings:

  • Grilled meats
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Roasted vegetables
  • Garlic and herb French fries
  • Spicy dishes
  • Goat, Emmental, Camembert, Gruyère, and Colby Jack cheeses
  • Pastas in a red sauce with cheese

So, this is an excellent holiday to wow with barbecue foods or hearty Italian dishes. Oh, and never forget the cheese on a wine holiday.

Happy International Grenache Day!

Image: Helena Lopes on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

End the Month with this Sour Cocktail

End the Month with this Sour Cocktail

by David Klemt

Sour cocktail on table in high-end bar

End the month of August with a promotion focusing on one of the most popular members of the iconic sour cocktail family.

As I’ve been saying in several of this month’s articles, August is full of bar holidays. This month we celebrate Albariño, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Prosecco. And that’s just the wine holidays, which also include National White Wine Day and National Red Wine Day.

Additionally, National Rum Day and Mai Tai Day in August. Apparently, however, eight bar holidays just isn’t enough. And that’s awesome.

You see, we have another bar holiday to celebrate this month. National Whiskey Sour Day takes place on Thursday, August 25.

The Sour Family

Family, category, type… There are several ways to distinguish groups of cocktails.

And depending on your source preference, there are either a handful of families or at least twenty. Hey, why make things easy when we can obsess over minutiae and argue with our peers?

One of the most popular lists of families comes from Gary “Gaz” Regan, an icon in his own right. Sadly, he died on November 15, 2019. Regan’s 2003 book Joy of Mixology identifies “sours” amongst 19 other families.

In 1862, Jerry Thomas included several sours in his book The Bar-Tenders Guide. (a.k.a. How to Mix Drinks). You’ll find the Brandy Sour, Gin Sour, Santa Cruz Sour, and Whiskey SOur. However, a cocktail need not include “Sour” in its name to be part of this cocktail family.

Consider the characteristics of a sour: a base spirit, lemon or lime juice, and a sweetener. In some cases, also egg whites.

So, those defining elements place the Collins, Daiquiri, Margarita, French 75, Gimlet, Mojito, Paloma, Rickey, Sidecar, and Southside in the sour family. However, some would place the members of this group that call for a carbonated element into either the Champagne or so-called “sparkling sour” family.

Now, if you really want to get pedantic, the Whiskey Sour could be a member of the Punch family as well.

The Whiskey Sour

So, does it surprise you to learn that we don’t know the exact origin of the Whiskey Sour? As in, we don’t know precisely who to credit for creating this classic?

Well, it shouldn’t, as cocktail history is quite often murky and mysterious at best.

However, we know that the first appearance of the Whiskey Sour recipe is from Jerry Thomas’ The Bar-Tenders Guide. So, that means the cocktail was known in 1862.

Yet, it’s believed that this recipe was known for at least a hundred years prior. Interestingly, one can argue that the Whiskey Sour is sibling to Grog. In the 1700s, British Vice-Admiral Edward Vernon commanded captains to allow sailors to purchase sugar and limes to make their watered down rum rations taste better.

Hey, sounds like a base spirit, lemon or lime juice, and sweetener to me.

Alright, that’s enough history for you to share with your guests. To celebrate National Whiskey Sour Day, create a handful of LTOs. This can be as easy as offering a Whiskey Sour menu featuring an array of bourbons or other whiskeys. Additionally, you can menu a signature Whiskey Sour and have variants such as the New York Sour or Penicillin accompany it.

Also, if your local legislature permits the discounting of alcohols, you can offer a discount on Whiskey Sours. For food pairings, consider barbecue pork dishes, Cheddar cheese, or brie.

“Gaz” Regan’s Cocktail Families

For the curious, below is the list of cocktail families according to “Gaz” Regan, in alphabetical order:

  1. Beer- and Cider-based
  2. Bottled
  3. Champagne
  4. Cobblers
  5. Duos and Trios
  6. French-Italian
  7. Frozen
  8. Highballs
  9. Hot
  10. Infusions
  11. Jelly Shots
  12. Juleps
  13. Milanese
  14. Muddled
  15. Orphans
  16. Pousse-cafes
  17. Punches
  18. Snappers
  19. Sours
  20. Tropical

Image: Ambitious Creative Co. – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Celebrate Two August Bar Holidays with Rum

Celebrate Two August Bar Holidays with Rum

by David Klemt

Rum and Coke cocktail

If you and your team have a commitment to programming and promotions, you have to love all the bar holidays available to you in August.

Not only are there six wine holidays in August, there are two holidays that call for rum. In fact, August is National Rum Month.

On August 16 you have the opportunity to program for National Rum Day. Obviously, rum is a legendary spirit with loads of history. So, you’ll want to honor it correctly—get creative and pull out all the stops.

Of course, one excellent way to celebrate rum is with famous perfect builds of classic rum cocktails. One of these classics is the iconic Mai Tai. Oh, yeah—that’s the other rum holiday in August!

After you program for Tuesday, August 16, prepare for Mai Tai Day on Tuesday, August 30.

June 30 is NOT Mai Tai Day

Now, if you Google “National Mai Tai Day” or “Mai Tai Day,” you’ll get an interesting result. You’ll see that some say National Mai Tai Day is June 30.

Well, Trader Vic’s says that’s absolutely not the case. In fact, a proclamation from the City of Oakland declares August 30 is Mai Tai Day.

On August 30, 2009, at-large councilmember Rebecca Kaplan made it official.

But why, I hear you asking (maybe, possibly), should we take Kaplan’s word for it? For me, it’s because Trader Vic’s themselves confirm that August 30 is “the real” Mai Tai Day.

Okay, but why should we take Trader Vic’s word for it? Because Trader Vic himself is the inventor of the Mai Tai.

Fact not Fiction

As I often point out when diving into cocktail history, much of what we “know” about certain drinks is lore. Either we simply can’t be 100-percent certain about a cocktail’s origins or multiple people are given the credit.

I mean, in some cases multiple people take the credit (and the glory) for themselves.

However, that’s not the case with the legendary Mai Tai. We know that Victor J. “Trader Vic” Bergeron is the classic cocktail’s creator.

Getting inspiration from traveling and operator peer Donn “Don the Beachcomber” Beach, Bergeron transformed his bar Hinky Dink into Trader Vic’s.

So, what do many (most, if we’re honest) operators like to do when they open or rebrand their business? Come up with a signature drink or dish.

In the case of Trader Vic’s, the Mai Tai was born.

The Real Mai Tai

Interestingly—perhaps sadly—the Mai Tai is often the subject of “mistreatment.” In part, we can blame Trader Vic for this.

Now, before you break out your pitchfork, I’m not vilifying Trader Vic. However, he did refuse to share his Mai Tai recipe with others. Author Wayne Curtis explains that this secrecy is “why we have so many bad Mai Tais with pineapple juice and other hideous additions.”

Those hideous additions? Juices, an array of rum styles, floats, garnishes beyond a lime shell and mint sprig… It’s likely you’ve never seen consistency in Mai Tai builds.

As Trader Vic himself tells it: “I took down a bottle of 17-year old rum. It was J. Wray & Nephew rum from Jamaica—surprisingly golden in color, medium bodied but with the rich pungent flavor particular to the Jamaican blends.”

So, that dispels the notion that you use a light rum and a dark rum to build a Mai Tai. He also only added orgeat, orange curaçao, rock candy syrup (the recipe calls for demerara simple), and fresh lime juice.

To be fair, it’s said that the popularity of the Mai Tai forced the J. Wray & Nephew rum (almost) to “extinction.” Rumor has it that original bottles can command auction prices of $50,000 or more.

Trader Vic’s Original Mai Tai Recipe

A lot of us like to put our spin on things. However, there’s an official recipe from the official creator of the Mai Tai.

So, let’s honor Trader Vic and his iconic creation. Below is the recipe that most closely follows the Trader Vic’s spec. Obviously, nobody expects you to track down a $50,000 bottle of rum to follow the original with ruthless precision.

  • 1 oz. Light rum
  • 1 oz. Dark rum
  • Fresh lime juice (keep half of the squeezed lime’s shell)
  • 0.5 oz. Orange curaçao
  • 0.25 oz. Orgeat
  • 0.25 oz. Simple syrup
  • Fresh Mint Sprig
  • 1 cup Crushed ice

Add crushed ice to a shaker. Some bartenders also add some ice cubes. Next, add the liquid ingredients, and shake. Pour—without straining—into a double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with the lime shell and mint spring. That’s right—the original recipe doesn’t call for a pineapple wedge or cherry.

Image: Blake Wisz on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

August: Attack of the Wine Holidays

August: Attack of the Wine Holidays

by David Klemt

"Life's too short to drink bad wine" cork

August doesn’t claim just one or two or even three wine holidays, there are actually six such holidays during this month.

Kicking off August are International Albariño Day and National White Wine Day. Obviously, those days have come and gone.

However, there are still four more wine holidays you can leverage:

  • National Prosecco Day on Saturday, August 13;
  • Thursday, August 18 is National Pinot Noir Day;
  • National Red Wine Day takes place on Sunday, August 28; and
  • Monday, August 29 is International Cabernet Sauvignon Day.

So, that’s just over two weeks to draw in guests, move some inventory, and generate revenue. Below you’ll find crash courses in three varietals so you and your team can speak with guests in a way that reduces or outright eliminates wine intimidation.

As a cool bit of trivia, two of the varietals we celebrate this month are among the six “original” Noble Grapes: Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. The other four, for the curious, are Merlot, Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.

Prosecco 101

First, yes, like Champagne, Prosecco is a sparkling wine. However, despite all the comparisons made between Prosecco and Champagne, the bubbles and production methods are just about the only similiarities between the two.

Champagne, of course, is French. Prosecco hails from Italy and is the country’s top sparkling wine. Like Champagne, Prosecco is protected and must be produced in a specific region.

To be Prosecco, the wine must consist of 85 percent Glera. There are two other grapes producers may use: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Until recently, Prosecco (a.k.a. as you now know, Glera) has been treated as “lesser than” Champagne, commanding much lower prices. However, producers are now making bottles that range from inexpensive to higher end. In fact, you’ll find Prosecco holding its own against its French counterpart on many fine-dining menus.

To impress with Prosecco food pairings, go with cheese, cured meats, and pizza. Pizza and Prosecco? You can’t go wrong there!

Pinot Noir 101

Given that Pinot Noir finds itself in blends, Champagne, Prosecco, and other sparkling wine, you can get creative when celebrating National Pinot Noir Day.

For American operators, two of the top Pinot Noir-producing states are California and Oregon.

In Oregon, Willamette (rhymes with “damn it”) Valley produces incredible Pinot Noir. When it comes to California, look for bottles from Russian Rivery Valley, Sonoma, and the Saint Lucia Highlands.

For Canada, the top production regions are Ontario, British Columbia, Québec, and Nova Scotia. In particular, look for bottles from Prince Edward County, the Niagara Peninsula, and Okanagan County.

Generally speaking, Pinot Noir tends to be light or medium in body. So, if conducting a tasting, you may want to taste people on Pinot Noir before bolder red wines.

When it comes to food pairings, remember that this is a more “delicate” varietal. So, you’ll want to avoid dishes and food items with big, bold, rich flavors. This is a wine that pairs wonderfully with a variety of cheeses.

Cabernet Sauvignon 101

Ah, Cab Sauv. For both America and Canada, Cabernet Sauvignon is among the most popular varietals. It’s so popular in the US that it’s called the King of Grapes.

As you likely can guess, California is the top Cab Sauv-producing state in America. In particular, Napa Valley is known for world-class Cabs.

While most people think of California, Bordeaux, and Tuscany, Canada also produces fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon. Interestingly, the grape grows well (as do many varietals we associate with Bordeaux) throughout Canada.

However, Prince Edward County and the Niagara Peninsula are two of the best regions for Canadian Cab Sauv.

A bigger and bolder wine than Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon pairs well with rich, bold foods. If it’s grilled, smoky, peppery or otherwise assertive, Cab Sauv will likely play well with it.

So, there you have it. Two weeks of wine holidays for you to showcase your wine inventory and pairing skills. Cheers!

Image: D A V I D S O N L U N A on Unsplash

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