Whisky

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

7 Awesome Whiskey Podcasts

7 Awesome Whiskey Podcasts

by David Klemt

Gold microphone and headphones

Our National Bourbon Heritage Month celebration and inspiration continues with a roundup of seven of the best whiskey podcasts.

Of course we want you to listen to Bar Hacks for education, inspiration, and entertainment. However, we know it isn’t the only podcast you listen to.

Below you’ll find several whiskey-centric podcasts. These are absolutely some of the best podcasts out there if you’re seeking bourbon and whiskey knowledge.

So, after you catch up to your Bar Hacks listening, work the shows below into your rotation.

Cheers!

Whiskey Lore

As regular KRG Hospitality readers and newsletter subscribers know, we love diving into history and myths. When we’re researching a spirit, cocktail, or other beverage, we tend to find more fiction than fact. Of course, the facts are also just as interesting to us, so it’s a win-win for us and you.

So, it makes sense then that we’re kicking things off with Whiskey Lore. We love the rich and compelling stories that weave the intricate story of our industry. As it turns out, so does the Whiskey Lore podcast. Currently, the podcast is digging into the history and lore of Irish whiskey.

Latest episode: Irish Whiskey Pt. 5: The Lore of the River Boyne; Marrowbone Lane; Finding Old Irish Pure Pot Still

Bourbon & Banter

Honestly, I don’t know that I can describe the Bourbon & Banter podcast any better than the minds behind the show:

“Are you seeking a bourbon podcast that will educate and entertain you without the extra bloat associated with kissing a brand’s ass in search of advertising revenue or free samples? If so, welcome home my friend… In all seriousness though, give us a listen and you’ll find that we’re honest to a fault. You won’t find us pulling any punches when it comes to new bourbon reviews or when we explore the latest industry news and consumer trends.”

Latest episode: The Doctor is In – Bourbon & Banter Podcast Special Episode

The Fred Minnick Show

If you’re a whiskey lover and don’t know the name Fred Minnick, I would find that shocking. While not always a straight-up whiskey-only podcast, the Fred Minnick Show format is compelling. Rather than focus solely on reviewing whiskey, whiskey news, and interviews with industry experts, Fred also chats with guests about a wide range of topics.

Latest episode: What’s Up With Tom Brady? NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo Returns to Talk Quarterbacks | Russell’s Reserve 6 Year

WhiskyCast

The WhiskyCast podcast has been going strong since 2005. That makes this the world’s longest-running whiskey podcast. With 17 years’ worth of podcast goodness to listen to, you’ll never be without something whisky-focused to listen to and learn from. Their most current episoide is number 966, which is just staggeringly impressive.

Latest episode: Brother’s Bond: A Bourbon “Bromance”

Bourbon Lens

With nearly 200 episodes available, Bourbon Lens is delving deep into everything bourbon. However, they also discuss other types of whiskey through conversations with founders, blenders, and other industry experts. This is a must-listen podcast for whiskey lovers.

Latest episode: Off Hours with Bourbon Lens Episode 10: Sam Montgomery from Bardstown Bourbon Co.

Bourbon Pursuit

According to the show itself, Bourbon Pursuit is “the official podcast of bourbon.” With episodes going live every few days you’ll never be without something to listen to with this podcast. Bourbon news, bourbon reviews, bourbon interviews… Bourbon Pursuit may truly be the official pod of bourbon.

Latest episode: TWiB: Kentucky Bourbon Benefit Raises $1.4M, Little Book Series Launches “To The Finish”, Four Roses 2022 Limited Edition Small Batch

Dads Drinking Bourbon

The hosts of Dads Drinking Bourbon want you to #rethinkhowyoudrink. With this podcast you’ll get to hear blind tastings, side-by-side reviews, and interviews with people in the industry. While the hosts don’t claim to be experts, they do an excellent job providing listeners with useful information. As they say themselves, “At the end of the day, we know you just want to know if the whiskey is worth spending any money on.” Also, congratulations to the Dads Drinking Bourbon team on their 400th episode!

Latest episode: Review: IT’S OUR 400TH EPISODE! And we drink Barrell Batch 33

Image: Andrzej Nowak from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

6 Bar Hacks Bourbon Episodes

6 Bar Hacks Bourbon Episodes

by David Klemt

Gold microphone and laptop

We have the honor of speaking with some of the best and most engaging people in the hospitality, foodservice, and drinks industries on the Bar Hacks podcast.

Several of our amazing guests have come on to talk about one of our favorite spirits: bourbon. To celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month we’ve rounded up most bourbon-focused Bar Hacks episodes.

Cheers!

Episode 25

One of our favorite people in the industry—and in life in general—popped by to speak with Bar Hacks. Megan Breier is one of the most engaging, entertaining and knowledgeable educators in the hospitality and spirits industries.

In this episode, Megan explains what sets Maker’s Mark apart from other bourbons, some of the amazing activations she’s executed, Private Selection, Maker’s 101, Margie Samuels’ contributions to the brand and industry, and more. Listen now!

Episode 28

Lyre’s Spirits crafts alcohol-free spirits that masterfully mimic their full-proof counterparts. Bar Hacks co-host David Klemt sits down with Lyre’s brand ambassador, bartender and buddy Tim Rita to chat about the brand.

On episode 28 you’ll learn about one of the fastest-growing brands in one of the fastest-growing beverage categories. How is an alcohol-free brand relevant on World Whisky Day? Lyre’s makes American Malt, a zero-proof take on bourbon.

Episode 32

One of the most iconic bourbon producers is undoubtedly Woodford Reserve. So, when we were given the opportunity to speak with Woodford Reserve brand ambassador Michael Toscano we leapt at the chance.

Michael stops by to talk about the Kentucky Derby, crafting the perfect Mint Julep, maximizing the operator-brand-rep relationship, and more. Check it out now!

Episode 39

Anthony “Terry” Bohlinger, national brand ambassador for new William Grant & Sons whiskey brand Fistful of Bourbon, drops by Bar Hacks. Terry talks about launching a brand during a pandemic, representing an irreverent brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, the hilarious videos Fistful of Bourbon created to introduce the brand, lessons learned during his journey in hospitality, and more. Listen here!

Episode 52

Lynn House, national spirits specialist and portfolio mixologist for Heaven Hill, drops by Bar Hacks to speak with host David Klemt about the second annual Old Fashioned Week.

Lynn and David also discuss bourbon, rye, hospitality, building balanced cocktails, and how trust plays a role in educating guests so you and your team can introduce them to new drinks and experiences. Listen now!

Episode 59

Whiskey expert, spirits judge, and sommelier Theo Rutherford stops by the Bar Hacks podcast to talk about Bib & Tucker Small Batch Bourbon, a prominent addition to the Deutsch Family of wine and spirits. Rutherford shares the Bib & Tucker brand story, what sets the brand apart from other bourbons, and why the 6 Year expression appeals to all categories of whiskey drinkers. He also shares tips for tasting bourbon, including how easily Bib & Tucker wins over non-whiskey drinkers.

Listen now to learn why Theo wants you to smell everything and stop swirling your whiskey at tastings.

Image: Seej Nguyen on Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

KRG Hospitality’s Top Bourbon Articles

KRG Hospitality’s Top Bourbon Articles

by David Klemt

Glass of bourbon whiskey next to fire

To inspire and help you program for National Bourbon Heritage Month, enjoy this roundup of our top bourbon articles.

For bourbon lovers specifically and those who appreciate whiskey in general, this is an exciting month. You can leverage that excitement throughout the month of September.

From limited time offers to pour specials and offering guests to try new bottles, National Bourbon Heritage Month is perfect for becoming a person’s go-to bourbon bar. Our resources below will help you achieve that status.

Cheers!

9 Bottles for Bourbon Heritage Month

Nine awesome bottles in three separate pricing categories. Here you’ll find bottles that retail for less than $25, several under $100, and a few that cost up to $150. Click here to read.

The 30 Days of Bourbon Challenge

In 2011, bourbon devotee and advocate Patrick Garrett founded Bourbon & Banter “to spread the Bourbon Gospel.” One way they accomplish this mission is through 30 Days of Bourbon. This challenge is simple but intriguing: Try a different bourbon every day in September. Click here to learn more.

National Bourbon Day: 2022 Trends

The history and heritage of bourbon is important. As America’s native spirit, bourbon’s history is particularly important to the nation. However, innovation and trends are crucial to the future of bourbon. In this article we examine four important 2022 bourbon trends. Click here to read.

7 Whiskeys for National Bourbon Day

Before we celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month each year we celebrate National Bourbon Day. It’s always fun to see what new and exciting bottles are available, like these seven bottles from 2021. Click here.

8 Bottles for Bourbon Day

Of course, we’re celebrating National Bourbon Heritage Month 2022 this year. So, here are eight bottles worth checking out and adding to your inventory. Click here to review these bottles.

8 Bourbon Cocktails You Need to Know

Contrary to what some purists will tell you (whether you ask them or not), bourbon is great in a cocktail. From the ubiqutious Old Fashioned to the modern classic Billionaire, this article dives into eight bourbon cocktails you and your bar team need to know. And, of course, they’re perfect for National Bourbon Heritage Month limited time only menu. Click here to learn more.

7 Great Books About Bourbon

Sure, it’s awesome to enjoy a bourbon with friends. But what about pouring a dram of your favorite bourbon while reading about bourbon? Grab one or more of these books, pair them with a beautiful bourbon, and start expanding your whiskey knowledge today. Click here for our book recommendations.

Rabbit Hole Resources: Bourbon 101

When it comes to learning about a particular spirit, those producing them tend to know the most. So, seeking education straight from the source is a smart move. Rabbit Hole is creating, curating, and growing free bourbon resources. Have a question? They’ve got the answers, and then some. Click here.

Image: Thomas Park on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Blasphemy! National Scotch Day Cocktails

Blasphemy! National Scotch Day Cocktails

by David Klemt

Craft cocktail in upscale bar

Psst! Don’t tell the purists but this article encourages the adulteration of Scotch by combining it with other ingredients to make *gasp!* cocktails.

Now, I jest…mostly. To be fair, I don’t often encounter purists who scoff or outright lost their minds if someone doesn’t enjoy their favorite spirit neat. However, it does happen every now and again. Seriously, it shouldn’t really matter how someone decides to order and enjoy their drinks. Want to order Johnnie Walker Blue Label with soda? Go for it.

So, below you’ll find cocktails rather than bottles for National Scotch Day. Sure, you can contact your reps, incur costs, and bring in some boast-worthy bottles. However, you can also spotlight what you already have on hand with revenue-generating Scotch cocktails.

No, you won’t find Scoch & Soda or the Rusty Nail among the recipes below. I would hope you and your bar team already have those down since they’re essentially two-ingredient drinks.

Also, I’ll award bonus points to anyone who locks eyes with a Scotch snob as they gulp down a Glenmorangie Signet Penicillin. Sure, that’s petty of me; it’s also fun. What are the bonus points good for? Hey, why are you asking so many questions?

A quick note: If you’d rather go with food on this holiday, check out our Scotch and cheese pairing article.

Penicillin

So, I’m going to start with my personal favorite Scotch cocktail. If you’re a KRG Hospitality regular, you already know this is one of my favorite drinks in general.

This is a modern-day classic—the Penicillin dates all the way back to the early 2000s. Operator, bartender, and cocktail creator calls for two types of Scotch to make this delectable drink.

  • 2 oz. Blended Scotch
  • 0.75 oz. Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 0.75 oz. Honey-ginger syrup (1 cup honey, 1 cup water, 1 6-inch bit of peeled and thin-sliced ginger)
  • 0.25 oz. Peaty Islay Scotch to float
  • Candied ginger to garnish

Prepare a rocks glass with ice. Add first three ingredients to a shaker with ice, and shake until well chilled. Strain into the rocks glass and float Islay Scotch on top. Then, garnish and present.

For the syrup: Combine syrup ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil. Reduce, simmer for five minutes, and set aside overnight in refrigerator. The next day, strain through cheesecloth.

Rob Roy

If you want to be flippant about it, the Rob Roy is a Scotch Manhattan. Of course, it’s easy to make that argument as cocktail historians believe the Rob Roy is an homage. At any rate, both are true classics, dating back to the late 1800s.

One of the fun elements of the Rob Roy is creating a signature version. Obviously, the Scotch and vermouth selection will impact the flavors of this drink. So, come up with a combination all your own to make this one of your bar’s specialties.

  • 2 oz. Scotch
  • 0.75 oz. Vermouth (equal parts sweet and dry vermouths to make a Perfect Rob Roy)
  • 0.75 oz. Angostura Bitters
  • Brandied cherries to garnish

You’ll want to ensure you have chilled cocktail or Nick & Nora glasses on hand before starting this build. Combine the first three ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir unti well chilled and strain into chilled glass. Spear cherries, garnish, and serve.

Bobby Burns

Interestingly, some believe this cocktail is a riff on the Rob Roy. So, why not have Rob and Bobby on your National Scotch Day drink menu?

Now, the drinks are similar, but the flavor profiles are vastly different. After all, the ratio of Scotch to vermouth is 1:1, and the recipe uses Bénédictine rather than bitters.

  • 1 oz. Blended Scotch (supposedly, this should be at least 12 years old)
  • 1 oz. Sweet vermouth
  • 0.5 oz. Bénédictine
  • Lemon peel to garnish

Of course, this is where the argument that the Bobby Burns is a version of the Rob Roy gets stronger. See the build instructions for the Rob Roy above? Do the same, but garnish with a lemon peel.

Blood & Sand

Oddly enough, we don’t know the creator of this drink. We do know it appears in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930. However, we don’t know for certain that he’s the inventor.

At any rate, we do know this 1:1:1:1 cocktail is delicious and a hit with whiskey fans.

  • 0.75 oz. Scotch
  • 0.75 oz. Cherry Heering
  • 0.75 oz. Orange juice, freshly squeezed
  • 0.75 oz. Sweet vermouth
  • Orange peel to garnish

Again, make sure you have chilled glassware to build this cocktail. In this case, coupes and cocktails. Combine all ingredients but the garnish in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Next, strain into the glass, then garnish and present.

Rusty Compass

So, this build is a bit different from the others in that it calls for a particular Scotch and two specific liqueurs. Also, this one is bold as the Scotch you’ll use is rather powerful.

Obviously, this is a bit like a Rusty Nail, so you shouldn’t have any trouble with the recipe.

  • 2 oz. Compass Box The Peat Monster
  • 01.75 oz. Drambuie (for making Rusty Nails, too)
  • 0.5 oz. Cherry Heering (which you have on hand for making Blood & Sands)
  • Orange twist to garnish

As you’re probably already guessing, you combine all the ingredients but the garnish in a shaker with ice for this build. Shake it, strain it, and garnish it. Oh, and you’ll want to present this in a coupe.

Image: Ambitious Creative Co. – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Rabbit Hole Resources: Bourbon 101

Rabbit Hole Resources: Bourbon 101

by David Klemt

 

Bunny painting or graffiti

Those who want to learn about bourbon can access free resources from a credible and knowledgeable source: Rabbit Hole Distillery.

When it comes to learning about a particular spirit, those producing them tend to know the most. So, seeking education straight from the source is a smart move.

Now, hospitality professionals have a reliable, informative resource to add to their toolbox. Learn About Bourbon is Rabbit Hole’s ever-growing bourbon resource.

Bourbon Basics

If your restaurant or bar has bourbon on the menu, you’re likely at least familiar with the basics:

  • To carry the “bourbon” designation, one must produce the liquid in America.
  • The mashbill must consist of at least 51 percent corn.
  • It’s not permissible to use any additive except water.

Similarly, you are likely aware of some bourbon myths:

  • Only distilleries in the state of Kentucky can produce bourbon.
  • The name “bourbon” comes from Bourbon County.
  • The whiskey must be at least two years old to be bourbon.

As you can see from the first bullet point at the start of this segment, bourbon can come from any state in America. As far as the second myth, the origin of the name “bourbon” is a bit murky.

Interestingly, the third myth is somewhat true. To include “straight bourbon” on the label, the bourbon must be a minimum of two years old. Otherwise, once new-make whiskey comes into contact with the oak barrel in which it’s going age, it’s bourbon.

Rabbit Hole bourbon barrel rolling into rickhouse

Learn About Bourbon

Rabbit Hole goes far beyond simple definitions on their Learn About Bourbon page.

Instead, the distillery dives deep into every element of bourbon production. As important, this page receives regular updates. In other words, much like bourbon itself, this resource gets better with age.

To give you an idea of how in-depth Rabbit Hole gets, let’s look at the Bourbon Barrel Char / Charring section. It’s essentially an article in and of itself at nearly 400 words. Additionally, there’s a link within this section that leads to an even deeper dive into toasting and charring barrels.

Elsewhere on the Learn About Bourbon page you can learn about esters. In fact, there’s a list of over a dozen esters for you to—yep, I’m gonna make the pun—go down the rabbit hole.

Rabbit Hole Blog

Now, it turns out that the distillery isn’t content with offering one bourbon education resource. There’s also the Rabbit Hole Blog.

Looking for bourbon cocktail recipes? Check out the brand’s blog. Currently, the top recipe posts feature the Golden Ponzu and Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade.

Curious about cooking with bourbon? How about a recipe for nasi goreng with a Rabbit Hole bourbon ginger sauce? As a bonus, this recipe should perform well with guests looking for plant-forward dishes with small amounts of animal protein.

Of course, there are also Bourbon 101 articles. For example, this link will take you to an article about wheated bourbons.

If you want to boost your bourbon knowledge and update your food and cocktail menus, check out Rabbit Hole’s blog and Learn About Bourbon page today.

Image: Vincent Pelletier

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Brutal: These Drinks are Heavy

Brutal: These Drinks are Heavy

by David Klemt

Marshall amplifier closeup

Several legendary and iconic heavy metal bands are stepping into the arena of the drinks industry, from beer to whiskey, and more.

You won’t find a celebrity rosé wine or mezcal on this list. Instead, you’ll find bourbon and rye blends, unique processes, full beer lineups, and small-batch releases.

Most importantly, these are products that deserve a place on your menus. These aren’t spirits and beers that rely on band names and their global recognition. Each of these can stand on their own.

In fact, one whiskey from Slipknot and an Iowa distillery won an award from Fred Minnick in 2019.

Metallica

You may familiar with Blackened, a rye and bourbon blend that finishes in brandy casks. This limited-edition, super-premium whiskey is also subjected to the proprietary Black Noise process.

In short, each batch of Blackened is enhanced by the frequencies of curated Metallica playlists. This whiskey is a true collaboration. Legendary Master Distiller Dave Pickerell partnered with Metallica and Meyer Sound for the recipe and process.

However, Master Distiller and Blender Rob Dietrich has crafted a rye expression. Rye the Lightning is, as you can likely tell from the name, a rye whiskey. This expression also undergoes a very specific Black Noise process.

To craft Rye the Lightning, the live recording of Ride the Lightning in its entirety from Metallica’s Orion Music + More set is played to enhance the liquid. Taking things a step further, Rye the Lightning is finished in Madeira and rum casks.

Not content with just two expressions, there are also the Master of Whiskey Series and limited edition whiskeys available.

Iron Maiden

Iconic English heavy metal band Iron Maiden has steered heavily into the beer business. You won’t find a limited-release Lager here and a Pilsner there. No, Iron Maiden has a full lineup of beers in several styles.

Trooper, named for their song “The Trooper,” is the name under which the band crafts their beers in partnership with brewers like Bodebrown and Robinsons. You’ll find many beer styles under the Trooper label: Strong Bitter, English Extra Special, Porter, Golden, IPA, and more.

 

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A post shared by Trooper (@ironmaidenbeer)

Of course, there are limited editions. And why shouldn’t there be? Iron Maiden and there brewer partners want to have rock out, like they did with the Number of the Beast, a Bitter.

Motörhead

Since there’s a bourbon and a beer carrying the Motörhead name, you can create a Boilermaker honoring the heavy band. And as you may imagine, one-half of the Boilermaker is named after the song “Ace of Spades.”

In this case, Ace of Spades is a bourbon crafted in Fargo, North Dakota, by Proof Artisan Distillers. This distillery produced North Dakota’s first-ever bourbon, Crooked Furrow. Ace of Spades is a full-bodied, 90-proof high-rye bourbon with warm, sweet notes and a cinnamon finish.

For the beer, Motörhead tapped Madison, Wisconsin, brewers Ale Asylum. Röad Crew is a crisp, hoppy American Pale Ale with citrus notes.

Cannibal Corpse

This whiskey, Golden Blood, is actually the inspiration for this article and product roundup. Golden Blood by Cannibal Corpse, one of the heaviest bands on this list, is crafted in collaboration with Three Floyds Distilling.

Since opening their doors in 2017, Three Floyds has been known for doing things differently. In fact, the distillery itself says their approach is “not normal.” So, this collaboration with Cannibal Corpse makes a lot of sense.

According to Three Floyds, the band itself selected the liquid. A single barrel straight malt whiskey, Golden Blood was aged four years in new, charred oak. And the label is sure to draw attention on your back bar.

GWAR

As the story goes, GWAR is not of this planet. Rather, GWAR is an intergalactic rock band that arrived on Earth via comet.

Well, when you have an origin mythology that incredible, you can’t phone in products tied to your name. I promise that you’ve never encountered a whiskey-crafting process like the one that produces Catoctin Creek Ragnarök Rye:

“The mad scientists at Catoctin Creek conducted experiments on aging the blood of GWAR in barrels made from the different types of wood scorched by the comet’s blast. They used the rarest of grains and watered their mash bill with the melted Antarctic ice to create a 92 strength rye whisky, pot stilled and then aged in charred new white oak. Members of GWAR then hurled the whiskey barrels into the orbit of the moon, causing contraction to take place as the barrels spun under the influence of the deathly coldness of space and the life-giving heat of the sun.”

Well, that’s different.

Slipknot

Cedar Creek Distillery in Iowa crafts two whiskey expressions for Slipknot. The first expression is Slipknot No.9, a four-year-old blend of straight bourbon and straight rye whiskeys.

Then there’s Slipknot No. 9 Reserve. For this special release, award-winning Cedar Creek bottles the same bourbon and rye blend at 99 proof. Fred Minnick named Slipknot No. 9 Reserve the Best Celebrity Whiskey in 2019. That’s no small feat.

 

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A post shared by Slipknot Whiskey (@slipknotwhiskey)

An equally daunting feat? Getting your hands on Slipknot co-founder and percussionist Clown’s Iowa Shine. If you can find it, this bottle is Clown’s very own moonshine.

Honorable Mentions

The Deftones have partnered with Belching Beaver to craft an IPA called Deftones Phantom Bride. This IPA, a collaboration between head brewer Thomas Peters and the Deftones’ Chino Moreno, is made using Amarillo, Citra, Simcoe and Mosaic hops.

And then there’s Bay Shore, New York’s Great South Bay Brewery. The brewery has honored Pantera with a limited edition beer called Vulgar Display of Lager. Obviously, this is intended to honor the 30th anniversary of the thrash metal band’s brutal 1992 Vulgar Display of Power album.

Image: Alexander Kampmann from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

National Bourbon Day: 2022 Bourbon Trends

National Bourbon Day: 2022 Trends

by David Klemt

Maker's Mark bourbon bottle on top of barrel

Happy National Bourbon Day, a holiday celebrating one of America’s greatest creations and contributions to the whiskey world.

Hyperbole? I really don’t think so. Bourbon is a wholly American spirit that enjoys global demand.

We may not know the name of the first person to produce a bourbon. Like so many spirits and cocktails, the origins are mostly the stuff of myth and legend.

However, historians do believe America’s whiskey is named for the House of Bourbon, a French dynasty. So, some claim that the spirit is named for Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Still others say Kentucky’s Bourbon County is the inspiration for this whiskey’s name.

At any rate, it’s assumed bourbon was first produced in the 18th century. About a century later, the spirit became what we know it as today.

Additionally, bourbon is officially “distinctive product of the United States,” according to official recognition by Congress as of 1964.

That’s a lot of history and lore. But what about what’s going on now? Well, let’s take a look.

Barrel Finishing

Obviously, rules can sometimes stifle creativity and innovation. In fact, Andres Faustinelli of BEARFACE Whisky says as much on episode 75 of Bar Hacks.

Clarifying, Faustinelli took the Master Blender role at BEARFACE because there are fewer rules for Canadian whisky production than other spirits.

However, there’s a flip-side to that coin. Sometimes, the more rules in place, the more creative people get in navigating them.

One way this manifests is through barrel finishing. We’re seeing a lot labels boasting about unique or otherwise attention-grabbing barrel finishes.

Rum casks, Cognac casks, Armagnac, sherry, a slew of wine-barrel finishes… Obviously, throughout the world of whiskey this has become a popular element of production.

One caveat, though, is that distillers and blenders must avoid stunt finishing. If the finish doesn’t enhance their signature bourbon it’s inauthentic and consumers will turn their backs.

Bottled in Bond

Hey, look—more history! Bourbon, as we all know, has quite the past.

Adulteration—putting crap in the bottle that doesn’t belong there—was such a problem centuries ago that governments chose to step in. (I mean, it’s still a problem but we don’t have the time right now.)

The US government got involved in 1897 to protect consumers with the Bottled-in-Bond Act. Boiled down, a bottled-in-bond whiskey:

  • must be produced during a single distilling season; and
  • made by a single distiller; and
  • has to be crafted at a single distillery; and
  • the whiskey needs to be aged in either a federally bonded warehouse; or
  • otherwise aged under federal supervision for a minimum of four years; and
  • then be bottled at 100 proof.

Oh, and I learned that a distillation season is either January through June or July through December. ABC: (A)lways (B)e (C)learning. Don’t you judge me…

Obviously, the bottled-in-bond requires a large investment of both money and time. And obviously that investment is a barrier that distillers must consider carefully. No doubt, however, that investment can pay off with consumers.

Single Barrel

Let’s call this bourbon trend what it is: The trend.

For the past few years single-barrel bourbons (and other spirits) have been sought-after by restauranteurs, bar owners, private clubs, retailers, consumers, and collectors.

Again, this is a trend that requires a significant outlay from distilleries. But it’s clear that the time and money is, at least for now, worth it.

In most cases, single-barrel pours command higher menu prices. And with the luxury category continuing to grow, single-barrel bourbons should enjoy a boom for quite some time.

Anyone who has visited Woodford Reserve, as an example, can see how popular their single-barrel program has become. There are some incredible names on that list…

MGP

The following three letters once drew the ire of any whiskey drinker: MGP.

Back in the day, which was maybe two or three years ago, a brand “sourcing” their whiskey rather than distilling it themselves was sacrilege.

MGP was attacked for pumping out low-quality liquid regularly. Blogs, social posts, conversations in bars… For years, MGP was on its way to pariah status.

Now, the turns have tabled. As long as a brand is transparent—which may be the real trend here—about the liquid in their bottles, sourcing whiskey is no longer a negative.

In fact, according to some spirits sites and publications, there are consumers seeking out MGP-sourced brands.

So, these are some trends to consider when building out your bourbon program. Happy National Bourbon Day, and cheers!

Image: Zhivko Minkov on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

8 Bottles for National Bourbon Day

8 Bottles for Bourbon Day

by David Klemt

Buffalo Trace Distillery bourbon barrels

Next week, June 14, is National Bourbon Day, the day America celebrates the country’s “native” spirit.

Clearly, that means one thing: Make sure your promotion catches the eye of the whiskey aficionados, bourbon lovers, and bourbon curious among your guests.

One of the most effective ways to boost traffic on National Bourbon Day is deceptively simple. Simply put, add new bourbon releases to your inventory.

Of course, you should also ensure you have enough of what your regulars normally drink on hand. And let’s not neglect your bourbon cocktails.

First Things First

When deciding what to feature on your promotional or LTO menus, there’s a smart and simple first step to take.

You probably already know what I’m going to suggest: Run reports.

What are your top-selling bourbons? Which are more burden than bourbon, collecting dust in your inventory?

Introduce new bourbons recently? How are they selling?

Then there’s the cocktail menu. Do you know which cocktails are your guest favorites and which they’re not ordering? Are any of these bourbon cocktails?

So, don’t just jump into National Bourbon Day by guessing or assuming what bottles and cocktails to promote. Instead, leverage the power of your POS and run reports. Put hard data behind your promotions, always.

Of course, that’s not your only resource. Curious about what your guests would like to see on the menu and back bar? Ask your bar team.

New Releases

Now, this may come as a shocker: People want to try what’s new. Yeah, I know—hot take.

So, if people want the new thing, give ’em what they want. Below you’ll find some bottles worth asking your reps about for National Bourbon Day.

Obviously, you should ensure you have plenty of the standards on hand. And be cautious about just how much new bourbon you bring in. After all, you don’t have data on how they’ll perform yet.

That said, here are some bottles worth considering.

Basil Hayden Subtle Smoke

Far too often, “smoky” on a label means “tastes like you’re drinking a campfire.” Of course, some of us are into that, depending on our mood or personal tastes.

However, some guests aren’t into smoke bombs. Basil Hayden Subtle Smoke delivers what’s on the label: their high-rye Kentucky bourbon with smoke notes that aren’t overwhelming.

Ben Holladay

Don’t freak out after you read the following sentence. Not all bourbon comes from Kentucky.

Of course, you and your team probably know that. And I’m sure we all think that by now, people know a whiskey doesn’t need to come from Kentucky to be bourbon. However, there are still people who think otherwise.

Educate them with bottled-in-bond Ben Holladay, crafted in Missouri. It’s an interesting bottle labeled Real Missouri Bourbon. According to laws enacted in 2019 and 2020, for a whiskey to earn that designation the producer must:

  • mash, ferment, distill, age, and bottle in Missouri;
  • age in oak barrels made in Missouri; and
  • be made with corn grown in Missouri.

Bottled-in-bond and Real Missouri Bourbon. This bottle should get your guests’ attention.

Blood Oath Pact No. 8

When it comes to bourbon releases, Blood Oath Pacts are always big news. Blood Oath Pact No. 8 should be a welcome addition by the bourbon lovers among your guests.

For this release, Lux Row Distillers combined a a 14-year ryed bourbon, an 11-year ryed bourbon, and an 8-year ryed bourbon finished in Calvados casks.

OKI Reserve

The OKI story goes that two entrepreneurs in Ohio, Chad Brizendine and Jake Warm, bought the brand from New Riff Distilling two years ago.

For those wondering, OKI stands for “Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana,” the tri-state area responsible for most of the world’s bourbon. According to OKI, 99 percent of OKI Reserve is more than eight years old.

Thomas S. Moore

Alright, I’ll admit it—I count this section as four bourbons. But I have a good reason for doing so.

Thomas S. Moore is crafted by Barton 1792 and consists of four expressions: Cognac, Madeira, sherry and Merlot. Any one of these alone is worth the time and effort for a bourbon or whiskey lover to track down. However, think of the potential having two or more expressions available to taste against one another offers you and your guests.

Each Thomas S. Moore expression starts with five- or six-year-old Barton 1792 high-rye bourbon. Depending on the cask used for finishing, the bourbon is aged for another one to four years.

Image: Josh Collesano on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

Drinks for Your World Whisky Day Menu

by David Klemt

Whiskey in Fine & Rare NYC glass

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

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

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

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

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

Old Fashioned

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

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

Manhattan

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

Whisky Sour

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

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

Boulevardier

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

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

Mint Julep

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

Sazerac

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

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

Vieux Carré

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

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

Penicillin

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

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

Honorable Mentions

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

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

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

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

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

Your Own Data

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: YesMore Content on Unsplash

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