Expert Advice on Hospitality Topics


Posted by John Cammalleri on Thu, Mar, 15, 2012 @ 13:03 PM

The nightclub business can be a rough. With a plentitude of competing venues, and with customer tastes in constant flux, the average half-life of a bar or nightclub is all too brief. Survival can depend on your ability to stay ahead of the curve and be in tune with your customers’ ever-changing demands. In short, you need to be constantly aware of what’s in  and what’s not in order to remain vital. Here is a brief compendium, in three parts, of some of the emerging and continuing trends in the industry, just a few things to look out for in 2012 and beyond:

Part 1 of 3: DRINKS

Cocktails and Spirits

infused spiritsHerb-infused spirits. Whether they be whiskies, vodkas or gins are gaining herb-infused drinks are gaining in popularity. Expect gin, especially, to continue to make a splash as both large producers such as Bombay and a slew of new micro distilleries continue infuse this old stalwart with fresh and interesting botanicals.

Flavored tonics. Tonic  water is a simplest mixer  there  is, and an obvious staple to anyone serving drinks. A variety of new tonics are hitting the market, however, which can transform the most basic of mixers into something more sublime. Look for new tonics to elevate simple drinks like gin and tonic into something for more interesting and complex.

Cask-aged cocktails. Drink mixes aged in wooden barrels for added nuance continue to gain popularity in major urban centers from New York to San Francisco.

Cocktails on tap. Cask-aged or not, expect mixed drinks to come out of a tap. For speed and consistency, many bars are starting to produce a selection of well-crafted cocktails in large

Solid summer cocktails. Remember the Jello shot? Expect to see it re-emerge, as mixologists exercise their creativity to concoct artistically-layered versions of an old party favorite. With the use of lecithins and other ingredients—which can alter the consistency and texture of fluids--becoming more widespread, expect solid-form cocktails to gain traction. You can also expect to see more and more cocktails turned into sorbets and popsicles when summer rolls around.

Super-premium beverages. Spirit enthusiasts and wine aficionados seem prepared to pay top dollar for a small taste of luxury potables. While they may not be willing to spend $300-$1,000 for a bottle of top-top-shelf cognac or premier-cru, more and more enthusiasts are showing a willingness to pay a premium for an ounce or two.

Smoked spirits. Flash smoking is making a move from the chef’s kitchen to the bar top. Still a relatively new phenomenon, bar-top smokers—used to infuse spirits with, you guessed it, a mild smokiness—are beginning to be found in a number of popular bars in most major cities.

Combination drinks. More and more bar owners are discovering the benefits of marrying two drinks and selling them together in order to boost sales. Whether it’s the classic shot with a beer chaser, or a more inspired combination of two cocktails with complementing flavors, double-hitters promise to become a hit among bar patrons.

Return to the classics.Cocktail menus have become chockfull of creative concoctions and signature drinks. More and more drinkers, however, are starting to embrace some of the

classics. It may be a good time to make room on the menu for the old standards—Daiquiris, the Manhattan, the Sidecar….

Skinny drinks. Expect cocktail menus to offer more and more low-cal beverages—whether lighter versions of standard fare or entirely new concoctions. Popular among the ladies and health-conscious patrons wanting to limit the number of “empty calories” they consume, skinny cocktails are a good way for drinking establishments to cater to this growing segment of their clientele.

Ingredient Trends:

Bitters—celery, whisky, lemon

Zwack, an herbal liqueur from Hungary made with a secret blend of 40 herbs and spices

Rye Whiskey

Honey Liquor


Vintage beers. A variety of aged, vintage beers are becoming available. The Modern in New York for instance offers a 1999 J.W. Lees Harvest Ale to drinkers wanting a taste of the past. Meanwhile many microbreweries are offering a variety of interesting, higher-alcohol beers meant mellow with age.

Lower-alcohol beers. While higher-alcohol beers continue to be popular, expect a rise in demand for flavorful, lower alcohol beers. Rather than nurse a pint of high-gravity, high-alcohol beer, many patrons will opt instead for high-flavor, lower-alcohol beers that they can drink in greater in quantities. Patrons’ taste for quality, low-alcohol beers is good news for bar owners, as they present an opportunity for increased sales.

flavored beerSeasonal and flavored beers. While nothing new, seasonal and/or flavored beers are starting to gain traction.


Local Wines.The movement towards locally-grown wines—from a variety of regions, including New York, Michigan, Texas, Virginia, Ohio, Ontario—c ontinues and is expected to accelerate in 2012.

Lower Alcohol Content. The popularity of big, fruit-bomb wines with high alcohol content is waning, while more classic –style wines—e eegant and more structurally balanced, with alcohol levels below 13% or 14%--are beginning to gain favor.

Burgundy Wines. With Bordeaux wines commanding huge prices, consumers are more and more turning their attention to the more affordable Burgundy region.  As reason wine auctions have shown have shown Burgundy wines are rising stars.

Organic Wines. The movement towards organic products has extended to the wine  world, where more and more wine makers are beginning to explore natural wine-making techniques. Expect consumers to start embracing these “sustainable” wines in coming years.

ProsecoValue. After several years of economic recession, consumers have acquired a taste for value wines. They are seeking bang for the buck—not cheap inferior wines, but good, well-balanced, flavorful wines at an affordable price. With many of these wines coming from Spain and South America, expect Spanish, Chilean and Argentinian wines to continue to grow in popularity.

Alternatives to Champagne. In keeping with consumers’ growing thirst for value, high-quality sparkling wines from regions other than Champagne are gaining popularity.  Sparkling wines from Germany, Austria, Portugal, the U.S. and Italy are expected to gain ground. Consumers are discovering that a nice, quality Prosecco can be just as enjoyable as a Champagne, often at a fraction of the price.

Non-alcoholic Drinks

Coconut water.  Already popular in cities like New York and L.A., coconut water will continue to gain popularity. With strong celebrity backing, and with major investments from the likes of Coca Cola, we should begin to see coconut water available everywhere, including the nation’s bars and nightclubs.


Topics: liquor inventory, Bar inventory, wine inventory, bar, alcohol, beer inventory, Bar trends, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar drinks, Bar Management, Bar products, Nightclub trends, blends

Bar Management: Standardizing & Optimizing Serving Practices

Posted by John Cammalleri on Mon, Jan, 09, 2012 @ 11:01 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing

Part 1 of 3: Establishing House Drink Recipes

A bartender makes a good drink with originality, panache, speed and skill - but a great drink starts with the boss. You determine the drink menu, you determine the recipes to be used and you set the price and make the rules. Your staff just follows your lead. In many bars, it's left to individual members of staff to know the "standard" formulas for cocktails and mixed drinks. Everyone is supposed to know that a Tequila Sunrise has one shot of tequila, right? Or is it two? Maybe it's a shot and a half... Profits are too hard won to just throw away alcohol when your staff crosses their wires about your drink recipes. Some easy steps to ensuring standardization of your house recipes include:

  • Recipe lists. Make sure when you take on new staff they receive detailed recipe lists to take home and look over before they start their first shift. It doesn't cost you a lot to photocopy a few pages of text and give them to your staff, so make sure there's no excuse for them not to know as much as they can before they start mixing on your dime.
  • Recipes on display. Ensure that there are either laminated index cards or recipes listed behind the bar at all times so that any member of staff - even emergency fill-ins and temps - can see exactly what is needed to prepare each drink - no more, no less. Below is an example of a recipe card and the information it should contain:
drink recipes

  • Cocktail menus. When you leave cocktail menus on tables, make sure that each one shows exactly what is in the drink - not just the ingredients, but the ounce amounts of each. This will not only serve as a more informative drink menu to your customers, but will also allow them to more accurately measure what they've consumed over the course of the night.
  • Premium ingredients. If you use premium or middle-shelf ingredients in your cocktails, make sure that your cocktail menus make a point of that fact by showing the brands used. There's no point in hiding the fact that your base spirits and liqueurs are of a higher quality than those of your competition, especially because your liquor distributor might chip in for some of the cost of printing if they're being marketed in your literature in this fashion.
  • Accuracy. Make certain that the cocktail and mixed-drink recipes give a clear indication of what glass is to be used, what garnish should be used, for how long and on what setting any blended drink should be blended and what brands of alcohol should be used for their creation. If you leave anything out, you can bet someone will get it wrong - and with alarming regularity.
  • Bartending recipe computer programs. For example, Interworlds Software's "BarBack for Windows" can tell your staff how to create a drink even if a customer asks for something ridiculously obscure. BarBack includes over 10,000 different drink recipes, as well as information on glassware, ingredients, mixing methods and garnishes. Rather than taking away from the skills of your staff, insightful programs such as these actually complement their skills to ensure your customers get exactly what they want in the quickest possible time. BarBack can be downloaded at .


This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company

Topics: inventory managers, Bar inventory, bar inventory levels, Bar staff, bar profitability, alcohol, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar Management, bar control, Drink Recipes, controling costs, liquor products

Nonalcoholic Beverages: An Area of Opportunity

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Aug, 22, 2011 @ 16:08 PM
Non Alcoholic DrinksBy Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing

This sector of the beverage industry, known in the trade as NABs, needs to be taken very seriously if you want to cash in on current drinking trends. More customers today (often affluent, young, career-oriented clientele with plenty of disposable income) are choosing to drink NABs. Health issues, stricter DWI laws, and maybe even image are influencing their decisions to turn to NABs. The fact remains: this trend can mean big bucks. Tap into the possibilities:

  • Promotions. Which NABs are consistently popular in your establishment? Buy bulk and sell on promotion. Publicize offers that your customers just cannot resist. Use a large chalkboard, or place "in-your-face" table tents on tables and at the bar.
  • Specialize. Don't bother with expensive market research. Consult your regular customers. Ask them what they'd like to see on the menu. Decide on a few in-house specialties. Profits will increase noticeably, as margins for NABs are generally higher than for alcoholic beverages.
  • Bottled water. This is no passing fad. Both in the dining room and at the bar, people are choosing to alternate alcoholic drinks with bottled water. Shelf dates tend to be generous (particularly for still, noncarbonated waters), so cash in: buy in bulk for big savings.
  • Added value.Serve NABs in sophisticated, unusual glasses that scream "quality"! Customers will happily pay that little bit extra for a "wow" experience.
  • Don't price too low. A word of warning. To make the most of this burgeoning area of the drinks market, keep your prices in line with your estab­lishment's other alcoholic beverages. If NABs are priced too low, bartenders will be reluctant to promote them, and customers will think they're nothing special.


This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Liquor Wine & Beverage Costs, authored by Elizabeth Godsmark, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company

Topics: Bar inventory, alcohol, Bar trends, Bar drinks

A Successful Bar Begins With a Quality Staff

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Mon, Jun, 20, 2011 @ 10:06 AM

By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing

Part 2: Do Bartenders Create Regulars?

bartenderA bar business is not, as many people think, a service industry. Of course, it's part service industry, but it's also very important not to forget that it's also an entertainment industry. Do your bartenders entertain your customers while they are serving them?


  • Every customer is an asset to your business. Just as you wouldn't throw chairs and tables away after one use, so too should you do everything in your power to make sure that every customer comes back again and again. Your staff must know that this is your goal. They must realize that they're the front-line weapons in the battle for customer retention.
  • Customer needs. Every staff member, from host to bartender to manager, should be able to handle any customer's needs. If a hostess walks past a table that obviously needs clearing without lifting a finger, how do you think that will leave those customers feeling about the service standard in your bar?
  • People seated at the bar. They should be treated like old friends by your bar staff, at least when they first sit down. But just as it's important to engage customers in conversation when they're happy to talk, it's also important to leave them alone when they don't. A good bartender reads the client's mood.
  • Flair bartending is all the rage. Bartenders who consider their job to be more than a temporary source of income see themselves as the next Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail. While putting on a show for the customers is a great way to entertain them, putting on a bad show is not. If your staff want to sling bottles and glasses around the bar in style, make sure they work within their limitations and save the practicing for after-hours.
  • Staff incentives. Some bar operators give incentives to their bar staff to stay around after their shifts and get to know the customers. Discounted drinks and food are not only a relatively cost-effective way to have your staff spend their free time at work, but these methods also help convince them to bring their own friends and turn your bar into their regular watering hole.



This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company

Topics: Bar staff, alcohol, Bar trends, NightClub Management, Bar Management, Nightclub trends, opening a bar, hospitality jobs, liquor