Cheers January/February 2013

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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very least has become a bigger part of the conversation," she says. The Winter Park, FL-based chain operates 136 classic American steakhouses worldwide. Locations offer five core gin brands, with the most popular being Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire and Hendrick's. Mackey has noticed guests' increasing demands for premium, high-quality bottles, and she sees gin fans as very brand loyal. Ruth's Chris locations have the option of adding other national and local gin brands to their drinks menu, depending on guest demand. Wynn and Encore offer more than a dozen gins, priced $9 to $95 (the latter is for Nolet's The Reserve), and the top sellers are Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire and Bombay. Richards strives to have at least one gin-based cocktail on the menu at each venue. But she admits the spirit can be a hard sell for guests with preconceived notions about gin. So how does Richards attract new "gin recruits?" Offering eclectic twists on familiar libations is one way. Her Kumquat Collins ($15) uses a house-made kumquat-kaffir lime syrup, Cointreau and the overtly citrus Tanqueray #10 gin. The Basil Gimlet ($14) mixes muddled basil leaves, lime and celery bitters with Martin Miller gin, which has 10 botanicals infused through two distillations, resulting in a citrus-forward spirit. SOFTER BOTANICAL NOTES "The gin category broadened a few years ago with the introduction of gins that do not have the traditional strong juniper flavors," notes Mike Hanley, beverage operations and training director for Emeryville, CA-based Tavistock Restaurants. Tavistock operates 33 upscale restaurants and 89 fast casual concepts, including Charley's, Joe's American Bar & Grill and Napa Valley Grille. The restaurants carry 15 brands of gin spread across its upscale restaurants, priced $5 to $12; Tanqueray, Hendrick's and Bombay are the top sellers. Newer gin offerings that are less reliant on juniper give bartenders more options, Hanley says. "This allows the gins to play easier with other spirits in mixing, due to the softer nuances of their botanical choices." He is especially fond of New Amsterdam gin (with cubeb berries, elderflower and chamomile), Hendrick's (with cucumber and rose) and Death's Door gin, comprised of only three botanicals—juniper, coriander and fennel. Tavistock concepts offer at least two gin cocktails on their menus. The Clementini ($12) muddles the seasonal citrus with Hendrick's gin and mint. The Elderflower Fizz ($12) mixes New Amsterdam gin with St. Germain elderflower liqueur; it's then topped with Prosecco and garnished with a flower petal. CRAFT BRANDS AND NEW RELEASES Small-batch gin offerings, as well as new lines from largerscale distilleries, seem to pop up each month. "People seem to be opening back up to gin and willing to branch out with some of the lesser-known gins these days," says Jeff Faile, bar manager The Wynn's Kumquat Collins, made with kumquat-kaffir lime syrup, Cointreau and Tanqueray #10 gin. for the 260-seat upscale Italian restaurant Fiola in Washington, D.C. "I like exposing people to new and different flavors, which the smaller brands pride themselves on," he says. Fiola offers 14 gins priced $9 to $13, and 11 widely styled gin-based cocktails, including a page of Negroni variations. The Milan Mule ($14) is an Italian riff, with Plymouth gin, Amaro Abano, lime and ginger beer; the It's Expected, I'm Gone ($14) mingles Glorious gin, grapefruit, honey and burlesque bitters. Faile also tinkers with fringe-gin alternatives in drinks like Let's Go Dutch ($15), which combines Bols Genever with Bénédictine, Dolin Blanc and orange bitters. "It resembles a white Manhattan in flavor profile," he says. The Nuovo Inzio ($15) shakes up Ransom Old Tom gin with Amaro Bassano, Campari, Cointreau and orange bitters. Larger distilleries are also releasing alternative offerings to their more well-known gins. Beefeater 24, for example, includes Chinese green and Japanese sencha teas, while Tanqueray Rangpur's recipe uses ginger and Indian rangpur limes. Recently released Plymouth Navy Strength is 100 proof (vs. 82 proof for its standard offering). The strength "pushes flavor forward and lends itself to cocktails that are heavier in body, since the botanicals can still shine through," says Chris Patino, manager brand specialists and trade education for Plymouth's producer Pernod Ricard. The trend of barrel-aging cocktails also adds weight and complexity to gin drinks, he says. Gin-based libations can be a tough sell during the cooler months, since gin is perceived by many to be a warmer-weather refresher. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2013 | 29

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