Cheers March 2015

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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Page 40 of 59 41 March 2015 • but also our guests may not try it on their own—this way we sort of force them to sample, usually served on the rocks," Hand says. EN also serves sake, Japanese whiskey and shochu in fl ights. Specialty cocktails include the Ginger (homemade ginger ale with rice shochu, lime juice and soda) and Seppun (shiso leaf, grapefruit juice, yuzu with barley shochu), and shochu infused in-house with coffee, ginger or even white truffl e. EN also serves chu-hi, which is shochu mixed with juice or tea. SAY HI TO BAIJIU Baijiu is a clear spirit from China distilled primarily from sorghum, but also from rice, barley, millet and combinations of these grains. While it's still rare to fi nd baiju on the menu at bars and restaurants not catering to mostly Chinese customers, the spirit is starting to appear in other types of establishments. Hakkasan carries it, for one. "Baijiu adds character—there's nothing in the world like it," says Alexander. "It's such a unique fl avor profi le to work with." Hakkasan's cocktail Weapon of Choice, made with No. 209 gin, Shui Jing Fan baijiu, Hum botanical liqueur, Vandermint and peach bitters, is complex, but doesn't mask the essential earthiness of the baiju, Alexander says. "You really don't have to add much to create an impact." With an unknown spirit, he notes, "you never know if the guests will embrace it, but so far it's been extremely well received." Even bottle sales have been good for baiju; the traditional manner of drinking the spirit in China is as a toasting beverage. Hakkasan's guests are curious about baijiu, he says, "so we have trained the staff to be able to talk through its profi le and encourage them to try. " Non-Asian themed operations are giving baiju a try as well, at least tentatively. Chris Burmeister, head bartender at The Outpost in Santa Barbara, CA, serves an Imperial Sour cocktail, made with baijiu, Yellow Chartreuse, honey syrup, lemon and pineapple juices, orange bitters and egg white. "I fi rst sampled some baijus last year, and they were like nothing I ever tasted before--defi nitely funky and cool and different," says Burmeister. He likes the stewed fruit, prune and raisin qualities he fi nds in some baiju, and fi nds it works well with citrus, fruit liqueurs and syrups. Burmeister expects to include a three-baiju fl ight shortly on the menu in The Outpost's lounge bar, and include a taste of the Imperial Sour as an example of how the spirit can work in a mixed drink. Jack Robertiello is wine and spirits writer/consultant based in Brooklyn, NY. JAPANESE WHISKEYS HEAT UP Interest in Japanese whiskeys, including Yamazaki and Hibiki, has been bolstered lately by better distribution since owner Suntory bought Beam last year. It doesn't hurt that whiskey expert and author Jim Murray just selected Suntory's sherry-cask fi nished, 2013 Yamazaki Single Malt as the "World Whisky of the Year." The other major Japanese whiskey producer, Nikka, has also been ramping up efforts in the U.S. as well. Japanese whiskeys have increasingly taken a place on lists at cocktail and whiskey bars. "We have seen a rise in Japanese-whiskey drinkers who are looking for the higher- end items," says Constantin Alexander, bar manager of Hakkasan Las Vegas. "I think this can be attributed to some of the great press that these whiskies have been getting as of late, as well as the realization that these are great whiskies that can stand up to the best in the world."—JR YUSHO SIMPLIFIES SAKE SELECTION The restaurant Yusho in in Las Vegas's Monte Carlo Hotel has taken a modern approach to selling sake. Concept creator/ chef Matthias Merges lists them by various evocative descriptors, such as colorful, focused and bold, rather than the traditional terms. Yusho's sake descriptions are similar to those used to convey a wine's body, texture and fl avors. This helps guests better understand the grades of sakes and fl avors to expect. More consumers are becoming aware that sake is "a unique and delicious genre of beverage with a wide range of styles and food pairing potential, but understanding the names of the different sake grades and styles can be daunting for anyone," Merges says. As he points out, the various Japanese terms for styles of sake refer to the amount each rice grain is "polished," or milled down to remove outer layers of the husk, and whether alcohol is added during production. "We hope to give our guests the opportunity to be as comfortable as possible ordering their sake by listing our selections in terms that are more familiar than terms like daiginjo, honjozo or yamahai,"Merges says. Presenting the selection this way not only helps guests better understand sake, it also helps his servers better sell the brewed-rice beverage. "For our service staff, listing the offerings this way often works as a springboard for them to create a greater dialog about what aspects of a beverage are appealing to the guest at the table," Merges says. "Our team's product knowledge is key."—JR

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