Cheers June 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 12 of 51 13 June 2015 • (IQF) fruit done in-house is a great and easy way for chain operators to incorporate grilled and roasted fl avors into the bar menu. Exotic and Varietal Citrus. These include blood or- anges and Meyer lemons, as well as pumelos, calamansi/ calamondin, Cara Cara oranges and fi nger limes. You should also look for zebra limes, Casey said, which are green and yellow striped on the outside and pink on the inside. "Sunkist is now starting to grow them," she added. Salt/Saline. The salted-caramel trend got the whole sweet/salty fl avor thing started, Casey said. "Salt pops fl a- vors, and it's really interesting in cocktails." Plus there are so many different types of exotic salts now, from black, pink and smoked to insect-infused varieties, she noted. Salted and spicy watermelon fl avor combinations on a drink menu "really drive interest," she added. Bitters and Vermouth. These are "the salt and pepper of cocktails," Casey said. You can infuse vermouth with such fl avors as rhubarb, lemon and black pepper corn. And you can create unique garnishes, such as an Angostura bitters foam, she added. Whether a brand name or house-made, "different and unique bitters are an easy way to add cool—and they last forever," she said. Infused vermouth will be the next "Speed Scratch" ingredient, Casey predicted. Herbs, Flowers and Botanicals. "I'm seeing lots of chamomile," Casey said, "and fresh herbs other than mint are becoming mainstream." In particular, "basil makes drinks sell now," while rose- mary, thyme and sage are very sturdy to work with behind the bar, which is important. Lavender is also popular for infusions and bitters, along with botanical teas and fl oral concentrates, she added. Preserved-Shrubs, Marmalades, Pickles. Shrubs, the fresh-brewed fl avored drinking vinegars, are hot in beverag- es with and without alcohol, Casey said. Jams and marmalades can be shaken into a cocktail (or mocktail) to add a little bit of local fl avor. For instance, Casey recently developed a specialty Collins cocktail for a Bermuda hotel using the island's signature hot pepper jam. Drink Your Veggies. Cucumber is now mainstream, and carrots, beets, celery, avocado and kale "are starting to show up in cocktails," Casey said. The California Pizza Kitchen chain, for instance, has a vodka cocktail that incorporates avocado. Casey has used celery in Gin and Tonics: "Celery has a lot of salt, which adds a unique layer." Honey and Sweetness. Honey comes in many different varieties, Casey noted, and local honey adds a unique fl avor to drinks. "Agave is everywhere, and maple is getting menu play," Casey said, while sweeteners such as palm sugar and birch syrup are starting to trend. If you use pure cane sugar, she noted, "it's important to call it out on your menu, because people don't want corn syrup." Frozen and Icy. "The slushie is back," Casey said, in the form of upscale frozen drinks. Flash blending high-quality drinks is popular; you can also get creative, Casey said, citing a Gin and Tonic topped with citrus slush as an example. Bottled Cocktails and Flasks. Operators are using ves- sels such as oil cans, apothecary bottles and fl asks to serve cocktails, particularly premade drinks. Some operators are doing carts with these bottled drinks. "It's great for room and bottle service," Casey noted. "Millennials love it." BUFFALO WILD WINGS IS BIG ON BEVERAGES Given that 75% of its beverage sales are beer, it's not surprising that many people view Buffalo Wild Wings as a beer destination. As CEO Sally Smith pointed out in her May 17 keynote at the NRA Show's BAR event, it's even part of the chain's "Wings, Beer, Sports" tagline. But as wine, spirits and cocktails have become more popular, Buffalo Wild Wings is stepping up its coverage of those categories. For instance, the Minneapolis-based company has expanded its wine selection and increased the size of its wine glasses, Smith said. It also just hired a mixologist as part of the beverage team. Improving its cocktail game is of partic- ular interest, noted Patrick Kirk, the chain's director of beverage innovation. Half of the guests who consume beer at Buffalo Wild Wings consume cocktails as well. "We need to tap into that demand," he noted. Consumers today really want to try new things and experiment, Kirk said, and a lot of that activity is now happening off-premise. "We like to be able to create new cocktails and offer new beers before you can buy them off-premise," he said. As for beer, Kirk admitted that while the craft brew trend is positive for the concept, it's been challenging to manage all the choices available. Of the 25 to 30 taps at Buffalo Wild Wings locations, half are the national big brands, half are craft and local beers. Serving beer properly and at the right tem- perature is crucial for a beer-centric concept. If something is wrong with a beer, Kirk said, "temperature will be 80% of the problem." Beer temperature is so important at every step, from when the brew comes off the deliv- ery truck to when it's in the cooler to when it's going through the tap lines, Kirk said. How do you get staff to understand that? "We have training materials and videos to help staff understand the pitfalls of serving beer at the wrong temperature," he explained. Founded in 1982, Buffalo Wild Wings now operates 1,100 locations. The chain looks for personality fi rst when hiring staffers, Smith said; "you also have to know a little bit about sports." Success starts with offering the right prod- ucts, Smith said, but bartenders and servers have to understand what they're selling and know their guests. Making a personal connection helps boost customer loyalty, she noted. "When you have a great server [and experience], you tend to go back to a place."—MD

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