Cheers-Nov-Dec 2016

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 14 of 63 15 November/December 2016 • people who start out with sparkling wine and go with that throughout the meal—even with dessert." Even wines outside the traditional idea of sparkling are seeing movement. At Atlanta's Basque concept Cooks & Soldiers, the lightly effervescent Basque- region wine txakoli is hot. Txakoli, a slightly sparkling, high-acid and low-alcohol wine, requires some hand-selling, says general manager Nicolas Quinones. But when his servers follow the Basque custom of pouring the wine from a height to aerate, reduce carbon dioxide and increase the amount of bubbles in the glass, customers are captivated. Quinones is careful to make a distinction between the popular cava options and the Basque wine. "I try not to sell txakoli as a sparkling wine because I don't want to mislead folks that they'll get fl utes and something that produces a mousse." Txakoli bottle prices range from $47 to $69; he offers one by the glass for $13. "Folks are more open to a variety of sparkling wine in general, whereas 10 years ago they would have demanded only Champagne," Quinones says. "Now guests are much more willing to try cavas, proseccos and others, and they are willing to spend money on them," he notes. What's more, "There are some cavas out there that are just as rich and complex as grower Champagne," he adds. Cooks and Soldiers offers a white and a rosé cava, a fairly rare option that Quinones says is a response by Spanish producers to international demand. "We're moving into an era where there is a perception that even Champagne can be something you drink all the time," Antilla says. "When I started out in the restaurant business 20 to 25 years ago, there was a poor selection of moderately priced bubbles. Now there's a sparkling wine for just about every palate, price point and occasion." Thomas trains her staff on the three major sparkling categories—Champagne, prosecco and cava—on their methods and how similarly cava and Champagne are produced. While she carries high-quality cavas (priced up to $74 for a bottle of 2008 Recaredo Gran Reserva Brut Nature), her Champagnes are mostly grower, or those produced by the vineyard itself. The exception are a NV Billecart-Salmon, Blanc de Blancs Brut priced at $144, and the 2002 Pol Roger Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill at $378, of which she sells a few bottles every month. "There's something special about Champagne you can't get in any other kind of sparkling wine; however, it's a fi nancial commitment," Thomas says. "I almost have those on my list to promote my cava." CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS To bolster sales of bubbly, many operators have included cocktails with sparkling wine, usually cava and prosecco. Quinones of Cooks & Soldiers, for instance, lists three cava cocktail, including the Blind Tiger ($11), made with gin, lime juice, maple syrup and cava. "Especially in summer, it really adds a refreshing wetness to cocktails that otherwise might be a little too sweet or cloying," Quinones says. "Adding a little cava makes the cocktail instantly more drinkable and refreshing," a selling point with Atlanta's steamy summer heat. At Frank's, Penn currently offers two: the Tufted Cowboy, with Jack Daniels, lemon, sugar, Angostura bitters, sparkling wine, served in a fl ute; and Scottish Breakfast (Scotch, maple syrup, lapsang souchong tea tincture, barrel-aged Peychaud's bitters, and sparkling wine). "Sparkling wine in cocktails is a lovely thing to work with," Penn says. "It adds a little complexity and bubbles without covering up other fl avors." Jack Robertiello is a spirits writer based in Brooklyn, NY. On the Bubbles The Blind Tiger cocktail at Cooks & Soldiers, made with gin, lime juice, maple syrup and cava. At Atlanta's Basque concept Cooks & Soldiers, the lightly effervescent txakoli wine has become popular with guests. "Guests today are much more willing to try cavas, ecc and others, and they are willing to spend money on them." — Nicolas Quinones, general manager of Cooks & Soldiers in Atlanta. COOKS & SOLDIERS PHOTOGRAPHY CREDIT: HEIDI GELDHAUSER

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