Cheers May 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 19 of 51 20 • May 2016 S ort of like chardonnay, vodka is back, even though it never really went away. "It's not a question of vodka coming back into popularity, but rather bartenders' acceptance of what consumers want to drink rather than what bartenders want to make," says Cameron Bogue, director of beverage operations for Vancouver, B.C.-based Earls Kitchen + Bar. Vodka was left out of the current cocktail renaissance largely because mixologists had focused on the pre- Prohibition era, long before vodka was introduced to North America, says Bogue. But vodka remains the top spirit. "Vodka is still the king of sales," declares Brad Bevill, vice president of marketing with Boston's Restaurant & Sports Bar, based in Dallas. Vodka-based drinks equal more than half of all spirits ordered at Boston's, and a huge percentage of its overall cocktail sales. By far the largest spirits category, vodka reached 72.8 million nine-liter cases in 2015, a modest but positive volume growth rate of 1.1%, according to the Beverage Information & Insights Group, the research arm of Cheers' parent company. Much of that consumption is in highballs and mixed drinks; however, a number of operators are shining the spotlight on the white spirit. AGENT PRO-VODKATEUR "The whiskey craze is cool, but vodka is still the largest- selling spirit and growing in the U.S.," says Larry Nicola, chef/owner Nic's Beverly Hills, a venerable Martini lounge and restaurant in Los Angeles. "And though I like what the guys with the beards and suspenders are doing, if you want a sophisticated, really good Martini, there's nothing like vodka—chilled and straight up." Claiming the title of "Vodkateur," Nicola frequently travels the world to search out new and unique bottles Trends come and go but the chameleon spirit remains the backbone of the bar By Thomas Henry Strenk Tilted Kilt Pub & Eatery in May launched a signature Tilted Bloody Mary, made with New Amsterdam vodka and garnished with olives, lemon, lime and a slice of bacon.

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