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 21 of 51 22 • May 2016 to add to Nic's list. He discounts the standard defi nition of vodka as odorless and tasteless: "Vodkas all have different characteristics and unique aromas and fl avors depending upon where they are produced and what they are made from." Nic's Beverly Hills has become a destination for vodka enthusiasts. The lounge boasts a glass-fronted, 18-ft.-long freezer that displays vodkas at zero degrees. Customers peruse the collection and can ask the bartender for a shot or a Martini made with specifi c vodkas. Some vodkas are wheeled around the restaurant on a special ice cart. Afi cionados and the curious can also don faux fur coats for guided tastings inside the 28-degree "Vodbox." The walk-in freezer stores more than 80 different bottles, many rare and unusual, on white-leather-lined shelves or on the Nicola family's butcher-block table circa the 1940s. Vodka fl ights are priced at two shots for $21, three for $30, or guests can upgrade to rare bottles like Beluga Gold for $30 a glass or Kauffman Luxury Vintage for $75. The Vodbox is a draw for customers dropping into the lounge, and dinner guests who can opt to visit between the appetizer and main courses. MIX MASTER Although some guests sip and savor superpremiums for their unique character, most vodka on-premise is consumed in cocktails. The chameleon spirit is an ideal base for a variety of drinks, both classic and new-wave. "Some of our most popular drinks showcase vodka," says Chris Purcell, director of food and beverage for the Tempe, AZ-based Tilted Kilt Pub and Eatery. The Celtic-themed sports-bar chain operates 97 units in the U.S. and Canada. One Tilted Kilt vodka drink is the Purple Haze, a colorful mix of Smirnoff Grape vodka, peach schnapps, blue Curacao, cranberry juice, Sprite and freshly squeezed lemon and lime juices. Prices vary, but signature drinks average $8.50. Tilted Kilt launched a new beverage menu earlier this month. The net number of vodka drinks will remain the same— four signature vodka drinks out of 13 total. New to this menu is the signature Tilted Bloody Mary, made with New Amsterdam vodka and garnished with olives, lemon, lime and a slice of bacon. Purcell is busy with R&D on a sharable Bloody Mary combined with an appetizer plate as an all-inclusive presentation for Tilted Kilt. The call vodka list is also changing. "We will still carry Smirnoff, which appeals to a traditional, older vodka drinker," says Purcell. Premiums Ketel One and Grey Goose will continue on the list as well. "But we will also speak to Millennials with the addition of Deep Eddy's vodka, Tito's and New Amsterdam." SIMPLY GREAT "Keep it simple" is the cocktail mantra at Boston's; most drinks are composed of just four ingredients. The emphasis is on an easy-to-execute bar menu. And since most of the chain's 390-plus outlets operate in secondary and tertiary markets in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, its guests aren't as interested in fl ashy mixology, just a good drink. "Folks come here to watch a game, have some food and drinks," notes Bevill. "They don't want to see fi reworks and smoke at the bar. We keep things simple and don't talk over our guests' heads." Standards are popular: vodka mixed with cranberry juice, orange juice, tonic or soda. Stirring up interest among customers is The Chocolate Russian, a riff on the classic, made with chocolate milk ("Yoohoo, but we aren't allowed to say that on menus," confi des Bevill), Tito's vodka, half–and-half and Kahlua. Playing to the brand's Canadian heritage is the 1964 Maple Martini, which references the year Boston's was founded. It's made with Grey Goose and maple syrup. "Maple is a hot fl avor Several of the cocktails at Earls Kitchen + Bar are vodka-based, including the best-selling Moscow Mule (far left), made with Smirnoff vodka, and the Lemon Meringue, mixed with Skyy vodka and limoncello and topped with meringue foam. Boston's Restaurant & Sports Bar sells vodka-based cocktail standards such as the White Russian (right), and some twists on the classics, such as a Chocolate Russian. At Nic's Beverly Hills, specialty vodkas are wheeled around the restaurant on the "vodcart" ice trolley.

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