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 23 of 51 24 • May 2016 A bar-centric, small-plates Spanish restaurant group expands its reach W hen Gretchen Thomas was hired to run the beverage program at Barcelona Wine Bar in 2005, it was a single concept with four locations in Connecticut. The operator is now the largest Spanish restaurant group in the U.S., with 12 locations, and has expanded to Atlanta, Boston, and the Washington, D.C. area. It also includes 10 locations of Bartaco, a Brazilian tacqueria-like concept launched in 2011. So Thomas's job these days has become a bit more complicated—and much more of a balancing act. As wine and spirits director for the Norwalk, CT-based parent company Barteca, Thomas creates beverage programs that capture the cuisine, spirit and vibe of both brands. One thing they have in common is a focus on fresh, premium drinks. And while both franchises maintain the same wine lists at all locations, the available beer and spirits change up to refl ect local fl avors. SPANISH ACCENTS Launched in 1996 by co-owners Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer, the upscale Barcelona is all about classic Spanish tapas, cheeses and charcuterie and Mediterranean-infl uenced entrees. In addition to an extensive selection of wines from Spain and South America, Barcelona offers cocktails with a "vintage European" feel. The concept also lends itself to a variety spirits, aperitifs and vermouths. Given how popular gin is in Spain, the spirit is featured prominently at Barcelona. It is in the brand's signature cocktail: the Barcelona Gintonic ($12), which Thomas points out is the cocktail's spelling in Spain. Added to the menu about four or fi ve years ago, the Barcelona Gintonic is made of Hayman's London Dry gin, Fevertree tonic, orange, lemon and rosemary. "It's super easy to make, and great when working in high volumes," Thomas says. "And you can mix it up with different garnishes depending on the season, which is how they do it with gintonics in Spain." Thanks to the consumer interest in all things brown spirits, cocktails with rye or bourbon are popular now at both Barcelona and Bartaco. A top-selling cocktail at Barcelona is the Bourbon Spice Rack ($11). This bitters-driven drink features Four Roses bourbon, pure maple syrup, lemon juice, Scrappy's Cardamom & Lavender bitters, served with a large ice cube. It's similar to a Manhattan or whiskey | | | | | | PROFILE | | | | | | BARTECA BREAKS OUT By Kyle Swartz "THE BEER PROGRAM IS NOT INTENDED TO BE FLASHY…WE LIKE RELIABLE, TASTY, CLASSIC BRANDS." — Gretchen Thomas

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