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 24 of 51 25 May 2016 • sour, but heavier on the spiced aromatics. "It reminds me of opening my mother's spice rack and the strong smells that would come wafting out," Thomas says. AN ECLECTIC AND ACCESSIBLE WINE LIST The wine menu at Barcelona is special to Thomas. It's her baby, something she has built and refined during her decade with Barteca. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, where she was valedictorian of her class, Thomas is also a recipient of the Kopf Achievement Award, and a resident wine tutor. Barcelona's list includes about 500 wine bottles, plus 50 entries by the glass. Thomas changes up the menu as much as possible, switching in at least three to four new wines each month. In keeping with the Barcelona theme, about 15% of bottles—and 80% of wines by the glass—come from Spain. The rest cover the full gamut of wine, from Old World to New and everything in between. Bottles are priced from $30 to $650, though "about 75% of our bottle list is under $70," Thomas says. "The vast majority is between $30 and $40." It's not that customers have necessarily asked for less-expensive wines, she adds. "It's just something we want to do" so that ordering wine in Barcelona doesn't have to be a costly or overly formal experience. Although some customers are looking to splurge on a special evening, many parties just want to order a few tapas items and share an affordable bottle of wine. DIRECT IMPORTING Thomas keeps prices down on some wines by direct importing about 25 bottles from their producers. For instance, Barcelona imports bottles of Albariño de Fefiñanes 2010 directly from the Palacio de Fefiñanes winery in Pontevedra, Spain. Thomas had been buying the wine through traditional distribution channels, but the original importer stopped bringing in the wine in 2007 after the recession squeezed the industry. Undeterred, Thomas contacted the winery, which agreed to ship to Barteca. Thomas saves money via a strategic partnership with a company that is both an importer and distributor. "I make the effort and assume responsibility to source and price negotiate FOB costs on wines," she notes. Her costs are lower because there are no sales rep commissions built into the prices of the wines, plus the partner takes a lower gross profit margin on the wines. And those savings are passed on to the Barcelona customers. The direct importing "allows me to sell cellar-quality wines at really affordable prices." What had been a $65 bottle on the Barcelona menu is now priced at just $44—and $11 per glass. "It's our top-selling white wine," Thomas says. As for the beer program, Barcelona offers some imports and a good number of craft offerings. Spanish brews, however, are not on the menu. "We don't put Spanish beers on draft, because we're about quality and price to the customer, not just sourcing Spanish beer for the sake of having one on the menu," Thomas explains. "The beer program is not intended to be flashy," she adds. "We like reliable, tasty, classic brands." Thomas switches up the beverage menus twice per year, for fall/winter and spring/summer, and crafts offerings to the season. Gretchen Thomas, wine and spirits director for Barteca, direct imports some wines from Spain for the list at the company's Barcelona chain. A top-selling cocktail at Barcelona is the Bourbon Spice Rack, with Four Roses bourbon, maple syrup, lemon juice and Scrappy's Cardamom & Lavender bitters. The Barcelona Gintonic, made with Hayman's London Dry gin, Fevertree tonic, orange, lemon and rosemary.

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