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 37 of 51 38 • May 2016 may not be proven by clinical trials, but with celebrity anecdotes endorsing its consumption for vitality and energy, kombucha sparkles with promise and perception. Chris Joyner, owner of Seattle's CommuniTea, tells an even more personal story. "We began in 1993 making kombucha to help a friend who was recovering from cancer, and kept on making it." It's a gentle beneficial "with a long history of being good for people, made with natural carbonation and cultures that help digestion," he adds. Seattle's Uneeda Burger, which brings fine-dining flair to gourmet burgers and salads with local ingredients, features local CommuniTea kombucha on draft. "We have lots of conscientious eaters in this city, and kombucha makes a refreshing and different pairing," says beverage director Joshua Ryder says. The draft menu offers three sizes for kombucha: 6 oz. for $3, $12 oz. for $5.50 and 16-oz. pints for $6.75. REVENUE POTENTIAL Kombucha represents three possible streams of revenue on premise for many operators, says Gustafson. "It's good for the designated driver or alcohol-free customer who has an adult palate, as certain brands offer fermented flavor and complexity with less than 1% alcohol by volume." The flavored varieties, he adds, make fascinating mixers for all kinds of spirits to create less-sugary cocktails. "Plus, kombucha can be sold throughout the day, from orange or citrus juice blends in the morning, to after-dinner infusions." Priced to compete with craft beer, draft kombucha wholesale prices range between $60 to $90 per sixtel (about one-sixth of a keg), depending on producer and location. Yet draft kombucha may yield a profitable pour, as serving sizes tend to be smaller, typically 6 oz. to 10 oz. presented in a flute, tulip or wine glass. "Our bar customers charge $3.50 to $5.50 per 8-oz. glass for kombucha on draft," says Gustafson. Draft kombucha can be rotated in with sour ales. "If you have a sour ale on tap, that line could also be used for kombucha with proper cleaning in between kegs," notes Kanaan of Unity Vibration. "However, the dispense system can't get too cold because kombucha is so low in alcohol, the line will freeze if the temperature drops below 32F." Unity Vibration takes it a step further, brewing a series of gluten-free beers based on kombucha, but with strengths ranging from 6% to 12% ABV. The brewery's KPA is a pale ale with hops and juniper, brewed with the kombucha tea base and finished with fresh grapefruit rind. Aromatics may be reminiscent of a sour ale, but the finish is somewhat peppery and complex at 7% ABV. At HopCat, a Grand Rapids, MI-based, 10-unit chain from BarFly Ventures, Unity Vibration taps into the desire for something that's fresh, local and sustainably produced. The Ann Arbor, MI, HopCat location featured Unity Vibration for a gluten-sensitive alternative to the typical beer dinner, with choices such as creamy cauliflower soup paired with a 4-oz. tasting of the Brewgyver Wild Ale. Nate Uri, a cofounder of Prohibition Kombucha, heads the drinks program at INspirits, based on "Intelligent Nutrients," as the program was started in the corporate headquarters of the Aveda company in Minneapolis. "We began making aromatherapeutic drinks at the lifestyle salons' research and Tea up! The Punch Room in Charlotte, NC, uses herbs and flowers from its rooftop garden in several kombucha cocktails, such as this riff on a Pimm's Cup. Bob Peters, head mixologist at the Punch Room at the Ritz-Carl- ton Hotel in Charlotte, NC, enjoys using kombucha as a mixer "because it is a little different, with some funk, tartness and a little bit of umami."

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