Bar Business June 2022

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bar ar busines business June 2022





“OUTER” Space What’s new and necessary in outdoor bar décor.







From the Editor


Health & Hospitality


Owning Up

June 2022

A letter from our Editor Ashley Bray. Tips for staying well.

Information on business management.




On Tap


Bar Tour


Behind the Bar





Important dates for the month. Industry news and announcements. An ode to Dad culture opens in the Upper Midwest. In-depth analysis of beer, wine, and spirits. Featured product releases. A conversation with Linda Larson Gawne.



Smoke Signals


The Value of Variance Reports

Where there’s smoke in cocktails, there’s bound to be flavor.


COVER STORY Further Exploration of “Outer” Space

What’s new and necessary in outdoor bar décor.

How wise operators see and use variance reports.


June 2022

Bar Business Magazine


bar business JUNE 2022

VOL. 15

NO. 2

Bar Business Magazine (ISSN 1944-7531) is published by Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 88 Pine St 23rd Fl., New York, NY 10005


EXECUTIVE OFFICES President Arthur J. McGinnis, Jr.

Group Publisher Gary Lynch Office: 212-620-7247; Cell: 646-637-5206


Editor-in-Chief Ashley Bray 212-620-7220 Contributing Writers Elyse Glickman, Nick Mautone, Doug Radkey, Kevin Tam, Daniela Luzi Tudor


Art Director Nicole D’Antona Graphic Designer Hillary Coleman


Corporate Production Director Mary Conyers


Circulation Director Jo Ann Binz

ADVERTISING SALES David Harkey 973-563-0109

Bar Business (Digital ISSN 2161-5071) is published four times a year. March, June, September, and November are only offered in a digital format at no charge by Simmons-Boardman Publ. Corp, 88 Pine St. 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10005. COPYRIGHT © Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation 2022. All rights reserved. Contents may not be reproduced without permission. For reprint information contact: Gary Lynch, Phone (212) 620-7247, or For Subscriptions, & address changes, please call (402) 346-4740, Fax (847) 291-4816, e-mail, or write to: Bar Business Magazine, Simmons-Boardman Publishing Corporation, PO Box 239, Lincolnshire IL 60069-0239 USA. Instructional information in this magazine should only be performed by skilled craftspeople with the proper equipment. The publisher and authors of information provided herein advise all readers to exercise care when engaging in any of the how-to activities published in the magazine. Further, the publisher and authors assume no liability for damages or injuries resulting from projects contained herein.


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June 2022





1.5 oz. Ole Smoky Mango Habanero 3 oz. Energy Drink ®

Drink Responsibly

Ole Smoky Mango Habanero Whiskey. 35% Alc./Vol. ©2022 Ole Smoky Distillery, LLC, Gatlinburg, TN All Rights Reserved. OLE SMOKY is registered trademark of Ole Smoky Distillery, LLC.





Today’s consumers are curious and want to try the newest—whether it’s a new streaming service, watch, or spirit.

– Luis Niño de Rivera, Co-founder, Mezcal Amarás


Bar Business Magazine

June 2022


appy Summer! The only thing better than enjoying a cocktail at your favorite bar is enjoying it on the outside patio! We’ve got you covered for outdoor sipping season with a feature on page 16 that discusses design, furniture, guest comfort, and more! Along with the rise in temperatures is a rise in our coverage of the business of running a bar. In On Tap on page 14, we’re covering five tips to follow when leasing a location. On page 24, we’ve got a deep dive into variance reports and how wise operators see and use them. We’re also debuting a “new” column on page 8 called Owning Up, which will cover all things business management. Long-time readers of Bar Business will recognize the revived column, which last ran in 2016. As bar owners face down new challenges, constantly changing consumer demands, and a radically altered business landscape, it’s never been a better time to double-down on our commitment to bringing you articles on management and operations. Rounding out the issue, we have three stories that I picked up while walking the Bar & Restaurant Expo back in late March. First up, our Bar Tour features Dad’s Bar Owner Jon Lakoduk, who I met on the show floor in full-on “Dad” regalia—a fanny pack, white New Balance sneakers with the socks pulled all the way up, and a baseball cap. At first, I thought Jon had wandered into the wrong show, but then I realized his aesthetic was a marketing tool for his bar in Minot, North Dakota. Below the dorky dad persona, Jon is a fount of marketing ideas, and his ode to Dad culture is doing things that have never

been done before in Minot, North Dakota— the least of which is giving me a reason to want to visit Minot. Check out the column on page 27, and you too may be finding yourself looking up flights to North Dakota. An unexpected trend that was all over the show floor this year was smoked cocktails. The more booths I visited selling ways to smoke cocktails and food, the more it made sense—these tools offer a cocktail and a show, and they fit into the unique experience so many bargoers are craving. Read up on this trend on page 20. A trend that many of us saw coming is the rise of agave spirits. With the popularity of tequila at an all-time high, it’s no surprise that consumers are looking for other sipping experiences in the agave space. Spirits like mezcal, bacanora, and raicilla have all stepped in to fulfill this demand, and there were plenty of booths at the expo showcasing agave spirits. In fact, international spirits in general are having a moment. In Behind the Bar on page 30, we cover not only agave spirits but also the Japanese distilled beverage shochu. Asian spirits are seeing an increase in interest, with baijiu, shochu, soju, and Japanese whiskies entering the U.S. market. We hope the stories and tips in this issue help you to discover new ideas, profit avenues, and products for your back bar!




HEALTH & Hospitality

BRINGING EMPATHY TO THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY The importance of empathy in mental health concerns and substance use disorder.




Bar Business Magazine

June 2022

substance misuse. It’s become a core cultural component that we project through our mission to help others. In the relentless nature of the hospitality and service industry—particularly food and beverage—empathy can quickly become as tolling as it is rewarding, and it’s something we immediately identified as a burgeoning dilemma in today’s hospitality industry. According to 2019 national statistics from the National Restaurant Association, the restaurant industry represents 10% of the workforce in the United States. That’s over 15 million workers. Substance misuse and mental health struggles are common narratives within the industry. The costs are also high. The estimated cost of drug abuse in the United States is more than $740 billion a year and growing, according to data reported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. And drug abuse costs the nation more than $120 billion per year in lost productivity, according to The National Drug Intelligence Center. This was pre-COVID, but there is no doubt

these numbers have only increased since. Throughout COVID-19, a number of industries have experienced a period of reassessment. For hospitality, safety measures and regulations instigated a vast reassessment of the service and operations in hotels, restaurants, and bars, but it’s also brought about a reassessment of how we treat hospitality workers and how hospitality organizations can better empathize with the individuals that work their front lines. It’s a privilege to be able to expand WEconnect to the industry where I began, provide services even beyond recovery, and offer a convenient and effective resource for mental and emotional wellness. Hospitality will always strive to empathize with the guest. It’s our turn to return the favor. Daniela Luzi Tudor is co-founder and CEO of WEconnect Health Management. An entrepreneur, social impact advocate/investor, and person in long-term recovery, Daniela is the creator of the WEconnect platform (

Photos: WEconnect.

ven before COVID-19, you’d be hard-pressed not to find the word “empathy” floating around your LinkedIn or on a businessfocused social media account. Empathy is a vital, ubiquitous component of customer service, but establishing ethos is never simple—it’s actually far more nuanced and complicated. As a long-time bartender and promoter, empathy was a powerful tool for service—a compassionate and emotional investment in those I served across the bar, and those I collaborated with behind it. But as a person in recovery from addiction, the stress and toll of maintaining a persistent, empathetic demeanor on the clock could backfire, shifting from a helpful tool into an emotional burden that could transform into an excuse to drink and use. In recovery, the empathy I received from others helped save me, and it helped as I became the founder and CEO of WEconnect, an engaging, digital solution for addiction, behavioral health, and

BRINGING YOU THE VOICES FROM BEHIND THE BAR BAR BUSINESS PODCASTS A Seat at the Bar: Our podcast series features conversations with leading figures in the bar industry about their successes, failures, and everything in between. BAR BUSINESS WEBINARS Mastering the Art: Our webinar series takes a deep dive into the topics that matter most to bar owners and operators.

View our podcasts and webinars at URL.

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June 2022


All Photos: Gorodenkoff.


t’s no secret—when you dig deep down, you will learn that every bar, restaurant, or hospitality business, including yours, started with an idea that perhaps you could do something better, or make a difference in this industry, or somehow impact others within your community. It is not an easy endeavour to get to that point and to drive those desired results. It takes plenty of systemized thinking, social skills, leadership, creativity, stress management, sacrifices, and passion. Most of all, it takes what is called strategic clarity. Strategic clarity is the understanding of who we are, where we are going, how we are going to get there, and why we are doing this. Owners and operators within this industry, however, seem to be facing this ongoing war of clarity vs. confusion, simplification vs. complication, and straight talk vs., well, bullshit. In the previous “normal” or prepandemic era, it wasn’t difficult to locate a brand in the over-saturated market with a confusing concept; mixed brand messaging; or no strategic plans, efficient systems, leadership, communication, culture, diversity, scalability, sustainability, and/or consistency. Any bar business with any of these issues simply lacks the elements of strategic clarity. It means you’ve gotten away from the fundamentals of success and what was likely your original idea of creating something better, making a difference, or impacting others within your community. One thing you have to remember (and you might want to write this down) is this: Having true clarity makes for easier, quicker, and better business decisions. Good decisions are made by following a process, system, or framework while game changing decisions are a function of how clear the objective is. A lack of clarity breeds an overabundance of options. At some point, developing these options wastes both time and resources as there is no way to determine which option delivers the most value. This leads to poor decisions, confusion, complications, etc. But for some reason, many within this industry look at the words “strategy” and

“plan” as foreign entities. Often, when I talk about strategic planning, many in attendance admit they don’t have time for it, think strategic planning is a waste of time, or think the

STRATEGIC PLANNING HOLDS THE KEY TO SUCCESS. series of plans will be obsolete as soon as they are developed and delivered. As a strategist at heart, I think I cry a little inside when I hear this. But as we move into this new normal, planning will be more important than ever because words connect to visualization. As an industry, we must structure a vision and imprint a road map of future outcomes and of new ways of doing business. The businesses that survive this crisis will be the resilient ones who are ready for anything from a financial and operational point-of-view. They’ve hit the reset button and adapted to change. They know their new and existing customers and their numbers. They’re fiscally smart, have a road map, and are fine-tuning their operations—they have strategic clarity. To create strategic clarity for you and your bar business, there needs to be a

series of actions that will eliminate excuses and hold you accountable. Your business needs these 10 fundamental plans to develop the characteristics of a winning hospitality brand—scalability, sustainability, profitability, memorability, and consistency: • market feasibility study • concept plan • brand guide • tech-stack plan • marketing plan • on-boarding plan • detailed training program • business development plan • contingency plan • thorough financial playbook Make it a point of emphasis to complete these ten plans this year. These plans will help you understand who you are, where you are going, how you are going to get there, and why you are doing this. It’s time to get serious about business and outline your future with strategic clarity. Over the next few issues, we will be covering the ten plans above, which will help you build a bar business that allows you to connect with your community, make an impact, and create something that will make a difference in this industry. The time is now to build upon what was great and eradicate what’s not working. Are you ready? Doug Radkey is president of KRG Hospitality Inc., the bar and restaurant start-up experts. He is also the author of Bar Hacks and Hacking the New Normal. Visit June 2022

Bar Business Magazine


HAPPENINGS Summer 2022


JUNE 25 INTERNATIONAL ROSÉ DAY Put a glass of this pink-hued wine on special today.



JULY 11 NATIONAL MOJITO DAY The perfect rum refresher for summer sipping!

JULY 4 INDEPENDENCE DAY Break out the red, white, and blue recipes!

JULY 24 NATIONAL TEQUILA DAY The popularity of tequila is booming, but have you tried other agave spirits? Turn to page 30 to read more about them.


Bar Business Magazine

June 2022

All Photos:

Insurance is an important part of running your bar. Need more management tips? Check out our new Owning Up column on page 8.





This bar favorite is a staple—highlight it on your menu!

The following information is subject to change. Check show sites for the most up-to-date information.

JUNE 2022 NORTHWEST FOOD SHOW AUGUST 5 NATIONAL BEER DAY Whether it’s craft, domestic, or imported, any beer goes today.

June 26-27, 2022 Portland, Oregon

JULY 2022 TEXAS RESTAURANT SHOW July 9-11, 2022 Dallas, Texas


AUGUST 9 BOOK LOVER’S DAY Looking for your next great read? Turn to page 12 for a round-up of newly released industry titles.

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL July 25-29, 2022 New Orleans, Louisiana

AUGUST 2022 TEXAS BAR & NIGHTCLUB CONVENTION August 15, 2022 Houston, Texas

AUGUST 26 WOMEN’S EQUALITY DAY Offer up specials, highlight your female staff members, and check out our Q&A on page 36 with Linda Gawne.

ECRM ON-PREMISE ADULT BEVERAGE PROGRAM August 22-24, 2022 San Diego, California

June 2022

Bar Business Magazine




ooking for some recipe inspiration, a good story, or some cocktail industry history? Then add the books below to your to-be-read pile!

Black Mixcellence Leader of Brand Advocacy at Bacardi USA Colin Asare-Appiah (who also starred in “The Cocktail Kings” on DISCOVERY Channel) and Author Tamika Hall released a new book on July 19th titled, Black Mixcellence: A Comprehensive Guide to Black Mixology. The authors noticed how the monumental contributions of Black and Brown mixologists were frequently overlooked in the cocktail industry, even though they were often responsible for opening doors and 12

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laying foundations for other brands and companies to flourish. As a result, the pair teamed up to create a book that weaves together this significant history with custom craft cocktails from over 20 mixologists who are impacting mixology today. Some of the notable modern mixologists highlighted in the book are Hennessy Regional Brand Ambassador Alexis Brown, Tiffanie Barriere of The Drinking Coach, and Karl Franz Williams, owner of 67 Orange St. Black Mixcellence also shares the stories of important figures from cocktail history, such as Uncle Nearest, the Black man who taught Jack Daniels how to distill whiskey, and Black bartender John Dabney,

who helped to make the mint julep a common household drink. Through the book, Tamika and Colin aim to change the narrative and give credit where it’s due. Nectar of the Gods Brush up on your mythology and your mixology with the new book, Nectar of the Gods, from Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby! podcast host Liv Albert. Released on April 12, the book begins with a look at imbibing in Ancient Greece—including a primer on ancient drinking vessels and some suitable modern substitutes. The book covers the basics of cocktail creation and even offers a variety of recipes for foundational mixers like cinnamon syrup and hibiscus grenadine.

Photo: Shutterstock/ Maksym Fesenko.


Bar Books: Add These to Your TBR Pile

ON TAP Released on May 17, the book offers an introduction to essential bar tools and glassware as well as a primer on the sweet, sour, bitter, and salty flavor profiles of a cocktail. Cocktail Chemistry also teaches techniques to increase your finesse when mixing, like how to make perfectly clear ice and how to flame a citrus peel. While Fisher knows it’s important to put in the work of learning the craft of mixology, he also understands that, fundamentally, it’s supposed to be fun. In that spirit, Fisher recreates iconic drinks from pop culture (think James Bond’s Vesper Martini, Don Draper’s Old Fashioned from Mad Men, and Fight Milk from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and uses them as the point of reference to expand and explore related recipes and techniques.

Sammy Hagar’s Cocktail Hits Toted as “the only bartending book you’ll ever need,” Sammy Hagar’s Cocktail Hits: 85 Personal Favorites from the Red Rocker is co-authored by Sammy Hagar and James Beard Award-winning cookbook author James O. Fraioli. Published on March 29, the book starts out with bartending basics, tools and glassware, and cocktail foundations. It then moves on to Hagar’s collection of cocktail recipes crafted with the Red Rocker’s awardwinning spirits portfolio including Santo Tequila Reposado, Santo Tequila Blanco, Beach Bar Rum, and Santo Mezquila, which is a partnership with Guy Fieri, who also wrote the foreword. Signature cocktail recipes include the Coconut Mojito, Maui Mama, Tiki Swizzle, Santo Oaxaca, and more.

The book’s focus is on recipes inspired by the stories of Greek history and mythology. Each recipe is presented alongside a story or character profile to introduce the reader to the world of Greek mythology (Hera’s Hurricane, Pandora’s Jar, and The River Styx are standouts). Captivating illustrations from award-winning artist Sara Richard and expert mixology from beverage consultant Thea Engst round out the offering. Cocktail Chemistry Nick Fisher, host of the YouTube channel Cocktail Chemistry, brings his expertise, passion, and expansive knowledge of spirits and technique to his debut cocktail book, Cocktail Chemistry.

June 2022

Bar Business Magazine


FROM ON TAP THE EDITOR Five Tips for Leasing Your Business hen it comes time lease a new location, it’s easy to fall into traps that can hinder your business from the outset. Here are five tips to help you navigate this crucial moment in your business startup. 1. Work with Qualified Experts Despite your familiarity with conditions in your market, engage the services of a broker who specializes in bar/ restaurant/retail leases. These tenant reps work for you, not the property owner, and can help you find the correct location for your concept while providing insights on lease terms. They typically work on a commission paid by the property owner, so tap their knowledge extensively. Engage a real estate attorney experienced in bar and restaurant leases who will negotiate the technical fine points of your lease and protect your interests. 2. Location, Location, Location Location is the first rule of real estate. What qualifies as a suitable location depends entirely on your concept and specifically the clientele you hope to reach. While most businesses seek high traffic counts to thrive, these areas garner significantly higher rents. If you are a craft cocktail bar with deliberate service, your concept may not fit within a robust business environment getting hammered during cocktail hour. That clientele is looking for expeditious service in an energetic environment. Your concept might be more suitably located where nightlife thrives, and the clientele more forgiving of your deliberate style. Study and understand the density, demographics (statistical data of the local population), and psychographics (what moves the populace; lifestyles, interests, opinions, attitudes). In short: Either find a location that fits your concept, or fit your concept into a great location.

sales. In most markets, we recommend having a rent of 5% - 7% of gross revenue. For example, if your annual revenue is $500,000, then your annual rent should be between $25,000 and $35,000. In larger markets and dense locations, you may pay as much as 10% or more for rent, but you get the benefit of increased population density. Either way, start with a precise business plan outlining your gross revenues and expected costs and then determine the rent you can afford. 4. Understand the Lease Basics Most leases provide some period of free rent during the pre-opening phase; commonly 90 days or even longer. The longer free rent period, the stronger footing you start with. Many landlords try to participate in the upside of their tenants’ success by charging a percentage rent. I often walk away from percentage rents in small businesses as they usually help the landlord win and the tenant lose. In certain environments, such as mall locations, they can be a benefit, but you need a qualified attorney to walk

you through the pros and cons for your business. 5. Personal Liability I do not recommend signing a personal guarantee for any lease. If the business falters, you’re on the hook for the rent for years down the road. A limited “Good Guy Guarantee” can be a great way to go. If the business is just not profitable, this allows the tenant to offer the space back to the landlord at a prescribed time, while only guaranteeing that rent is current up to a specified date. Nick Mautone has 40 years of hospitality industry experience. Mautone believes in the power of mentorship, leadership, collaboration, and possibility. A highly regarded consultant, investor, and restaurateur, Mautone is the architect of an inventive process called “Hospitality Sabermetrics”—think Moneyball for hospitality. He has a sixth sense when it comes to foreseeing trends, and he is known for nurturing sustained success, streamlining operations, and aligning core values in every sort of hospitality business.

Photo: Shutterstock/


3. Start with a Business Plan The amount of rent you’re able to pay is in direct correlation to your estimated 14

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June 2022



Whether it’s seasonal specials, a signature holiday drink, or a selection of cocktails centered around a particular spirit, we have the perfect recipes to add to your bar’s menu. Browse our recipes and elevate your cocktail menu.

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“OUTER” Space

Fire pits help to make outdoor dining beyond summer and fall possible.


his spring and summer, outdoor dining will once again be a lifestyle choice rather than a public health measure. If you’re going to tap into that excitement, however, you now need to curate your outdoor area to reflect your customers’ elevated expectations when they head to your establishment for a night “out.” With better days ahead on the horizon, however, it’s also important to recognize that the pandemic provided many reminders that creating the most appealing outdoor setting 16

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involves far more than putting out a few tables and chairs. Continuity, or successfully carrying the “vibe” of your indoor space outdoors, is key now that business is back. With that in mind, how do you make the outdoor space an extension of the indoor space that has attracted customers to your bar? And what adjustments need to be made in terms of flooring and furniture to weatherproof that look? Whether your patio, deck, porch, or terrace already exists or is a new addition, there’s essential gear to

consider in 2022 beyond the usual umbrellas and weatherproof furniture. And while you still need to think about safety, that definition will expand from cleanliness and food preparation to include everyday concerns such as sun exposure during the summer, skid- and weatherproof flooring, and heating units and lighting with sound wiring. “The pandemic certainly highlighted the need for restaurants to maximize their current outdoor spaces,” says Lee Schulman, who speaks from experience as both an owner/ operator (Atlanta’s Old Vinings Inn) and industry



All Photos: VASO at the AC Hotel Columbus Dublin.


consultant as president of Panacea Management Group Consulting. “Heating and cooling those spaces allow year-round utilization and maximize revenues for the business,” Schulman says. “The climate in which you operate will dictate what solutions are best for your outdoor space. It then becomes a math problem: How can I maximize my revenue in my space through deployment of these resources? What will be the upfront cost? How many served guests will it take on my current check average to recapture the investment required? How long and/or

how many seasons will it take to do so?” THE OUTDOORSY TYPES Josh Buck, general manager of VASO in Dublin, Ohio, could be described as a sherpa in the outdoor bar/dining universe as his vision of the great outdoors (in a location with four distinct seasons) has been honored with many accolades, such as Best Designed Bar in Ohio by Architectural Digest and Top Igloo Experience by both Midwest Living and Travel & Leisure. In recent years, he’s observed the pendulum is swinging back toward a minimalist aesthetic indoors and outdoors while current technology is enhancing the guest experience. However, creating the perfect outdoor getaway inside a venue still involves careful thought and planning. “This time around, technology is advanced enough to allow efficiency and practicality to integrate beautifully into a minimalistic design, which should be the focal point of an outdoor space,” Buck says. “Furniture and lighting for your space should flow well into this concept, allowing for the eye to focus on the simple details that match your overall aesthetic, while the behind-thescenes allows for a smooth operation with the use of technology. Lee Schulman, PMG Consulting, meanwhile, stresses the importance of comfort over convenience while still factoring in contemporary style and lifestyle into the formula. “People have been confined more or less for the past couple years,” he says. “Therefore, design and aesthetics that convey comfort and polish are more important now than before. People want to escape their familiar surroundings and transport themselves but also be somewhat close to home. Design will reflect that: familiar and comfortable, yet just enough style that it’s new and different. When shopping for an outdoor space, Buck says that the first concern should be the comfort of the guest, which in turn will depend on the geographic location as well as the season. If heaters are necessary, heaters should be integrated into a given design style to make their bulky size an afterthought. In warmer regions, tables and seating upholstery should be made of

breathable materials and those that won’t heat up in the sun, while in cooler areas, they should be made of materials that retain heat. “Let’s start with the obvious enemy of outdoor If a guest is not comfortable in the first five minutes experiencing your outdoor space, your overall guest retention will be drastically lower,” warns Buck, noting that even the best umbrellas and awnings alone, and in any type of climate, won’t fully cover the customers’ comfort requirements. “The first thing you should be looking at when shopping for your outdoor space is how well your purchase will hold up in an outdoor environment. Even if you have a covering in place that will block rain or snow, humidity and outdoor air can still tarnish items not designed for outdoor use.” Fire pits, which gained traction in recent years for their good looks, have also helped make outdoor dining beyond summer and fall as feasible in places like Chicago and Philadelphia as they are in Los Angeles and Miami. While wellplaced heaters would still be a necessity, Rose Mangiardi, owner of Realstone Granite Fire Pits in London, Ontario, says that a good rule of thumb to follow is that what goes into a top-grade kitchen should also work for fire pits from both a practical and aesthetic standpoint. “We use the same quality granite used for kitchen countertops to manufacture fire pits that burn wood, gas, and propane,” Mangiardi explains. “Granite really is the best natural stone as it withstands the elements, it has been around for millions of years, and is proven more durable than plastic, manmade stone, and pre-cast concrete. This means customers and staff would be less likely to damage them. I recommend a fire pit ‘table’ with a commercial-grade stainless steel or tempered glass top to my hospitality clients in the U.S. and Canada. This adds durability as well as versatility as an additional table when the fire function is not in use. Furthermore, the table top won’t be carried away with the wind but will protect the burners during rain and snow as drainage jewels are built in to allow water to dissipate through drainage holes.” June 2022

Bar Business Magazine


OUTDOOR SPACE accommodate the dimensions of your outdoor space,” she says. “If a [hospitality client] is on a budget, especially after coming out of COVID, we offer dry-stacked DIY packages that can be easily assembled as an alternative to finished models. However, I recommend bringing in a gas technician to come and connect the gas as you want to not leave anything to chance on that end.”

If a guest is not comfortable in the first five minutes in your outdoor space, your overall guest retention will be drastically lower.

SCENE CONTINUITY Several of our experts agree that guests should have the same relative experience dining outside as they would inside a dining room. Of course, there are fundamental differences that need to be taken into account when furnishing an outdoor space, and there will be some differences of opinions and outlook. Schulman recommends that furniture and lighting should be in keeping with the general scheme of the restaurant’s decor and also allow for the additional stress outside weather (water, wind, sun, etc.) will have on those furnishings. “When you walk from the indoor space into the outdoor space, you want the guest to feel as though they have just entered a new realm of your establishment,” says Buck. “You want the guest to know they are still inside your overall concept, but you want them to feel a special and unique experience that differs from your indoor space. The outdoor space should be a continuation of the indoors and should match the overarching theme.” Buck points out that a popular method to achieve continuity is to reverse your indoor color scheme for the outdoors. For example, if your venue has dark floors and light colored tables inside, try dark colored tables and light floors outside. He also suggests creative use of 18

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existing accent colors, such as putting them in different places than inside, and translating small design pieces used in the indoor space to a focal point outside, and vice versa. Schulman, however, reminds owners that food and beverage spills are more likely to happen in outside environments. Therefore, fabrics or additives that repel stains are a must. Looking at the bigger picture, materials used in the furnishings, fixtures, flooring, and other components should be easy to clean to preserve their appearance for an extended period. While higher-end brands such as Krypton or Sunbrella cost more, they are worth that additional investment up front to ensure a longer service life. The possibility of customization of different pieces should also be explored to tie the indoors and outdoors together. Mangiardi observes fire pits can either be purchased assembled or created by the client with the company’s “firepit builder” to ensure the fire pits can easily harmonize with a variety of rustic or outdoorsy themes (winery, French or Italian country cuisine, Americana). Using the “firepit builder,” customers can mix and match the stone, granite top, top finishes, and other elements. “Using our handy online tool, you can select the shape, size, and color to

LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT As many bar/restaurant themes easily translate to outdoor spaces, it’s important to weave in small details to set your establishment apart from comparable places in town. Buck observes that many staff essentials and serving items can often be made from the same materials that you use in your indoor space. Most flatware, glasses, and china will hold up the same as they would inside. Schulman, on the other hand, notes that even with aesthetics under consideration, outdoor spaces may require alternate smallware because of unpredictable weather and environmental circumstances as well as a few home-y and cozy extras. “There are plastic plates, glasses, and utensils offering the appearance and feel of ceramic china, glass, and silver,” he points out. “There are so many options out there that have the look and feel of the real deal. Last thing you want is broken glass on your porch. Another nice touch I’ve seen in colder climates are blankets. The spring can be tricky. The evening might start off warm but get colder as the sun goes down. Having a few baskets full of warm blankets creates a cozy feel. Diners love it!” Another major aspect to consider is staff uniforms, which run in tandem with guest comfort. “Your staff comfort is a top priority, and if they will be working in heat or cold,” says Buck, “it will be a necessity to differentiate your uniform from those working in your indoor space.” For a checklist of safety considerations for outdoor dining areas from Society Insurance, visit


Bar Business Media is a digital platform dedicated to bringing stories from behind the bar to the forefront of the conversation through our newsletters, website, podcasts and virtual events. From the smallest dive bar to the largest franchise, we highlight members of the community who are transforming the guest experience, advancing their company culture, inspiring others in their drive for success, and leading the industry into the future.





s the American palate continues to evolve, so too are cocktails with more complex and intense flavors, and smoke is having its moment. To add a smoky flavor, venues are using highly specific bartending techniques as well as smoky garnishes (think smoked salt or a strip of smoked bacon standing in for a swizzle stick) and recipe components that add earthy, woody flavor notes to temper and balance the sweet and sour. Smoking 20

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kits and blow torches creating dramatic tableside magic of vapor rising from the drink are also appearing, especially at venues with a brown spirits emphasis. “I believe the desire to see more alternative flavor profiles than just sweet, strong, and tart is driving the desire [for smoked cocktails],” says Rafe Gabel, co-owner and director of operations at Triangulo Restaurant Group for Duende in Oakland, Calif. “It shows creativity and thoughtfulness. This is what gets drinks photographed and put on social feeds.”

Using various strategies and tools, bartenders have made old favorites (Bloody Marys, old fashioneds, etc.) new again and opened the floodgates for new recipes tailored for modern tastes. “My cocktail menu is history based,” says Lisa Harrington, bartender at Miller’s Toll Dinner Club & Lounge, Bennington, Vt. “We offer a classic plus a few variations on the original. I currently have a Rosemary Smoked Negroni and/or Boulevardier Sour on the menu as well as a smoky, spicy margarita, and they are amongst the best

Photo: Maksym Fesenko


Photos (left to right): Miller’s Toll Dinner Club & Lounge, Bennington, Vt.; Next Door, Boston, Mass.

SMOKED COCKTAILS selling of the cocktail offerings under our ‘classic’ heading. We have many people that come in and try one smoked drink then immediately look for others.” Many members of the USBG (including Brett Sanders, Inga Tantisalidchai, Courtney Fletcher, Dan Marlowe, Aistis Zidanavicius, and Kristian Arnold) are fired up about this ever-evolving trend. “Offering smoked cocktails allows a bar to branch out and create flavors that wouldn’t normally be available,” says Brett Sanders, United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG) member and mixologist and bar manager at Olive or Twist in Pittsburg, Pa. Lisa Harun, chief marketing officer of Stündenglass smoked cocktail bar tools, counts the increased sophistication of the American palate, social media, and the opportunity to create custom menu items as reasons why sales for smoked cocktails are heating up. “Because of the dramatic presentation, social media is going to keep the popularity of smoke rising,” she says. “Smoke infusion adds an experiential element to your bar with a captivating bar back or immersive tableside bar cart show…and establishments are able to charge a premium for the privilege.” Aistis Zidanavicius of Miami’s The Deck at Island, agrees with the power of “smoking shows” to get a venue more attention, guests, and revenue, “If a bar has great cocktails using smoked flavors, people will talk about that and will post many pictures and videos

while watching smoking shows.” A SLOW BURN…WITH LASTING IMPACT While it takes a little bit of extra time and work to achieve the desired smoked flavor profiles and presentations, there are a number of ways for bartenders with various levels of experience to make things fun for their guests. “I offer one different smoked cocktail every season, usually striving to bring in seasonal ingredients and flavors,” says Sanders. “This season, I’ve crafted a play on a Bees Knees using local beeswax and honey from Apoidea Apiary here in Pittsburgh.” Kristan Arnold of Elgin Public House in Burlington, Ill. believes in the last five years smoked cocktails have traveled beyond upscale bars and restaurants. At press time, she had three smoked cocktails in her bar: a manhattan, old fashioned, and new customer-favorite Smoked Cherry Bourbon Smash. “These three cocktails are simple in process and are becoming more frequently ordered,” she says. “Once one goes out, several more will follow.” MIGHTY CLOUDS OF JOY Bars limited in size can turn to kitchen aids such as tobacco-infused syrups, smoky teas, terpenes, craft ice cubes (such as Herb & Lou’s individually wrapped cubes with flavor smoked right

Citrus & Smoke ¾ oz Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon ¾ oz Yellow Chartreuse ¾ oz Combier L’Orange Liqueur ¾ oz Lemon juice Combine liquid ingredients. Do a long hard dry shake for 2-3 seconds, as you want to mix all of the ingredients up right. Pour into a Nick & Nora glass. Add a citrus flavored gun bubble. Josue Castillo, Lead Bartender, Next Door, Boston, MA

Safford Old Fashioned 2¼ oz Village Garage Bourbon washed with browned Cabot Butter ½ - ¾ oz Shagbark Hickory Syrup 4 shakes of Miracle Mile Toasted Pecan Bitters Wash the glass with browned Cabot Butter. Combine liquid ingredients and pour into a rocks glass. Put drink into a Breville Smoker and smoke with cinnamon, walnut, and pecan chips. Serve immediately. Lisa Harrington, Miller’s Toll Dinner Club & Lounge, Bennington, VT

Rosemary Smoked Boulevardier Sour 1 oz Village Bourbon infused with smoked rosemary ¾ oz Antica ½ oz Campari The juice of ½ lemon ½ oz simple syrup Smoke rosemary and place in bourbon to allow infusion. After the bourbon is infused, combine liquid ingredients and pour into a rocks glass. Add rosemary sprig and citrus wedge (small) garnish and serve. Lisa Harrington, Miller’s Toll Dinner Club & Lounge, Bennington, VT

Rosemary Smoked Boulevardier

Citrus and Smoke June 2022

Bar Business Magazine



Smoked Manhattan 3oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon 1½ oz Carpano Antica Formula Sweet Vermouth 2 dashes Angostura Bitters 2 dashes Orange Bitters Stir all ingredients in a Yarai mixing glass, about 50 times around. To smoke the glass, start by spritzing a brandy snifter with orange zest. Then, using the Polyscience Smoking Gun and the Polyscience Apple Wood Chips, smoke the brandy snifter until the smoke is milky and trap with a coaster. Present tableside, allowing the guest to remove the coaster, then pour the drink into the smoked glass.

in), smoked teas, tinctures, herbs, and even pre-smoked cherries and citrus slices to get into the act. Gabel notes an influx of bar tools pushing things forward, including smoking planks, smoking tops, smoking guns, smoking dried citrus, and smoking spices. “While the final product must be backed up by flavor, there must be a show or else why would your customers ever leave the comfort of their kitchen?” says Dan Marlowe, who helms Modena in the nation’s capital. “Thankfully, the techniques and tools to smoke beverages are no longer pricey, secret, or difficult to find.” Scott Moser, bartender at Denver’s FIRE Restaurant & Lounge, says that he’s always had smoked cocktails on his menus. He has employed a variety of culinary strategies (adding smoked stocks, butters, creams) to not only impart smokiness, but also other harmonious flavors. Nowadays, smoking devices and kits on the market have widened the playing field. “[Getting a smoking kit] shows that the bar is taking another step to appeal to its guests,” says Moser, who also stresses the importance of sharing all of the new tricks and tips with the rest of the bar staff. “Giving them the tools to make fun and delicious drinks excites them to be creative and interact more with patrons.” Arnold argues that the utility of a smoking kit will depend on what the bar manager hopes to achieve, as there’s always a question about whether the smoke will change the flavor of a drink or simply provide a good show. 22

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“Whatever your intentions are, if you want to change the flavor, be patient and do it right,” she advises. “If you’re just adding flair, have some fun. If you use wood chips, a smoke machine is a one-time purchase, and as a little goes a long way with the wood chips, there aren’t a lot of required costs. With that, you could add a dollar or two onto every smoked cocktail, which will help with the ever rising costs of labor, food, alcohol, and so on.” James Middleton, who developed the Smoketop, intended for it to be both professional grade and versatile enough to be used at a variety of venues. The coastersized smoking device is favored by Tantisalidchai and Marlowe, who use it with torches from brands like Newport Butane. Based on Middleton’s experience as a bar manager, the Smoketop’s design reconciles the appeal of craft cocktails and crowdpleasing presentation with efficiency. With the Smoketop’s small size, high-volume venues can purchase several to make many high-quality smoked drinks in minutes. “Customers have given me feedback that while they love the quality of craft cocktails, they don’t want [their orders] to take ten minutes. And if we have heavy volume on a Friday or Saturday night, there’s also a concern that other devices can get banged around, clogged, and may not last as long as the Smoketop does.” Despite a need for speed, many customers come for the show as well as the drink. Stündenglass CMO Harun insists this system transforms a great drink into a full-on sensory experience.

“With the world being shut for nearly two years, people are craving engagement and entertainment,” she says. “The Stündenglass experience is multisensory—incorporating sight, touch, smell, taste, and hearing. The easiest way to infuse a smoky flavor is to place a finished drink inside the Stündenglass cloche and activate the device. Part of the magic is simply lifting the cloche off the drink, post infusion. More advanced techniques include smoking the glass itself before the cocktail is poured, using it to smoke the rim salts or other garnishes, adding smoke to a blender while blending a drink, or smoking the ice cubes.” As the device can also smoke food, Harun says bartenders have been doing experiments like making a smoked martini with smoked olives or a side of smoked cheese to further enhance the cocktail. At Boston’s Next Door, Josue Castillo uses a device called the Flavour Blaster to create a smoke bubble, which adds aromatics and smoke infusion to his Citrus & Smoke cocktail. Castillo says customers love popping the bubble to create the aromatic experience. Harrington notes that the olfactory impact of smoke can also evoke feelings of warmth, comfort, and nostalgia. “People comment about different smokes reminding them of being cozy and warm at home in the winter around the fireplace, or campfires and friendship in the summer,” she says. “Familiar, but used in different, sometimes unexpected ways.” For pro tips from USBG bartenders on adding smoke to cocktails, visit

Photo: Scott Moser, FIRE Restaurant & Lounge, Denver, Colo.

FIRE Restaurant & Bar, The ART Hotel, Denver, CO



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Don’t pour away your profits.



ariance reports measure units used against units sold and are mainly used by bar operators to minimize inventory variances. Variances can be “up” (an overage) or “down” (a shortage). Being “up” means the bar used less inventory than theoretically necessary. Being “down” inventory is what most operators fear, and for good reason. Almost every bar owner has worked at a bar in the past where theft was rampant, so most bar owners know that it’s not just a small amount of inventory that can go missing. It can literally be thousands a night, and 24

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even hundreds of thousands a year, that a bar can be missing if a combination of: no inventory control + a bad staff + a bad owner come together. Successful bar operators avoid this problem by doing weekly counts and running variance reports to keep everything in line. But even though most people have heard of and seen variance reports, not everyone sees and uses variance reports the same way. I have spent close to two decades doing reports like these for bar operators, and I have seen the responses from both unsuccessful and successful operators. In the right hands, variance reports can

save a bar operator tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Looking at the variance report in the example on page 26, I am going to review five observations in the ways I have seen high-level operators interpret and use the data: 1. THINKING OF WEEKLY VARIANCES IN 52-WEEK INCREMENTS Looking at the example report, we see that the bar is missing -53.71 ounces on period. That represented an 11.6% shrinkage rate at a cost of $42.76 to the bar. If that inventory was sold at retail, it could have been sold at $304.12 (which is


Photo: Kyle Williamson/

on the far right under the revenue potential column). While $42.76 at cost and $304.12 at retail sounds small for one week, when you multiply this effect over the course of 52 weeks, it works out to 2,756 ounces worth $2,223.52 at cost, and $15,814.24 at retail. And that’s “ just” the liquor category. If you look at the other categories, you’ll see that there are also shortages in wine and bottled beer as well, each with corresponding costs and retail value. While this may seem extreme, wise operators see weekly variances in 52-week increments to see the potential impact of not correcting mistakes today. 2. USED (COST) VS. PURCHASES (COST) Wise operators watch what their bars USE, what they BUY, and what they HAVE. In the example report, the bar used $4,552.22 in inventory, and it purchased $4,810.67 during the same period. So the owner purchased around $300 more than he used in the previous week. In a perfect world, you want these numbers to be close. So this guy didn’t do too bad in this area for this audit period. However, if Used (cost) is significantly MORE than Purchases (cost), that’s an indication that the bar could be understocked and may encounter supply issues. If Purchased (cost) is significantly MORE than Used (cost) than this could lead to an overstock and therefore an inefficient use of capital. Your On-Hand (cost) represents the monetary value of the inventory. You keep your On-Hand (cost) number at its optimal level by keeping your purchases as close as you can to what you use in the previous week. This is most easily accomplished by ordering based on pars, which keep the bar fully stocked but always within budget. Whenever you see bars that have their On-Hand (cost) numbers go up and down over the year, that’s usually an indication that whoever is doing the ordering is not using set pars. It would surprise you how many managers eyeball inventory counts and eyeball purchases with no real set method to determine order amounts, and some bars have thousands of dollars over-invested in

inventory that would be much better utilized elsewhere. Wise operators watch these numbers to always ensure an efficient use of capital. 3. POUR COST VS. IDEAL POUR COST Also known as Actual COGS vs. Theoretical COGS, Pour Cost is how much the bar used in product to make its sales expressed as a percentage. You measure that number against the Ideal Pour Cost, which is how much each item that was rang into the POS costed when expressed as a percentage. This can only be measured by comparing an itemized usage report against an itemized sales report so you can see exactly what left the building and then compare it to exactly what was sold. This is the reason why I discourage any kind of inventory procedure that involves weighing all bottles together as a category, and also why I discourage any kind of POS set-up where common buttons like “highball” can be pressed and several different products poured. With vague counting procedures and vague POS procedures, you don’t really have a true picture of what is actually being used or sold each week. Ideally you want your Pour Cost to be BELOW your Ideal Pour Cost. In this example, this bar’s Pour Cost is 30.1% and his Ideal is 29.9%, which means he is 0.2% above his theoretical. Not bad, but definitely has room to improve. In my ideal world, this guy would be running at a 29% Pour Cost and be below his Ideal Pour Cost of 29.9%. The next section will detail how to be below your Ideal Pour Cost. 4. UNDERSTANDING THE REALITY OF POURING PERFECT OUNCES Liquid that is poured by hand will never be done perfectly. When you measure liquor on a digital scale, even the best bartenders will be off by 0.01 or 0.03 of an ounce every time they attempt to pour one ounce. That’s just how free pouring liquid works. This harsh reality of free pouring leaves operators with two choices: They can either be “up” on ounces, or “down” on ounces. I strongly encourage operators to choose to be “up” on ounces by “slightly” short pouring every drink to

stay under the theoretical pour size. But before you get all uppity on me, let me explain what I mean. While losing on every pour while trying to give the customer “a perfect ounce” sounds like a good idea, it really is not. If you attempt to pour a full ounce into a shot glass to the brim of the glass, you will likely go over by 0.02 - 0.05 ounces because the meniscus (curve) that forms at the top of the shot glass is a subjective measurement. If that “perfect ounce” with a meniscus is in a shot glass, I guarantee you that by the time the server brings the shot to the table, anywhere from 0.05 to 0.1 of the “perfect ounce” has gone over the edge of the glass and is on the serving tray. If that same shot were served directly to the guest, that same 0.05 to 0.1 ounces would go over the edge of the shot glass once tilted and will be on the guest’s fingers. Back when I bartended in nightclubs, part of my routine after serving people shots was always handing out napkins. And people always used them. Why? Because people always spill that little bit of booze on their fingers when the glass is tilted. Neither the guest, the bartender, nor the bar owner receive any benefit from pouring like this. If you consistently pour 0.95 to 0.97 of an ounce on each pour, you will stay below your theoretical, and your guests will not perceive the difference due to the factors I listed above. I am not talking about ripping customers off by pouring 0.7 ounces and 0.8 ounces, which you can noticeably see in a shot glass. I am talking about staying beneath the meniscus on every pour and making a conscious effort to never exceed the capacity of the portion control tool. This is actually the reason why whenever you order a 20 ounces pint of beer, you’re not actually getting 20 ounces of beer. You’re getting a glass with something close to 20 ounces, depending on how much head they leave at the top of the pint. Several pint glasses across the industry measure out at exactly 20 ounces to the brim of the glass, therefore it is impossible to put more than 20 ounces of liquid into these glasses. If 20 ounces exactly is poured into that glass, it will be so full it either ends up on the tray or on the June 2022

Bar Business Magazine



Variance Report Item Name




% Missing

Missing (cost)

Used (cost)

Purchases (cost)

On-Hand (cost)



Pour Cost

Ideal Pour Cost

Revenue Potential

Liquor 1 oz

+1 oz

66.06 oz

61 oz

-5.06 oz









1.61 oz

1 oz

-0.61 oz









Canadian Whiskey:

5.32 oz

5 oz

-0.32 oz












Scotch Whiskey: Irish Whiskey: Vodka:

10.4% $26.56

$780.99 7.46 oz

7 oz

-0.46 oz




164.38 oz

150 oz

-14.38 oz
















56.68 oz

51 oz

-5.68 oz










27.56 oz

22 oz

-5.56 oz










15.32 oz

12 oz

-3.32 oz














Pre-Mixes: Liqueurs:

Total Liquor:

2.13 oz

2 oz

-0.13 oz









116.17 oz

97 oz

-19.17 oz










462.71 oz

409 oz

-53.71 oz










Wine Wine:

Total Wine:

872.19 oz

846.79 oz

-25.4 oz










872.19 oz

846.79 oz

-25.4 oz










Beer Beer:

Total Beer:

























Kegs Kegs:

Total Kegs:

29683.29 oz

30124 oz

+440.71 oz









29683.29 oz

30124 oz

+440.71 oz


















An example of a bar’s variance report.

5. EXAMINING VARIANCES AS PERCENTAGES AND WHAT THEY MEAN Looking at your variances in ounces means very little without looking at how those ounces compare to the total amount of ounces that were served for that item. While being short 100 ounces 26

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June 2022

of liquor sounds horrible, if 10,000 ounces were served on that audit period, that’s only a 1% when expressed as a percentage. Percentages offer clues as to why variances are happening. Shortages ranging from 1-5% can usually be traced to bar teams unconsciously over pouring because they have not gotten the pep talk about trying to pour perfect ounces like I mentioned in the previous point. This could also be from incorrectly sized portion control tools, like if a cocktail jigger is bigger than a standard ounce. (Be careful you international operators, as metric ounces are slightly different than imperial ounces). But if all the portion control tools are correctly measured out, variances in the 1-5% range are easily corrected by showing the bar team their variance reports and instructing them to take a bit off their pours. These are what I call “heavy hands” and are simple to correct. Shortages above 5% are a huge problem and need to be addressed immediately with staff. That’s usually a combination of theft, drinking on shift, and over pouring. If after being addressed the shortages still persist at 5% or above, it is usually an issue of a lack of respect by the staff towards the owner. The owner may be too nice in

their management style to be effective, or the staff may simply be toxic and need to be terminated. Big variances, like in the 10-20% range, should have an explanation, like if product was removed and not accounted for, or if a non-delivery for an item on liquor order occurred, or there was a counting error. However, if big variances cannot be traced to legitimate sources, a bar that has variances at this level won’t survive if they remain like that consistently. This is why wise operators watch their percentages and work hard to keep them within an acceptable threshold. Kevin Tam is a Sculpture Hospitality franchisee with over a decade of experience working directly with bar, restaurant, and nightclub owners on all points of the spectrum. From familyowned single bar operations to large companies with locations on an international scale, Kevin works with them all and understands the unique challenges each kind of company faces. He is the author of a book titled Night Club Marketing Systems – How to Get Customers for Your Bar. He is also the publisher of an eBook called The 5 Commonly Overlooked Areas That Kill Your Food Cost.

Chart courtesy of Kevin Tam.

guest’s fingers. That’s actually what pouring a “perfect” ounce will get you in the real world. Looking at the example report, you will see that the one category this bar is “up” on is kegs. The bar is +440 ounces on 30,124 ounces rang into the POS. That represents a 1.5% overage, which means that if he serves 20 ounces pints, 19.7 ounces goes into each one. That is a pretty full pint glass my friends, and I doubt any customers are sending pints back to the bartender requesting new beers because 0.3 ounces is not in the glass. That +440 ounces the bar saved by slightly short pouring resulted in the bar retaining $58.15 at cost. Over the course of 52 weeks, that’s worth $3,023.80 at cost. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have that $3,023.80 in my bank account rather than seeing it go down the drain, wiped off a serving tray, or on a guest’s fingers. This is why wise operators choose to be “up” on ounces.



Lawn chairs, mounted trophies, and Milwaukee tools make up the aesthetic of Dad’s Bar.



All Photos: Feldner Creative.

An ode to Dad culture opens in the Upper Midwest.

he story of how Dad’s bar ( came to be is a rambling one—which is just the type of story we’re used to Dads telling (hopefully over a beer). Owner Jon Lakoduk started in hospitality as a server when he was in his late teens. However, his love for food, beverage, and hospitality stretches back to his formative years. He learned how to cook from his great-grandmother, grew up watching his grandfather’s guest-centric business practices in his grocery store, and spent many a late night binging Alton Brown’s show Good Eats. After a variety of jobs outside the world of hospitality, it was a friend who needed help opening a brewery that pulled Lakoduk back in. He learned a lot about the front end of the brewery business and also studied to become the first certified cicerone in North Dakota. His next hospitality gig was taking control of a bar called The Taproom, which he ran while working at UPS full time. The space adjacent to The Taproom remained vacant, and a few years later, Lakoduk decided to open a speakeasy-

themed bar called Saul’s in the location. “Minot had a pretty significant role in Prohibition and the illegal booze trade,” says Lakoduk. “[Saul’s is] a very ‘secret room in the back of a warehouse’ vibe and not much leather, gold, and brass polished stuff. It’s more like what a speakeasy would have looked like in Minot.” Saul’s started as a wine and beer bar until Lakoduk was able to secure a liquor license and kick off the scratch-made cocktail side of it. And then COVID hit. Lakoduk switched to cocktail delivery, which was popular for Saul’s, but The Taproom struggled. So Lakoduk brainstormed on a rebrand for the bar and landed on the idea for Dad’s—an ode to the shared experience of all things “Dad culture.” Think lawn chairs, white New Balance sneakers, a neverending to-do list, collections of tools, and an unhealthy obsession with your lawn. Lakoduk also honed in on the area culture of drinking in garages and basements, which was perfect given the space was already in a basement. “It’s a very common, upper Midwestern thing—a garage fridge full of beer, sitting on lawn June 2022

Bar Business Magazine



Dad’s offers a variety of cocktails and beers. In the background, Milwaukee tools and equipment are for sale.

chairs in a garage,” he says. “And I think that’s still a very common experience no matter what area of the country you’re in.” Lakoduk’s initial concern was that the new theme would alienate anyone not a part of or into the Dad culture (there’s a large Air Force base in the area, and Lakoduk says 80% of his guests are Air Force or their dependents and friends). He soon found, however, that it was a collective experience that many enjoyed poking fun at and couldn’t get enough of. Although he is dealing with the labor shortage like the rest of the industry, Lakoduk says his employees can’t get enough of the concept either. “We’re pretty selective in who we hire. Our best employees come from our customers and are super into the vibe. They have completely bought into everything that we’re doing as far as the bar and my vision,” says Lakoduk. “It’s not just a job for them; they’re constantly engaged with the customers.” Saul’s and Dad’s are one-of-a-kind in the area. “We have broken the mold in our town for what we do,” says Lakoduk. “It’s not saying that there’s not been a need for a dive bar or party bar, I love all of those places just as much as the next person, but that seems like that’s the equation up here that everybody follows, and nobody else is doing it differently. Lakoduk closed The Taproom in late May 2021 and reopened a week and a half 28

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June 2022

later as Dad’s. “We ripped everything out, tore it all apart, and put it back together in a week,” he says. “The Local Builders Association was having a pub crawl that night and I’m like, ‘What better way to launch this?’” The aesthetic includes the ubiquitous “garage fridge” with a “Welcome to Dads” greeting spelled out in colorful, oldfashioned magnetic letters for kids. Décor includes everything from fuzzy dice, eponymous Dad signage, and vintage pinups and road signs to a chalkboard full of dad jokes and an actual working garage door. Trophies including a mounted fish, deer, and even the mythical jackalope dot the walls. Seating includes black lawn chairs and card tables as well as a recliner with an overturned Milwaukee Tool fivegallon bucket for an end table. Speaking of Milwaukee Tool, Dad’s bar has an informal partnership with the company through its tool dealer in the upper Midwest, Acme Tool. “Milwaukee’s aware of us and their leadership knows, and they just can’t officially sponsor anything. But they love the concept, and they bring people here all the time, and it’s super fun,” says Lakoduk, who pitched the partnership to a local Milwaukee sales rep he met at a bar to get the ball rolling. “All the tools that we have in the bar on display are for sale.” Even the bar’s website and social media

feed into Dad culture. Alongside the usual menu, hours, and events, the website also has fun features like Dad’s “Honey Do List” and the “Ask a Dad” wall. “We try to share funny dad stuff on social media; each one of the channels is a little bit different and some are very sporadic like a Dad would be,” says Lakoduk. “The whole Dad thing is, ‘I don’t need to pay somebody, I can do it myself.’ So the website, I did it myself, and I actually have a pretty decent amount of experience in design as far as WordPress goes.” Dad’s is even getting into the world of NFTs, which are non-fungible tokens or digital assets that represent real-world objects like art, music, and videos. In true Dad fashion, Lakoduk is figuring it out on his own, but his idea is that the drawings of children will always adorn Dad’s fridge— either in the physical world or the digital one. So Dad’s Bar’s Fridge Art NFT collection (@dadsfridgeart) will include digitized, original artwork created by Lakoduk’s kids. “They have a choice of contributing with chores or drawing pictures for me. I also told them I’d pay them a percentage of the sale into their college funds, which also includes the bar investments,” he says. “It is teaching the kids about embracing emerging technologies and not being scared to fail or flop.” Coming back to Dad’s tangible fridge, it’s full of cans and bottles of beer and cider


Owner Jon Lakoduk.

available for purchase. Dad’s also runs 12 draft lines—six are domestic selections like Miller Lite and Busch Light, and the other six are more local brews that can include Imperial Porter, Grain Belt, Schell’s Firebrick, and more. Dad can whip up a mean cocktail, too. Guests can choose from Dad’s Old Fashioned, The Dadmosa, the John Collins, The Dude (a white Russian), and the John Daly Sr. (Smirnoff, Twisted Tea draft, and sour mix). Every day the bar offers a 3-4-5 happy hour on every cocktail and draft beer— from three to four pm, drinks are $3; from four to five pm, drinks are $4; and from five to six pm, drinks are $5. “The 3-4-5 happy hour works really, really well. It keeps it super easy for the bartender and easy for the people who come in,” says Lakoduk, who says the happy hour specifically targets local workers. “We’re very much playing to the Cheers vibe. I’d like to see that come back in hospitality culture where you stop in on your way home for a beer or two, not necessarily every day, but on the tough days you stop at the bar, lean on your community, decompress before you go home.” Dad’s doesn’t offer much in the way of food (typical), but they do serve popcorn. Lakoduk is currently working with the local jurisdiction to change the city ordinance to allow them to sell food. In the meantime,

he plans to put his hotdog stand, Fun on a Bun, on the sidewalk in front of the bar all summer. The stand offers hot dogs, sausages, and grilled cheeses. There’s more to do at Dad’s than just drink. Bingo is every Monday night, and the prizes are solidly in Dad territory with things like toothpaste, Motrin, laundry detergent pods, plastic cups, and chips and salsa up for grabs. Trivia is every Tuesday, and Mom’s Night is on Wednesdays with wine and happy hour specials. The bar occasionally holds tastings and cocktail classes as well. Dad’s also hosts unique events like the pine car derby for adults and the Yard of the Week, which honors a truly awardwinning lawn in the Minot area. There is even a monthly “Dad’s Birthday Party” for “dads” with birthdays that month who “insist there will be no party.” If guests are lucky, they may wander into Dad’s on a night Dad has “gone out of town” to find the staff throwing a themed party. Themes have ranged from punk to emo to ’80s night. “I remember going to a lot of people’s houses in high school and going to garage parties when their parents were gone for the weekend. So we’ll have weekends where I’ll just stay in Saul’s or very rarely pop into Dad’s, and it will be like Dad’s out of town for the weekend, and the bartenders will do a takeover,” explains Lakoduk.

One of the unexpected consequences of having Saul’s and Dad’s next to each other is that people often come and go between the bars. “It’s so wild to me because in all of my planning for this, I never anticipated how much people would enjoy going back and forth between the two,” says Lakoduk. “I thought it would be like you pick your vibe and you stay there, or you’re just a Saul’s person or a Dad’s person. But no, it’s people back and forth all night.” Lakoduk says having the bars adjacent to each other can also help with hightraffic nights, especially if Saul’s is full. “We’ll send them to Dad’s, and say, ‘Just go wait, get a beer, and we’ll come get you when we are ready,” says Lakoduk. “So that’s working out really well for us too.” In fact, the whole concept of Dad’s bar has been “working out” for Lakoduk, as it was nominated for the Bar & Restaurant Expo’s Industry Excellence Awards for Most Original Concept this year. “It was a huge honor when I first found out we even got nominated and then to make it to the top three was mind blowing,” says Lakoduk, who notes the nomination was especially important given that he’s a single owner from North Dakota, who went up against bars from large hospitality groups with a lot more resources. “Don’t be scared to try things. Some of the wildest, weirdest ideas are the ones that usually end up being the most successful.” June 2022

Bar Business Magazine



Let’s talk

Consumers are looking for unique sipping experiences. BY ASHLEY BRAY


Bar Business Magazine

June 2022


nique, international spirits are popping up on back bars around the country. Some of this is driven by supply chain woes, as bar operators look to replace what they can’t find with something new. But much of it is driven by consumer interest and demand for an experience they can’t get elsewhere—oftentimes, not even on the local liquor store shelves. “Today’s consumers are curious and want to try the newest—whether it’s a new streaming service, watch, or spirit,” says Luis Niño de Rivera, co-founder of Mezcal Amarás. “Also, through the pandemic, people shopped differently. They studied

product descriptions, were transported and used their imaginations, which helped to discover new brands and categories.” Agave spirits are one growing category. Given tequila’s popularity, bar operators and guests alike are looking for something new in the agave spirits space. Some are turning to ultra-premium sipping tequilas, while others are seeking out more unique experiences with mezcal and the lesserknown bacanora. Imports of spirits from the Pacific Rim are also growing in the form of Japanese whiskies, baijiu, and shochu, as consumers look to broaden their palates. “Consumers are attracted to products that have more of a craft feel to them,” says Tetsuro

Photo: Mezcal Amarás.



Strawberry Mojito

Miyazaki, general manager USA of iichiko Shochu. “I think this is the same for bartenders, who want to deepen their knowledge and use creative ingredients, and shochu, as well as other spirits and flavors from Asia, fits that curiosity.” In this column, we’ll take a deeper look into the growing popularity of mezcal, bacanora, and shochu. Mezcal Mezcal certainly isn’t a “new” spirit to the on-premise world. It’s been on many back bars for years, but it seems that consumers are finally catching on as they look for new tequila-adjacent spirits. “The category is still small but steadily growing,” says Niño de Rivera. “Consumers are drawn to ornate bottles, different expressions, and bottles with different age statements. It’s also refreshing that many consumers are open to trying mezcal neat!” Mezcal, although also made from agave, has a production process that differs from tequila and lends the spirit its smokiness—piñas, the hearts of the agave plant, are roasted in underground ovens before being crushed and left to ferment. Mezcal Amarás follows the traditional method of production down to the use of a horse-drawn stone wheel or tahona. “The first layer in our in-ground stone

1.5 oz iichiko Saiten 1 oz Lime juice 0.75 oz Mint syrup Muddled strawberries Topped with club soda Mint sprig + strawberry Mix all ingredients except club soda into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into Collins glass with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with mint sprig and strawberry. Recipe by iichiko

Cold Brew Repo

oven is, on average, 2.5 tons of wood,” explains the Mezcal Amarás website. “River rocks are then tossed in, establishing an enormous cooking stove where around 10 tons of piñas are placed and left for three to five days to roast from the ashes and smoke of the wood. Once cooked, the piñas are then cut into smaller pieces using a machete, ax, or shredder and then placed in our stone mill. A 771-pound Tahona pulled by a horse or mule grinds the piñas into a paste made up of agave fibers.” From there, the agave fibers are placed in wooden vats and water is added to allow for fermentation. After

Tokyo Mule 2 oz iichiko Saiten 1 oz Lime juice 1 oz Ginger or simple syrup Top with ginger beer/soda Lime wedge Mix all ingredients into mule cup with ice. Stir, then top with ginger beer/soda and garnish with lime wedge. Recipe by iichiko

Cold Brew Repo 1.5 oz of Mezcal Amarás Espadín Reposado 1 oz of Lemon Oleo Saccharum 10 Fresh mint leaves 1 oz of Cold brew coffee Add all ingredients to shaker. Shake vigorously with ice for 15 seconds. Fine strain into rocks or highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with two mint leaves.

Photos (top to bottom): Mezcal Amarás; Kilinga.

Recipe by Mezcal Amarás

La Señora Kilinga 2 oz Kilinga Bacanora Orange slice dusted with cinnamon

Serve the Bacanora up, chilled, in a flute. Garnish with a slice of orange dusted with cinnamon. Recipe by Kilinga Bacanora La Señora Kilinga

June 2022

Bar Business Magazine



Grapefruit Hai

2 oz iichiko Silhouette Topped with Fever-Tree Grapefruit Grapefruit slice Build in glass with ice. Garnish with grapefruit slice. Recipe by iichiko

Umami Gimlet 2 oz iichiko Saiten 1 oz Lime juice 0.75 oz Simple syrup Lime wheel

Mix all ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into glass and garnish with lime wheel. Recipe by iichiko

Smoked Roses

1.5 oz Mezcal Amáras Cupreata .50 oz Rose water syrup plus .25 oz Rose water syrup .75 oz Lemon juice .25 oz Hibiscus tea In a shaker add the mezcal, juice, and syrup. Shake and double strain into a Nick and Nora glass. In the same shaker with the previous ice, add .25 oz of rose water and the hibiscus tea. Shake and double strain over the previously poured mix, trying to layer the cocktail. Garnish with a rose petal.

the fermentation has finished, the mix is placed in either copper stills for artisanal distillation or clay stills for ancestral distillation. Mezcal Amarás’ philosophy of “from seed to sip” reflects its dedication to strive toward a balanced relationship with its ecosystem. The brand developed a holistic model aimed at preserving the land, the agave, and the mezcal-producing communities. Its vision is to offer consumers a well-balanced mezcal focused on smoothness and the correct level of smokiness. Because of this dedication to flavor, Niño de Rivera believes the best way to serve mezcal is neat so you can taste the peculiarities and differences of each agave species. “Considering the vast number of aromas and flavors you have in each type of agave, type of process, and terroir, served by itself, you will understand the complexity and variety in each sip of mezcal,” he says. When using mezcal in cocktails, Niño de Rivera says it’s important that the other ingredients don’t overwhelm the spirit. “Don’t mask the rich flavor of the mezcal—what’s in the bottle took years and craft to create. Let the flavor shine,” he says, recommending to also use in-season ingredients. “Taste the mezcal on its own—is it earthy, does it have brightness? Start

Smoked Roses

with the basic DNA of the agave and then build your cocktail.” Bacanora Another rising agave spirit is bacanora, which is the native agave spirit of Sonora in Mexico. It’s a bit of a rebellious spirit— it was illegal to distill bacanora until 1992, and it received its Denomination of Origin in 2000. “[It is] an agave spirit that is artisanal— not as smoky and powerful as mezcal— and is totally outside of the tequila scope of flavors. It is palate friendly and interesting to sip,” says Rodrigo Bojorquez Bours, founder of Kilinga.

Recipe by Mezcal Amarás

Watermelon Cooler Photos (top to bottom): Mezcal Amarás; iichiko Shochu.

1.5 oz iichiko Saiten .75 oz Lemon juice .25 oz Yuzu juice .5 oz Simple syrup Top with Prosecco 2 muddled Watermelon slices

Mix all ingredients except prosecco into cocktail shaker with ice. Shake, then strain into rocks glass with ice. Top with prosecco and garnish with watermelon. Recipe by iichiko

Umami Gimlet 32

Bar Business Magazine

June 2022


Photo: iichiko Shochu.

Kilinga is a boutique, family-owned bacanora distiller and brand founded in 2018 and named after the founder’s mother, La Señora Kilinga. It entered the market in March 2022 with two expressions: Bacanora Silvestre and Bacanora Blanco. Two more expressions, reposado and añejo, are due out this summer. The production of bacanora is similar to mezcal, with Kilinga making bacanora by roasting the agave in underground fire pits built out of volcanic stone and clay. These are heated for up to five hours with regional mesquite wood that gives a distinct, subtle, smoky note. It is then roasted for six days, mashed in a stone mill pulled by a mule, and fermented for four days. It’s loaded into an alembic pot still and distilled twice before resting for at least four months. Kilinga makes bacanora from differently matured angustifolía pacifica espadín agaves. “This agave variant has a unique flavor and signature aroma, and more so, to the region it grows in,” says Bojorquez Bours. “The environment [agave] grows in plays a major role in the organoleptic [sense] qualities of these particular spirits. In other words, agave spirits are born interesting.” It’s this interesting background that Bojorquez Bours thinks attracts people to bacanora. It’s a background that he also believes all bartenders should pay homage to when working with the spirit. “I believe that it is important to know its roots in order to best work with bacanora. Understanding the passion and history behind bacanora will better give them the inspiration when they first sip the drink,” he says. He recommends guests enjoy bacanora neat and at a cool temperature with a slice of orange or cucumber and an ice cube. “I’ve found that our bacanora goes well with ingredients with moderate acidity such as berries, cucumbers, kumquats, lemons, and oranges to name a few,” he says. Shochu Moving on from agave, the Japanese distilled spirit of shochu is also having a moment in the U.S. “Shochu, in particular, is consumed more than whiskey or even sake in Japan, yet it is

Tokyo Mule

completely unknown outside of Japan,” says Miyazaki. “However, people are beginning to understand the uniqueness of shochu, its regional characteristics, the care and delicacy with which raw materials are processed, and the diversity of flavors. “The top bartenders in the United States are learning about shochu’s existence and uniqueness right now. Until 2019, shochu was a local spirit sold only in Japanese restaurants. Now, Japanese bartenders recognize the traditional elements and taste of shochu, and thanks to their success, other top bartenders are starting to use it as well. Shochu is a spirit that is still largely unknown, so I think it’s a spirit that will continue to excite bartenders that discover it.” Typically distilled from ingredients such as barley, rice, and sweet potato, the distinctive feature of the production process is the use of the fungus koji for fermentation and single distillation. Fermentation with koji produces umami ingredients in the mash, which is then

distilled once to lock in the full flavor of the ingredients. iichiko has two expressions, iichiko Silhouette and iichiko Saiten, both of which are made from 100% barley. iichiko Silhouette is the traditional, lighter expression of shochu, while the full-flavored, 43% ABV iichiko Saiten was created specifically for use in cocktails. Similar to the other spirits above, Miyazaki recommends that guests first try shochu on the rocks or straight up. “It’s then very easy to utilize in beloved cocktails, like a martini or a Bloody Mary, so customers can have those familiar flavors but with a fun and exciting twist,” he says. “Each shochu has a different character—barley shochu, rice shochu, and potato shochu—so there is a lot to discover! “If you are using a traditional shochu, with around a 25% ABV, in a cocktail, I recommend a shochu highball first (called a Chu-hai). Chu-hai’s are composed of shochu, soda, and your favorite citrus or seasonal fruit.” June 2022

Bar Business Magazine





Mercer Culinary introduces BLU™ Towels and BLU™ Wipes. Made of 100% non-woven cotton, BLU Towels and Wipes are highly absorbent, durable, and can clean a variety of surfaces. They are also 100% biodegradable/compostable and able to fully absorb sanitation solution, steam sterilized to be clean from the start. They are machine washable and can be reused four to six times. After that, they are disposable, resulting in less laundry and lower water, chemical, and energy consumption. BLU Towels come as a 1 ¾-inch diameter puck that expands to a full size 9 ½ inchby-23 ½ inch towel in seconds when placed in water. BLU Wipes come as a 1 1/16-inch-by-1 5/8-inch rectangle that expands to a full size 9-inch-by-12-inch wipe when placed in water.

Kraken Rum, the world’s topselling dark rum brand, is expanding its product portfolio to enter the fast growing ready-to-drink category and serve up a range of Caribbean rum. Kraken Rum is introducing new ready-todrink cocktails in a can with three fan-favorite mixes: Kraken & Cola, Kraken & Ginger Beer, and Kraken Rum Punch. Kraken & Cola contains a balance of cola spices and spiced rum upfront with light citrus on the nose. It has rich vanilla and caramel undertones and finishes with toasted oak and sugarcane. Kraken & Ginger Beer features candied ginger and honey on the nose with woody, spicy ginger upfront and throughout. It finishes with vanilla and subtle tropical fruit and brown sugar. Kraken Rum Punch is a balanced mix of pineapple, cherry, and citrus on the nose. It has tropical pineapple upfront with juiced limes throughout and building maraschino and sunburst orange. It finishes with ripe mango and citrus peel.

BLU™ Towels and Wipes

Kraken Rum Ready-to-Drink Cocktails


KURVBALL, The Original Barbecue Whiskey™, is making its way onto back bars across the country. Made for the love of BBQ, KURVBALL combines the savory, sweet, smoky heat of slow and low barbecue with American whiskey. Often described as tasting of ribs or BBQ chips, KURVBALL Whiskey is 34% ABV (68 proof), gluten free, and proudly made in the USA. KURVBALL is best enjoyed as a cold shot alongside a cold one or straight outta the bottle like BBQ sauce. For the brunch crowd, substitute KURVBALL for vodka in your favorite bloody recipe to make the BBQ Bloody. For the Old Fashioned whiskey drinkers, just add bitters and an orange peel to make a BBQ Old Fashioned™ . KURVBALL can even be used for cooking to make marinades and glazes. THE KURVBALL WHISKEY COMPANY launched its flagship product in October 2021.


Bar Business Magazine

June 2022




Global flavor manufacturer, Monin Americas, introduces Neutral Beverage Base, a clean-label product designed for operators to make frozen beverages with a smoother and thicker consistency that lasts longer without separating. Neutral Beverage Base can be used in any frozen coffee or latte drink—blended or batched—and works well with frozen lemonades, limeades, froses, and milkshakes. Unlike the vast majority of the existing Monin portfolio, this product is flavorless yet still impacts the finished frozen drink application for an improved customer experience. Plus, using this Beverage Base allows for less dairy or less ice cream, ingredients that tend to have rising costs. Neutral Beverage Base delivers the same thickening and consistency benefits of powdered frappé base, but the 64 oz., operatorfriendly bottle is easier to use (press of a pump) and more sanitary than scooping powders. This product also creates an opportunity for any café, restaurant, or bar looking to offer non-dairy frozen drinks. With Neutral Beverage Base, staff can add three pumps with any milk alternative and craft a dairy-free milkshake or cocktail.

Ole Smoky Distillery introduces Moonshine Pineapples with Piña Colada. The tropical expression joins the distillery’s Moonshine Cherries, Moonshine Pickles, and Moonshine Peaches products available nationwide. To celebrate the launch of Pineapples with Piña Colada, Ole Smoky has created an easy and refreshing signature summer cocktail, the Tropic Sunrise, made with 2.5 ounces of Ole Smoky Moonshine Pineapples with Piña Colada Moonshine, three ounces of orange juice, two ounces of pineapple juice, and garnished with an Ole Smoky Moonshine Pineapple, an Ole Smoky Moonshine Cherry, and topped with a drizzle of grenadine.




Tobin Ellis Signature Series Front-Facing Refrigerated Drawer Cabinet Perlick introduces the Tobin Ellis Signature Series Front-Facing Refrigerated Drawer Cabinet, a small yet robust front-facing bar-prep system designed with Tobin Ellis’ Zero-Step Bartending approach to increase throughput, reduce labor cost, improve bartender wellness, and enhance hospitality. The new refrigerated drawer cabinet delivers more profitability for owners by lowering labor costs with bar prep at each station, allowing barbacks to focus on other tasks; keeping up to 12 ninth pans and 20 liters of bar fruit and juices fresh longer at the proper holding temperature, which lowers food cost; and reducing the spread of germs and viruses by keeping bar fruit protected from staff and guests. The Perlick product also solves crucial bartender pain points by reducing bending, stooping, and wasted motion behind the bar; keeping bartenders’ eyes up and forward enhancing the guest experience, speed of service, and genuine hospitality; and eliminating bartenders turning their backs on guests or leaving the bar to restock basic bar prep.

June 2022

Bar Business Magazine




What is the importance of choosing a premium craft vodka like Double Cross over other options? That’s simple. The craftsmanship, along with the quality ingredients, deliver an exceptional vodka. Double Cross Vodka is produced in Slovakia using estate-grown winter wheat and mineral rich water sourced from aquifers 200 feet below the Tatra Mountains. Double Cross is made in small batches and distilled and filtered seven times in Stara Lubovna, an Eastern European village that has been crafting spirits for centuries, resulting in our awardwinning, smooth, luxury craft vodka.


CEO & Chairman of the Executive Board, Old Nassau Imports, Double Cross Vodka


awne is an award-winning executive with over 30 years of experience in key leadership positions in the alcoholic beverage industry, including Diageo and Coors Brewing Company. Prior to that, she spent a few years with Unilever and Atari. Gawne has also spent nine years volunteering as treasurer and a key leadership committee member for the Cincinnati USO. In Gawne’s last corporate role as VP, Sales-East for Treasury Wines Estates, she was responsible for profit, talent development, and market share results. Gawne improved Sales performance by 16% while upgrading her LT and reduced spending by 20%. Gawne is a graduate of Miami University with degrees in Political Science and Communications. She and her husband have three children.


Bar Business Magazine

June 2022

Have you observed any recent vodka trends?

Many premium and value brands have extended their lines with flavored vodka, botanicals, and now ready-todrink cocktail offerings. We at Double Cross see an opportunity to marry the philosophy of farm-to-table with a nod to what consumers are looking for today—cocktails where the quality of the liquid stands out—which is fueling the growth of luxury vodka.


There’s been a resurgence of nostalgic cocktails from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and even ‘90s. Many of these cocktails, especially from the 80s, used vodka. Have you seen a return to these types of cocktails? Vodka remains the largest spirits category representing over 32% of all spirits consumed globally. Add that to the creativity of bartenders and mixologists that continue to incorporate high-end vodkas into their cocktails, and it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a demand for classic yet daring vodka cocktails. The martini, vesper, and cosmopolitan are simply too appealing and classic to not remain part of the cocktail experience.


our other three sizes. Our new bottle has received rave industry reviews as has our vodka, which was one of only three vodkas (out of 220+) last year to receive a Gold Medal at the International Wine & Spirits Competition. And in 2022, Double Cross Vodka received the Double Gold Medal from the San Francisco Wine and Spirits Competition. We remain firmly committed to becoming the world’s leading ultrapremium craft vodka brand. For this year, we have launched our “Dare to Differ” campaign directed at vodka drinkers who are independentminded, entrepreneurial, and who make their own path. Specifically, Double Cross intentionally can’t be found everywhere. We want to be in establishments that attract the kind of consumer our brand represents and for whom our “Dare to Differ“ message will resonate.


Do you have any advice for other women in the hospitality industry?

I’ve been fortunate to be part of this extraordinary industry throughout my career. What once seemed like an industry that women didn’t gravitate to as they didn’t see a solid career path, those days are long past. My advice for women in the industry today is to be open to opportunities and know that this industry is an environment that will challenge you all while working with great people.


Can you share a favorite Double Cross Vodka recipe?

My go-to is always Double Cross Vodka, straight up with a twist.

What’s up next for Double Cross Vodka?

This past year, we’ve elevated Double Cross Vodka from its original, iconic, rectangular bottle to something more streamlined and easier to use for our trade community. While it was awardwinning and beautiful, bartenders found the rectangular bottle shape difficult to use. In 2021, we also introduced the liter size to complement

Photos (left to right): Double Cross Vodka; Bob Peters.




Covered Bar Business’s newsletters keep you up-to-date with timely news, industry trends, and “how-to” articles on every aspect of the bar industry. BAR BUSINESS ON TAP The latest bar news, trends, and resources to improve your business. SATURDAY SIPS Every Saturday morning, Saturday Sips serves up cocktail recipes dedicated to a particular spirit, holiday, or brand. BAR BUSINESS Q&A Featured conversations with bar industry professionals. BAR ESSENTIALS Key products and services to help you operate your bar and serve your guests.


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