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The Official Magazine of the World Class Beverage Program

Tennessee Whiskey The world’s best-selling whiskey is using its 150-year heritage to stay relevant in today’s competitive spirits market.

Talking F&B with Steve Sickel The SVP of Distribution & Relationship Marketing weighs in on his love of Italian cooking and global microbrews.




Taking iPad Menus For a Test Drive at the InterContinental Boston


The InterContinental Mexico City


Talking F&B With Steve Sickel

World Class Beverage Program Supplier Profile: Jack Daniel’s


A Career Come Full Circle: Danny Estevez of the InterContinental Miami

Summer Promotions: Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn & Crowne Plaza

The InterContinental Maracaibo & The Crowne Plaze Maruma




InterContinental Hotels: Of Cocktails & Honeybees


InterContinental New York Barclay’s Calvados Bar & Mixologist Jose Torrella


Beverage Briefs



When we think of Summer, we think of FUN—barbecues, pool parties, outdoor adventures and best of all— vacations! The many leisure travelers visiting our hotels this summer create a red-hot opportunity for our food and beverage teams to take center stage, generate excitement and make magical memories in our restaurants and bars for these often less-than-frequent travelers. What better way to help maximize revenues while creating Great Hotels Guests Love?

IHG Bartender Academy

iPad Menus TA K I N G



ave you noticed? iPads are everywhere. Since Apple introduced its sleek tablets two years ago, sales have skyrocketed. It was only a matter of time before the useful little devices found their way into the food and beverage arena. While some independent restaurants around the world have begun using tablets to showcase their wine lists, far fewer have taken the bold step of replacing traditional restaurant menus with iPads. Until now. In September, IHG will begin piloting the use of iPad menus at Miel, the primary restaurant at the InterContinental Boston, with brand-wide rollout planned for mid-next year. Designed to not only enhance the guest dining experience but also to increase F&B revenues, adoption of the iPads will make InterContinental Hotels the first hotel chain in the country to convert totally to tablet menus.

Miel’s wine list and menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner and cocktails have been loaded onto 60 specially configured iPads for the test. The digital menus will feature high-quality photography of signature items and will allow diners to access nutritional content on dishes and to search for specific information—for example, a list of all Bordeaux wines, selections in particular price categories or whether a specific dish contains nuts. Curious guests may use the menus

to learn more about the restaurant and its upcoming promotions and events, link to a video of the staff’s beekeeping activities at the InterContinental Boston’s rooftop apiary, even tweet about or post recipes of specific dishes to their Facebook pages. Usage of the iPad menus will be measured meticulously, with guests being asked to take a survey about their ordering experiences. Impact on average check, time to turn tables, overall sales and profit will also be tracked. The guest experience will continue to take top priority in the process, notes Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray, Vice President, Food and Beverage, the Americas. Traditional printed menus will be available upon request and dining orders will still be taken by servers, not sent electronically to the kitchen by the diners themselves. “The iPad menus are intended to augment the ordering experience, not replace our wait staff,” says Jean-Pierre. “The human element is critical to delivering a dining experience that aligns with the promise of our full-service brands. We’re excited about the potential these devices represent for the future of our food and beverage program, both as a source of expanded services and information for our guests and as a precise and effective management tool for our F&B teams.” 3

Global travel is an important part of Steve Sickel’s job, and he takes advantage of the opportunity to sample local cuisines wherever he goes. In a recent interview, we asked the Senior Vice President of Distribution & Relationship Marketing about his F&B preferences, including his passion for Italian food.

Informal & Italian




Any foodservice experience in your background? “No experience working in restaurants, though I grew up in the grocery business. In my hometown of Woodbury, New Jersey, my dad owned a grocery store, and all five of us kids were expected to work there after school, on weekends and in the summer. I started when I was eight, turning the produce, and graduated to stocking shelves and then working the checkout register by the time I went away to college. I thought about making my career in the family business but changed my mind after graduate school when I got a job with Continental Airlines and discovered I loved travel and the travel industry.” 4


What does a great dining experience look like? “Great food, great wine and a great place to be with friends. The atmosphere should be comfortable, not stuffy, and you should be able to hear what the people sitting across the table from you are saying. I enjoy discovering places to eat that aren’t big and popular yet—not too trendy, posh or precocious.”

What’s your favorite food? “I love great Italian food—if you put most any Italian dish in front of me, I’m going to love it. That’s because my mother is a fantastic Italian cook. She learned from her next-door neighbor when she

was growing up—the family was first-generation Italian, and the mother made her own meatballs, sausage and pasta. She taught my mom how to cook the way they do it in the Old Country.”

How about your favorite beverage? “I’m not much of a liquor drinker, but I love beer and wine. I’m especially fond of rich, deep red wines, like big California Cabernets. As for beer, I try the local beers wherever I travel and have sampled some great microbrews all over the world, which has been a pretty cool adventure!”

Favorite restaurant? “Up until a few months ago, my favorite restaurant was Ruggles Grill in Houston, which I understand has now closed. It was a local institution that had been there for a couple of decades, set in an eclectic part of town with an open layout and an atmosphere that was loud and festive. I was a regular when I lived in Houston a number of years ago. The menu featured great American and Italian cuisine, and it had a terrific wine list.”

When you stay at an IHG property, what are your expectations regarding F&B? “I expect to enjoy well-delivered service and high-quality food that are appropriate for the brand of the hotel where I’m staying. Other than that, I don’t have any specific expectations, because the character and themes of our restaurants tend to be very different from one to the next.”

When you dine at an IHG hotel, what do you usually order? “I don’t have a ‘usual order’ when I stay and dine in our hotels. Except for ordering eggs for breakfast, I never have the same thing. When I travel for work, I like to try different items on the hotel’s menu—preferably what’s local—whether I’m in Shanghai, Dubai, London or New York.”

For example: the current trend toward excessive use of fruit in strange combinations, like salmon and apples—why put that together? “Removing my plate too quickly, before I’m really finished savoring the meal, is also a pet peeve of mine, along with servers who hover—especially those who are trained to refill the water glass to replace the three milliliters removed with each sip. I realize it’s supposed to be in the spirit of good service, but I want servers to be there when I really need them and otherwise to leave me and my party alone.”

Do you cook yourself at home, and if so, what are your specialties? “I cook a mean Pop Tart, and I’m amazing with frozen pizza. Seriously, in the kitchen I’m a major fire hazard, so my wife, Stacey, does the cooking. I am allowed to barbecue, so I grill a lot of steak, fish and sausage for our daughters. They are 8, 11 and 13 and are big carnivores.”

Why do you believe food and beverage is important to IHG and the guest experience? “Food and beverage is a huge part of completing the brand value proposition for our full-service hotels. Of course, the level of impact varies by brand and market. In some parts of the world— the Middle East, Africa, Asia, China—F&B can represent more than 50 percent of a hotel’s revenue. These are generally markets where hotel restaurants are THE place to dine, and so a single property might have as many as six or seven restaurants. “But for all of our restaurants and bars, regardless of region or market, it’s important to get crystal clear on how food and beverage can best complement the rest of the stay experience on a consistent basis, to fulfill on our commitment to being BrandHearted.”

Any F&B “pet peeves?” “It bothers me when chefs try to get too clever with their recipes and end up with dishes that are more creative than tasty.



“We intend to stay relevant and keep building great relationships with both consumers and bartenders. We want to be the center of interest on the back bar and the life of the party on-premise.�


Luke Costello National Accounts Manager Brown-Forman


as Jack Daniel a real person? Newcomers to the delights of the iconic Tennessee whiskey may ask the question, but the spirit’s millions of fans worldwide know the answer—and then some.

Jack Daniel not only was real, his life and colorful personality are the source of countless stories and legends that have grown up around the making of Jack Daniel’s® Tennessee Whiskey and the distillery where it is produced in the tiny Tennessee hamlet of Lynchburg. The smooth, unique flavor of the bourbon (though the producers insist on referring to it only as “Tennessee whiskey”) has combined with its rich heritage to make Jack Daniel’s the best-selling whiskey brand in the world. It’s also a star in the portfolio of its parent, Brown-Forman, one of the 10 largest companies in the global wine and spirits industry. In addition to Jack Daniel’s, Brown-Forman produces and markets some of the most well-known and best-loved brands in the world, including many that are part of the World Class Beverage Program: Chambord® liqueur, Southern Comfort®, Woodford Reserve® bourbon, Herradura® Silver Tequila, Sonoma-Cutrer® Russian River Ranches Chardonnay, and all of the Jack Daniel’s family of products. Brown-Forman’s founding brand, Old Forester®, was the world’s first bottled bourbon.

Barrel-Filtered, Charcoal Mellowed Jack Daniel established his operation in 1866, and the story goes that he was the first to register his distillery with the federal government after the Civil War. He soon perfected the process that would produce the whiskey’s distinctive taste: the sour mash is first distilled, then dripped slowly through carefully charred sugar maple charcoal to mellow the flavor prior to aging. “The charcoal mellowing is a critical step in the process, and we make the charcoal ourselves,” explains Jennifer Powell, Senior Brand Manager for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey. “The pieces of wood

must be just the right size for filtering, and the charcoal adds no flavor or sweetening. It takes seven to 10 days for the first drop of whiskey to travel through the vats.” The delicious end product has won seven gold medals in international competitions over the last century. Brown-Forman acquired the brand in 1956.

Delighting Current & New Customers Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 black label is the core of a small, carefully developed group of products. In 1988, the twice-mellowed Gentleman Jack® Rare Tennessee Whiskey was introduced, the first new whiskey from the distillery in more than 100 years. Jack Daniel’s® Single Barrel followed in 1997, and in 2011 the distillery launched Jack Daniel’s® Tennessee Honey liqueur (see the related story on Page 12). A collection of ready-to-drink Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktails® rounds out the offerings. “Over the years, the Jack Daniel’s brand has made a lot of friends. We’re looking to keep our fingers on the pulse of what consumers want while staying true to our brand’s values and the qualities it stands for,” Jennifer says. “Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey is a great example—it’s been incredibly well-received, being named the bestselling new spirit brand of 2011. “Tennessee Honey has also been a huge game-changer, allowing us to reach new consumers and broadening our capacity for cocktails. It offers a unique taste profile while still being Jack Daniel’s.” The Jack Daniel’s team plans to continue riding the wave of renewed consumer interest in brown spirits, adds Luke Costello, National Accounts Manager for Brown-Forman. “We intend to stay relevant and keep building great relationships with both consumers and bartenders,” he says. “We want to be the center of interest on the back bar and the life of the party on-premise.”


The World Class Beverage Program Global Sampler


Master Sommelier Pedro Poncelis presides over La Cava’s extensive wine cellar.

Presidente InterContinental Mexico City



he upscale Polanco district of Mexico City is home to tree-lined streets, chic shopping and historic mansions, museums and other cultural sites. The heart of its commercial area is anchored by a hospitality icon—the Presidente InterContinental Mexico City, situated directly across from the city’s National Auditorium and not far from the presidential residence.

This first-rate location, coupled with its modern, 42-story tower and stellar reputation, have the hotel playing host to a constant stream of politicians, celebrities, artists and business leaders. Its visibility sets the bar high for the property’s food and beverage offerings, but the F&B team consistently exceeds guest expectations. 8

“Our area is rich with nightlife and great restaurants. But despite the competition, this hotel is known as the place to eat in the area,” says General Manager Guillermo Valencia. “A very high percentage of our patrons are local.”

Dining Diversity The hotel offers a diverse selection of seven specialty restaurants to satisfy its sophisticated clientele, all under the direction of Specialty Brands General Manager Jean-Christophe Brioux. Au Pied de Cochon is a replica of a well-known brasserie in Paris, open round-the-clock and offering a variety of seafood and French classics, such as traditional onion soup. The Palm is one of only two non-U.S. locations (the other is in London) for the upscale New York steakhouse chain, featuring such satisfying entrees as prime aged steaks and jumbo Nova Scotia lobster.

Balmoral is the quintessential British tearoom, serving breakfast and a light menu for lunch, dinner and afternoon tea, with homemade desserts. Patrons enjoy gourmet Cantonese cuisine at Zhen Shanghai and authentic Italian dishes at Alfredo di Roma, including Fettuccine Alfredo prepared tableside. Rounding out the offerings is Fruitas y Flores, serving three meals a day and featuring a complete breakfast buffet. The seventh themed outlet—a Mexican specialty restaurant—is in development and set to open later this year. The hotel is also renovating its open, lower mezzanine lobby bar, with plans for a branded concept. For private dinners and luncheons, guests can enjoy a meal in La Cava, the hotel’s wine cellar, which is the largest in Latin America with 37,000 bottles and 1,500 labels. Used primarily for storage, the cellar can be opened for special dinners of up to 20. Each restaurant is thoughtfully designed around delivering a dining experience true to its theme, Guillermo says. “We pride ourselves on offering authentic cuisine, prepared by native chefs,” he notes. “Our chef in Zhen Shanghai is from Hong Kong, Au Pied de Cochon’s executive chef is from France, our chef in Alfredo di Roma is from Italy and though our chef in The Palm is from Mexico, he grew up in the States. Our wine cellar is overseen by Master Sommelier Pedro Poncelis, who has won numerous international awards and recognition.”

Accolades and Training The list of the hotel’s food and beverage awards extends to the other outlets as well. All the restaurants have received the Five Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality

Zhen Shanghai’s Hong Kong team prepare opulent versions of regular Chinese fare.

Au Pied de Cochon is a fashionable brasserie open 24 hours a day.

Guillermo Valencia General Manager

Jean-Christophe Brioux Specialty Brands General Manager

Katia Del Rio Assistant Food & Beverage Manager

Sciences for four consecutive years, and every outlet, as well as the banqueting area, has earned the Distintivo H hygiene award from the Mexican Secretary of Tourism for the past 10 years. Au Pied de Cochon has garnered a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. An important part of the hotel’s F&B reputation in the city rests on its massive banquet operation. The property has 17 meeting rooms, able to accommodate up to 2,000 people and events ranging from conventions and exhibitions to executive board meetings. “We focus a lot of ongoing attention on training to ensure our stewards, restaurant servers, bartenders and sommeliers are totally professional and highly skilled in culinary and service matters,” says Assistant Food & Beverage Manager Katia Del Rio. “We believe this is a key to our continued success.” “The Presidente InterContinental plays a vital role in Mexico City’s business and social scenes,” Guillermo adds. “Our food and beverage program and talented team support the hotel’s prominent position in the community by delivering seamless service in environments that inspire.”

Upscale and high-profile, The Palm steakhouse attracts the city’s politicians and glitterati.


In this issue, Spirited introduces a new occasional series profiling leading Food & Beverage Directors in the Americas. Adjacent to the hotel’s rooftop pool, the Blue Water Cafe offers light fare and an unmatched view of the Atlantic Ocean and Miami’s Biscayne Bay.


InterContinental Miami’s

Estevez A Career Come Full Circle



hen Danny Estevez got his first full-time job as an overnight front desk clerk at the InterContinental Miami in 1990, he noticed right away that the hotel’s excitement and creativity seemed to center around food and beverage. There was an ice rink in the lobby during the holiday season, a Japanese food festival in the spring—an almost constant stream of activities and events.

He was intrigued. After spending time in various front desk-related roles, Danny asked the hotel’s F&B Director for advice on a career in the food and beverage side of the business. Start at the entry level, he was told, as a bus boy or server. “That’s exactly what I did. I took off the suit and tie and became a waiter in the hotel’s restaurant,” he says. “Over the next seven years, I was schooled in just about every F&B position, from banquet server to In-room Dining Manager, then Chief Steward, then Assistant Banquet Manager. I worked hard, grew a lot and fell in love with the business.” Twenty-two years later, Danny returned to the InterContinental Miami as Food & Beverage Director. In between the two career milestones, he was Assistant Food & Beverage Manager for the InterContinental Manila, served as Director of Restaurant for two stylish, high-end restaurants in Miami Beach and rejoined InterContinental Hotels as Food & Beverage Director for the San Juan property in 2002.

He was F&B Director at the InterContinental New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina disaster and was part of the team that stayed at the property to safeguard it during the crisis. He then took on the F&B Director role for the InterContinental Houston, adding responsibilities for the InterContinental Hotel in Austin as well during his last year in Texas before heading back to Miami in 2011. “I never would have dreamed, all those years ago, that I would have the chance to be back at this hotel, doing what I enjoy most,” he says. “It’s wonderful to be in Miami again, and I’m blessed to work with so many great people. With the InterContinental brand, you have the chance to work with people from all parts of the world and so many different cultures. We have a passionate, committed team here. We’re like family.” That passion, Danny says, is essential for a successful F&B program as well as a successful career. “You have to love what you do,” he says. “Food and beverage takes an enormous amount of energy and creativity. It gets your adrenaline pumping, which is the part that appeals to us all. “For me, it’s a dream job. I get to be at the core of the activity driving results for the front of the house, whether it’s developing a successful concept and environment for a restaurant and bar or working with my team to create exciting F&B events.”


Robert Hill General Manager InterContinental Miami


The InterContinental Miami will unveil a sleek new bar and restaurant concept in October of this year.

The hotel plays host year-round to some of the city’s most exclusive F&B events, from grand galas to private dinners and intimate food and wine tastings.


Creating A Buzz for Bees The next time you sprinkle almonds and strawberries on your morning cereal, consider the plight of the planet’s honeybees. Raising awareness of the importance of honeybees to the world’s food supply is one of the key educational messages of the honey-themed InterContinental Hotels summer promotion. Humans rely on honeybees for a full one-third of our food products, as the bees pollinate more than 100 crops including fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. The other, more urgent part of the story is that the world’s honeybee population is in peril, and its long-term survival is definitely in question. Since 2007, more than one in three honeybee colonies in the U.S. has died from a somewhat mysterious phenomenon that has been named “Colony Collapse Disorder” (CCD). The decline is unprecedented in recent history, and the precise cause is unknown (though scientists suspect a combination of impaired protein production, changes in agricultural practices and unpredictable weather). The World Class Beverage Program is passionately committed to the honeybee cause and is taking steps (such as launching this promotion) to help sustain them. A growing number of our properties have installed thriving, on-site apiaries, tended by members of our own food and beverage staffs who have been trained in the art of beekeeping (see the list below). How can you help? Get involved, and encourage your guests to get involved. You can start by visiting the special page in the World Class Beverage Program website that further explains the honeybee dilemma and includes links to sites and organizations actively working to save the bees.

Visit SaveTheBees or scan this QR code to learn more about the cause.

A Sweet S Celebrating

Ah, summer! The time when our guests revel in warm-weather activities and vacations, all the while searching for cool ways to beat the heat. Three refreshing new beverage promotions—being presented at InterContinental Hotels, Hotel Indigo and Holiday Inn/Crowne Plaza Hotels, respectively—offer delightful ways to enjoy a leisurely summer afternoon or evening. We introduce them to you on the next four pages.

A Honey of a Promotion A delight for the eyes, a treat for the palate and a boost for the bees—the Summer 2012 beverage promotion for InterContinental Hotels & Resorts combines a delightful array of cool and delicious cocktails with the chance to step up in the realm of social responsibility. The promotion is a collaboration between the IHG World Class Beverage Program, Brown-Forman (see the related story on Page 6) and the CocaCola Company. The spirits featured: Jack Daniel’s Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur. The exciting and popular new Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey product—a whisky-based liqueur introduced in 2011— is taking center stage and providing a platform for the InterContinental Hotels brand to build awareness of the plight of the world’s diminishing honeybee population (see the story at left). Guests can settle in to sip one of six featured drinks, from a soothing Oh-Honey (Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Minute Maid® Orange Juice, Triple Sec and a splash of Sprite®) to a tart Cranberry Jack (Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur, cranberry juice and Sprite) to a neat Beekeeper Shot (Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey straight up).

Hosting the Bees at InterContinental Hotels


• InterContinental Boston, 150,000+ bees • InterContinental New York Barclay, 80,000 bees • InterContinental New York Times Square, 10,000 bees with plans for 4 new hives and a total of 80,000 bees in 2013. • InterContinental Baltimore, 30,000 bees

Summer Season

Coca-Cola Products: The Magic Mixers The stars of the show for the lip-smacking cocktails featured in this summer’s InterContinental Hotels promotion may be Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, but where would they be without the gestalt provided by the recipes’ mixer components? Fully capable of standing on their own in the realm of sodas, juices and other non-alcoholic offerings, here are the Coca-Cola products that round out the flavor and fun of our bee-yootiful and refreshing drinks:

Minute Maid® Lemonade

The promotion launched July 1 and will run through September 30 at participating InterContinental Hotels in North America, though the hotels are invited to continue the promotion as long as they wish. The innovative marketing materials available in conjunction with the promotion include a colorful slick containing the recipes, for internal use, a supply of stir sticks in lemon, mint and mandarin honey flavors, back-of-house posters, front-of-house menu inserts, 3D pop-up hexagonal honeycomb table tents and hexagonal, takehome drink coasters in six unique, collectible designs. Hotels even had the option of ordering a life-size statue of Jack Daniel, clad in a beekeeper helmet, to use for promotional events and honey-themed banquet and catering packages. Online access has been provided to all the print-ready designs and photography so that hotels can customize the promotional materials.

Classics never go out of style. Made with the goodness of real lemons, it’s the quintessential refreshing beverage with the great taste of a simpler time.

Minute Maid® Orange Juice Tastes just like a fresh, ripe orange. Delightfully delicious!

Sprite® The world’s leading lemon-lime-flavored soft drink, Sprite is sold in more than 190 countries and ranks as the No. 4 soft drink worldwide. Millions of people enjoy Sprite because of its crisp, clean taste that really quenches thirst. Enjoy!

The final, important component is a special web page ( that has been created within the World Class Beverage Program site to provide more information on the honeybees. Participating hotels are encouraged to use the material to educate bartenders and servers and as content for Twitter and Facebook campaigns in support of both the promotion and the cause of the bees. In short—everything an F&B team could need to help save the bees and boost beverage revenues by making our guests’ lives just a little bit sweeter.



Celebrations It’s an event that comes along...well, only once in a blue moon. The world will experience the origin of that phrase on August 31st, when a second full moon occurs within a single month. According to the lunar calendar, a blue moon only happens about once every two or three years.

What better reason for a celebration? That’s what the Hotel Indigo® brand and beverage partner MillerCoors decided when teaming up for this summer’s Artfully Crafted Promotion. MillerCoors is the parent company of Blue Moon Brewing Company, which makes the craft-style Blue Moon beer. The promotion began July 1st at all Hotel Indigo hotels in the United States and runs through September 30th. The focus is on Blue Moon’s most popular beer, Belgian White, which is one of the beverages required for those Hotel Indigo properties participating in the World Class Beverage Program. Developed in 1995 in Denver, Belgian White was one of the first Blue Moon creations, winning medals at the World Beer Championships three years in a row. “Blue Moon Belgian White is a No. 1 seller—our guests can readily identify and connect with it,” says Dianna Stoffer, Manager, Food and Beverage Programs, Hotel Indigo. “We felt it was the perfect centerpiece for our summer promotion, especially since it provides such a great opportunity for events at the hotels.” Though Blue Moon Belgian White will take center stage, the promotion will also give a nod to all seven Blue Moon varieties, as well as the four variations of MillerCoors’ second distinctive craft beer, Leinenkugel. Hotels have received promotional kits including coasters and table tent inserts, giveaway items such as tee-shirts and glassware, and delicious, delightful recipes for rim flavors that can be paired with specific beers. Examples: orange-flavored Pixie Stix for Blue Moon Belgian White, crushed Heath bars with hot chocolate mix for Blue Moon Spiced Amber Ale and crushed Lemonheads for Leinenkugel Summer Shandy. “We’re encouraging the hotels to have Blue Moon parties leading up to and on the evening of the blue moon, and to get their local communities involved,” Dianna adds. “Those with outdoor areas, of course, have an ideal viewing spot. We’re also recommending use of social media to build excitement.” 14

But perhaps the most compelling part of the invitation to guests, she notes, is the chance for them to say they enjoyed a Blue Moon on the blue moon—a chance that only comes around...

For more information on the Blue Moon promotion, contact Dianna at or 770-604-2633.

Defining Summer with



rack of ribs, served falling off the bone, paired with an ice cold beer—the perfect combination for a summer supper.

At participating Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels across the U.S., guests are being invited to enjoy this delectable duo as the heart of the two brands’ summer quarter promotion. The tasty offer is a joint effort with beverage partner Anheuser-Busch and features two stars from its portfolio: Bud Light, the No. 1 beer brand in the world, and Shock Top, Anheuser-Busch’s relatively new, awardwinning craft-style beer. “Beer is a staple for our Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza customers— it’s what they expect and desire,” says Scott Chapman, Project Manager, Food and Beverage. “But consumer tastes continue to shift and change. With Bud Light, we satisfy the demands of mainstream beer drinkers. By adding Shock Top, we are able to capitalize on the ever-growing craft beer market segment.” Launched June 15th, the promotion runs through Labor Day at participating Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotels in the U.S. and Canada. The properties have received a promotional kit that includes large and small posters, table tents and menu inserts for restaurant and bar point-of-sale, along with an implementation guide.

The objectives of the promotion, Scott notes, are to increase sales during the dinner meal period, boost margins through high contribution-to-profit food items and increase server gratuities. “This promotion is all about profit on the plate,” he says. “The ribs and beer represent a low cost of entry for the promotion, the marketing materials are provided free of charge and the rib entree generates the same contribution to profit as burgers, but with lower labor costs. This is the fourth year we’ve run the promotion, because it has been consistently successful both at building revenues and generating profit.” For more information on the Ribs & Beer promotion, contact Scott at or 770-604-8035.


Raising a (Calvados) Toast to

The Big Apple A

sk the average American about Calvados, and you’re likely to get a puzzled look. Though the distilled, aged brandy from Normandy, France, is one of the world’s finest spirits, it’s not as well known as, say, Cognac or vodka.

The F&B team at the InterContinental New York Barclay is out to change all that. Behind the leadership of Restaurant and Bar Manager Boris Burtin, the hotel’s Barclay Bar & Grill in April became the first Calvados-themed bar in the United States. “We were looking for a concept that would play up our hotel’s position in the heart of New York,” says Boris. “Calvados was the logical choice. We started small but now offer almost 80 types.” A native of Normandy, Boris knows his Calvados—and he also knew some of the leading producers of the spirit. As Boris contacted them for his research and development of the Calvados specialty in the Barclay Bar, the trade organization representing those producers became excited about the project. Ultimately, France’s Association for Cider Appellations (Interprofession des Appellations Cidricoles, or IDAC) awarded the InterContinental New York Barclay the title of Exemplaire, or “Calvados Ambassador.” The Bar was further honored as the first Calvados bar in the United States, and Boris accepted the honors on behalf of the hotel at a conference in Caen of all the Calvados makers in France. 16

Boris and his team have been leveraging the new theme, and the accolades, to maximum effect by offering a variety of Calvados flights in the bar and have produced a “Calvados bible” listing the Bar’s robust offerings of the spirit. Barclay Bar mixologist Jose Torella (see story on Page 17) has just created his second edition menu of tantalizing Calvados cocktails. The Bar even teamed up with the IDAC to promote an online Calvados cocktail contest for French residents, with the winner receiving a trip to the Barclay Bar to drink his or her own cocktail there.

Consumer and media response to the new theme has been extremely positive, Boris notes. “We’re lucky that in New York, our guests tend to be people who welcome trying new things,” he says. “The cocktails, in particular, are a great way for guests to taste and learn. Of course, we’ll continue to promote Calvados in as many innovative ways as possible, to introduce more people to the spirit and our Bar.” France’s trade association of Calvados producers presented Restaurant & Bar Manager Boris Burtin with honors for the Barclay Bar.

A Passion for the


typical day for Jose Torrella, Lead Bartender and Mixologist for the Barclay Bar at the InterContinental New York Barclay, might include creating a new concoction for fall—an Espresso and Pumpkin Mudslide made with Grand Marnier, perhaps.

It’s a role he’s relished throughout his decade and a half with the hotel, though not the career he initially chose for himself. He was born in Spain into a family of restaurateurs and bar owners, moving with his family to New York City when he was five. He worked as a bar back at the legendary Barclay Bar to put himself through college and went on to a seven-year career as a paramedic with the New York Fire Department. When he returned to the Bar in his current role, he realized it was his first love.

“Our Calvados selection helps give guests a sense of New York and the Big Apple, and the cocktails show them that the spirit isn’t just an after-dinner drink.” Jose Torrella Lead Bartender and Mixologist InterContinental New York Barclay

“I get paid to create exciting cocktails that people enjoy and have fun doing it,” he says. “When you have a love for this field as I do, nothing compares with it.” Jose brings his creative flair to the development of the Bar’s seasonal drink menus, including cocktails showcasing Calvados, the Barclay Bar’s signature spirit (see the story on to the left). “Our Calvados selection helps give guests a sense of New York and the Big Apple, and the cocktails show them that the spirit isn’t just an after-dinner drink,” he says.

Uniqueness and experimentation are hallmarks for Jose, who revels in using blends, foams and other delights in combination with fresh, organic ingredients such as herbs from the InterContinental New York Barclay’s rooftop garden. The people side of the business appeals to him as well. “Our guests are from all over the world and often include celebrities,” he notes. “It’s exciting to meet those individuals and have the chance to make them feel welcome in our town. But I also love interacting with our regular, local Bar patrons, some of whom have been coming here for 30 or 40 years. “We keep up with what’s going on in each other’s lives and exchange pictures of our children and grandchildren. They are like family. It reminds me of how great it’s been to have the experience of meeting and making new friends here for 15 years.” 17

The World Class Beverage Program Global Sampler

Latin America

The popular Bar 78 at the InterContinental Hotel Maracaibo features hot music and dancing.

The Crowne Plaza Maruma’s La Pentola offers gourmet Italian fare in a romantic setting.

A Tale of Two Hotels A

30-minute drive through Venezuela’s second-largest city separates the elegant new InterContinental Maracaibo Hotel from its more well-established sister property to the south, the Crowne Plaza Maruma Hotel & Casino.

They have a great deal in common: flying brand flags of the IHG portfolio, the same owner and even a shared operational structure. Yet the personalities of the two properties couldn’t be more different—a plus in generating broader reach within the competitive Maracaibo hotel market.


“The InterContinental Hotel is in an elite area on the north side of town and features beautiful views of Lake Maracaibo. It’s one of the newest luxury properties in Venezuela,” says Jorge Landa, Area General Manager responsible for both hotels. “The Crowne Plaza is the grande dame of the city’s hotel scene. It’s located in a more commercial area on the south side near the airport and is one of the most popular hotels in the country.”

A Hub of Activity Rising high in the Maracaibo skyline, the sleek Crowne Plaza Maruma benefits from a prime location close to the city’s financial district and oil company headquarters and adjacent to the Palacio de Eventos de Venezuela, the country’s premier convention center.

The food and beverage program is led by F&B Director Maitte Ortega and Executive Chef Cesar Garcia and comprises five outlets. La Pentola is a classic upscale Italian restaurant that has ranked among Venezuela’s top restaurants since it opened 35 years ago. Canaima serves local and regional specialties three meals a day in a casual setting. The Maracaibo south side’s biggest and most exclusive discotheque is the hotel’s La Ronda, and La Fontana jazz-and-ceviche lobby bar and Puglia, a bistro-style sidewalk cafe in the hotel’s atrium area, round out the offerings. The hotel also boasts the largest pool in Venezuela, with a swim-up bar, waterfall, lush landscaping and pool parties after dark on weekends. “We like to say we offer one hotel that meets all your desires,” says Thane Kuhlman, Hotel Manager for the InterContinental Hotel, with responsibility for operations at both properties.

Catering to the Jet Set Food and beverage at the more sedate InterContinental Maracaibo is under the direction of F&B Director Cecilia Huerta and Executive Chef Manuel Leon. Portobello specializes in regional and provincial Italian cuisine and sourcing local, regional and organic products. Bar 78 is the place to be on the north side, attracting Venezuela’s top DJs and entertaining Maracaibo’s elite. The Lobby Bar is a popular meeting spot specializing in coffee and gelatos, and the hotel’s pool area and bar offer an exclusive, one-of-a-kind experience, featuring private cabanas and butler service. The InterContinental Hotel also has earned a reputation for hosting the most exclusive weddings in the country, with families coming from other states to have their events at the property. Jorge Landa Area General Manager InterContinental Hotel Maracaibo and Crowne Plaza Maruma Hotel & Casino

Thane Kuhlman Hotel Manager InterContinental Maracaibo Hotel

La Fontana lobby bar is the perfect place to relax and unwind with colleagues at the Crowne Plaza Maruma.

Joint Operations The hotels’ management adopted a cluster approach almost a year ago, designed to preserve the individual culture of the two properties while leveraging operational synergies in areas such as sales and marketing, revenue management, finance and accounting, culinary operations, laundry services and loss prevention. The efficiencies of cluster operations extend to two other areas. One of these is training—Jorge and Thane require training and certification for all disciplines within each hotel, and the results speak for themselves: both hotels consistently rank No. 1 in HeartBeat guest satisfaction scores in the Latin America & Caribbean region. The other area is public relations, and PR Manager Eva Ruiz maintains an aggressive, effective publicity and social media program for both properties, critical for the Venezuelan populace’s highly savvy and social nature. Jorge notes that the strong market performance of the two hotels’ food and beverage operations is underpinned by the ongoing support and engagement of the ownership. “We are fortunate that our owner, Giuseppe De Pinto, is an avid supporter of all things food and beverage,” says Jorge. “He embraces and is willing to devote resources to our initiatives, which makes a huge competitive difference for us. We dominate the market and are the trendsetters in this city. What we do, the competition copies—but they haven’t managed to produce the success we have.” 19

Here’s what some of the participants in the pilot for the IHG Bartender Academy had to say about the IHG Bartender Academy’s Certified Bartender course:

“The Certified Bartender training teaches you everything a well-trained bartender should know about spirits, wine and beer. It’s visual, very easy to digest and keeps your attention. The content is solid and the interactive tests help you retain what you learn. I think it’s great training to take at any point in the career of a bartender.”

“The modules are great introductory knowledge tools. I feel any current or new bartender will learn a lot from taking the course. Having three progressive levels of certification will make the overall program even stronger.” Todd DeSilva

Yoel G. Salini Assistant Director of Food & Beverage InterContinental Miami

Food & Beverage Director InterContinental Buckhead

Raise The Bar C E R T I F I E D


F O R E X C E L L E N C E . . . A N D R E S U LT S


an highly skilled bartenders impact a hotel’s profit? “Almost certainly” was the conclusion of the corporate Food & Beverage team as they researched the viability of the IHG Bartender Academy concept.

The bar itself can influence a potential guest’s choice of hotel and the level of engagement after arrival, the team learned. A 2011 Technomics study of hotel food and beverage consumer behavior determined that two out of five consumers (nearly 40 percent) say that on-premise bars or lounges are important when deciding on a hotel. Almost two-thirds of guests visit the bar often, very often or occasionally during their stay, the research showed. In addition to being the center of social interaction and the place where most locals experience the hotel, the bar is also a primary source of profitable F&B revenue for many properties, generating margins consistently higher than in the restaurant.

“Our thinking is that if the bar is important and profitable for the hotel, the bartender is critically important as well,” says Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray, Vice President, Food and Beverage, the Americas. “Therefore bartender training is not only important, it’s potentially profitable. 20

“In addition, our industry lacks great bartender training. The IHG Bartender Academy will help us develop a keen competitive advantage in this vital area. We are not aware of any other hotel company offering this kind of program.”

Certifying Skills The IHG Bartender Academy’s first program, Certified Bartender, is set to debut in August at selected CMH hotels. Rollout to all IHG full-service hotels in the U.S. and Canada, across all brands and for franchised as well as company-owned/managed properties, is scheduled for the fourth quarter of this year. The certification course is the first in a multiple-part curriculum developed and offered by the IHG Bartender Academy. Successful completion of this initial training and testing earns a Certified Bartender designation. Future courses will offer Advanced Bartender and Mixologist certifications, respectively, and will be introduced over the next two years. All bartenders at CMH hotels will be required to take the Certified Bartender training and to pass its requirements.

Qualifying Online & In-Person

A Comprehensive, Team Effort

The Certified Bartender certification process involves an online learning course and a live skills assessment. The online component is accessed through IHG’s MyLearning training portal and consists of six modules: an introductory course, a guest interaction unit and a module on each of the four types of beverages served—beer, wine, spirits and soft beverage (soda, bottled water and readyto-drink teas). Each highly interactive module ends with a test on which learners must score 80 percent to pass.

Development of the program was a two-year process involving a team of experts both within and outside IHG. Extensive interviews with bartenders served as the backbone of the program, together with input from an advisory group that included the F&B Commandos as well as outside consultants. Product and process content was provided by numerous World Class Beverage Program supplier partners, including Pernod Ricard, Beam Global, Moët Hennessy USA, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, E&J Gallo Winery, Anheuser-Busch InBev, MillerCoors and The Coca-Cola Company. The IHG F&B team also coordinated closely with IHG’s Training and IT departments regarding program logistics. Response from participants in the pilot tests of the program has been universally positive. (see comments on Page 20).

The live skills check is conducted by the bartender’s F&B director or bar manager and is designed to verify the candidate’s functional competency. This assessment covers guest interaction, knowledge of products and processes, personal skills and effectiveness (poise, resilience, professional appearance, language) and teamwork. For each competency area, the assessor determines whether the candidate is at the “developing,” “competent” or “mastery” level, with specific feedback provided on what is needed for the applicant to advance. Bartenders who pass both parts of the program are awarded a certificate denoting “Certified Bartender” status and receive one year of paid membership in the U.S. Bartenders Guild.

“There is a strong demand within our IHG bartender community for the education and certification the Bartender Academy provides,” says Jean-Pierre. “We fully expect the program to fulfill its goal of defining, elevating and distinguishing the important role our bartenders play in delivering a superior guest experience at our hotels.” 21

What is a leader? A person

or organization willing to boldly step out and take public action in service of a commitment and cause they believe in. In this issue’s Beverage Briefs, we salute the accomplishments of several leaders within the IHG F&B community, both individuals and hotels.

The Best in Fresh Green Momentum Restaurants and bars at eight InterContinental Hotels in the U.S. earned Two-Star Green Restaurant® certification from the Green Restaurant Association in the second quarter of this year. Fourteen of the 18 InterContinental Hotels in the U.S. and Canada have achieved a level of Green Restaurant® certification to date, bringing the InterContinental brand in these two countries closer to its 2012 goal of having all restaurants and bars green certified and becoming the first hotel group in the world to accomplish this. The newest hotels to achieve the Two-Star certification are: • Southern Art and Bourbon Bar at the InterContinental Buckhead • Azure Restaurant and Bar at the InterContinental Toronto Centre • Indigo Restaurant & Bar at the InterContinental Miami • Ça Va Brasserie at the InterContinental New York Times Square • Brasserie Osco at the InterContinental Montreal • Café du Parc at the Willard InterContinental in Washington, D.C. • Table 45 and North Coast Cafe at the InterContinental Cleveland • Cultural Cuisine at the InterContinental Suites Cleveland The certification ratings are based on points scored in a rigorous seven-part process that encompasses environmental assessments and consulting, implementation of sustainability enhancements and verification. Congratulations to these hotels on their accomplishments! 22

Christophe Depuichaffray, Area Executive Chef for the InterContinental Mark Hopkins and the InterContinental San Francisco, was recently named one of six honorees in the fifth annual Produce Excellence in Foodservice Awards Program. The program, which is under the auspices of the United Fresh Produce Association, recognizes chefs and their companies for their innovative and influential use of fresh produce in the culinary arts. The six winners were selected from nearly 120 nominations by produce companies and foodservice operations across North America, with Chef Christophe taking top honors in the Hotels & Healthcare category. Judging criteria included demonstrated incorporation of fresh produce into menu development and use of protocols for correct storage and handling of produce, leadership in produce-related community service and recognition by their companies and industry peers. Christophe and his fellow winners were formally recognized at United Fresh 2012, the association’s annual convention and expo that was held in Dallas in May (see the photo above). The six top chefs also participated in a panel discussion during the convention. United Fresh President Tom Stenzel applauded the honorees for “featuring fresh fruits and vegetables on their menus...their tremendous commitment to our industry...and their positive impact on our nation’s dining habits.”

Taking Home The Crystal Peach Award Culinary Enrichment The 2012 graduating class of the prestigious Culinary Enrichment and Innovation Program (CEIP) included IHG Manager of Food & Beverage Concepts Christopher Culp (pictured above). CEIP is a joint initiative of The Culinary Institute of America and Hormel Foods, founded on the premise that tomorrow’s leaders in the culinary industry need skills that extend beyond those of a gifted chef—including the ability to lead their teams, organizations and companies in advancements in culinary direction, new product development and menu innovation. The program’s curriculum centers around this as well as developing skill in anticipating changing consumer palates and lifestyles and managing diverse employees. Hormel Foods underwrites the cost for program development and tuition for all participating students. Elite, up-and-coming chefs from lodging, restaurant, college and university and healthcare settings are invited to participate. Chris and his 13 fellow students completed the intensive foursession, 18-month curriculum in April at the Culinary Institute’s Greystone campus in Napa Valley, California. During the program, the chefs had the opportunity to work one-on-one with some of the country’s finest culinary teachers and managers, chefs and industry thought leaders.

Jean-Pierre Etcheberrigaray, IHG Vice President of Food & Beverage, the Americas, received the Award of Excellence at the 2012 Crystal Peach Awards (see the photo below), presented by the FrenchAmerican Chamber of Commerce for the Southeastern United States. The Crystal Peach Awards recognize corporate honorees who exemplify a commitment to economic growth, product excellence and innovation, community involvement and the expansion of commercial relations between France and the Southeastern United States. The Award of Excellence is presented to the FACC member who has best exemplified the core mission and values of the FACC during the previous year. The award ceremonies took place at the Capital City Country Club in Atlanta. In presenting the award to Jean-Pierre, FACC-Southeast Executive Director Daniel Bowers noted that JP had served on the organization’s Board of Directors since 2007, providing many, often behind-the-scenes contributions. “I have found him always ready to pick up the phone and talk, to give solid, practical advice and help support the Chamber in any way his schedule would allow,” Daniel said.

Final presentations by the group to a professional panel integrated the teachings of the entire program, from global flavors to the ethical responsibilities of healthful, flavorful food preparation, to innovation and leadership. “My work is often outside the scope of the kitchen,” Chris says. “My education was as a chef, but this program expanded my knowledge of how to approach challenging management issues as well as team leadership.”


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Spirited Magazine - Summer 2012  

Talking F&B with Steve Sickel, Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey, Danny Estevez of InterContinental Miami, IHG Bartender Academy, Save The Bees -...

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