in the Mix Winter Issue 2021

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Vol. 69

© Winter 2021

BUILDING BETTER BEVERAGE BUSINESS ™

Cover Cocktail “A Plane From Modena” from the costa Kitchen & Bar Mar Monte Hotel Santa Barbara

Featuring an Interview with

Aliya Kritzler Vice-President

Food and Beverage


REAL COCKTAILS. NOW.

Made with

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PREMIUM SPIRITS

&

LIVE PASSIONATELY. DRINK RESPONSIBLY. WWW.RESPONSIBLEDRINKING.ORG ©2021. BACARDI, THEIR TRADE DRESSES AND THE BAT DEVICE ARE TRADEMARKS OF BACARDI & COMPANY LIMITED. BACARDI U.S.A., INC., CORAL GABLES, FL. DISTILLED SPIRIT SPECIALTIES – ALC. BY VOL. RANGE FROM 4.5% TO 5.9%.

N AT U R A L F L AVO R S


PUBLISHER’S LETTER

Don Billings Publisher, in the Mix Media

He re’s to Mike , a g reat colleag ue we’re telling g oodbye. T he re’s no doubt we’ ll mi ss him . . . we cannot deny. We have valued hi s work , hi s w i s dom , hi s smile , And we hope he’ ll e nj oy a rela x ing lifest yle . S o, rai s e a g la ss for a f inal f inale!

Fair Winds and Following Seas I would like to announce that after 15 years of incredible service to IMI, our beloved Mike Raven will be retiring at the end of this year. Mike has been a champion for our magazine and a driving force behind its success. He has cultivated relationships, created and driven advertising and guided our support for CORE within our media services over the years. Mike has been a friend, a mentor, a protector, a stabilizer, a realist and an invaluable sounding board as Managing Editor of in the Mix magazine and our media services. Mike’s career with IMI began as an Account Manager and soon transitioned to Advertising Manager. He then moved up to Associate Editor and Advertising Manager. In 2008, he became Managing Editor and has excelled in that position through to his retirement. Mike will still have work to do before retiring! He will be working with our transition team and our Creative Services Department. The good news is that although he has taken retirement back to his favorite place, Port Charlotte on the Gulf coast of Florida, he has agreed to continue helping with the magazine’s advertising sales as an independent consultant. He has spent the past 15 years cultivating relationships with our brand suppliers and advertisers, so his help will be instrumental as the magazine transitions to new leadership. Filling Mike’s shoes in coordinating the production of the magazine and our other media services will come from within our company. It is our pleasure to announce that Jean Breunle, our CSD Production Manager, has agreed to take on the challenge. Jean has a strong background in magazine and media management and is excited to take on this responsibility. We have also hired a new Media Relations Coordinator to handle the day-to-day coordination of articles and information exchange. Please join me in thanking Mike for his incredible career with IMI and wishing him the best in retirement! – Don Billings

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CLICK HERE FOR RECIPES >

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EDITOR’S LETTER

Mike Raven

It’s been a great ride! This winter issue will be my last in the Mix magazine as Managing Editor. I will continue working with the advertisers and consulting when needed. For the last 15 years, I have managed in the Mix and loved every minute of it. Working for IMI and their people has been the best experience I could have asked for. They are the most considerate, fair and generous group imaginable. My special thanks go out to the management team: Larry, Celeste and Sherry. Most of all, thank you to my friend, Founding Partner of IMI and Publisher of in the Mix, Don Billings, for making this time so enjoyable for me. I also want to thank my copyeditor of more than 10 years, Christine Neal, who has been 62

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invaluable to me navigating the Queen’s English in the thousands of articles we have done together. I could not have done it properly without her. Also, a very special recognition to my right-hand woman, Kester Chau, my longtime designer. Kester has been the visual side of the magazine throughout the years and helped us win countless awards with her imaginative creations and articles. She has been and remains to be a close friend and my gratitude and thanks go out to her. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Tony Abou-Ganim. Thanks, Tony, for 15 years of great articles. Cheers and Happy Holidays, Mike Raven Managing Editor, in the Mix Media


Paula and Mike at the Master’s Tournament

Don Billings with Mike in Colorado

Paula and Mike in Punta Gorda this past November

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Mike in Tuscany, Italy


Contents

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22

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Cover Story 40.

Interview with Aliya Kritzler, Vice-President, Food and Beverage, HEI Hotels + Resorts

Features 14. IMI’s Creative Services Department 20. IMI’s Technology Services Department 22. Making the Rounds, Savoring the Season by Helen Benefield Billings 48. Five Alcohol Trends That Are Accelerating by Samantha Des Jardins, Datassential

Interviews 12. 30.

IMI Spotlight on Isabel O’Cathey, Junior Account Manager Take 5 with H. Christian Gianaris, National Beverage Director, PPX Hospitality Brands

Recipe Articles

38.

Holiday Drinks Four Ways by Monin

Happenings 8

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TAG Global Spirits Awards VIBE Conference 2021 Recap

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BUILDING BETTER BEVERAGE BUSINESS

Larr y McGinn, Par tner Celeste Dinos, Par tner Don Billings, Founding Par tner PUBLISHER

D o n B illin g s E D I TOR I A L A N D D E S I GN

Managing Editor – Michael Raven Designed by – Kester Chau of Kester Creative Copy Editor & Proofreader – Christine Neal Associate Editor – Celeste Dinos Associate Editor – Helen Benefield Billings A DV E RT I S I N G S A L E S

On the Cover

A Plane From Moderna

• • • • •

Buffalo Trace Bourbon Gran Classico Bitter Spiced Cherry Vanilla Lemon

Mike Raven mike@ITMmag.com E D I TOR I A L A N D BU S I N E S S OFFIC E 1 1 9 6 B u c k h e a d C ro s s in g Wo o d s t o c k , G A 3 0 1 8 9 P H O N E 7 7 0 - 9 2 8 - 1 9 8 0 | FA X 7 7 0 - 5 1 7 - 8 8 4 9 E M A I L m ike @ it m m a g .c o m WE B I T M m a g .c o m i n t h e M i x is p u b lis h e d q u a r t e r ly. R e p ro du cti o n o f a ny p h o t o g r ap hy, a r t wo r k , o r c o py p re p a re d by in the Mix is s t r ic t ly p ro h ib it e d w it h o u t p r i o r w r i tte n p e r m i ssi o n o f t h e p u b lis h e r. T h e a d ve r t is e rs a n d p u b l i sh e r a re n o t re s p o n s ib le o r lia b le fo r m is in fo r m a ti o n , m i sp r i n ts, o r t y p o g r ap h ic a l e rro r s . A ll e le c t ro ni c fi l e s su b m i tte d to in t h e M i x b e c o m e p ro p e r t y o f t h e ma g a zi n e . © 2 0 1 9 in the Mix a n d B u ild in g B e t t e r B eve r a g e B usi n e ss™ 1 1 9 6 B u ck h e a d C ro s s in g , Wo o d s t o c k , G A 3 0 1 8 9 . A l l R i g h ts R e se r ve d.

in the Mix is exclusively operated and owned by Incentive Marketing Inc . Submissions: Incentive Marketing Inc. assumes no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs.

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in the Mix Magazine


Start the New Year with a BBst Boost your menu AND your bottom line with Monin Energy and Total Immunity Boosts.

Simply pump into a glass, add any beverage & serve. Gluten Free | Kosher | Dairy Free | GMO Free No Artificial Colors, Flavors, Preservatives or Sweeteners

monin.com

@monin_usa

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SPOTLIGHT ON Isabel O’Cathey Junior Account Manager

What are your responsibilities within IMI? My responsibilities within IMI are simply to make my clients’ lives easier while supporting their beverage marketing efforts! As a Junior Account Manager, I have the wonderfully unique opportunity to develop exciting beverage programming that is supported by exceptional supplier partnerships. A lot of hard work and a little bit of creativity and fun can make for a very meaningful responsibility at IMI Agency. What is a recent accomplishment you achieved in Building Better Beverage Business™ for an IMI client? 2

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This year has brought with it the uphill and optimistic battle of creating opportunities in new spaces — from the recent launch of the InterContinental Hotel & Resort’s 75th anniversary cocktail(s), to proudly supporting the reopening of 50+ Delta Sky Club lounges amid a pandemic. 2021 in and of itself has had a lot of professional triumphs to Build Better Beverage Business. What do you like about your job with IMI? What I have always loved about my job with IMI is that it’s been the perfect culmination of all my career experiences brought to a fold in the one thing I love to do — build relationships and trust with


all kinds of people. From 10 years of bartending to brand management at Taco Mac and Ted’s Montana Grill, to an Anheuser-Busch on-premise distributor, to now agency life, I have seen it all! I like to set goals every year that elevate my personal expectations of the various beverage programs I work on so that my clients are making a mark in innovation and are best-in-class for their segment. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I have been in the F&B industry since I was 16 and it definitely runs in the DNA. I am a big Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan and loved sharing their 2021 Super Bowl win with my Tampa family. I just recently got married in September to my husband, Ryan! I’m an ocean girl by heart and spent my childhood living on both the West and East Coasts. What are your hobbies outside of work? I love to hike around the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area with my chocolate lab/boxer, Haze or drive up to the North Georgia mountains to spend a weekend. I love to host dinner parties at our house and pair new wines and interesting cocktails to share with my friends (and leave the delicious cooking to my husband, who also is a chef!). What is your favorite adult beverage? Red wine! More specifically, Oregon Pinot Noirs and Washington Cabernets are the current favorites. What is your favorite travel destination? I am lucky to call both Portland, Oregon and Islamorada, Florida Keys my homes away from home and love to visit family whenever possible. My favorite and most unique travel destinations so far have been to New Zealand and Australia! Winter 2021 • itmmag.com

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CREATIVE SERVICES

IS HERE FOR YOU IMI’s in-house creative services department – AKA CSD – is ready and available to elevate your beverage marketing deliverables! CSD offers a full range of creative services from brand development and concept ideation to photo and video shoots to production, merchandising and fulfillment – plus website development and social media tools. From menus, social media, table tents, posters, beverage program guides and more, CSD can be the design and production partner you need. Review CSD’s capabilities and let us know how we can help drive your beverage business.

RUTH’S CHRIS Photoshoot

DID YOU KNOW...

WHEN:

This contest we are giving away $15,400 in cash prizes (the most yet!!)

May 4th – Sept 6th ( 17 weeks to win Amazon Gift Cards while also making Money ! ! ! )

WHO:

Servers, Bartenders eligible for weekly drawings for $100 (or USD equivalent) in Amazon Gift Cards.

DID YOU KNOW...

This is the longest contest we have featured (most are 8 weeks)

WHAT:

Hard Rock Cafe contest during the Spring and Summer months centered around increasing both souvenir beverage sales and spotlight cocktail sales. • Each week 8 winners will be drawn (4 bartenders & 4 servers) • Top 50 bartenders/top 100 servers – will be entered into the drawing • Souvenir percent conversion: Total number of souvenir beverages divided by all beverages. Spotlight cocktail sales - total number of cocktails

www.imiagency.com/create

TIP...

Suggestively sell souvenir spotlight cocktails to every Guest! This way you are getting credit in both categories.

Having two categories to win from, means servers & bartenders can have two chances to win each week should they be in the drawing pot. The 4 Top performing Rockers from each category (2 servers & 2 bartenders) leading after 17 weeks will win a $250 gift card each. Winner’s will be announced in Plugged In on Tuesdays

HARD ROCK CAFE Rock The Register LTO

ARAMARK Modelo Promotion Banner & Table Tent

An ice cold can of Modelo dressed up with bold Cholula® Original Hot Sauce, a shake of Tajin seasoning and a lime wedge.

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TOP GOLF Summer LTO Menu in the Mix Magazine


UNITED CLUB Cinco De Mayo LTO Table Tent

HIGHGATE Beverage Guide

RED BULL On-premise Sales Binder & Booklet

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DONATE NOW TO PROVIDE HOPE FOR RESTAURANT FAMILIES! CORE: Children of Restaurant Employees

A national nonprofit dedicated to serving food and beverage operations employees with children to provide finbancial relief when either the parent or child faces a health crisis, injury, death or natural disaster. CORE grants in all 50 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Each grant is based on need and the average grant is $2,600.

Donate, apply, or learn more at COREgives.org @COREgives | #COREgives

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ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL SPIRIT LAUNCHES IN HISTORY A N D T H E M O ST FO L LOW E D S P I R I T O N I N S TA G R A M

AN ULTRA SMOOTH BLEND WITH NOTES OF VANILLA, HONEY, AND TOASTED WOOD

C O N TA C T YO U R L O C A L P R O X I M O S P I R I T S A C C O U N T M A N A G E R 18

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HOW CAN YOU

Put Digital Solutions To Work For Your Beverage Program? With your National Beverage Program launch, let IMI modernize and refresh your approach with digital tools to share your program, training, cocktail recipes, and more! iManageBeverage™ is a mobile-friendly website and app tool that let’s your team access information on all your beverage initiatives on one single platform. With a single click, your company’s associates all over the world can access your approved cocktail recipes, training and education assets, and more. You and your supplier partners put valuable time and resources against creating promotions for your guests. Let IMI help your teams sell more and stay motivated! iManagePromo™ provides an online tracking platform for sales data and a participant dashboard to encourage a little friendly competition amongst your teams.

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO 20 in the Mix Magazine

IMANAGEBEVERAGE

CONTACT US FOR A DEMO

IMANAGEPROMO


INCREASE

Employee Engagement And for a little extra motivation…add some gamification elements! IMI’s Prize Wheel has a proven success record and unprecedented employee engagement, and our Virtual Scratch-off can be used to incentivize your staff or reward your guests! There is no time like the present. Reach out to your IMI Account Manager, it@IMIagency.com or Celeste@IMIagency.com to get started today! VIRTUAL SCRATCH-OFF

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MAKING the ROUNDS

S

With Helen Benefield Billings

avoring the

eason

The holiday season is upon us!! Spending precious time and making memories with special friends, family and co-workers is hopefully on everyone’s “to do” list, especially this year. When a previously postponed Jimmy Buffett concert was confirmed for December 7th in Jacksonville, Florida, we decided to hit the road for a quick adventure to kick up our heels a bit 222

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Hyatt Regency Jacksonville with fun friends. On the agenda: an overnight at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront, cocktails and appetizers at Bar 12-21 at Morton’s The Steakhouse, which is conveniently located at the hotel, followed by an exhilarating pedicab ride over to VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena for the long-awaited Buffett gig, Life On The Flip Side. The Hyatt Regency Jacksonville has been recently renovated and offers glorious views of the St. Johns River with beautifully appointed, 24 4

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modern rooms. First impressions are always important, and we received a warm and hospitable welcome that included a complimentary margarita. The hotel was completely decked out for the holidays and for the hordes of Buffett fans, all checking in seemingly at the same time. Morton’s offers an awesome mixology menu that includes a memorable array of custom cocktails, martinis and, of course, Champagne and wines. The ambiance and vibe at Bar 12-21 were upscale cozy and


refined in the main bar area and enclosed adjacent patio. The featured holiday cocktail, aptly named the Sparkling Holly, is available through New Year’s Eve and is a tasty showstopper. Bright and bubbly, it is served in a sexy coupe glass with a creative berry garnish. Post-concert libations and snacks were enjoyed back at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville’s Taver n Bar, which recently reopened featuring an all new menu that focuses on handcrafted cocktails and delicious food options, including flatbread pizzas, burgers and wings.

BAR 12 21 at Morton’s Steakhouse

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Sparkling Holly — a blend of Combier Crème De Cassis and cranberry syrup, topped with Decoy Brut Cuvée Sparkling Wine.

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CELEBRATIONS START HERE

90

PTS

TheDuckhornPortfolio.com

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PRESENTING...SINGULAR WINES (AND ONE FROM THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE!)

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F R O M A T R U LY G O L D E N S TAT E Since Caymus Vineyards was founded in 1972, our family has worked with the soils and climate of Napa Valley to develop techniques for farming grapes and producing fine wines. We are now applying these techniques to making a range of varietals from other parts of California and beyond, where conditions exist to create exceptional wines with a signature style. —Chuck Wagner

Emmolo Merlot Napa Valley Winemaker Jenny Wagner sources grapes from vineyards in Napa Valley with light gravelly soil and ideal conditions that enable longer “hang time” to produce rich, dark and lush Merlot.

Red Schooner Malbec Argentina Born from a bold idea and overseen by Charlie Wagner, this Malbec is produced from grapes grown in the Andes Mountains of Argentina and shipped chilled to Caymus. The family’s proven winemaking practices create a style that is dense, dark and supple.

Caymus-Suisun Grand Durif Suisun Valley Separated from Napa Valley only by an invisible county line, Suisun (“su-soon”) Valley is a “hidden gem” with a similar maritime climate. Its richer soils are conducive to producing Durif, synonymous with Petite Sirah. Chuck Wagner added “Grand” to the name for its grand style and luxurious softness.

Mer Soleil Reserve Pinot Noir Santa Lucia Highlands Morning fog, followed by bright sun and wild, cooling wind are the hallmarks of the Santa Lucia Highlands on California’s central coast—ideal conditions for Pinot Noir. An extended growing season allows winemaker Charlie Wagner to create a wine with intense flavors and layered complexity.

MADE BY THE WAGNER FAMILY Caymus • Conundrum •AMer Soleil • Emmolo truly unique portable beer cart. Red Schooner • Sea Sun • Bonanza • Caymus-Suisun Fall 2021 • itmmag.com

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Strega Italiano – Boston’s Seaport

Smith & Wollensky Strega Italiano Legal Sea Foods Where were you before you became the beverage director for PPX? I worked for Boston-based entertainment company, The Lyon’s Group, for several years in Boston’s Fenway area and Theatre District, before moving to Connecticut to join the opening team for their newest properties at Mohegan Sun Casino. 30 2

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H. Christian Gianaris


My time with the Lyon’s Group at Mohegan Sun was spent improving my skills and knowledge in beverage, from mixology to operations, and focusing in on the many facets of the business, both internally and throughout the marketplace. Yearning to return to the Boston area, I reconnected with past colleagues to become the managing partner for an all new, ground-breaking entertainment concept in the city, an experience that further developed my beverage, operations, and guest experience skills. Several years later, ready to move on and return to a more beverage-focused role with opportunity and growth, I joined Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group at their brand new Boston location at Atlantic Wharf, as beverage manager. In 2018, I was invited to join the opening team in the brand’s first foray into the suburbs, where they would open an all new steakhouse in Wellesley, Massachusetts. I spent just over two years in that location, focusing on the nuances of an upscale suburban clientele, where guest preferences and expectations of the steakhouse experience were reinterpreted in the upscale bedroom community. With the expansion of our company, I entered my current role in the spring of 2021.

What are your primary goals for the beverage program in 2022? All of our brands have a very strong presence in the greater Boston area, where historically many of the beverage conversations were held at the local/distributor level. As we look to continue to grow all three of our brands in new markets across the country, it is critical that we strengthen our supplier partnerships on a national level. This has been my top priority as we approach the close of 2021. Looking into next year’s program, we want to identify brands that align with ours — in quality, integrity, and the ultimate guest experience. I seek genuine partnerships with real people and great products, striving for mutual benefit and growth. How have you utilized IMI Agency since coming onboard in your new role? IMI has been a great resource to me personally in my role and to our entire company. From assisting our connection with the right national representatives to working in tandem with our marketing team, IMI has helped to facilitate creative promotions and brand

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Smith & Wollensky - Miami Beach

Strega Italiano – Boston’s Seaport 32 4

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Legal Sea Foods – Peabody

partnerships that drive awareness, visibility and incremental sales, while also providing industry trend and survey data that support operational investments and brand strategy. IMI is a real partner to our beverage program, and we look forward to the growth and opportunity that lie ahead in 2022. What do you look for in a beverage partner for your concepts? One key word we use constantly is HOSPITALITY, and as cliché as that may sound, it is the core of my own day-to-day philosophy. From greeting a guest as they walk in the front door, to working directly with our supplier partners, HOSPITALITY is what drives the creation of long-lasting relationships. It is through these relationships that our businesses can succeed and grow, mutually. If this last year has taught us anything, it is that strong relationships help resolve issues faster than poor ones. From a brand perspective, we are always looking for products that are aligned with our core values, backed by people that value relationships. Identifying these key partnerships is at the core of our brand search for 2022.

How do you anticipate aligning the beverage program across your three concepts? While there are certainly many opportunities for some products to live within multiple brands, their experiential value will be a defining factor in all that we do at each of our concepts. The word VALUE can mean many things to different audiences; and with multiple brands at various price points within so many markets, VALUE is relative. At PPX, we choose to focus on experiential value and look closely at what drives value for our guests. Of course, this most often relates back to quality, hospitality, and the overall guest experience. If a product is of high quality and contributes to the brand experience in a valuable and memorable way for all three brands, that’s fantastic — and I’m optimistic we’ll have these opportunities for many products. But, we won’t sacrifice these principles to force a square peg into a round hole, simply for economics. Some things just won’t fit and won’t be in the brand’s best interest. This discipline will help us further define each beverage program, both individually and strategically.

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Legal Sea Foods – Chestnut Hill

Smith & Wollensky – Boston

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“A fresh perspective on California’s great varietals. Our Cabernet Sauvignon is emboldened by a touch of Petite Sirah.” Jamie Benziger 2nd Generation Winemaker

B R O A D E N Y O U R PA L AT E

imagerywinery.com ©2020 Imagery Estate Winery, Glen Ellen, CA. All rights reserved.

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Trellis Continues to Grow its Industry-Leading Portfolio of Independent Winemakers & Distillers Founded by Derek Benham in 2001, Purple Brands produces an acclaimed portfolio of wines and several burgeoning spirits in Northern California, all CA Certified Sustainable. Purple Brands is well-known to National Accounts On-Premise, and we look forward to expanding the reach of these excellent and strategically priced wines & spirits. Welcome to our family, Purple Brands! Founded by industry veteran, Danny Keefe, Grapejuice Group imports premium distinguished European wines with distinct sense of place and strong environmental commitments. From glou-glou by-the-glass options, to single vineyard Barolo from Daniele Conterno (!!), Grapejuice Group is equipped to provide unique options—both trendy and traditional—to groups at all check averages. Welcome to Trellis!

Barrow's Intense Ginger Liqueur is hand-made in Brooklyn with fresh Ginger. No extracts, no chemicals, just lots and lots of fresh Ginger. Founded by Josh Morton and already familiar to National & Strategic Accounts, Barrow’s Intense Ginger is the bartender-approved, fiery modifier to light up your cocktail program. Welcome, Josh & Barrow’s Intense!

Founded by wine industry veteran, Mark Clinard, Both Barrels is a wine importer and agent focusing on family-owned wineries. We are excited to bring Both Barrels into the fold and show you their gorgeous and well-reviewed Loire wines from Oscar Brillant! We are Sancerre-ly grateful to have them onboard!

Please join us in welcoming new independent partners to The Trellis Wine & Spirits family!

Real Families. Real Wines. Real Support. We invite you to pick the wines & spirits you really want. What will excite your staff & guests. Together, we can make menus more interesting and keep family producers alive & thriving!

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-Proud Families -Historic Brands -New Discoveries -Established Players -True Artisans, Real People


We b r i n g I c e l a n d t o t h e B e a c h and the Beach to Iceland

COMING IN FEBRUARY

a n e w, b l u e , bitter orange aperitif

Please join us in welcoming the venerable VinAmericas, whose broad portfolio encompasses a range of wines from France, Spain, and the Ssouthern Hemisphere. We are excited to show these unique offerings to our customers and spice up your menus with trending imported wines.

We’ve partnered with OneHope on premise only wines-for-a-cause and John Elway’s 7 Cellars out of Napa, CA each of which brings unique propositions to our wine portfolio. Welcome to the fold John Elway, 7 Cellars, and OneHope! Also new to the fold is Trinity Wine & Spirits (formerly Domaine Select) whose imports range among European wines & high-end spirits, especially whisk(e)y. Welcome to our new friends at Trinity!

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Holiday Drinks

As the holiday season approaches, weekends are smattered with parties and gettogethers, and there’s this unanimous spirit of celebration and joy. During this festive time, there’s almost always a need for beverages to complement the gathering and the spread of food. This year, plan to serve drinks that are unique and delicious, but also be sure to provide a selection for your guests that caters to everyone’s different tastes and ABV preferences. Winter is a welcome season for warm (and hearty) cocktails, but many may prefer a sweeter

Full Strength

Apple and Brandy Hot Toddy

Need something to warm up with? Spice up cold days with this warm and delicious cocktail. This holiday classic is perfect for winter nights when you need a cozy pick-me-up. ¾ oz Monin Honey Organic Sweetener ¾ oz Monin Cinnamon Syrup 2 oz Brandy 12 oz hot apple cider Instructions: Fill a 16 oz. serving glass/mug full of hot water to warm. Discard the hot water and pour ingredients into the serving glass in order listed. Stir gently to mix and garnish with a dried apple slice and a cinnamon stick. 38 2

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Four Ways martini or even something that is craveable but without the high alcohol content. Give your guests options with the beverages you offer, and consider offering distinctly different flavor profiles and tapping into notable beverage trends. Whatever drink recipes you create this holiday, use these categories as a guide to offering versatility and consider these seasonal favorites that are sure to be fan favorites.


Low ABV

Citrus Snow

This tastes like a grown-up creamsicle!! To get this beautiful foam on top, pour the whole drink into a cold foamer (like the ones used for lattes and cappuccinos). This whips up nice and fluffy. Then shake with ice to get it well chilled before straining into the coupe. You could easily use aquafaba (chickpea liquid) as a replacement for the egg whites in this, if concerned about it being vegan friendly. 1 ¼ oz Aperol Aperitif ¾ oz Monin Winter Citrus Syrup ½ oz fresh lemon juice ¾ oz egg white Instructions: Chill a 6 oz. coupe glass and rim with powdered sugar. Pour ingredients into a mixing glass with 2/3 ice in order listed. Cap, shake and strain into the chilled serving glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig and a lemon slice.

Mocktails

Gingerbread Punch A favorite holiday flavor is gingerbread. This non-alcoholic punch packs a lot of flavor with fresh juices mixed with ginger, for a perfectly festive sip that is ideal for all ages. ¾ oz Monin Gingerbread Syrup ½ oz fresh Meyer lemon juice 3 oz fresh pressed apple juice 3 oz Q Ginger Beer Instructions: Combine ingredients in a shaker in the order listed, except ginger beer. Cap and shake vigorously. Strain into an ice-filled 16 oz. serving glass. Top with ginger beer and garnish with an apple slice, ginger and/or mint leaves.

Health & Wellness

Turmeric Matcha Mocktail Adding black pepper to turmeric will further enhance the benefits it provides. The spices in this recipe, along with the added bitters, give this tea a unique home-crafted, mocktail flavor. ¾ oz Monin Golden Turmeric Syrup ½ oz fresh lemon juice 2 dashes of black pepper 4 oz Matcha green tea 2 dashes of bitters Instructions: Fill a 16 oz. serving glass full of ice. Pour ingredients into the serving glass in the order listed. Stir gently to mix, and then garnish with a lemon slice, mint sprig and star anise.

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Cover Story

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in the Mix Magazine


Aliya Kritzler Vice President

Food and Beverage

Aliya is responsible for strategizing and creating food and beverage experiences. She oversees food and beverage cost control, programming and activation, and F&B transitions. Aliya joined the team as a member of the Corporate Food & Beverage team, working on projects such as The Gwen Chicago, EnVue Hotel in Weehawken, and the recent launch of Mar Monte, Unbound Collection in Santa Barbara. ITM: First off, thanks for having this interview with us. Can you give our readers an overview of your vision for HEI’s cocktail program? AK: Thank you so much! And absolutely! Our beverage program within HEI has truly come to life over the past few years. Under the leadership of our COO, Rachel Moniz, we made the decision to separate our beverage program into two. This has allowed us to curate meaningful and bespoke programs for all of our unique 90+ hotels. As a company, we are extremely focused on training, beverage trends and cocktail innovation. Our goal is to create annual programs that are executable and approachable, but also allows our on-property teams the creativity to bring their beverage program to life. ITM: You are utilizing quite a few programs to help you run your business. One of them is IMI’s iManage software. How has this helped you? AK: We are big fans of iManage! We launched this a few years ago as a training tool. Very quickly we learned our teams really took to the platform and embraced the internal communication guides, recipes and information. Since then, we have only expanded the functionality! The IMI team has been great to work with to build something special just for our teams. We have added programs, new Winter 2021 • itmmag.com

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techniques such as unique ways to bottle your cocktail, cocktails to go, activations and fun Easter eggs planted throughout the site to keep our teams engaged. We’re very excited to launch the next version of iManage — training is a top priority for HEI and we’ve loved using this platform as a way to communicate with our teams and make those training moments a little less monotonous.

onsite audits as well as tools like Fintech and strong communication, has helped us get to the compliance levels we are at today.

ITM: Compliance is a big subject with you. This must make your suppliers happy?

AK: For us, it’s more than just a marketing program. It’s a way for us for to engage with our guests, inspire creativity from our bar teams, schedule new trainings with our supplier partners, and keep the conversation going on social media — not to mention to drive compliance. The good news is there is always something to celebrate! Our partners have been great supporting our National Day efforts, really allowing us to grow the program. We definitely had some fun with National Tequila Day, having yoga-rita classes across multiple hotels. Yes, that’s yoga paired with

AK: Compliance is our number one priority! We truly look at everyone in our program as partners; and having a good partnership requires both parties to participate. By simplifying our beverage program and allowing our hotel teams to be a part of the conversation when it comes to creating their beverage menus, we’ve hit new levels of success with compliance. That, coupled with regular

ITM: HEI National Programs — what is an of your most successful marketing programs that executed?

Days Marketing example of one “National Days” your teams have

Old Fashioned at Ambler Texas Kitchen + Cocktails, Hotel Contessa, San Antonio

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The Essence of Place, Expertly Crafted J. LOHR VINEYARD SERIES Legendary J. Lohr Hilltop Cabernet Sauvignon. Our very best vineyard blocks and artisan craftsmanship result in one of the appellation’s flagship reds. Simply put, our Vineyard Series’ Hilltop release has, for twenty-five vintages, defined Cabernet from Paso Robles.

@JLohrWines | jlohr.com © 2021 J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines

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margaritas! This year our teams have enjoyed using this program to give back, with activations such as Hoppy Hour for National Beer Lover’s Day in September benefiting those impacted by the Haiti earthquake, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month cocktails, happy hours, and dinners benefiting breast cancer research. Each year we challenge ourselves and our property teams to grow and create new national days. It’s been a lot of fun! ITM: Can you give us an idea of your core values for the HEI program? AK: Integrity, partnership, creativity and, of course, fun! We stand by our program, our partners and brands. We believe that our program is best in class, and a lot of that is thanks to our supplier and distributor partners as well as HEI. We also focus on active programming as opposed to passive selling, and we rely on our supplier partners to collaboratively ideate and innovate new ideas, trends and activations to help create the program we have today. Our program heavily focuses on creating new beverage programs. For example, a restaurant in Denver launched an on-property bottling program using local ingredients such as honey produced by bees on their roof. Another instance is a cigar bar that has an infused-smoke cocktail menu, each complimenting cigars available in the bar. At the end of the day, we want our teams to love our beverage program and to feel like they are a part of our success! ITM: How do you challenge your beverage program strategy throughout the years to be best in class? AK: That is a great question! Trends move so quickly in this industry, especially in each market. What is happening in New York City and Los Angeles is far different from what’s happening in Chicago or 44 6

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Dallas. We work internally each year to determine our top priorities but aren’t afraid to pivot during the year. We want to always stay ahead of what’s happening; and thanks to insights from our partners, we are able to do just that. HEI regularly reviews data and uses those product mix reports, trends and statistics to help make strategic changes for our following year’s program. ITM: What does the growth and future strategy of HEI look like? AK: We are very much looking forward to the future. HEI is continuing to grow — seven new hotels have joined our portfolio in 2021 alone! Coming into 2022, we are thrilled to see bar business level return, but we will also continue strategies that have worked so well over the last two years. HEI is getting ready to launch our new program, including a few fun new categories that we are particularly excited about. And, of course, compliance — continuing to be best in class is extremely important to us. ITM: Let’s talk about a few of your spectacular properties. The Hotel Contessa on the Riverwalk in San Antonio is truly unique. The Ambler Texas Kitchen and Cocktails drink menu is really put together nicely and features a nice selection of Tequila drinks. How was this menu put together? AK: This was absolutely a labor of love for our Beverage Director, David Miller. He did such an amazing job marrying the two Texas staples of agave spirits and Bourbon. We spent time in farmers markets, local hidden gems and with the team, to put together a thoughtful menu and fun glassware. We have a great barrel-aged Oaxaca Old Fashioned made with Corralejo Reposado, and signature margaritas served in a traditional


Hotel Contessa, San Antonio, Texas

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cantarito. We even have an Ambler Old Fashioned served in a branded flask. It’s always nerve-wracking to see how the guests will react, but we were thrilled with the response from our hotel guests and local community. What’s fun about this program is we are constantly adding new agave spirits to our back bar so our regulars always have something fun to try. We also have weekly Tequila tastings for our guests hosted by amazing distillers to educate guests about the Tequila-making process, differences in Tequilas and to introduce new agave spirits. ITM: The Mar Monte Hotel in Santa Barbara is a spectacular beachfront property and features the Italian-influenced costa Kitchen and Bar inside. Does the local bar team create the cocktails? They have such unusual names! AK: It is such a fun menu! We partnered with the Los Angeles-based firm New School on this project. We worked alongside our bar team and New School to create this

menu. Our goal was to bring something new to Santa Barbara — a little taste of the Los Angeles cocktail scene to this amazing beach town. I particularly love the Gucci Old Fashioned, a twist on the original made with Bogart’s bitters and demerara syrup, and the Drunken Botanist because who doesn’t love green chartreuse! ITM: Kudos to using plenty of Santa Barbara wines on the list. I’m sure the guests appreciate trying the local wine. AK: Yes, it’s so important to us to support the local winemakers and introduce our guests to all that Santa Barbara has to offer. We love working with these winemakers for wine classes, dinners and tastings. Pink Ash is an amazing Rosé, and a portion of its sales proceeds go to support the Santa Barbara community. The label was actually designed by Billy Zane. He created a piece of art using the ashes from the 2017 California wildfire and that was used to create the label. The actual artwork hangs in the winery and is beautiful! Cocktails from Ambler Texas Kitchen + Cocktails

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1 HARD SELTZER ON-PREMISE

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For more information on adding White Claw® to your beverage program:

Chander Bhola

Sr. Director, On-Premise National Accounts (513) 720-3375 | cbhola@mikeshard.com Spring 2019 • itmmag.com 47

Please Drink Responsibly. Hard Seltzer with Flavors. All Registered Trademarks, used under license by White Claw Seltzer Works, Chicago, IL 60661. Nutritional information available at whiteclaw.com


Five Alcohol Trends That Are Accelerating By Samantha Des Jardins, Datassential Consumers, for the most part, are feeling more comfortable frequenting bars and restaurants now that vaccinations and boosters are widely available. But as more come back in for a drink, they are demanding something new and innovative more than ever. Datassential’s Future of Drink report covers trends of all sizes and types, ranging from those that are just popping up in high-end cocktail bars to those that are widely available at chain restaurants and bars. Here are five alcoholic beverage trends that moved up on the Menu Adoption Cycle this year, from “Inception” to “Adoption” — and those that will be important to know when refreshing bar menus.

Alcohol With Food Delivery Every food business that offers delivery has seen their business shift while in, and emerging from, the pandemic. Alcohol delivery is becoming critically important for restaurants from QSRs to casual dining chains, as they struggle for market share. 48

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Chains like Buffalo Wild Wings, BJ’s Restaurants and Pizza Hut have all embraced this trend and have seen success through higher check averages as a result. Of course, this is not a surprising trend considering how consumers demanded delivery more often during the pandemic, and on a wider variety of goods. We see the Amazon trucks pull up to our neighborhoods every day, and the Instacart and DoorDash delivery drivers are hopping all over the map, too. And plenty of liquor stores have their own services or use third-party sites like Drizly. This trend continues to grow rapidly as states make changes to regulations and laws during COVID-19, many of which will stay in effect for the next few years. So where can on-premise providers pivot or extend their business to consumers’ homes? Many bars and restaurants have found luck creating unique cocktail kits that can be made available for pick-up and delivery, and most importantly, allow one to stand out from a crowded market for both on- and -off-premise. Cocktail classes, both in person and via Zoom, are also great ways to get consumers involved and excited about the process of making a great cocktail. Younger consumers, in particular, heavily value experiential events.

Alcohol-free Liquors and Spirits For some, Dry January has lasted all year, and maybe longer. More consumers are now opting to avoid alcohol for a number of reasons — primarily, their health. Alcohol-free spirits and liquors are now becoming a fixture on bar menus. Brands like Ritual are premium, non-alcoholic spirits that closely mirror the flavor profiles of alcoholic spirits like Gin and Whisky and offer an alternative to booze. And the last thing a teetotalling consumer wants is limited options. With consumers putting more focus on health as the New Year approaches, it’s the perfect time to experiment with some new additions and mixed drinks that are so cool you don’t miss the booze. Giving customers the option to purchase a drink without the booze, at a lower price point, is also always a great option but it will be important to make them aware the change is available. Winter 2021 • itmmag.com

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Craft “Mocktails” And speaking of teetotalers, alcohol-free cocktails featuring upscale, craft spirits and mixers are gaining popularity with consumers who want to enjoy the social experience of drinking without the alcohol. These craft cocktails are increasingly being made with teas and herbal ingredients to mimic the nuances of their alcoholic counterparts. Formerly called a “virgin” drink, these beverages have gotten a makeover. Now called “mocktails,” they’re increasingly gaining consumer interest.

Cold Brew Coffee Liqueurs As the name suggests, cold brew coffee liqueurs combine cold brew with some form of alcohol. Examples include Maggie’s Farm Coffee Liqueur (made by blending cold brew coffee with white Rum, brown sugar and vanilla extract), FEW Cold Cut Bourbon (Bourbon cut using cold brew coffee instead of water after maturation), Jameson Cold Brew and Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee. Coffee-and-booze drinks like white Russians and Irish coffees aren’t anything new, but as coffee continues to constantly evolve, that change is translating into the world of alcoholic beverages. And coffee cocktails are now growing beyond the traditional. Now coffee attributes like origin are even being called out in cocktails, some tout single origin coffee liqueur, and cold brew is used in cocktails for a smoother, less acidic taste. These drinks are less arduous for a bartender to make than making an espresso martini, and consumers are becoming more interested in these types of drinks, particularly as more feel they have mastered brewing cold brew and making other “fancy” coffee drinks at home. Another elevated coffee drink that has entered the cocktail space is nitrogen. Nitro coffee has seen growth as a new “it” coffee, as it provides a foamy, soft texture similar to those cocktails made with egg. Adding a frothy kick without an egg, and therefore making a drink vegan, is a double-win for many consumers. Chocolate and cocoa flavors are also prominent and growing in cocktails with a modern twist. Ruby chocolate, also known as “pink chocolate,” provides an eye-catching color twist to chocolate martinis and other cocoa cocktails. 50

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Drinks For A Cause Beverage companies are developing more alcoholic drinks designed with charity in mind. While donations to the cause are always nice, sometimes the focus is as much awareness as it is raising money. For smaller breweries that don’t have the size to make as much of an impact, they may team up to even further increase the community aspects of a charitable cause such as the collaborative project of Things We Don’t Say IPA, a craft beer for mental health. Black is Beautiful is a similar project to raise awareness for injustices affecting people of color. Both products allow the maker to stand out in a crowded market and can give onpremise a leg up if they seek to serve those particular brews. Of course, bars and restaurants can hold and express values of their own, although it can be a risky proposition that could alienate customers. According to Datassential’s New Food Values keynote report, food insecurity is an effort that customers widely appreciate a retailer supporting, without wading into contentious waters.

CBD-Infused Beverages With consumers steering hard toward functional beverages or those with health benefits, and hemp becoming a federally designated agricultural crop, it likely won’t be long before cannabidiol, or CBD oil, is a mainstream ingredient in food and drinks. CBD, which is growing specifically as an ingredient in beverages — both alcoholic and not — has touted benefits including reducing inflammation, seizures, sleeplessness and anxiety. Canned CBD beverages is a growing area in many states (where regulations allow) and they are often paired with teas for an overall relaxing vibe.

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TAG GLOBAL SPIRITS AWARDS ANNOUNCES LINEUP OF TICKETED CONSUMER ENTHUSIAST EVENTS AND PINK TIE GALA Tickets for the Las Vegas-based event on sale now HERE. Events will include educational and tasting sessions, spirited soirée dinners, and fireside chats. The event concludes with the Pink Tie Gala benefiting the Helen David Relief Fund. Las Vegas, Nevada (December 1, 2021) – The inaugural TAG Global Spirits Awards today announces a diverse lineup of consumer enthusiast ticketed events that will take place during the upcoming four-day event in February 2022 in beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada. Tickets are on sale now. Consumer ticket prices range from $55 to $175 and can be purchased a la carte HERE. These events are part of the overall TAG Global Spirits Awards, which will take place February 23 – 26, 2022, at Delano Las Vegas. Created by world renowned mixologist, Tony Abou-Ganim, U.S. industry veteran, David

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Grapshi, and American ambassador of Mexico’s National Chamber for the Tequila Industry, Julio Bermejo, the inaugural global spirits competition will also allow guests to participate in a socially informative setting over world class food and cocktails. These sponsor-driven events will bring-to-life a variety of spirits and food pairings at the welcome kick-off, educational & tasting sessions, spirited soiree’s/dinners, fireside chats with industry experts and culminating with the Pink Tie Gala raising funds and awareness for the Helen David Relief Fund.


“We are excited to be a partner with the TAG Global Spirits Awards for several of the consumer events as well as being able to enter our submissions into the actual competition. From vodka and tequila to whiskey and niche spirits, this esteemed judging panel has some of the most respected palates in the country and world,” said Chuck Kane, COO of Chopin Imports.

Thursday, February 24th Traveling Italy, Drinking: Hosted by Livio Lauro 1:00 - 3:00 pm, Sage Boardroom, Delano Las Vegas Join Livio Lauro, the host of “Master Your Glass” YouTube Channel and special guests on a trip from North to South Italy through 6 regions to discover some of the

boot-shaped country’s most distinctive beverages. Sip your welcome cocktail while we warm up! Then we will make 2 Italian cocktails together that are so easy to make they are just a “bar spoon away” and then sip some more while we explore! Italy has a rich history of producing amazing wines, spirits, and liqueurs that have been enhancing people’s lives for centuries. Italian producers are fanatical about selecting the finest ingredients and crafting delicious beverages, all with the purpose of creating joyous and passionate moments. This holds true whether it is a century old elixir or a new product still in its cradle. The “Bel Paese” (beautiful country) has such a clever ability to keep things simple and refined at the same time; its exciting selection of distinctive spirits, and liqueurs are designed to intensify your food, your day and your life.

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Tickets: $55 (Includes a bar spoon takeaway) Women & Whiskey 5:00 pm - 6:30 pm, Sage Boardroom, Delano Las Vegas Join an experienced panel consisting of TAG Global Spirit Awards celebrated judges including Lynn House, Lauren Mote, Julie Reiner, Charlotte Voisey and Bridget Albert as they lead guests through a spirited tasting of exquisite whiskies across their categories that will provide a world tour for the palate. This distinguished panel will demonstrate how to taste like an expert and what makes each whiskey special. Guests of this seminar will learn how to differentiate between a bourbon, Irish Whiskey, Single Malt, Blends, Tennessee Whiskey, Japanese and more! Tickets: $55 TAG Global Spirit Awards Welcome Kick-off 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm - Libertine Social, Mandalay Bay Come out and enjoy the official kickoff event for the inaugural TAG Global Spirits Awards at Libertine Social, where consumer enthusiasts will have an opportunity to mix and mingle with the competition’s all-star judging panel, volunteers from the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG), and industry movers and shakers. Signature libations will be highlighted along with the culinary delights from the Executive Chef of Libertine Social. Sponsor stations include Chopin Vodka, Campari, Edrington (Highland Park), Q Mixers and more. Tickets: $125 (Includes food & beverage) Fireside Chat with Brown Forman 10:30 pm - Midnight, The Franklin, Delano Hotel 54

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Join Brown Forman, for an intimate fireside discussion and tasting at The Franklin, inside the Delano Hotel for a nightcap. Hosted by Jack Daniel’s US Brand Ambassador, Eric “ET” Tecosky, guests will slowly sip and savor from the portfolio of Brown-Forman, one of the largest American-owned spirits and wine companies and among the top 10 largest global spirits companies, while enjoying an informal discussion. Tickets: $60 (Includes tasting)

Friday, February 25th Master Your Cocktail Skills; Host Livio Lauro 1:00 - 3:00 pm, Sage Boardroom, Delano Las Vegas Ever snap a pic of a cocktail served to you that was almost too beautiful to drink? Today, our culture is so intertwined with the ideals of sophistication and goals of striving for happiness and of course… sharing all about it on social media! During this dynamic and interactive seminar, you will make socially worthy cocktails of your own! Livio Lauro, host of “Master Your Glass” YouTube Channel will teach you all of the tricks and how to make your favorite drinks better and more authentically and of course – social ready! Easy techniques like building and stirring and more advanced techniques like beautiful garnishing & cocktail-making can truly enhance your next party & social feed BUT, most importantly, your life. In this very hands-on session, you will have the opportunity to brag and share your experience on social media with your very own signature cocktail! Tickets: $70 (Includes takeaway cocktail kit) Taste of the Caribbean; A Journey of Rum 5:00 - 6:30 pm, Sage Boardroom, Delano Las Vegas


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Guests are invited to immerse themselves in the culture of the Caribbean through an informative grand tasting of some of the best rums in the world. Led by Master Sommelier Doug Frost along with an esteemed panel of spirits connoisseurs, this tasting will definitely share the love of Rum and the history and culture. Tickets: $55

Fireside Chat with Campari Group 10:30 pm - Midnight, The Franklin, Delano Hotel Join Campari Group for an intimate fireside discussion and tasting at The Franklin, inside the Delano Hotel for a nightcap. Guests will enjoy a nightcap along with storytelling and conversation with industry icons from the Campari Group. Tickets: $60

Spirited Soirees/Dinners 7:30 - 10:00 pm

Saturday, February 26th

The TAG Global Spirits Awards present four very special Spirited Soirees/Dinners where guests may indulge and imbibe in the innovative culinary offerings found at renowned restaurants located inside Mandalay Bay paired with our spirited hosts for the evening. Tequila, Tequila and Tequila hosted by Egor Polonskiy (brand-mixologist, Patrón Tequila) and Julio Bermejo (ambassador of Tequila in North America) • Border Grill • ($175/per person) Handcrafted in America hosted by Tito’s Handcrafted Vodka and Tony AbouGanim • Libertine Social • ($150/per person) Everything Italian hosted by Campari Group and Francesco Lafranconi • Lupo by Wolfgang Puck • ($150/per person) Bourbon & Bites featuring a selection of fine bourbon hosted by David Grapshi • Stripsteak • ($195/per person) 56

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Pink Tie Gala - “Think Pink” 6:30-7:30 - VIP Pre-Party 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm, Skyfall Lounge, Delano Las Vegas The four-day TAG global spirits competition will culminate with a Pink Tie Gala on Saturday, February 26th from 7:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Guests will enjoy music, culinary delights and signature libations from supporting supplier hosts, amidst a celebratory evening featuring the announcement of the Grand Finale Competition Results. VIP Tickets: $175 (early entry) Tickets: $125 *Proceeds from the Pink Tie Gala will benefit the Helen David Relief Fund (HDRF), which honors the memory of Tony Abou-Ganim’s cousin, Helen, a beloved bar owner and community leader in Port Huron, Michigan, who beat breast cancer twice in her lifetime. For additional information on all TAG Global Spirits Awards news, visit www.tagspiritsawards. com and follow along on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn @TAGSpiritsAwards. Media Contacts Allied Global Marketing Ken Langdon: klangdon@alliedglobalmarketing.com Nick Flynn: nflynn@alliedglobalmarketing.com Courtney Cruz: ccruz@alliedglobalmarketing.com


PARTNER WITH A LEADER The largest custom beverage program management agency in the hospitality channel • Developer of creativity meets technology tools that drive beverage sales, margin, and operational excellence • Proven programming excellence across all hospitality channels and industry acclaim for ethics, financial transparency, and legal compliance • A Total Team approach to Building Better Beverage Business™ for our Clients and Investing Brands for 30 years

CONTACT US TODAY! Larry McGinn, President larry@imiagency.com

ATLANTA Photo by Steven Krause

IMIAGENCY.COM

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2021 Remains the Beverage Industry’s Most Influential Event of the Year VIBE Conference, a Questex event, is the premier education event for on-premise beverage executives and their supplier partners. Held annually, the exclusive event includes a robust conference program, key networking opportunities, latest beverage tastings and industry fundraising. This September, Questex’s annual VIBE Conference, the number one education program for on-premise beverage executives and their supplier partners, returned to the beautiful Omni La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, California. The event successfully brought together 185 operators representing 112 chain restaurants, hotels and cruise lines, as well as 365 sponsor attendees representing almost 100 companies, including American Beverage Marketers, Anheuser-Busch, Beam Suntory, Boston Beer Co., Campari Group, E. & J. Gallo Winery, Red Bull and Sazerac. 582

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Even the overcast weather couldn’t put a damper on the day, as these industry leaders gathered in person again – many of them reunited for the first time since COVID-19 began. As part of Questex’s comprehensive “Be Safe” commitment, this was a vaccinated and fully masked event, to ensure everyone’s safety. VIBE Conference welcomed leading research organizations including Datassential, IWSR, Nielsen, NPD and Technomic, and industry experts from Applebee’s, Brinker, Buffalo Wild Wings, Darden, Delta, Landry’s and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts to present on the most pressing industry-related topics, like latest trends and the post-COVID consumer landscape. The energy was electric. Everyone in attendance had one goal in mind: getting back to business. Throughout the two days of conference programming and networking, the one thing that became striking clear was it’s time to leave the pandemic behind and start looking toward the future. As Todd M. Schuessler, Director of On-Premise National Accounts for Campari America said, “I have been attending the VIBE Conference for the past 10 years and there is no other industry conference that attracts as many of today’s key operators. Simply put, VIBE is a must for today’s onpremise beverage decision makers!” Group President of Travel & Hospitality at Questex, Alexi Khajavi, officially opened the ceremony, before passing the microphone over to Emcee Charlotte Voisey, Global Head of Brand Ambassador Advocacy for William Grant & Sons.

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Brandy Rand, IWSR-Global

Voisey was masterful in leading the event’s activities, introducing speakers and encouraging attendees to support our longtime charity partner, Children of Restaurant Employees, a national nonprofit dedicated to supporting food and beverage operations employees with children facing health crisis, injury, death or disaster. Through the generosity of our attendees, sponsors and even supporters at home, CORE’s silent auction and happy hour event raised $94,374. Brandy Rand, COO, Americas at IWSR-Global opened the conference program with her session, “The Road to Recovery: 5 Factors for Future Growth in Beverage Alcohol,” in which she touched on the impact of COVID-19 on the industry and how consumer behavior has changed over the past year. She broke down five key factors for future growth in the BevAlc industry, including at-home consumption, digi tal dema nd , pre m i u m iz at io n , convenience, and health and wellness. And of course, the rise of the RTD. Donna Hood Crecca and David 60

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Henkes, senior principals at Technomic, presented their research during the “Now & Next: Reinventing the On-Premise Drinks Business” session, demonstrating how the ways in which consumers engage with bars and restaurants has changed. Going out is more of a special occasion than ever before, and standards are high. To meet their expectations, venues have to provide a phenomenal product. Kathy Casey of Liquid Kitchen and Maeve Webster of Menu Matters then discussed how operators can cater to those high expectations, and delved into the latest industry trends. The two also discussed value propositions operators can offer their consumers, like high quality cocktail mixers available to go. Elizabeth DeConti of Gray Robinson led a fascinating session entitled “Legal Issues in the Post-COVID World” that focused on to-go alcohol programs and tied-house laws. She was followed by two panels, “Doing More with Less in the ‘New Now’” (moderated by Ken Ruff of Beam Suntory) and “The Style Trends That Will Drive the


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Future of Hospitality” (moderated by Ken Taylor of MarkeTeam Inc.). Patrick McGinn, Director of Account Management of IMI, and Adam Billings, Founder of Paybev, presented about ‘SMART’ (Simple, Manageable, Actionable, Revolutionary, Technology) methods of technology for the OnPremise hospitality industry. Through strategic partnership and planning, these technology applications can help drive guest satisfaction, operational success and streamlining processes during the current environment. The day’s conference program ended with a statistics-heavy report by David Portalatin of NPD, “The Return of the Experience,” which outlined consumer spending habits and how they relate to the on-premise. On Wednesday morning, Colleen McClellan, Director at Datassential, joined remotely to present a session on consumer trends, “Looking Forward – Innovation and the Trends That Will Power Our Industry into 2022.” According to her findings, digital presence, premiumization and wellness

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are all here to stay, while concepts like brand loyalty and outdated approaches to service and staffing are out. McClellan’s session was followed by David Commer, President at Commer Beverage Consulting, and his panel, “Masks On or Masks Off?” Commer hosted a candid discussion with representatives from Dave and Buster’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, Brinker International and Marriott International. The panelists offered creative solutions and takes on today’s most pressing problems, including ghost kitchens, e-commerce, labor shortages, trends and supply chain disruptions. To quote Jamie Carawan, VP of Brand Menu & Culinary at Buffalo Wild Wings, “I’m a guy who sells chicken wings, without any chicken wings. So that’s a challenge!” The much anticipated “2021 Annual VIBE Consumer Trend Survey” run by Nielson CGA-global on-premise consultants Andrew Hummel and Matt Crompton, drew a crowd at the end of the day. And the program concluded with a deep dive into the emerging cannabis market, led by Lucia Cifonelli, co-founder of Cannabis, USA.


Red Bull USA

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Jim Flaherty’s family and friends

Despite a packed conference schedule, there was still time for important networking and celebration. The happy hour on the first evening and CORE fundraiser on the second provided ample opportunities for connection, while showcasing the creativity of our sponsors, including Cincoro Tequila, Constellation Brands, Diageo, Monin, Nespresso, Ste Michelle Wine Estates, White Claw, Bacardi, Darco Spirits, Fever Tree Tonic, Liquid Death Mountain Water, Pernod Ricard USA and so many more, all of whom came prepared with beautiful booths and enticing libations. Each year, VIBE Conference recognizes leaders in the industry for their outstanding contributions, innovations 64

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and development. This year, the VIBE Legend Award was renamed the Jim Flaherty Award after James “Jim” Flaherty, who passed away in January. His daughter, Erin, and Donna Fredrick took the stage to remember Jim and comment on Jim’s storied 41-year career. Scott Hempstead of Boston Beer Company was the first recipient of the new award. This year’s VIBE Innovator Award was awarded to Bruce Skala, Senior Vice President of Marketing, HOA Brands, who was recognized for his storytelling through social media. VIBE Conference Event Director, Laddie Weiss, was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award (right)and touching video tribute by his


colleagues from throughout the years. The VIBE Supplier Awards, now in their 10th year, invite beverage operators to rate their respective supplier companies on key attributes, including business-building support as well as service and support performance through an online survey. To ensure efficient, fair and unbiased balloting and analysis, survey results are analyzed by food and beverage industry research and consulting firm CM Profit Group. Winners are identified in four categories including beer, wine, spirits and non-alcohol beverages, categorized by total annual case volume.

The 2021 Supplier Awards winners: BEER • Large company: Anheuser-Busch and Constellation Brands (Tie) • Medium company: The Boston Beer Company • Small company: Lagunitas Brewing Company WINE • Large company: E. & J. Gallo Winery • Medium company: Ste Michelle Wine Estates • Small company: J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines SPIRITS • Large company: Bacardi USA Inc. • Medium company: Sazerac Company • Small company: Tito’s Handmade Vodka NON-ALCOHOL • Large company: Red Bull • Medium company: Monin Gourmet Flavorings • Small company: Q Mixers Bar & Restaurant Group is excited to announce that next year’s VIBE Conference will be held April 25–27, once again at Omni La Costa Resort & Spa.

Lawrence ‘Laddie’ Weiss (2nd from left) honored with a lifetime achievement award Winter 2021 • itmmag.com

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