TRY ANOTHER SIP – PINOT GRIGIO

By Susannah Gold
Vineyard with road tracks courtesy of Terlato winesWelcome to the first in INSIDE F&B’S new grape series, “Try Another Sip.” This new column, written by wine expert Susannah Gold, sets out to explore a variety of interesting alternatives to some of the bland and unimaginative wine offerings that populate wine lists everywhere.

No better place to start than with the workhorse of white wines, Pinot Grigio. Though often considered an easy-sell wine with little personality this grape, if grown on optimal terroirs at higher elevations, and handled properly, can yield compelling, complex wines with lots of pizzazz and flavor.

When Pinot Grigio is great it offers up interesting textures and beautiful white stone fruit flavors and aromas. Yet these exciting Pinot Grigios are mostly absent, sadly. For many years, what we have seen is a race to the bottom for much of this varietal.

This varietal pops up on US wine lists most often under the Santa Margherita label. They can legitimately boast that theirs is the most widely selling Pinot Grigio here in the States. Other brands, trying to get in on the list, have not always sent competitively worthy wines.

However, there is a lot going on today with Pinot Grigio including wines made from single vineyards and growing grapes at higher elevations. Grapes grown at higher elevations tend to have higher acidity levels and the wines that are made from these carefully selected grapes have a better overall balance between acidity and alcohol. In turn, these factors are bringing better examples of Pinot Grigio to market.

Rather than emulating those ABC types who shy away from Chardonnay–Anything But Chardonnay-make time to seek out Pinot Grigio again. Otherwise you are sure to miss out on some great wine list opportunities. A well-made Pinot Grigio offers versatility to your wine list with an ability to please a variety of white wine drinkers. It can be made in many styles; some dry and others with considerable residual sugar. A lot of that depends on the winemaker and his/her regional traditions and preferences.

Terlato vineyards Friuli

Pinot Grigios are known by that name across the globe. In addition to finding it in Italy, lots of Pinot Grigio is also grown in California, Australia and Germany. When you find it in France, or in Oregon or in New Zealand, it is often called Pinot Gris. Yet it’s made from the same grape, a member of the Pinot Nero family. In these places outside of Italy, where it is called Pinot Gris, it seems to signal more careful attention to detail in the winemaking process. Is this a bias against traditionalism or just a new trend cloaking a familiar wine? Certainly, in places like Oregon or New Zealand they seem to be carefully signaling that they want to identify with French Pinot Gris rather than Italian Pinot Grigio.

That may soon change due to the new activity in Italy’s Pinot Grigio regions that warrant us taking another look at this familiar grape. Italy’s Pinot Grigio comes principally from three regions: the Veneto, Friuli Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige. Recent trade tastings revealed numerous examples of memorable Pinot from the Colli Orientali del Friuli, Grave, and the Collio, as well as from the Isonzo DOC. These are much higher quality wines made with carefully selected grapes and close attention to vinification. In these areas, Pinot Grigio has a history and tradition. It is not grown merely because it is widely loved in the USA.

If you want to expand your US dining customers’ horizons what should you be keeping your eye on to find some of the most interesting Pinot Grigio wines available? For sure keep track of these two Pinot Grigio fanatics -Marco Simonit and Pierpaolo Sirch. Known as the “Super Pruners” because of the work they do worldwide on pruning techniques. They come from Friuli and are working to create a Pinot Grigio district in the Colli Orientali del Friuli.

They believe so strongly that Pinot Grigio grown on hills in their region is completely different than those mostly found on wine lists in the USA that they have bought more vineyards there and are expanding their holdings. Sirch family has had a winery for many years. Wines made on the hills tend to have soils with good drainage, and larger swings in thermal excursion between day and night and better exposition to the sun. Additionally, because it is harder to farm on the hills, producers tend to put grapes they care about there. Simonit and Sirch also believe that Pinot Grigio is a grape that does not necessarily produce better wines when yields as severely restricted.

Together with Terlato Imports, Simonit and Sirch, their partner in the new Pinot Grigio challenge, are working to create a signature variety for Friuli that will pay off for farmers and producers alike. And that will justify the slightly higher prices than Pinot Grigio typically commands.

Vineyard Terlato Vineyard Sirch handling vines

These new and improved Pinot Grigio wines are going to face a daunting initial challenge. They will be priced higher than the typical $10 range that guests are used to seeing in a by the glass program. How to justify it? Your bar and floor staff will have to enlighten your guests and show them that the wine is of higher quality and made from hand selected grapes. Producers are hopeful that consumers will pay a little more for a better quality of something they are already intimately familiar with once they understand what’s really in their glass.

This hand-sell educational process isn’t without precedent. It has worked. Alsace has done a terrific job in getting guests to pay a slightly higher price for a Pinot Gris by the glass. They have built an exceptional reputation thanks to the heavy hitters in the Alsatian wine world, who have long been in the USA and have undertaken great marketing campaigns. Hugel & Fils, the wine producer, is a case in point.

The Alsatian experience suggests that Pinot Gris can age well also, making it seem more valuable to customers than some young wine just weeks from being grapes on the vine. The Pinot Gris wines from Alsace generally tend to have more residual sugar than those from Italy. The acidity in Pinot Grigio can be pronounced. It’s also got some weight on the palate. In Italy, Pinot Grigio tends to have an almond note on the finish, like many Italian white wines.

We have all had plenty of glasses of Pinot Grigio that have been dull or insipid. This no longer has to be the case. It is time for beverage directors to rethink their Pinot Grigio by the glass offerings, and see if customers like some of the producers they may not know as well.
These new Pinot Grigio entries are exciting and racy and great for an aperitivo or a first course. So, while it is said that familiarity breed’s contempt, it is time to put preconceived notions aside because, luckily in the wine world, what is old can be new again.

Dining Less Dangerously

New gluten meter makes restaurant experiences easier to navigate
By Amanda Schuster

Nima Gluten Free response meter

“How allergic are you?” That’s a question commonly asked to those afflicted with gluten, celiac disease and other food allergies. For many, there is no such thing as a mild gluten sensitivity – if you have one, you really have one, and even the slightest speck of it can cause severe reactions, which often take the form of violent intestinal distress that can last for days. It’s a question Shireen Yates was tired of being asked whenever she inquired about foods she wanted to eat. The pleasure of eating something that looked delicious and sounded deceptively safe could often lead to those reactions.

Even if chefs are positive no ingredients containing gluten or soy go into a dish prepared for a guest with sensitivities, there might be other triggers within those ingredients or the kitchen itself they are unaware of. For this reason and countless others, eating food Yates didn’t have full control over had become a stressful game of gluten roulette. She knew she wasn’t alone with this predicament, so, along with a team of fellow MIT scientists, she invented Nima, a sensor that determines whether a food contains any level of gluten.

As the website states, the device is akin to a “pregnancy test for gluten.” Yates explains, “Imagine taking a sample of food, putting it in a one-time use capsule and using that capsule as a sensor. Then you’ll know if the food you are testing contains the proteins you’re looking for. There’s also an app component so you can share what you tested with a community of people. Imagine all these data points people are aggregating about whether something in a packaged food or a restaurant food contains gluten. We’re accumulating data that just doesn’t exist today.”

Nima Low Gluten indicator

She stresses, however, that although the tested morsel might be read as safe, that doesn’t necessarily mean that an entire plate or all of that muffin, etc. is guaranteed to be unaffected. It’s still a good place to start. One of the reasons that so much food comes into question is that the person preparing it doesn’t fully understand what causes the symptoms of Celiac or gluten allergies and might use an ingredient that contains the reaction-causing protein, such as an everyday soy sauce, in a dish that is otherwise free of other more obvious substances containing gluten, such as wheat flour. Or a dish might be prepared entirely with ingredients that are guaranteed to be gluten-free, but has been accidentally cross-contaminated with something that isn’t.

There has been quite a bit of testing since Nima was developed. “People who have been using it every step of the way have been giving us extensive feedback. What we’ve found through numerous tests is that many dishes that are presented as gluten-free have been coming up positive for gluten.”

Therefore, not only is Nima useful for anyone suffering from these sensitivities, it’s also a pragmatic tool for chefs and the packaged food industry to better understand the protocol for preparing something that is safely gluten-free. “Now that they have data suggesting foods that are supposed to be gluten-free aren’t, maybe restaurants should post a warning that they can’t guarantee cross-contamination. They should change the language of how they communicate what’s in their food,” says Yates.

Yates is also developing other devices that aid those with specific dietary concerns. “We’re in development for peanuts (our hope is to launch that by the end of next year), dairy, and basically all the major allergens that people care about. Moving beyond that, we’re also interested in pesticides and fats and salt and sugar – things in our diet that are causing some of the main health issues we’re experiencing. We just don’t have a lot of transparency about our food. We have a few data points from doctors’ offices and nutritionists, but connecting all of this is really important to control what we’re putting in our bodies. It gives us a better understanding about what’s in our food.”

For all of us, eating should be a pleasurable experience, and not a decision that teeters on a dangerous precipice. Hopefully the Nima sensor and subsequent devices can help restore a peaceful state of mind to diners when it comes to nutrition, and provide a better understanding to chefs and servers about food communicating with customers about allergies.

The product can be purchased here: https://shop.nimasensor.com/products/nima-starter-kit.

WHISKIES WASH OVER MANHATTAN

Not to Be Missed Annual Spirits Conference and Whisky Live Return to New York City
By Glenn Haussman

Whisky Live men in kilts drinking

Hey, whisk(e)y lovers, next week is the week to get your whisky (and spirits) on in New York City.

Whiskies and Spirits Conference 2016 logo

First, on February 23rd, come explore all things whiskies and spirits at the annual Whiskies and Spirits Conference where, along with tastes of winning North American whiskies awarded accolades from the World Whisky Awards sponsored by Whisky Magazine, you can expect no-holds barred conversations, tough questions answered with candor, and a roadmap to brand success at the annual Whiskies and Spirits Conference. This kind of unvarnished conversation that doesn’t happen anywhere else which explains why so many spirits industry leaders take the day off to gather here. and thoroughly explore the state and growth of their products along with challenges, successes and future plans for building, positioning, marketing and growing their brands.

Kicking off with an in depth state of the industry report, there’s also an array of leading speakers and panelists such as Heaven Hill, DISCUS, KDA, ACSA, along with marketing experts sharing and exploring trends and business tactics focusing on the leading players and the emerging upstarts.

According to David Sweet, President USA and Canada Whisky Live USA, Whiskies & Spirits Conference USA, and Sr. VP North America Whisky Magazine, this event is very different than anything else. Take its partnership with the Stave & Thief Bourbon Steward program, and the Malt Advocate program by Diageo, for example.

“These are the two premier instructional programs in the world that truly teach an in depth deconstruction of that specific spirit. The sessions will [demystify whisky] teach attendees how to develop a true appreciation of quality, craftsmanship,” says Sweet. “This next level of understanding has to be taught, it is not just developed over time.”

Whisky Live glass on empty black graded background

The following day, after all this information is absorbed and the World Whisky Awards’ winning brands have been feted and sipped, the doors open to Whisky Live, the world’s preeminent whisky tasking event. It touches down in New York for the 12th year in a row and is the must attend event of the year for whisky lovers, no matter what stage of your appreciation journey you may be on.

From whisky neophytes to those well versed in the spirit, the February 24th event is a not to be missed opportunity for a deeper educational experience wrapped around preeminent tastings from leading and emerging brands. Plus, there’s great food too. More intimate than other events of its kind, you’ll never see a more in depth event that also provides inside access to the business side of the whisky world.

With a four hour event there’s some time to slip away from your booth and share perspectives with fellow industry insiders who revel in this category’s success, identify and discuss challenges and are finding new ways to heighten the success of whisky with customers. There’s no better way than Whisky Live to tap into preeminent minds within the category and hear about brand perspectives and segment earnings; everyone is open to exchanging valuable information as the whisky flows. Be part of candid conversations while exploring insights and trends for this ever-burgeoning business. All while sipping great world whiskies and sharing them with potential customers and colleagues.

Also included is Authors’ Row, a brand new experience curated by Greenlight Bookstore, featuring whisky experts Lew Bryson, Peter Fornatale, Heather Greene, David Haskell, Dane Huckelbridge, Jaime Joyce, Fred Minnick, Clay Risen, and Noah Rothbaum, who are signing copies of their latest books which are available at the show. Plus pop-ups from local bars Daddy-O, American Whiskey, Fool’s Gold, Ward III and others to sample signature cocktails and private label pours.

Whisky Live which takes place at Chelsea Piers Pier 60 offers more than 300 of the world’s best whiskies side by side and hear the stories behind them as told by master distillers, brand ambassadors and industry experts.

VIP Tickets to Whisky Live New York are $189 and include early access at 5:30 PM, an exclusive VIP tasting room with select exclusive bottlings available throughout the night (many not readily available in the US market), a signature, cut crystal Glencairn tasting glass, event program and a one-year subscription to Whisky Magazine.

General admission tickets are priced at $139 and for those ticket holders, doors open at 6 PM. The ticket price includes an event program and a souvenir Glencairn tasting glass.

For more information, and to remain updated on Master Class topics and new exhibitors, please visit the New York page at www.whiskyliveusa.com.

For more information about the annual Whiskies and Spirits Conference, please visit www.whiskiesandspiritsusa.com.

OH HOLY NIGHT, IT’S NOT TOO LATE

Last minute holiday gifts that still say “I care”
By Francine Cohen

Lewis Bag Sample Pic 1 with bottle in it.jpg

People, do not despair.

Yes, Christmas is just 48 hours away, and yes that means that unless you have an in with the big guy in the red suit you’ve probably blown it in terms of getting something shipped to you to give to your loved ones this holiday. But there’s still a couple of great options for holiday gifts you can find locally as long as you get yourself to a liquor store or a book store before they close tomorrow evening.

First up (because we know you probably need a drink if you’re still out there looking for Christmas presents), the Ford’s Gin Lewis Bag. It’s snazzy, it’s handy, it’s functional, it’s a great educational gift to give and share your love of gin (and other spirits) with family and friends, AND it can be used over and over and over again for making great cocktails or just getting out some aggression.

The Lewis bag, a canvas ice crushing vessel that had a long history of use and was revived and popularized in the 1990s by the Lewis Company, is more than just a thoughtful and useful gift for the bartender in your life. It’s also good for the planet. Simon Ford shares, ” Something that upsets me is the amount of un-necesscary packaging there is in the spirits industry, especially during the holidays, so I wanted to make a VAP that was an example of something that could be reused rather than one that will most likely end up in the trash once it is opened. I have worked in liquor stores and about half of the boxes that housed bottles would end up in the trash before they had even left the store and almost every gift box that is delivered to a bar will end up in the trash. I do understand that they look nice and make for nice packaging for gifts at this time of year especially for the luxury spirits but for The 86 Co I will always try and push ourselves to come up with packaging ideas that can be reused and failing that recycled whenever possible and our first attempt at a VAP is to put Fords Gin in a Lewis bag/Canvas Wick Ice Bag.”

He continues, “The copy on the bag reads… “The Lewis Bag was a staple of 19th century bartending and remains one of the most effective ways to crush ice for your drinks at home. Simply fill the bag halfway with cubes and smash them with a wooden mallet or even a rolling pin. The canvas wicks away moisture , resulting in colder ice pieces that are less apt to water down your drink. Perfect for Juleps and Smashes.” We have also placed the recipe for a Gin Julep on the bag (and in Chicago we have had a local bartender give us a recipe for the bags that will be distributed there.)”

A Lewis bag…what a smashing gift idea!

SG book gotham 7

Next, for the readers (and eaters) in your life: Savoring Gotham: A Food Lover’s Companion to New York City. This encyclopedic history of all things food and drink that make NYC the culinary destination that it is, Savoring Gotham came together in 568 entries across 760 pages written by 174 authors (including yours truly). Want to explore the history of restaurants like Delmonico, 21 Club, and Barney Greengrass? Need to delve further into the history of bars and cocktails, charities like Citymeals on Wheels, and people like Ruth Reichl, Bob Lape, and others who have been an integral part of the city’s food & restaurant scene so that you’re the smartest foodie at your next pop-up dinner?

Take a walk to your favorite bookstore (or order here at a 30% discount if you don’t need it immediately–use code ADFLYK2 at https://global.oup.com/academic/product/savoring-gotham-9780199397020?cc=us&lang=en& ) for this delicious read.

And, for five lucky www.insidefandb.com readers, we’ve got copies of this to give away. Be the first five people to email us with the answers to the following questions: How many entries in the book? How many authors contributed? Can you name one of the authors? Where is Barney Greengrass located? Whom does Citymeals on Wheels support/what do they do? Send your answers to: francinecohen@insidefandb.com and books will be on their way to you shortly.

Best wishes for a delicious holiday season and a wonderful new year!

POST-THANKSGIVING THINGS TO GIVE THANKS FOR: TASTES OF PERU

Limanjar_Alfajor_Image1

With Thanksgiving just 72 hours away the media is filled with stories focused on how to avoid family strife, solutions for ensuring the perfect turkey preparation, and 150 beloved and fool-proof side dish and pie recipes you’ll be happy you made.

But nobody is talking about the days after. You know, those days when the house is still full of guests and they need to be fed but there’s sure to be an uproar if you suggest Thanksgiving dinner leftovers…again.
Keep your guests, and your taste buds, happy and warm up your holiday season right with the bright flavors of Peru. With the enticing flavors and cooking techniques inspired by Peru’s multi-cultural heritage it’s no wonder that three of the world’s best restaurants can be found in Peru and that the country’s cuisine is the hottest thing on the culinary map since well, the aji pepper.

Photo by Katie Burnet

Photo by Katie Burnett

PISCO SOURS
Even French-born chefs are getting into the South American spirit of things! Chef Laurent Tourondel, who just opened two establishments at Kimpton’s Eventi Hotel in New York City — L’Amico (www.lamiconyc.com) and The Vine (www.eventihotel.com/nyc-restaurants/the-vine.html), is a huge fan of Peru’s classic cocktail, the Pisco Sour. Bartenders expecting to land a spot on his team first are put through their paces executing the perfect Pisco Sour for Chef’s discerning palate. Below he shares his current favorite recipe.

CEVICHE

Chef Marita Lynn of Runa (https://www.facebook.com/RUNAperuviancuisine) created a winning dish when she combined the aji pepper in a ceviche with some of Peru’s most popular exports; artichokes and shrimp. Her ceviche, hailed as New York City’s best in 2014, resonates with a savory tang infused by the shrimp and lemon that then chills to the lush earthiness of the artichoke. It’s a complete 180 from the turkey, gravy, and stuffing trio that’s dominated your last few days; offering a great flavor on your palate but little weight in your belly. It might even inspire you to gather the gang for a walk!

Ceviche Summer event 7-31-14 Runa

ALFAJORES
And lest all that pumpkin pie be the only dessert you enjoy this week, you’ll want to try some classic Alfajores. Make them yourself with Chef Lynn’s recipe below, or let Alvaro Omeño of Limanjar Dulceria put his family recipe to good use at his bakery and you can have them shipped directly to you.
Or send them to your departed guests. To thank them for coming. (www.limanjar.com).

RECIPES
ARTICHOKE AND SHRIMP CEVICHE by Chef Marita Lynn of Runa
Yield: 4 people
1 lb large shrimp, cleaned and deveined, tails off
8 cups of water
2 Bay leaves
14 oz Artichokes (canned or fresh)
1 lemon
Juice of 10 limes
½ stalk celery
¼ cup chopped leeks
3tbs Aji Amarillo Paste
2 garlic cloves
¼ cup vegetable oil
Salt to taste

To garnish:
Roasted Sweet Potato
Peruvian Corn Kernels (available at Latin Grocery Stores)
Chopped Cilantro

Method:
1) Fill a medium pot with water, add 8 cups of water and bay leaf. Place on stove on high heat and let water boil. Add the shrimp and let cook for 5 minutes or until color changes.
2) Take shrimp out of stove and strain, remove bay leaf and let cool.
3) For fresh artichoke hearts: Quarter the artichoke hearts, place in bowl, leave aside. Mix with cool shrimp and refrigerate.
4) For canned artichoke hearts: Drain liquid from can, rinse, and quarter the artichoke hearts, place in bowl, leave aside. Mix with cool shrimp and refrigerate.
5) In a blender, place lime juice, celery, leeks, Aji Amarillo paste and garlic cloves. Blend for 1 minute at medium speed. Then, with the motor running, add the vegetable oil in a slow, steady stream, as making a dressing. The mixture should be creamy. Set aside and chill.
6) Mix the shrimp and artichoke mix with the Aji Amarillo sauce. Season to taste.
Preparing fresh artichokes:
Fill a pot with boiling water that includes 1 bay leave and juice of half a lemon
Submerge the artichoke, flower side down, for 10 minutes
Remove from pot with slotted spoon, dry and cool on paper towel or baking rack
Peel leaves off, leaving the heart, which should be quartered.

Serve immediately garnish with cilantro on top, sweet potatoes and corn.

PISCO SOUR
From the cocktail menu of Chef Laurent Tourondel’s L’Amico

Ingredients:
2 oz. Campo Encanto Pisco
¼ oz. Lemon Juice
½ oz. Simple Syrup
½ oz. Egg White
1 dash Cocoa Nib & Chipotle Tincture
3 drops Cocoa Nib & Chipotle Tincture (to finish)

Method:
• Combine the Campo Encanto Pisco, lemon juice, simple syrup, egg white and cocoa nib & chipotle tincture in a cocktail shaker
• Dry shake (no ice) for 30 seconds to emulsify egg whites
• Add ice and hard shake for another 30 seconds
• Strain the mixture into a cocktail coupe glass
• Float three drops of the cocoa nib & chipotle tincture to finish

ALFAJORES
By Chef Marita Lynn

Yield: 50 Alfajores
2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
¾ cup butter, room temperature
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup dulce de leche
Cookie Preparation :
In a bowl, mix together, the flour, butter and sugar. Once mixed, use your hands to create a uniform dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
On a floured surface, making sure to flour your roller, roll the dough to ½- inch thickness. Using a 2 inch round cutter, cut out Alfajores and place on baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, let the Alfajores cool on a wire rack.
Filling Preparation:
Filling Preparation:
Combine evaporated milk and condensed milk in a pan with cinnamon stick and simmer for two hours until it changes color and obtains a thick consistency.
*Manjar Blanco/Dulce de Leche can also be bought at any store, jarred or in a can.

Filled the Alfajores with dulce de leche sandwich style. Dust with powdered sugar.

FOOD AND WINE IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND

Digital Technology in the Restaurant Industry
By Sara Kay

NoWait app icon

The inner workings of a restaurant extend far past the menu, and streamlined and responsive tools and systems are crucial for successfully running the business instead of running it into the ground. Thankfully, as we forge ahead into the future of digital technology, restaurant employees, as well as diners, are reaping the benefits of apps that hope to solve a lot of these issues, making a night out less about the planning, and more about the experience.

Until recently, the daily experience of managing that menu, managing inventory, hiring a solid staff on the floor and in the kitchen, keeping staff schedules in check (and that’s just scratching the surface) tended to be handled on a desktop computer, or if the manager and owner are old school, in a notebook or on a bulletin board. With these seemingly outdated methods, things get lost in the shuffle, and what may have started out as a simple schedule change has turned into a scheduling fiasco.

And the absence of technology doesn’t just cause problems on the staff side; diners who wish to see a menu ahead of time, or make a reservation at a restaurant last minute are brutally rebuffed by outdated pieces of technology or the total absence of technology in the restaurant, essentially being punished with extra-long wait times for not thinking to make a reservation weeks ahead of time.

Planning ahead is something that’s not always ingrained in restaurant employees as they are, for the most part, hourly workers; meaning that they don’t have corporate emails to check in order to keep up with internal communications. As a result, many messages regarding hours, staff changes, menu changes, meetings, etc., tend to only spread via word of mouth or bulletin board postings, which can prove to be fairly unreliable, turning into a game of broken telephone. Jonathan Erwin, CEO of Red e App, realized this internal issue and did something about it by developing an app that employees can use in order to access messaging, documents and scheduling in real-time. Employees can receive notifications about weather delays, meeting announcements and menu specials, and can even access their schedules in order to swap shifts with co-workers, all from their mobile device.

REA1 - for staff messaging.jpg

“The benefit to the company is a stronger affiliation with the employee, which means the company sees improvements in retention, customer satisfaction and revenue,” says Erwin. “For the first time, companies are able to measure and delegate their employee communications.”

Red e App currently has a strong restaurant subscriber base of 35,000 out of the 92,000 total Red e App subscribers, showing that technology like this isn’t only seen as a major positive for the industry, it’s a necessity. Having instant access to Red e App makes communication between management and employees fast and simple, and greatly decreases the possibility of the ever-popular excuse “Oh, I didn’t know I was working today, it wasn’t on the bulletin board!” Companies can also update Red e App with operation manuals, training information and restaurant policies to make sure that employees have access to these important documents, even after the doors of the restaurant have closed for the night.

So what about those who are going to enjoy the fruits of a restaurant’s labor? Several years ago, the founder of NoWait, a guest app that gives diners the opportunity to check wait times at restaurants and put themselves on waiting lists before showing up, found himself trying to get a table for brunch, only to realize that each restaurant he went to had unreasonably long waits. While it’s only too easy to book a reservation at reservation-only restaurants, he realized there was no OpenTable-equivalent to casual dining outposts that don’t have reservation policies. When Ware Sykes joined the NoWait team in 2013, he embraced the opportunity to carry out the founders’ vision of giving people back an undervalued gift; their own time.

“Guests love being able to wait where they want, especially with small children,” says Sykes. “NoWait keeps customers informed about their status, so there is transparency and reassurance; this information, in turn, increases the likelihood that they will stay and dine.”

NoWait’s accessibility to customers is a huge factor to its success. Being accessible from smartphones makes the app something that can be used at any time, from an hour before leaving for dinner to sitting in 20 minutes of traffic on the way there. As the first and only mobile network for casual-dining restaurants, NoWait is combining the ease of finding a favorite casual restaurant with eliminating the wait time, making for a free and relevant piece of technology that users benefit from right away.

While Red e App appeals to the restaurant employees and NoWait to the consumers, Tipsi serves both fairly equally. To give this app one definition wouldn’t be doing it true justice; it acts as a sommelier, a review site, a resource for up-to-date restaurant wine lists, a wine wish list, a food and wine pairing resource, among many other uses. Inspired by a night out during a bachelor party, Mike Bell developed an iPhone app that makes restaurant owners and diners the ‘users’ equally, by providing a consumer-facing app as well as a more industry-driven app.

“Tipsi is an easy way to communicate wine lists to consumers, giving them the opportunity to come into a restaurant armed and ready with the sort of wine they want, or the right questions to ask,” says Bell. As an avid wine drinker and enthusiast, it became obvious to him that the one challenge that restaurants as well as wine-drinkers faced was the ability to reference an up-to-date wine list that wasn’t in PDF form online. By developing Tipsi, Bell has given consumers the necessary wine knowledge ahead of time, and sommeliers the ability to update their wine lists and provide food pairing suggestions through the app with a few simple button clicks. Additionally, Tipsi makes the job of the sommelier a more versatile one, giving them the opportunity to not just work 30 tables in one night, but to work 30 restaurants in one night as well. Currently, the app is fully up-and-running at the Chelsea location of Pierre Loti, but is accessible from hundreds of restaurants around New York City.

Tipsi share_iphone 2

Digital technology and mobile access is a crucial piece of a restaurant’s everyday functionality, whether they choose to accept it or not. By employing apps like NoWait, Red e App and Tipsi, something extraordinary is happening in the restaurant industry; A night out with no complications, no waiting drama, and maybe even a bottle of wine on the table when you arrive. Have we achieved restaurant perfection? Maybe not, but we’re well on our way there.

WIND OF CHANGE

Time marches on and sweeps liquor industry events along
By Francine Cohen

Photo by Charlotte Otto-Bruc

Photo by Charlotte Otto-Bruc

Earlier than normal today I was up, and so ready to take my morning walk. Though my timing this morning wasn’t the only change I experienced, it definitely was a harbinger of what was to come and a reflection of what was behind us. Rummaging through my middle drawer, in search of a tank top to throw under my limited edition Louis649 (RIP) hoodie, I came across three branded tank tops; two from past Pig & Punch (http://www.bonvivants.com/pig-n-punch/) events and one from Perfect Puree (www.perfectpuree.com/). All three got tucked back into the drawer for various reasons; Pig & Punch because I generally don’t like to wear branded merchandise – whatever the cause – though I bought them to support something I believe in (plus, let’s be honest, a men’s XL is probably not the most flattering cut on me); and the Perfect Puree one went back in too because though it fits nicely it says “Perfect to Play With” on it and my experience having worn that out in public before is that it results in uncalled for funny looks, comments and knowing smiles from strangers. So best to leave that, and the Pig & Punch ones, aside and just remember to pack them for yoga class at Tales (talesofthecocktail.com/).

Wait, what?! Did I just say “yoga class at Tales?” When did this become a thing? And how? And why? What happened to it being just about learning about spirits, drinking spirits, talking about spirits and doing that all over again all week long?

Well, the answer to the first part of that question is easy; it became a thing three years ago when Perfect Puree hosted pool-side yoga sessions led by Kitty Amman (www.shakestir.com/kirstenamann). And it became an even bigger thing last year when Dushan Zaric and Natalie Bovis and Patricia Richards banded together to create the healthy mind & body sessions that included yoga and meditation. It became an even bigger thing when Novo Fogo (www.novofogo.com/) did their take on exercise at Tales and sponsored a run and when Bols (www.bols.com/splash.php?u=/) sponsored a bike ride years back.

But this wasn’t the only thing we’ve seen changing at Tales. Nor in the industry itself. First it was the shock of stalwart attendees finding that they couldn’t be there one year, and then the next and then the next because they had other business elsewhere keeping them busy. And now more than ever bartenders and brand reps are focused on their health, wealth, and well being. Years ago at Tales you’d see a group of cocktail professionals go from late, late, late night carousing in New Orleans and operating on little to no sleep to attending seminars and crisscrossing the city en masse; like one giant school of fish. Back then it was easy to make plans with friends and colleagues from other cities because you all had to be in pretty much the same place at the same time.

Photo by Jeff Anding

Photo by Jeff Anding

As Tales has expanded more and more of these bartenders who were sitting in the seminars are now leading them. And the marketing and PR professionals who work with them are finding more and more opportunities for their clients to sponsor these seminars, events and local dining and drinking experiences so they too are running off in disparate directions. Scheduling a catch up has, in many cases, been reduced to promises of a fly-by hug in the doorway of SoBou (www.sobounola.com/), scheduling a 2 AM beer at The Chart Room or a 4:30 AM sing-along at Alibi (www.alibineworleans.com/). Knowing full well that the best laid plans of mice and men…

This is a far cry from six or so years ago when Lesley Townsend and I were first introduced in the lobby of the Monteleone (hotelmonteleone.com/) as she landed at her first Tales of the Cocktail, ready to explore what Ann Tuennerman had created and figure out how to adapt that to what would eventually become the beloved Manhattan Cocktail Classic (www.manhattancocktailclassic.com/). But, now that the MCC is, in the words of Gothamist, “…effectively dead…” and Tales marches on, it will be most interesting to be part of it all in year 12 and see what happens next.

Change keeps a-coming.

Photo by Chris Granger

Photo by Chris Granger

WHEN BOTTLE SERVICE TURNS CASUAL

The Up & Up
By Sara Kay
Photos by Gregory J. Buda

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When we hear the words ‘bottle service’ mentioned in a nightlife atmosphere, a lot of thoughts immediately come to mind; for instance, will we be paying for a drastically over-priced bottle of vodka this evening? And will we have to combine that price with the price of a table as well, plus a cocktail waitress, and the variety of other amenities that come with one hell of a price tag? Bottle service can be daunting as a result of these thoughts. However, the creative minds behind newly opened cocktail haunt The Up & Up in Greenwich Village have given bottle service a bit of a facelift. Or perhaps, an un-facelift.

Matthew Piacentini, owner of recently shuttered bar known as The Beagle, and head bartender at Inoteca e Liquori bar is the owner of The Up & Up. Piacentini has managed to bring a lot of fairly unique and fantastic bar elements to the Greenwich Village, an area that doesn’t get to bask in the glory of exciting cocktail bars very often. However, not only does The Up and Up bring outstanding cocktails to the neighborhood, thanks to Piacentini and his head bartender Chaim Dauermann, this neighborhood has hit the jackpot. A cocktail bar with this caliber of drinks and approachable atmosphere is something that this part of town has been craving.

“Why do a cocktail bar on MacDougal Street?” Piacentini asks. “There are people around here who want a good bar and there’s nothing for them. It’s a nice place with nice people, and people are happy to have a choice like this without having to go somewhere fratty, or leave the neighborhood.”

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Piacentini’s bar track record in New York City has been a successful one, however it is not where his passions lie. With every establishment he opened, the focus always seemed to go towards the food, rather than the stellar cocktail program. However, with The Up & Up, there’s no denying that this is a bar. From the giant bar that spans across most of the space, to the menu that is more cocktails than anything else, this is most certainly a bar.

“What I’ve tried to do here is build a place that is as beautiful as I can get it, while still being comfortable, relaxed and friendly,” says Piacentini. “That’s what people want; people love the really good drinks and the friendly people and the nice rooms, but they don’t like to jump through hoops. They don’t like the impenetrable door. In all these years of working in bars and hanging out with bartenders, this is a place where bartenders want to hang out.”

The cocktails and small bites at The Up & Up are worth doting on for hours, there’s no denying that. However, the real shining star here comes in their bottle service. Whether you’re a party of two, a party of four or just enjoying a solo cocktail, you have the option to order a bottled cocktail to pour at your convenience. Large format (375ml or 750ml) bottles are available, as well as Individual (100ml), and are served with chilled glassware and ice cubes for the table. Take your pick from a variety of bottled cocktail options, from The Carlson Martini (courtesy of Laura Carlson, bartender at The John Dory Oyster Bar), The Messier Manhattan (courtesy of Max Messier), The Greenbaum Negroni (courtesy of Dan Greenbaum, bartender at Attaboy) or The Teague Old Flaskoned (courtesy of Sother Teague, head bartender at Amor y Amargo).

“The heart of the bottles is the large format,” says Dauermann, the brains behind the bottled cocktail operation. “I was thinking about an idea where cocktails could go into a bottle and still be in prime condition. The ideal scenario is the smaller bottle for two people, and the larger bottle for 3-4 people. They have enough for their first round and their second round. It’s unlike any other bottled cocktail because it’s not deconstructed in any way when presented.”

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Piacentini and Dauermann see the bottled cocktails not just as an innovative cocktail presentation, but an efficient one as well. Rather than have several staff members running around on the floor taking cocktail orders all night, a server can deliver six drinks to a table with just one bottle and a set of glasses, and spend more time working on other things. Customers can spend more time on other things too; like talking to one another rather than ordering a new cocktail every 15 minutes.

“The question is always how do you do high volume and high comfort, but maintain quality? It’s hard because in bars with a lot of people, it becomes about time. That time has to get less and less, and the only way to do that is to take shortcuts somewhere,” says Piacentini. “This allows us to make 1/3rd of our menu in 30 seconds. It takes less time to pour the bottled cocktail than to open a beer.”

The dynamic between Piacentini and Dauermann, as they describe it, is a sort of musical collaboration. Piacentini sees Dauermann as the composer; creating and making and discovering. He sees himself as more of the first chair violinist; where he is good at what he does, but his real goal is to figure out how to make the best harmony with what is already made. Together, their balance is unbeatable.

“We have so many different styles. So many interesting, intriguing, culinary drinks that Chaim does, and we’ve got the elegant, stirred intense drinks that I do,” says Piacentini. “In between, we have our own style of refreshers. So far, there’s something for everyone here.”

With the opening of The Up & Up, a night of bottle service with a group of friends doesn’t sound nearly as daunting as it once did. Approachable and casual, the unique experience comes without the unreasonable price tag that we as New Yorkers have become accustomed to, and to that we say: it’s about time.

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