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July 11, 2013

Once a symbol of wealth and hospitality, the time has come to restore the pineapple to its former glory
By Dean Callan, Monkey Shoulder Global Brand Ambassador

Dean Callan pineapple Dunmore.jpg

Here’s a question for all the bartenders, bar owners, mixologists and cocktail consumers about to descend upon New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail – why don’t we see many pineapples in bars and on cocktail menus anymore? This once prized tropical fruit seems to have disappeared from view. But why is that?

This is a question that has been on my mind for some time now and one that will be answered on the opening day of this year’s Tales of the Cocktail festivities ( at our seminar.

We need to restore the pineapple to its former glory. This mission, which we can discuss heartily on Wednesday, can be traced back to a trip I took to New York a few years ago. In search of cocktails, a friend and I had stumbled across Cienfuegos, a wonderfully quirky Cuban rum joint in New York’s East Village.

From an outstanding cocktail list (, I chose the Isle of Manhattan Fizz, a rum and gin punch with coconut, lime, soda and one of my all-time favourite cocktail ingredients – pineapple.

This delicious combination got me wondering why we don’t see many pineapples in bars these days. How did this tropical fruit, once considered a symbol of wealth and hospitality, become so neglected by bartenders?

Not long after that drink was finished pineapples were once again on the topic of conversation – this time with my good friend, Jake Burger ( Jake shares my passion for pineapples – this is the bartender who created the infamous ‘Penis Enlarger’ cocktail, his take on the classic pineapple-inspired Piña Colada.

The seeds of our Tales of the Cocktail presentation were sown that night as Continue Reading…



January 13, 2011

Hospitality, straight up, no chaser
By John Henry

Photo by Francesco Tonelli

As the year turns, this long standing brand builder on the street feels a certain responsibility to dispense with the usual turn of the year resolution nonsense. Let’s stick to the facts, data and trends as I see them emerging from the ground up. And may I serve you with humble insights and invite impassioned dialogue along the way.

Resolve that people will drink this year. But why, how and where? Perhaps it is our true social responsibility to make every drink and every customer at our bar a special one. Then, at just the right time, send them off their merry way.

We are about to enter a golden age of hospitality in our bar business. And one of individual and professional development and responsibility, I feel. It’s more about the drinker than the drink. Alas the magic is in making them both one in our midst.

Especially in this age of flash and social media there is no substitute for the magical bartender who remembers our name, and perhaps even our drink order, months down the road since we last approached his or her bar. One who makes a drink we like, fast, and with a smile. This is the timeless exchange of our business. If you want to experience it in person, pay a periodic visit to Doug Quinn over at PJ Clarke’s on 3rd Avenue. Though I certainly encourage you to stop by more often.

We have learned trade skills from bar maestros in London and Tokyo and elsewhere. But we still need to master the American craft of giving back warmth and the smile. And keep giving. The patron is the king or queen. It is a responsibility of the true bar professional, I feel, to keep that throne inviting. I promise more on this in future 2011 dispatches from the street as I feel it will be one of the central themes of the craft spirit and bar renaissance.

But, responsibility was a word thrown around much and tacked on often in the latter part of last year, both from major liquor corporations and in local grass roots community efforts. With the optimism of a new decade, let’s look at some shining efforts first.

A gentleman named Sean Combs from the Bronx (aka P Diddy) and his associated vodka brand Ciroc ( led a campaign with pre-paid ATM cards and MTA rides home on New Year’s Eve in NYC. The same type of Safe Rides program was put into place by the Ciroc teams in Las Vegas, as well.

Staff from a Hudson Valley New York Funeral Home, TJ McGowan Sons ( , commissioned one of their vans to take folks away from the wheel and safely home citing the mantra of their own recently expanded Safe Drive program, “Let us drive you home now rather than later”. Bagels and water were offered. Continue Reading…



July 19, 2010

Preserve New Orleans, Tip Big, Help The Dedicated Army Of Hospitality Industry Employees
By Danny Valdez

The fishermen will be fine. There is an immense source of money going to them, if not now, in the future. I love the passion people have in helping out the region, and especially New Orleans. I just think that the effort needs some redirecting. I won’t bore you to death with all of the details on the horrible repercussions of “the Deepwater Horizon.” You have all been bludgeoned to death with all of the details because of our overly connected society. Which on a side note, I and tons of ADD kids love by the way.

We are overlooking something very important. There is a small but dedicated army of waiters/bartenders/cooks/etc who sell the fish coming from the gulf. We cannot forget them. We found out the hard way that the talent pool in the city is hard to replenish in all facets. I know that the service industry has always been, to some, a way to bridge their life’s choices. Whether transitioning from college or jobs or making extra money while they chase their dreams. To others this is and always will be their lives. They live and breathe to serve people. Unfortunately there isn’t much money in it for the most part. Terms like “nest egg” or “savings” don’t become second nature until later in their careers. To most they learn it too late.

In the immediate aftermath of the spill, I went to work and saw this horrible look in the eyes of my coworkers. I moonlight at a popular New Orleans restaurant for brunch. Nothing fancy, just mostly a bunch of career waiters who get off on making people smile by sharing tradition. Unfortunately most of them don’t make much money at all. The look I saw was horrible because it was a look of a person who has lost one too many times. Everyone had the same look. It was a look of uncertainty. As a city and as a community we were just starting to get our “swagger” back.

To some of us the “big reset” back in 2005 was a way to fight and start anew. To others it was a long fight that brought nothing but pain and hardship. To the career waiters/cooks/bartenders it meant working harder and longer for less money. The city’s people had been beaten one too many times and that’s what this is about. Health insurance is prohibitively expensive. Homeowner’s insurance is raised every year. It has become harder for the army in “black and whites” to make a living. Those who couldn’t keep fighting the fight have left. The jaded and clueless still pepper the industry. But for every person who fits those descriptions, there are ten who care and will remain.

I think instead of raising money for fishermen, we should start raising money for the service industry. If you think of unemployment and collecting “food stamps” as a relief, I think you have wasted your time by reading this far. I wrote a book years ago titled,”The City of Lost Dreams.” It was a celebration of our different culture in New Orleans. Not of the obvious, but of the lives of the “black and whites” and handling the velvet rope. About the decadent youthful lifestyle which once was. It was about living paycheck to paycheck yet living the life of celebrity. To some it hasn’t changed much. Except the money is less, rents have tripled and the atmosphere has become a touch more gloomy. Although this extreme makes up a small portion of our workforce, it is a perfect example of how our city gives us a chance to live life to its fullest.

We can’t make people more responsible. Part of what this city offers is an escape from the real structured world. There is still money and success to be had. Love and hate is still an option. I don’t want to change any of it. I would just like to have more help for those who have chosen this profession.

So here’s a call to help preserve what we call New Orleans. Without the people weaving magical tales/food/etc there would be no soul. I speak not for the wealthy, even though some always find a way to get a cut, but for the working classes of all ages behind the curtain. Let’s keep the skilled working and city smiling. In a corrupt city where tourism is the only industry, we need to help maintain the morale. Tip big and trust me, the fishermen will be fine.



April 24, 2010

The Importance of Good Service in the Restaurant & Bar Business

By Patrick O’Neill

Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton

Customers love your food and drinks. Your atmosphere is inviting. Your prices are decent. So why aren’t people breaking down your doors every night? And why don’t you see more familiar faces at the tables or bar?

Duh! Maybe your service leaves a lot to be desired? Many restaurateurs and bar managers inexplicably forget the first rule of the business: great service lures customers and bad service scares them away.

Ming Tsai, chef/owner of Blue Ginger ( in Boston and host of the TV show “Simply Ming,” estimates that at least 70 percent of a great dining experience is due to the service, “As a chef, it’s hard to admit. Food is extremely important, of course, but you can have the most delicious food on the planet and if the service is inattentive or arrogant, it won’t matter. Those people won’t be coming back.”

Photo by Anthony Trieuli

“Service comes into play long before the customer arrives,” says Ming. “The person taking phone reservations sets the tone three weeks ahead. Continue Reading…