Posts Tagged ‘mixology’

How to Bring a Green Thumb into the Restaurant or Bar

September 17, 2013

While having a full-fledged garden in the restaurant often isn’t feasible, there is a ton of ways to have fresh herbs and produce available on a smaller scale. As the locavore movement gains steam, more and more people are enticed by the offering of fresh, local grub. Even the bartending scene has seen an increased demand for fresh herbs and spices and mixologists country-wide are looking for new ways to get creative with fresh produce. Here are some ideas to help implement the taste of freshly picked goods into your restaurant.

Start with Small Scale Restaurant Gardening

From vertical walls to rooftop gardens, from window boxes to table-side planters, it’s relatively easy to find a little growing space somewhere right in-house. There are several urban greenworks groups available who are more than willing to offer some insight and startup assistance to get you going if you need help. The biggest challenges you will face will be keeping the garden looking good if it’s going to be visible to customers, and getting someone on board who has the desire and ability to maintain the project.

Selecting the Right Goods to Grow in Your Restaurant Garden

Odds are you don’t have a ton of extra time to devote to your new garden space, so make sure to pick plants that are easy to grow and require minimal care. Fresh herbs such as mint, cilantro, and basil are particularly well suited for such requirements. Steer clear of finickier produce such as cucumbers, peppers, and melons which can be more prone to pests and diseases.

Also, pick plants that naturally grow in the season and climate you’re in. If you’re in a cold climate, focusing on growing your in-house produce only during the growing season is just fine. If one of your bartenders particularly loves to invent signature cocktails, let them pick the fresh herbs they want to have at hand and take responsibility for their care. The fact that many herbs are aromatic can create an additionally pleasant experience for your customers as well.

What If In-House Gardening Simply isn’t Feasible in My Restaurant?

If growing a few key ingredients on your own simply isn’t a feasible plan but you’re still interested in having fresh produce available, there’s still a few options open to you. You could, of course, simply hit up the local farmers’ markets every few days and select the fresh herbs and produce you’d like to have on hand. Even better, you could partner with an individual farmer and set up an arrangement where they will custom grow whatever you’d like to have in your restaurant. This is often mutually beneficial because you don’t have to deal with the mess of trying to garden yourself and the farmer is often happy to have a bit of steady income to rely on.

Plus, doing it this way gives you the added benefit of having the farmer’s expertise – so you can get those fresh tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers from someone who has the setup and knowledge to deal with their more specific growing requirements.

Whether you would like to see a full range of fresh produce on the menu or simply want to have a few sprigs of mint or cilantro to add to your drinks, growing some greens in-house can be a fun and easy way of adding fresh, unique, and local flavor to your establishment.

Perceived Downturn in Customer Service

July 14, 2010

A recent survey of 6,800 Americans reveals a troubling trend. A majority of respondents believe that the customer service they receive while dining out is becoming progressively worse.

Consumer Confidence Shaky
Bloomberg Businessweek reported that consumer confidence is somewhat fragile as few expect their incomes to increase within the next year and many consumers are concerned about future employment. As a result, consumer spending has been restrained. In fact, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, sales at stores like Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC opened within the last year by YUM have remained unchanged.

Increased Expectations Lead to Disappointment
A survey conducted by Empahtica, Incorporated revealed that 55.2% of consumers within the US believe that customer service within the restaurant industry is on the decline.

According to Empahtic’s Executive Vice President of Client Services, Gary Edwards speculates that this may be due to increased expectations on the part of consumers who are cash strapped and therefore dining out less frequently. quotes Edwards as saying, “With less discretionary spending, people aren’t going out as frequently, and when they do, they have heightened expectations. Even if service levels aren’t truly declining, restaurants maybe evaluated more harshly. There is simply more of a negative sentiment among consumers.”

Service More Important than Food
Meeting those heightened service expectations is a must for restaurateurs as a full 20% of consumers who responded to the Empahica survey stated that good customer service is more important to them than good food. According to the Empathica survey, when consumers visit a favorite restaurant and receive poor service 25% said they do not return to that establishment again. Even worse, they tell others not to dine there as well.

Edwards cautions against simply throwing labor dollars at the issue and instead advises solid training coupled with reinforcing quality service expectations. Edwards explains that working with staff to emphasize those service opportunities which make a difference in the consumers overall experience is essential.

Cooling Customers during Hot Summers with Creative Coffee Mixology

May 24, 2010

As spring heats up and summer approaches the minds of mixologists and restaurateurs turn toward the best, most creative options for keeping their clientele cool throughout the hot, summer months. An inventive few are leveraging our nation’s coffee obsession by combining the caffeinated beverage with cool and refreshing liquids.

Cold-Brew Coffee
According to a tasting conducted by the crew at Chicago’s Metropolis Coffee Company a cold-brew coffee method known as the Toddy, was voted the hands down favorite of the various brewing methods sampled. This brew method was named after its inventor Todd Simpson, a chemical engineer who, in 1964, pioneered the cold-brew coffee method in order to reduce the bitter, acidic qualities associated with hot coffee.

The Toddy method calls for cold-brewing the beans over a period of twelve to twenty-four hours in order to achieve a smooth, mellow concentrate that can be refrigerated for several weeks. It’s this cold-brew coffee method which allows baristas to serve their customers a fresh tasting cup o’Joe every time simply by adding water or milk to the rich, concentrated liquid.

Coffee: It’s not Just for Baristas Anymore
It’s not just baristas who are serving cold-brewed coffee, mixologists too are coming up with their own creative concoctions. For example, at Chicago’s the Wit Hotel mixologist Jonny Abens uses Van Gogh espresso vodka to spike iced espresso for his café pomme di hollande drink. In San Francisco, California Scott Beattie came up with the espresso martini by adding vodka to the dark, caffeinated liquid.

Arabica Beans or Bust
Regardless of whether it’s hot espresso or some cold version of the beverage, using high quality Arabica beans is a must. Failing to do so will result in an inferior coffee drinking experience. According Giorgio Milos, an Italian Master Barista with illycaffe, even the novice connoisseur will appreciate the flavors available only in high quality Arabic coffee beans.