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Chef’s Club by Food & Wine

Beyond Happy Hour: Bar-Driven Programming

A full-service restaurant isn’t the most obvious or easiest place for bar-driven event programming, since it must serve the needs of the dining area first and foremost. But even if the bar isn’t the anchor of the venue, bar-driven programming can promote the restaurant, bring guests in during quiet hours, establish the expertise of the bar staff in a spirit or cocktail category, and keep a sit-down restaurant so full there is standing-room only.

Irish Whiskey Primer

Whether a winter’s night toddy or looking ahead to St. Patrick’s Day, Irish whiskey is one of the fastest-growing spirits categories in the U.S., but it is often misunderstood. The category includes a range of whiskeys with widely different flavor profiles—some are blends and others are single malts or single–pot still whiskeys.

Freedom of Choice

I’ll have something bitter with Tanqueray gin and no citrus. Up please.”While a custom-directed drink order like this is not unusual to hear in a top-quality cocktail bar, I overheard it in a little neighborhood watering hole that doesn’t even offer a drink menu.

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Finessing the Grand Finale

On many restaurant menus, after-dinner drinks are also an after-thought. But as the cocktail renaissance continues, bartenders are rethinking the dessert and digestif menus from the ground up. Some are pairing cocktails with desserts so that the drinks are better integrated into the overall dining experience.

Mixing Cocktails in Bulk

Cocktails on tap, punch, barrel-aged cocktails, and bottled cocktails—these are some of the hottest trends hitting the bar in recent years. None are flavor trends, but rather changes in format from standard, individual-size drinks.

Does Your Bar Have a Star?

If a drink menu is out-of-date or overly-simplistic and the bartenders can’t speak intelligently about the cocktails, I know two things about a restaurant: That there is no lead bartender in place, and that I’ll be ordering a beer.