Category Archives: Bartending

Soft Drinks Face Continued Challenges

The soft drink world has faced constant problems in recent years, all stemming from a perception and link towards increased obesity rates in America. With soft drinks being traditionally high in sugar, they find themselves in the crosshairs of politicians and dietitians. While New York avoided a “sugary drink tax,” the concept has not disappeared.

The International Business Times reports that New Zealanders find themselves in support of limiting the amount of sugar that can be included in soft drinks. 46% surveyed “definitely” support a limit, while 32% “possibly” do. Less support the concept of taxing sugary drinks, but 46% agree on a tax. A greater 59% prefer a limit on serving size. While New Zealand has no plans to introduce a tax (and Coca-Cola claims that it “cannot solve the obesity crisis”), the World Health Organization does cite the country with one of the worst increasing obesity rates and fast-food consumption. Taxing sugary drinks would help curb obesity, if only to encourage people not to drink them.

A tax has been proposed for Illinois, though. Akin to the New York proposal, it would tax any sugary drink, adding one cent per ounce, and would add a $2.88 tax to each case. Companies and retail establishments fear the loss of sales from the drinks, especially when the tax on a case of drinks might be about the same price as the case itself. California is also proposing a bill, SB 1000, that would require a warning label on any drink that was sold in stores with added sweeteners, featuring 75 or more calories per 12 ounces stating “STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.” For restaurants with self-serve drinks, it would be on the dispenser. Restaurants that keep drinks behind the counter would feature it on the counter. While many companies have featured voluntary labels listing calories on bottles, many are opposed to this new enforced labeling.

It may not require taxation or special labeling to curtail the consumption of sugary drinks. Coca-Cola reports that 2013′s revenue was not as what was expected: global sales did not rise as much as they wanted, and US sales actually lowered.

Coca-Cola said on Tuesday that global sales volumes rose 1 percent in the quarter and 2 percent for the full year. Volumes in North America fell 1 percent in the quarter, while those in Europe grew just 1 percent as consumer spending remained subdued.

Coca-Cola is joined by Pepsi in reduced sales in America and other developed nations, as people reach for healthier options. In hopes of improved sales of their drinks, Coca-Cola bought a 10% stake in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, known for their Keurig coffee makers; Coke is looking to use their technology and mindset to develop an in-home beverage dispenser. Meanwhile, they look to save $1 billion in productivity improvements, and will funnel that money towards advertising.

Have you noticed a slip in soft drink sales in your restaurant, and do you have any plans to combat that? How would you handle taxes or new labeling requirements?

The World Of Mocktails

Some people like the taste of alcoholic drinks without chancing drinking and driving, or otherwise abstain completely from alcoholic beverages. “Mocktails” are the safe-to-drink variations of cocktails, and with one of the most iconic mocktails, Shirley Temple, having its namesake pass away this week, it’s a great time to look at a drink (and a range of drinks it is included in) that she made iconic.

Common Mocktails

Arnold Palmer, Shirley Temple, Freddie Bartholomew, Roy Rogers, and even Virgin Mary: these people may have nothing in common, outside of the fact they’re inspiration for mocktails. What does it take to make each of these?

  • Arnold Palmer: 50% lemonade, 50% iced tea. When you can’t decide what cold drink to have for refreshment, go for this one.
  • Freddie Bartholomew: ginger ale and lime juice.
  • Shirley Temple: ginger ale (or lemon-lime soda), splash of grenadine, garnished with a maraschino cherry. Commonly, this can be made alcoholic and named “Shirley Temple Black”, her adult, married name, by the addition of vodka.
  • Roy Rogers: cola and grenadine, garnished with a maraschino cherry.
  • Virgin Mary: a non-alcoholic version of a Bloody Mary, containing tomato juice, Tabasco sauce, and garnished with a celery stalk.

Beyond these named for famous people, there are other mocktails that stand on their own.

  • Virgin Colada: a non-alcoholic version of the Piña Colada, combining cream of coconut and pineapple juice, garnished with a pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry.
  • Gunner: ginger beer or lemonade combined with ginger ale and a dash of lemon juice or lime cordial, and a dash of Angostura bitters (while considered non-alcoholic, bitters are 44.7% alcohol).
  • Lemon, Lime and Bitters: lemonade, lime cordial, and Angostura bitters.
  • Tortuga: Much like American Sweet Tea, a Tortuga is iced tea with brown sugar, garnished with cinnamon and a lime wedge.

Why might you want to look into serving mocktails?

Cost Efficiency and Safety

Many people might like these drinks when they’re in a situation where they can’t drink. Offering mocktails allows them to have a unique drink, but also allows you to not tap in to your expensive alcohol offerings. Some people may even want to look like they’re drinking (to act as if they’re keeping up with friends), so mocktails might allow them to continue a night without pressures from friends.

One way to even encourage patronage with non-alcoholic drinks is to offer free drinks to designated drivers. The designated driver concept is an honorable one for many bars and restaurants; in a good night of drinks and debauchery, one pal might opt to be the designated driver. While everyone else can enjoy their drinks with alcohol, he or she can have free drinks at the cost of not being alcoholic. One way to institute this program is to offer the designated driver a wristband; this wristband will indicate to staff, bartenders, and waitstaff that they’re not to have alcoholic drinks, but can have free drinks.

Mocktails can keep the world safe, and increase your profitability. Don’t make the mistake of skipping them on your menu.

Do You Offer Lemons For Water?

There’s different levels of water service at restaurants. For the largest guarantee of cleanliness and safety, prepackaged water bottles are good enough, but unless you also sell bottles of soft drinks, it may look a little out of place on the menu (you do get to charge for this water, though, unlike the common mindset that poured water is free). On the other side, you have fresh poured water from a bottle or pitcher, hopefully filtered.

Filtering takes care of impurities, microscopic problems, and may simply just remove taste that’s not intended beyond H2O and fluoride that’s added to tap water.

If you go for fresh-poured water, though, you might be accidentally adding germs to the drink. The same goes for sweet tea and even some diet soft drinks. The Huffington Post reports on a study done on 76 lemons at 21 restaurants. 70% of the lemons tested (swabbing the rinds as soon as the drinks arrived) showed microbial growth, and while lemons may feature some antimicrobial properties, these microbes may have been added only recently in the preparation process. Theories could not be confirmed, but speculation leads to the contamination coming from staff, or even cross-contamination with raw meat or poultry.

Another study commissioned by ABC News reveals that a certain type of matter may be on the lemons that you want nowhere near your mouth.

One of the most frequently occurring contaminants in the test results was fecal matter. Half of the lemon wedges tested were tainted with human waste. How does fecal matter get on lemons in the first place? Cameras caught restaurant workers grabbing lemons with their bare hands, reaching in again and again without gloves or tongs. If they haven’t washed their hands well after using the bathroom, germs spread.

Reportedly, there’s a small “but distinct” risk at actually getting sick from these microbes.

How can you completely avoid this risk? You could possibly offer lemon juice in a bottle (an item that’s sold in any grocery store), or just make sure that your staff are all on the same page when it comes to lemons. Scrub and clean them like any other fruit or vegetable you would use in your restaurant, and cut them with a clean knife. If a customer asks for water, ask them if they want a lemon; not all will. Instead of putting the lemon directly in the drink, a small platter of lemons would work. Customers can then squeeze the lemon juice into the drink without the rind every touching the water, and if they want more lemons, they don’t have to bother the waitstaff; they’ve got a plate of them ready to go.

In a world of hand-santizers and antimicrobial soaps, customers will be looking for any reason to not trust the food and drink you serve; don’t let them think your lemons are at fault.