Vinegar Gets Popular in Cocktails

vvflavored-cocktails-stockjpgcropdisplay[1]

Vinegar can be found in nearly every cupboard in every town in every country around the world. For over 10,000 years, humans have found inspiring uses for it – from healing elixirs, to pickling, to cleaning, to dissolving chewing gum, to preserving fruit. Vinegar was most likely created by accident by some sad sap who neglected a cask of wine out behind the local pub, only to find upon his return that it had turned sour (the French word for it is “vinaigre,” which, directly translated, means “sour wine”). And thus, like so many other happy accidents in the beverage world, vinegar was born.

At its root, it’s quite a simple process to make vinegar: The fermentation of natural sugars to alcohol is followed by a secondary fermentation to vinegar. In a world without refrigeration, like that of colonial America, spoilage was a constant enemy. Vinegar created a veritable Fountain of Youth for fruits. Shrubs – beverages made with fruit, sugar and vinegar – and vinegar-fruit syrups came into use.

And today, after nearly being lost to time by the advent of refrigeration and industrially processed foods, shrubs and drinking vinegars are roaring back into fashion for the making of cocktails. Driven by progressive bartenders on the hunt for new flavors to add to their liquid arsenals, as well as the current lime shortage that’s hit the United States, the trend – which arguably began nearly 10 years ago – is now reaching a feverish pitch. Vinegar-based cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks can now be found in mainstream bars and restaurants around the country.

Kelley Slagle, a New York-based mixologist who taught a seminar at Tales of the Cocktail in 2011 called “Vinegar: the Other Acid,” was quickly enamored with the history of vinegar-based drinks.

“Shrubs are a colonial American staple that started as a way to preserve fruit, but were also meant to be used for drinks,” she said, pointing out that Jerry Thomas, who created the first bartenders’ guide with cocktail recipes in 1862, even had a recipe on how to make vinegar shrubs. “Lemon juice is great in drinks, but it’s somewhat neutral in flavor. I love vinegar because you just get a lot more flavor. Instead of adding a one-dimensional character, you’re adding something that’s inherently complex.”

Joe Cleveland, bar manager at chef Michael Chiarello’s Coqueta in San Francisco, has been working with vinegar in cocktails for nearly 10 years and currently has three drinks with vinegar on his cocktail list. He describes them as being “high in acid with bright flavors that are refreshing palate cleansers” and pair wonderfully with Coqueta’s Spanish-influenced food.

“We serve a lot of tapas, and the vinegar cuts through the oils of both the cheeses and the fatty, grilled meats,” he said.

He develops his drinks with the seasons and looks to both the markets and the chefs for inspiration, but also finds that vinegar shrubs allow him to “bring a bright summer flavor to a winter drink.”

With the current lime shortage hitting the bar and restaurant industry hard, operators are seeing the cost of limes skyrocket, forcing them to nix lime as a garnish and look for alternative sources of acidity in drinks. Paul McGee, a mixologist at Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago, has had to quickly shift his approach to developing his recipes.

“My cost per ounce of lime juice was previously 18 cents; now it’s 62 cents. That’s approaching the cost of some of the spirits you may be using,” he said. “The cost of shrubs varies between 20 to 40 cents per ounce. That’s another reason people are searching for different forms of acidity. You’re going to start seeing the trend of alternatives to lemon and lime juice.”

Emerging Tech Leaders: The Best Restaurant Brands In Mobile

untitled

Starbucks, Wendy’s, Chipotle, and Burger King.  When it comes to mobile tech trends, big brands continue to soak up the spotlight. But features like custom apps, online ordering and mobile payments shouldn’t be limited to the major players. The latest restaurant tech has also given smaller businesses an edge on the competition by enabling operators to boost throughput, improve customer loyalty, expand their reach, and expedite growth.

These five brands have showed us you don’t need millions of dollars and hundreds of locations to take advantage of the latest and greatest in mobile technology:

1.         Taylor Gourmet

Unique app feature: Friend referrals

Founded by two college buddies who wanted to bring the delicious hoagies from their hometown of Philly a bit further south to DC, Taylor Gourmet has established themselves as the coolest place to grab a sandwich. Appealing to the millennial market, the Taylor Gourmet app includes mobile payments, rewards, and a social media component that allows customers to link their Facebook profile to their Taylor Gourmet account and invite friends to visit the shops with $2 towards their first purchase.

 

2.  Chop’t

Unique app feature: Putting nutrition & allergen information at the customer’s fingertips

Over the past 13 years, Chop’t Creative Salad Company has grown to include more than 20 restaurants up and down the East Coast. From the start, Chop’t has been committed to delivering only the freshest, high quality foods- quickly. And the company has extended that commitment with the recent launch of the Chop’t mobile app. The Chop’t app features mobile payments, a built in loyalty program, and comprehensive menu and nutritional information.

 

3. Organic Avenue

Unique app feature: Establishing tiered rewards for VIP customers

From their Green LOVE juice to their Big Kale Salad, Organic Avenue has expanded their reach and their menu to include delicious wraps and salads in addition to their signature cold-pressed juices. Growing to 12 boutiques in the past 14 years, Organic Avenue continues to make their mark in unique ways; like with the launch of their custom loyalty app. The Organic Avenue app offers up features like mobile payments, menu, store locator, and a tiered rewards program that lets customers work their way up to VIP status and beyond.

 

4.  Protein Bar

Unique app feature: mobile payments & in-app ordering (coming soon)

Opened in 2009 and set for rapid expansion, Protein Bar has opened 12 restaurants in four years. Now with a total of 14 stores across 3 markets, Protein Bar continues to establish themselves as the go-to place for healthy, high-protein meals. Catering to their active and on-the-go customers, Protein Bar launched a custom mobile payment and loyalty app in early 2014. Complete with mobile payments, nutritional information, built-in rewards, and in-app ordering coming soon, the app provides a real convenience to Protein Bar customers.

 

5. Saxby’s

Unique app feature: Frequent small incentives

Since first opening their doors in August of 2005, Saxby’s Coffee has grown to 29 locations. From gourmet coffees to frozen yogurt and pastries, Saxby’s strives to deliver a variety of options. With over 200 flavor combinations, customers are encouraged to really personalize their order. While Saxby’s continues to focus on the customer, the Saxby’s app allows the company to surprise and delight guests with a built in rewards program, mobile payments, menu, locations, and more.

 

Interested in discovering what a custom app could look like for your brand? Click here to learn more.

Waffles are now at White Castle – Video

Panera Breakfast Power Sandwich Video