Spirits Take Flight: Restaurants and Bars Get Creative With Flights of Spirits and Cocktails – Restaurateurs Say Flights Add Value, Creativity to a Bar Menu and Give Consumers More Choices
From samples of aperitifs to dessert drinks, and everything in between, restaurants and bars are crafting new and innovative “flight” options for adult consumers giving them a chance to compare small samples of different spirits, mixed drinks or dessert beverages. They are using distinctive barware and recipes to highlight a specific spirits category or cocktail theme, offering customers a unique dining experience. “The wonderful thing about the flights trend is that it provides consumers with an opportunity to sample a small quantity of several high-end spirits or cocktails in a responsible manner,” said Frank Coleman, Senior Vice President of the Distilled Spirits Council. A flight of spirits is created for groups of diners, allowing them to compare a selection of small samples of specific spirits category (i.e., Bourbons or other whiskies), interesting cocktails or creative concoctions, such as alcohol flavored frozen desserts. “Flights of spirits and cocktails are taking over from wine as the newest way of adding originality to a bar menu,” said Shawn Kelley, Director of Public Relations for the Distilled Spirits Council. “With spirits sales up four percent in 2004 and super premium and flavors leading the growth in the different categories; flights allow bartenders to offer their adult clientele a sampling of new tastes and flavors.” Rosa Mexicano (Washington, D.C. and New York), allows customers to try flights of sipping tequilas from three different categories – blanco, reposado and añejo. Prices range from $13 – 21 per flight and customers can choose which tequilas they would like to try, or leave it to the experienced staff. “We created this tasting menu to introduce our guests to this high quality product,” said Roberto Santibañez, culinary director for Rosa Mexicano. Another popular option is offering a selection of small portions of cocktails suitable for groups. Pioneer Julie Reiner of the Flatiron Lounge in New York, NY began serving flights as soon as she opened her cocktail lounge in 2003, offering up a special every day. Choices include a flight of drinks from the South Pacific or a Juniper flight, with all the samples made with gin, all for $18. At Two Chefs in Miami, Florida, chef and owner Jan Jorgensen offers a nightly series of a trio of vodkas, gins or cognac samples for $15. “With so many cocktails to choose from, our diners often have trouble settling on just one,” said Paul Tanguay, who created the bar menu at Sugarcane Lounge at SushiSamba in New York City. Large groups sample from a wide selection of creative cocktail choices in a cast-iron “Cocktail Tree,” with a selection of 12 is available for $50. At Django in New York City, Pastry Chef Nancy Olson flaunts flavors and colors in a flight of dessert cocktails, a retro selection of 8 miniature alcohol flavored sorbets intended for large groups to share. Enjoy the cool Grasshopper, made with white chocolate sorbet and green crème de menthe or a Sidecar made with mandarin orange sorbet and cognac. New York master mixologist Audrey Saunders of the soon-to-be-opened Pegu Club, says the key to offering a good flight menu is knowledge. “If a restaurant or bar wants to introduce its clientele to something they haven’t tried, like a flight of small batch bourbons or a sampling of single-malt whiskeys, servers need to be able to explain to customers what to expect,” said Saunders. “No matter how you do it, flights of spirits and cocktails add something different to a menu and bring patrons in the door who will spend time eating and enjoying a sampling selection of fine spirits,” said Kelley. Editors’ note: Photos available upon request. Local examples available. Restaurants: Flatiron Lounge 37 W. 19th Street New York, NY 10011 (212) 727-7741 Sugarcane Bar and Lounge 243 Park Avenue South New York, NY 10003 (212) 475 9377 Rosa Mexicano (Selected locations) 1063 First Avenue at 58th Street New York, NY 10022 (212) 753-7407 61 Columbus Avenue at 62nd Street New York, NY 10023 (212) 977-7700 575 7th Street at F Street, NW Washington, DC 20004 (202) 783-5522 www.rosamexicano.com Django 480 Lexington Avenue New York, NY 10167 (212) 871-6600 Pegu Club (Opening August 2005) 77 W. Houston St., 2nd Floor New York, NY 10012 (212) 473-7348 Two Chefs 8287 South Dixie Highway South Miami (305) 663-2100 Distilled Spirits Council of the United States The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is a national trade association representing the leading brands of distilled spirits. Council member products include the full spectrum of quality distilled spirits such as Bourbon, Scotch and other whiskeys, vodka, gin, tequila, rum, brandy, cordials and liqueurs. The distillers take special pride in their products as well as in their commitment to encourage responsible beverage alcohol consumption by adults who choose to drink distilled spirits. If you choose to drink, be sure to consume sensibly and responsibly. Part of drinking responsibly is knowing that alcohol is alcohol. 12 oz. of regular beer, 5 oz. wine and 1.5 oz. of 80 proof distilled spirits contain the same amount of alcohol. For more information on alcohol equivalence, go to www.standarddrinks.com.