All posts by Leroy Woods

Cocktails and Food

Expert Guide: Cocktails and Food Pairing Essentials

Pairing food and drinks is one of the essential skills every experienced bartender should possess. While this is an art and a science that are taught around the world in the most prominent bartending schools, keep in mind that it takes time, trial and error, and plenty of innovation and experimentation for you to develop your personal style and your unique way of pairing food and drinks. That said, when it comes to cocktails, things start to get more complicated.

Every aspiring bartender can learn how to pair wine with cheeses and appetizers in general, but given the fact that cocktails boast unique flavor tones and that they can be composed of numerous ingredients, pairing them with food can seem like a daunting task. After all, it only takes one wrong ingredient to ruin the entire experience, which is why pairing cocktails with food and devising the right cocktail for the occasion is a nuanced art form.

Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you learn this skill if you are to become an amazing bartender that bar owners, professional caterers, and clients will fight to book for their events. That’s why today, we’ll be taking food and drink pairing to a whole new level, by giving you the essential rules to pairing cocktails with food and how to innovate new flavors for every occasion, along with some actionable examples to help this information stick. Let’s get to it. 

Match the flavors of the cocktail and the dish

Matching cocktails with food might be an art, but the majority of artwork can be broken down, analyzed, categorized, and given a scientific framework. In other words, you can’t just pair the cocktail with the food, you have to analyze every ingredient to figure out if the individual taste notes it brings to the experience match the dish in question. You can also reverse the process and analyze the dishes on the menu to see if their ingredients match the ingredients of the cocktail. Remember, you have the option to innovate cocktails and food for the occasion, but if you’re just starting out, it’s better to work with something that already exists.

We’ll touch on the subject of contrasts in the next segment, but for now, let’s stick with matching flavors and nuances. Obviously, you can use sweet and light cocktails to complement a desert, for instance, but you have to be mindful of the alcohol content (stick around to learn about that as well) and the amount of sweetener you’re going to put in both. Use the same mindset for savory, zesty, and heavy flavor groups.

Depending on the nature of the gathering, you will want one of the two to be the accent, and the other to be the backdrop. For example, if you’re organizing a cocktail party, then the cocktails should boast the accent flavor, while the appetizers and spreads should add to the experience with their subtle notes – and vice versa.

Cocktails and Food

Use the cocktail as a strong yet delicious contrast

On the other end of the spectrum, you have the contrasts. Typically, it will be the cocktail that will serve as the contrasting accent, because you wouldn’t want the food to surprise the taste palate – your cocktails should achieve that “wow” effect, because after all, you are a bartender. With that in mind, start by analyzing the body of the drink, and the type of food that you’re supposed to serve. If you are working with heavier foods (meats with starchy carbohydrates and vegetables, for example) then go ahead and serve a light, slightly-zesty cocktail to make the meal a bit lighter as well, and allow your guests to stay refreshed and feeling energized.

Following a similar mindset, a good contrast to a light lemon-basil and ricotta spread would be a good old Martini, or a Manhattan better yet – the bitters interlaced with whiskey and sweet vermouth will make the dish a bit heavier and enhance the taste. If you are making spicy food, then be sure to contrast the base flavor with a light cocktail like a French 75, which will perfectly contrast the spiciness with its refreshing lemon zest and a hint of cooled gin.

Don’t be afraid to innovate flavors

The sooner you start stripping cocktails and dishes down to their base ingredients, and the sooner you start analyzing all of these subtle flavor notes, the faster will you become an innovator in your field. Sure, people love to see the tried-and-tested cocktails and dishes on the menu, but if you want to leave your mark as a bartender, then you should have a few cocktails in your repertoire that are purpose-made for a specific dish, or a set of entrees. This is something that every aspiring mixologist needs to learn how to do nowadays, because bars and event managers are looking for innovators as much as they are looking for people who know the traditional recipes by heart. 

Whether you are based in an overly-competitive market like New York or not, you mustn’t be afraid to innovate flavors. Now, there are a few steps to this process, so tend to the following:

  • Create a theme for the event, and know your audience.
  • Gather the individual ingredients that you believe go with the theme.
  • Make a list of well-known cocktails and dishes that you have to have on the menu, and set it aside.
  • Use the dishes as the foundation for your new cocktail recipes – the cocktails need to match or contrast these flavors.
  • Start experimenting with different ingredients, making sure to note down even the slightest of differences with each ingredient you add to a drink.
  • Keep in mind that this is not a one-person job. Gather your friends and family for a taste test, but don’t forget to invite a couple of your professional colleagues as well.
  • Compare your notes with the feedback they give you, and don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board.
  • Remember to give yourself plenty of time for this process, because you can’t hope to innovate cocktails two nights before the big event.

Cocktails and Food

Complement the dish, don’t overpower it

When you’re trying to enhance the flavor of a dish, meaning that the dish is the foundation of the experience and the cocktail serves as a subtle accent, you must remember who is in charge – the dish, not the cocktail. This means that the drink needs to retain a supporting role, so it’s flavor must not overpower the taste of the dish itself.

For example, you wouldn’t want to serve a cocktail that is heavy in its whiskey notes such as a Highball or the overly-complex Vieux Carre with something that has a very specific note such as oysters, but you would want to serve such a cocktail with a good steak. Remember, let the food influence the flavor of the cocktail, not the other way around. Otherwise, you’ll ruin a perfectly good steak.

Make a cocktail more interesting with aromatics

When in doubt, use more garnish. That was obviously a joke, but there is some truth to the fact that aromatics like herbs and accents such as olives and onions, lemon and orange slices, and the like can help you make a cocktail more interesting and memorable without actually adding any more ingredients. This is a good way to stay on the safe side when you’re innovating, for example, because you wouldn’t want to add an ingredient that will ruin the dining experience.

Instead, you can simply add a raw garnish to the drink, or you can muddle the herbs together to infuse their notes into the base of the cocktail – and by extension, the dish itself. You can also experiment with proprietary aromatics such as sprays and tinctures to achieve the desired effect. 

Cocktails and Food

Pair regional ingredients in cocktails and food

Typically, but it’s not a rule, regional ingredients tend to work wonderfully when paired in cocktails and dishes. An obvious example would be a tequila-based cocktail paired with a mole sauce dish. Both originated in Mexico, so their common geographical origin gives them a complementary taste note – not just literally, because guests will love knowing the fact that you are using regional ingredients. 

This is a simple yet effective way to pair cocktails and food, but also to innovate when you know that you have to come up with new cocktails for a themed party, or a seasonal party, like a summer cocktail event, for example. With that in mind, be sure to research the region, and try to use ingredients native to that part of the world.

Don’t go overboard with the alcohol content

Last but not least, as a great bartender, your objective should be to inspire everyone to have a great time, not to get wasted. The goal here is to let people enjoy themselves and try as many of your wonderful creations as they can, but without actually ending up under a table in an hour, which is why you need to know when someone has had enough and advise them to try some water for a change. But that’s not all you should do.

As a good bartender, you need to control the alcohol content of every drink. The alcohol in the cocktail is there to give it its unique flavor, not to make it a hangover bomb. If the organizer is serving a five-course meal, and there is a cocktail for each, then your job is to make them as light yet memorable as possible. The easiest way you can control the amount of alcohol people consume, is to serve your cocktails in two or three ounces. 

Wrapping up

Pairing food with certain drinks may not be that difficult, but pairing food with cocktails can certainly be a challenge even for an experienced bartender. Take the time to digest all of this information and don’t be afraid to experiment and innovate, and you should have no problem becoming the bartender that everyone wants for their event.

Business Lunch Menu

How to Select Menus for Business Lunch Events

 

If you’re the one responsible for organizing a business lunch event, especially with your potential business clients, it’s crucial that you do everything by the book and show just how serious and professional you are. Basically, this lunch will be the first sign that will tell your potential clients whether you’re worthy of cooperation or not. That said, it’s important to take every step of the lunch event organization seriously and attentively. 

Choose the right place

Depending on the type of occasion and the number of people involved, you’ll have to find the perfect place to hold your business lunch event. More often than not, the best options include restaurants and venues that already have ready solutions for the menus. However, if only a handful of people would be attending the said lunch, it might be better to opt for a smaller and more comfortable place such as your own home, a gallery, smaller café, and maybe even your office reception hall. 

Business Lunch Menu

The go-to buffet

In case you want to introduce a more casual vibe to this lunch event, especially if you consider this to be the right move for your party, a buffet might turn out to be the most effective option. A buffet allows easy eating with mostly finger foods as well as networking among the guests. Buffet basics include mixed greens for salads, potato salad or fries, fruits, different types of small sandwiches as well as sweets such as brownies or cookies. Still, if you know that one of your business guests follows a specific diet, remember to include those diet options to the buffet as well. 

Themed lunch options

In case a buffet seems too casual for your business lunch event, you want to impress your business guests with carefully catered food. For instance, you can always opt for themed lunch menus as these can be very effective if you take into consideration the origins and preferences of your guests. In that respect, you have different options such as American, which have to include burgers and fries; Italian with pasta, pizza and Tuscan-style chicken; Asian with spring rolls, noodle dishes, rice, and so on. Of course, keep in mind that these themed menus will benefit from appropriate appetizers and desserts, too.

Business Lunch Menu

Build your own menu

If you really want to impress your guests during this lunch event, you want to opt for the “build your own menu” option. Thanks to professional catering companies in NYC, you won’t have to waste too much time on this particular task. Not only will catering services allow you to show your own company in the best light possible, but they will also bring out the best food options for you and your business party. Keep in mind that you’ll need a three-course meal option. Appetizers should include green and fruit salads as well as soup. Entrees should include a meal with chicken, pork, beef, or salmon, a rich salad such as Caesar salad (with chicken, bacon or vegan options such as mushrooms) together with side dishes such as rice or potatoes. Popular dessert choices are commonly cheesecake, chocolate mousse and ice cream pie.

Box lunch solution

You might want to focus on your business meeting and go through your agenda for the day in a very professional and work-based manner. In this case, you’ll leave the best impression by providing a couple of different options for box lunches. With a box lunch, you’ll all be able to keep the subject of the meeting in mind without much swaying from the main objective. A box lunch should always include several options such as turkey, roast beef, ham, and vegetarian sandwiches/wraps, fresh fruit, chips and a cookie as well as condiments with napkins and plastic utensils. 

As you try your best to come up with the perfect business lunch menu, don’t forget about beverages. Ditch the alcohol, but make sure that soft drinks, bottled water and juices, coffee, and tea are all set.

How to Start a Successful Restaurant

How to Start a Successful Restaurant

  1. Have the right intentions

To have a successful restaurant will first of all depend on your attitude and passion towards it, as the owner you have to love your business. For any business to b successful, one has to invest a lot of money and time. You should not just open a restaurant just like any other business that you just hope to make money, invest in it only if you have a strong passion. Before starting your business, there are a number of factors that you will have to consider, you have to decide well on the type of furniture that you will have in your restaurant and the thyme, your restaurant aesthetic and the general layout of your restaurant

  1. Have a well-designed business plan

The second important thing that you will have to consider is a well-structured business plan. A good business plan will define your success. Start with a clear and simple plan that will make your implementation process easy and simple. A business plan will be the precious document that you will be regularly referring to when operating your business, it is this plan that will tell is you are progressing or making losses.

A business plan for your restaurantA business plan for your restaurant needs to be compressive enough to include all the information concerning your marketing plan outline, market research, all the information concerning your competitors and an attainable financial and budget.

  1. Location of your restaurant.

Location of any business is always critical in determining the success of your venture. The location is supposed to be in those areas that are densely populated or crowded, easily accessible and has the potential for future development. Location is everything in starting a business,

  1. Test your menu

 Train your employeesConduct a thorough test of your menu by organizing a dinner for your friends and prepare for them meals featuring your desired menu. Get honest feedback from them to get what they think you should adjust on your menu.

  1. Hire essential help

Get a dedicated team that will foster the growth of your restaurant faster. Hire a professional manager that has experience in doing the same kind of business to help you implement your business plan well. Take your time to get the best and willing cooks, servers, dishwashers, and other staffs.

  1. Train your employees

You should have a proper training mechanism for all your new employees. This will make your employees be well knowledgeable in their area of specialization which will mean quality and timely services for your restaurant clients

  1. Do proper marketingDo proper marketing

Intensive marketing is another thing that plays a critical role in the growth and sustainability of a business, you can’t always rely on o repeated customers you have to always get in new clients. Have a strong marketing team on all social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to advertise your restaurant to a broad segment of people.

How To Plan and Organize Your Event In Our Restaurant

How To Plan and Organize Your Event In Our Restaurant

You should first tell us the number of people that are coming for that event so that we can arrange for everyone to find a space within our restaurant; we do not want our guests to get wet when it rains. We would advise that the guests should arrive at different times rather than all arriving at once hence leading to overcrowding which is not pleasant.

RestaurantIf the group is large, we recommend that you allow us to make it simple for you by bringing a buffet, we will be glad to offer you fork buffet which is less fuss on the day than the finger food, which will need you to heat the nibbles up in a continuous manner as well as passing them around to other people. You can opt for a cold fork menu, this is because it can be easily prepared than the hot one, in addition, it can also be prepared in advance giving you ample time to talk to your guests.

We have big and enough equipment for cooking for our guests, we have enough serving dishes, the plates as well as glassware, so the number of guests should not worry you; we can handle it because we have what it takes.

RestaurantTell us the date for your event so that we can prepare in advance, if it means getting an extra workforce then we can do so only when we have the exact date of the event. And when coming up with this date, we advise that you be aware of the religious holidays, keep off from school holiday dates, and also you have to check the dates which your key participants will be present; these are people like the presenters, the speakers and VIP guests.

Tell us the purpose of the event so that we can make necessary decorations that go in line with the purpose of the event, you do not want us to bring in an academic theme whereas the event is a wedding reception event.

Inform us of the types of food you and your group would like to have, this will enable us to prepare that food in advance if it is supposed to be prepared, the good thing is that we always maintain the hotness of our foods even when serving, we care so much about food safety and that is why before we can cater for a large number of people, we consider some of the food safety measures, we do not want our guests to go back home complaining of stomach upsets.