The Nightclub & Bar Five Star Awards honor beverage professionals who are raising the bar for the entire industry. During the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas, we recognize the creativity and business savvy of on-premise operators and off-premise retailers who were nominated by members of the Nightclub & Bar Advisory Board and the editorial and conference teams.
The winners in each category were selected based on the number of nominations received and a review of their programs and initiatives by the Nightclub & Bar team. Congratulations to all!
Best Casual Dining Beverage Program
As part of the Project RevO’lution rebranding launched in 2006, a beverage initiative from Nashville, Tenn.-based O’Charley’s hit the bar last year with new flavors and ingredients. A sharp menu with vivid drink photography and snappy text entices patrons at its 230 locations to sample specialty cocktails such as the Cotton Candy Cosmo or an inventive alcohol-free libation. The well-rounded beer selection and two-tiered wine offerings present a range of options, while extensive staff training and recipe standards ensure knowledgeable servers deliver consistent drinks. The new menu sparked a positive sales trend, and the innovations continue.
On-Premise Promotion of the Year
Live at LongHorn
Three country music stars teamed up with three hot brands for the Live at LongHorn promotion held at the chain’s 308 locations. Jake Owen partnered with Cazadores Tequila, Luke Bryan teamed with Jack Daniel’s, and Dierks Bentley was paired with Bud Light. Owen and Bryan performed live at select LongHorn locations; featured brands were served in special drinks; and signed memorabilia, tickets to shows and meet-and-greets were given out to attendees. A sweepstakes involved a trip to see Bentley perform in Atlanta. POS, including souvenir glassware and t-shirts, drew attention to the promotion, as did information in check presenters, menu inserts and an online campaign. The comprehensive effort resulted in 1,500 cases of souvenir glassware going over the bar, 2,500 sweepstakes entries and increased sales of the featured beverages, for a program that drove traffic and built brand awareness and sales for all involved.
The Art of Mixology
Cleveland Browns Sunday
Public House, Cleveland
Mixologist of the Year
Proprietor, Flatiron Lounge & Clover Club
New York City
Reiner began her career in the cocktail lounges of San Francisco and made her way to Manhattan in 1997, where she sparked the interest of King Cocktail himself, Dale DeGroff. She began installing beverage programs in some hot spots around Manhattan and by May of 2003, she opened her own gourmet cocktail venue, Flatiron Lounge. As co-owner and beverage director, Reiner drew much of her inspiration from her native Hawaii by utilizing the freshest fruits and quality spices and spirits in her original cocktails.
She has been elevating the cocktail scene in New York City ever since, opening Pegu Club in 2005 with partner Audrey Saunders. Her latest venture, Brooklyn’s Clover Club, focuses on classics and pre-Prohibition cocktails, and furthers her signature style of superior quality and green market ingredients. A sought-after speaker, Reiner regularly presents at industry events, sharing her knowledge of bar and beverage operations, cocktail development and the craft of the cocktail with those who share her passion.
Company Mixologist, William Grant & Sons USA
Master Mixologist, Southern Wine & Spirits of Illinois
Director, Academy of Spirits & Fine Service of Illinois
Retailer of the Year - Tie
The flagship BevMax store in Stamford, Conn., with its hardwood floors, wide aisles and attractive display shelving, belies the discount pricing and strategic merchandising techniques that drive sales and profits. BevMax management, led by CEO Michael Berkoff and President Diego Loret De Mola, employ cutting-edge inventory control, category management, shelf set designs and customer feedback mechanisms to satisfy customers’ needs and entice incremental purchases. Those learnings also are applied to the five additional BevMax stores in Connecticut and New York, as well as to the A&P supermarket chain and other retailers to whom BevMax serves as a consultant. Breaking out of the bricks-and-mortar model, BevMax’s online business is growing, while in-store events and resources help patrons shop, select and pair wine and spirits with their favorite dishes. State-of-the-art technology and systems, combined with old-fashioned good retailing practices, fuel BevMax’s growth.
Lee’s Discount Liquor
Las Vegas, Nevada
With 13 stores and four more on the way this year in the Las Vegas area, Lee’s Discount Liquor is billed as the largest retailer of spirits, wine and beer in Nevada. Founded by Hae Un Lee, who emigrated from South Korea to the U.S. in 1980, Lee’s philosophy is volume purchasing that allows for discount prices. Large-format stores offer a broad selection in all spirits categories, with depth of brand offerings designed to engage patrons and encourage exploration. Lee’s also is recognized for its large beer selection, including major label and craft domestics along with popular and unique imports. In-store tasting of new releases, recipe kiosks and party planning resources also keep customers coming back, driving positive sales trends for the family-run operation.