The Wine & Spirit Trends Appealing to Today's Sophisticated Drinker

Today's consumer isn't only more educated when it comes to food sourcing, they are also more knowledgeable when it comes to wine and spirits. They are looking for unique liquors, spirits, and flavors that can't be found on every bar menu.

This demand for more elevated spirits has fueled the handcrafted cocktail trend. With that in mind, beverage menus are only getting more sophisticated.

On the IOChangeMakers live stream, we sat down with two beverage experts–Cassie Sakai, wine director and lead sommelier for Girl and the Goat and Alan Beasey, beverage director at The Purple Pig to see what types of beverages guests have been ordering the most.

"Right now agave spirits are all the rage and not just tequila. Mezcal had a little surge there, people were really into mezcal. But now we are also starting to see things like raicilla and sotol coming into the picture," says Beasey.

Gin, vodka, whiskey, and tequila will always remain favorites, but today's guests are adventurous and are looking for something new or even something popular from the past.

"Amaro had its moment and now people are like 'what are we going to do next?.' It's about sourcing things that are limited production. I have been seeing really cool old fashions with vintage ingredients," says Sakai.

Watch the clip above to get more insights on the latest spirit trends. Want the full video? It's available exclusively now for On-Demand members. Learn more about Foodable On-Demand now.

Boston Beer Company and Dogfish Head Announces $300 Million Merger

Two publicly traded beer companies Dogfish Head and Boston Beer Company will be merging into one massive beer business.

Last week, the companies announced that they had agreed to a $300 merger deal where the Dogfish Head co-founders Sam and Mariah Calagione will receive about 406,000 shares of Boston Beer stock, making them the largest non-institutional shareholders. Boston Beer founder Jim Koch remains the largest shareholder.

Dogfish Head shareholders made $173 million in the deal and in 2020, Sam Calagione will be joining the Boston Beer's board of directors.

The Samuel Adams’ brewer Boston Beer is the second largest craft beer maker in the U.S. and Dogfish Head is the 13th, according to the Brewers Association.

“This combination is the right fit as both Boston Beer and Dogfish Head have a passion for brewing and innovation, we share the same values and we will learn a lot from each other as we continue to invest in the high-end beer category,” said Koch in a press release.

Koch and Sam Calagione discussed the deal back in February at the Beer Advocate’s Extreme Beer Fest in Boston while sipping on pints.

“We talked about how challenging the industry is getting, the indie craft definition, brands that consumers think are indie craft, active lifestyle beers, and we discovered how beautifully complementary and not competitive our portfolios were,” said Koch.

Dogfish Head is expected to sell 300,000 barrels of beer this year, with net sales of about $120 million. The company is only expected to grow significantly with more resources under Boston Beer. Dogfish Head current sales team that is only about 25 percent of the size of Boston Beer’s.

This isn't the first time the companies have worked together either. About eight years ago, the companies partnered to brew a collaboration beer for the annual SAVOR craft beer event.

Learn more about this big beer merger at "Brewbound."

Whenever a craft brewer sells or gets acquired, this often inspires a debate amongst craft beer lovin' consumers. Watch the video below to learn more.

How This BarChef Mixologist Makes Cocktail Magic

BarChef, a cocktail bar in Toronto, Canada doesn't just have bartenders, they are more like gastronomic innovators.

The cocktails served at this bar are meant to ignite the imagination and are truly multi-sensorial.

On the past "Across the Bar" episode below we visited BarChef to speak with and to watch Frank Solarik, co-owner and mastermind of the Toronto gem, work his magic as he prepares some of the bar's whimsical cocktails.

The bar has jars lining the bar containing over 5,000 oz bitters used as ingredients in the beverages.

Solarik and his team take a culinary approach to mixology, hence the name “BarChef".

“We put as much passion and care into these dishes as a chef would," says Solarik in the video below.

He was also inspired early on by chefs in the kitchens he worked at.

“One of my jobs was to finish the plates downstairs in the kitchen and working with the chefs, and I was totally amazed by the passion of everyone that was on that team and just the beautiful product that was going out of the kitchen, and the reaction from the guests and things like that,” says Solarik. “For me, it was a turning point in my life. I was just like, ‘I need to do this for a living.’”

Each cocktail is a piece of art.

The Night Blossom cocktail, for example, is made with cacao, chartreuse branch, maple and almond orgeat snow, mint and chartreuse, violet, bourbon, patchouli, Amaro, maraschino, rosemary, and balsam fir and honey. Then it is served with chopsticks and a ramen spoon.

Watch the episode below to see Solarik create this innovative cocktail, along with two others. Also, watch to learn what inspires him to craft these one-of-a-kind recipes.

Why are CBD Edibles Being Pulled Off Restaurants in Some Parts of the Country?

Across various parts of the country, health department officials are asking restaurants to voluntarily pull CBD-infused foods and drinks off menus.

The latest local and regional governments that have reportedly taken steps against CBD are New York City, California, Texas, and Ohio banning the substance from restaurants and retail stores.

For example, according to the New York City’s official government website, beginning July 1, New York City restaurants that don’t comply with the CBD ban voluntarily could be embargoed of their CBD products by the health department... and by October 1, officials “will begin issuing violations to restaurants and retailers for offering CBD-laced foods and drinks. Violations may be subject to fines as well as violation points that count toward the establishment’s letter grade.”

CBD, or cannabidiol, which derives from cannabis, doesn’t cause the psychoactive effects for the lack of enough THC—the compound that gives people the “high” sensation.

In fact, CBD proponents claim the substance is mainly used for its therapeutic benefits helping people relax, ease pain, anxiety, insomnia, and even depression.

Despite the fact that not many studies have been done on cannabidiol in human trials, as pointed out by a recent New York Times article, we are seeing an immense amount of CBD products being sold across the country, with Walgreens as the latest retailer to announce plans to sell creams, patches, and sprays in nearly 1,500 stores in select states.

So, why is it being pulled out of the restaurant space, specifically?

Although, the farm bill that was passed in December 2018 legalized industrial hemp in the U.S., this only means industrial hemp was removed from the controlled substance category. Anything that is put in foods and drinks has to be regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and, as of right now, CBD is not determined safe or effective for other health conditions aside from being an active ingredient in an approved drug that treats two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.

The FDA regulations are something different and there’s a huge push from lawmakers to change this.

Since there is no federal law specifically addressing CBD-laced edibles, some states, like Colorado and Maine, have already attempted to clarify the status of the substance by passing laws allowing the addition of CBD to food, as reported by Reuters. California and Texas have introduced bi-partisan legislation to do the same, as reported by the Associated Press.

Last week, the FDA slated the first public hearing to take place May 31 to discuss how to regulate CBD food and beverage products.

In the meantime, here at Foodable, we are tracking the latest in this arena:

In a podcast episode of Chef AF, Chef Brandon Foster shares with us a personal anecdote about how CBD has positively affected a local farmer to The point where this person wanted to dedicate the rest of his available land to grow hemp for the CBD industry.

In an On Foodable Feature episode, our host Layla Harrison breaks down for our audience some of the CBD-infused products that have stood out from the rest.

And in a Barron Report podcast episode, we learned about Azuca— a company offering CBD and THC products ranging from edibles to sweet syrups.

We expect to continue hearing about ‘Culinary Cannabis’ and its impact on the restaurant business and society as a whole. so, stay tuned for more interesting content!

Toronto’s Bar Raval Serves Cocktails with a Barcelona-esque Atmosphere Morning, Day and Night

Foodable Network is always looking for bar concepts that offer unique beverage experiences. Bar Raval in Toronto, Canada is unlike any other.

When you walk in, you feel as though you have been transported to the Spanish resort town, San Sebastian. This is no accident, either. The name Raval is a nod to the Raval neighborhood in Barcelona.

The bar is standing-room only and was custom design by the Toronto-based architecture and design studio Partisans Projects.

The bar's structure is truly a masterpiece with gaudi-esque wood panels and rich mahogany millwork.

“Bar Raval was an opportunity for us to use advanced digital methods to reinterpret—not replicate—classical Art Nouveau tropes for the 21st century,” said Alex Josephson, Partisons co-founder, as reported by "archello."

The one-of-a-kind structure is all part of the bar experience curated by the owners.

“We wanted the space to be just like the experience — very organic,” said Robin Goodfellow, part owner of Bar Raval. “You come in, it’s like a warm hug from a tree. We’ve heard people say it looks like the inside of a tree’s heart.”

Guests are immediately wowed by the atmosphere, but what about the cocktails?

In the "Across the Bar" episode below, Goodfellow gives us a taste some of the handcrafted beverages served at Bar Raval.

Since the bar is open morning and night, the concept offers beverages like the Mal Gusto, a popular morning beverage with sherry and Cocchi Americano, a quinine-laced aperitif wine produced by Giulio Cocchi.

Watch as Goodfellow displays his bartending mastery by mixing three of Bar Raval's most popular cocktails in the video below.