By Len Panaggio
April is upon us and, while winter has officially come to an end, besides the dreaded Tax Day, it’s a rather uneventful month. There is, of course, Easter Sunday, when many head out with family, and there is Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts, when many Bay Staters make the trek to Rhode Island for their three-day weekend, but there isn’t much to bolster business in the way of big events.
But it is a good time to get ready for May, when we’ll benefit from Mother’s Day, first communions, graduations and more, so I’d like to discuss the items at the bar that we all take for granted but are necessary to deliver products to our guests: glassware. When was the last time you analyzed what you have and whether they are meeting the needs of craft cocktails, beers and wines?
I am sure that all of you are experiencing a great demand for martinis, whether they are the Classic, the Dirty, the Lemon Drop, the Watermelon and especially the Espresso martini and Manhattans. Bourbon Manhattans and traditional Manhattans have also gained in popularity once again.
Does your martini glass measure up to the demand, not only in volume but appearance and, most importantly, durability? Remember, these glasses are stemmed, so breakage becomes an issue. We don’t need to add to the cost of doing business by having a poorly selected stemmed glass. Do you have enough on hand at any given moment to satisfy a full bar and dining room? Running out of glassware on the floor forces bartenders to rush, and, as we all know, haste makes waste.
Next, your beer glass. What are you using? A basic glass, which is not stemmed and stacks for storage behind the bar, or the tulip beer glass, which can hold up to 16 ounces? The latter are primarily used to serve strong ales, often poured in eight-ounce servings as a precaution, as those beers sneak up on you!
I know a lot of places have downsized from a 16-ounce glass to a 14-ounce beer glass in order to hold the price. At first glance, this doesn’t look all that different, but upon further inspection, your guest may ask. I am not a big fan of changing portions; I would rather raise prices, as the consumer knows full well that everything in our industry is costing more and that we have no choice but to pass along those increases.
Moving right along to wine glasses. All you really need is a Chablis glass, a Burgundy glass and a dessert wine glass. Notice, I have omitted Champagne glasses. The Champagne houses are asking we use Chablis glasses, as they allow for the wines to better express themselves.
Lastly, use this relatively slower time to test your bar staff for pouring in advance of the busy spring and summer seasons! Free pouring is a great feature at a bar, but it needs to be monitored. Pouring beer without a head costs money; for wine pours, consider using an etched glass with a six- or nine-ounce line or decanters to limit waste. It all adds up.
Len Panaggio’s career in food and wine spans more than three decades as an owner and as a beverage director at some of the top restaurants in Rhode Island. Currently a hospitality consultant, Len is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and has attended the Culinary Institute of America Master Sommelier program and the Sterling School of Service and Hospitality.