Global Locality
{photo: DRINKmaple on twitter}
 
 
Maple water could be one of newest rediscoveries to hit the natural beverage market since coconut water.
 
Launching on May 12thDRINKmaple is the newest brand to offer "hydrating water with a hint of maple flavor contains fortifying vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, antioxidants, and prebiotics" with less calories than the coconut version.
 
We love when a company capitalizies on a trend by eliminating two negatives: waste of resources (coconut water is shipped halfway across the globe) and farmer exploitation (read Krista Mahr's Time article for a detailed analysis). 
 
Another trend confirmation for Global Locality
 
 
Ginger Roma
Ginger Rome
 
Just a few steps from Piazza di Spagna in Rome, we found Ginger, a casual restaurant concept with a healthful flare. The oasis for all things organic  fresh fruit smoothies, teas, soy-milk shakes, artful salads, and gourmet panini – was a delightful global food trend indicator in the middle of Rome, Italy
 
{photo: Ginger}
 
The busy bistro was bustling with fashionable Roman Millennials enjoying "the highest quality of gastronomy."  Waiting time was nearly an hour for a seat during lunch. 
 
{photo: Ginger}
 
Ginger's a great example of how global standards have risen in healthful foods due to consumer demand. The modern interior, streamlined graphic presentation, and passionate selection of ingredients speak to a conscious consumer that doesn't view good food as a luxury. 
 
 
Drink Addition
Drink Addition
 
Spicy and savory flavors are coming soon to Seattle with the launch of Addition – a range of outstanding cocktail infusions developed by two local beverage enthusiasts. Bartenders: please take note.
 
The proprietary seasonings, in flavors such as Pink Pepper, Tarragon, and Szechuan Pepper, transform your favorite well drink into something wonderful and astonishing. We’ve seen Whiskey Ginger in a new fresh and vibrant light with Tarragon and Thai Green Chili. And Scotch and Soda gain smoky and sultry depth with the Curry flavor Addition. 
 
The approach to customization is a genius one – as the raw materials are currently unavailable in the marketplace. And there are no issues with dilution rates or consistency because the products are all liquid based. Simply add as much or as little as you like because, you’re in control.
 
There’s more to come from Addition. Just wait to see what’s in store for your beer.
 
To be flavorfully continued…
 
good bar design
Bar Design
 
The best part about traveling for business is the ability to see all sorts of fun things in the name of research. The worst part about visiting an ever-changing assortment of restaurants and bars is a failed customer experience that could have been saved with slight adjustments to design.
 
While we won’t hand out our list of favorite bars, we are willing to share various ways that restaurants, drinking establishments, architects, and construction firms are currently applying these ideas into inspired design. There’s something here for everyone – from independents and fine dining to fast casual concepts and restaurant chains.
 
Here are our top six tips for building a better bar:
  1. Before adding small plates to your menu to increase the average ticket, think about investing in stools with a back so your patrons will be more inclined to stay longer. It’s a small investment that pays off by encouraging patrons to linger. 
  2. Give ladies a spot for their handbags. Purse hooks concealed under a bar help to fill your bar, because women won’t use an extra seat. And, in crowded spaces or captive venues, your customers will feel safer in your establishment knowing that their belongings are near.
  3. U-shaped bars will make your bartenders life easier and make for happier guests. From a central point in the U, your staff can hold court while serving multiple customers in a smaller space. Long bars, while less costly to build, require more employees to cover a similar number of patrons.
  4. Forgo the clunky Point of Sale station and equip your staff with technology. The iPad and various other tablets can integrate with your current software. If they don’t, consider an upgrade. Digital dining helps to streamline operations, expedite service, and might save you money by eliminating licensing fees or hidden costs.  
  5. If you are going to have dim lighting as part of the atmosphere, consider printing your menu with streamlined sans serif font. And limit your use of fonts on any menu to two (which should never include Herculanum, Papyrus or Lucida Handwriting).
  6. Add power before jumping on the latest trend that’s targeting Millennials. This generation – and others with money to spend – wants to plug-in (literally). Installing power sockets is a better investment for keeping patrons coming back again. It will likely drive your social media engagement, too. 
 
Pumpkin Spice
Pumpkin Spice Latte
 
So, what does the prevalence of pumpkin spice say about our culture?
 
1. Nostalgia pays off. In contrast to the retail backlash around marketing and decorating for the Christmas holiday, fall denotes warmth and nostalgia without any gift-giving pressure. And pumpkin-inspired, limited-time offers are up 234% from 2008 to 2012, according to Datassential Menu Trends.
 
2. Imitation is flattery. As if pumpkin spice candles weren't enough, there are a plethora of products to choose from to complete your personal pumpkinification, such as: M&M’s, Pringles, Hershey’s Kisses, Planters, Eggos, Jet-Puffed Marshmallows, Country Crock, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Bath and Body Works, and yes, even Glade Room Spray. The icing on the cake...er, pie...of proliferation came via a feminine care products spoof by Saturday Night Live.
 
Pumpkin Spice
 
3. Indulgences are in our nature. A slice of pumpkin pie has nearly as many calories as a 16oz. pumpkin spice latte with 2% milk, but who’s counting?
 
4.  The rules are tricky. It’s acceptable to launch some products early as long as there is customer demand and the item doesn’t have religious or date-dependent ties. Pre-promotion of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte in celebration of the popular drink’s 10-year anniversary had a domino effect within the industry starting in September.
 
 Pumpkin trends
 
5. Seasonality rules. Winter squash is harvested in autumn and is most likely native to Guatemala and Mexico and surrounding areas, dating back 10,000 years, according to author Kim O’Donnel.
 
6. Smell is a powerful sense. It’s not surprising that pumpkin spice tastes nothing like pumpkin. Hidden behind aromatic combination spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, you’d be hard pressed to pick a butternut squash out of a lineup.
 
7. Don’t jump to conclusions. Contrary to popular belief, pumpkin pie and definitely pumpkin spice do not contain your Halloween friend. Squash style pumpkins, which are sweeter, are best for pie filling. 
 
8. Brands Beware. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In addition to the SNL skit, there's a plethora of disdain for the commercialization of pumpkin spice, but you shouldn't blame Starbucks. The relationship with the flavor combination has evolved over the past ten years, and companies have followed suit. It's definitely time for product development teams to consider new alternatives. 
 
 
--
UPDATE: 11.21.13: More regarding #8... A writer for Slate spent a week on a Pumpkin Spice diet and lived to write about it. We love his commentary and would add that "special edition" has lost meaning altogether due to various marketing campaigns that don't really live up to expectations. 
 
Bar Agricole
Bar Agricole
 
In San Francisco, we were taken with the wine menu at Bar Argicole. Instead of listing each wine by color category, the menu highlights each unique estate. 
 
Additionally, each page includes a brief introduction. Here's an example: 
"François Chidaine makes Vouvray and Montlouis; the latter is across the river from its more famous sister. The wines in Moutlouis are a bit more rustic with lovely honeyed, nutty aromas and flavors. The bournais FDP comes from a section of the vineyard where the vines are planted on their own roots."  
 
We love how this is not just a clever marketing and communication tactic  but a merchandising tool for assisting the customer in understanding the breadth of the list and producer. 
Color Trends
Rose
 
Last week we realized that our Instagram feed was punctuated by a sea of pink tones. 
 
The biggest problem with trend forecasting is that sometimes you forget how much you love a color until it's finally arrived (more than a year after our initial report). Such is the case with a chalk-dusted pastel pink  which has become the new neutral in fashion and a sign of spring on global wine lists.
 
Rosé
 
We rediscovered rosé as a grown up version of "blush" many years ago in Paris but, it took time for the color to gain cultural relevance. Perhaps the hue has been damaged by a series of memorable pinks in the 1970s and 1980s, including Sutter Home's "White Zinfandel" and Mary Kay cosmetics. But consumers are finally willing to channel the iconic grace and elegance of Jackie Kennedy in the 1960s.
 
The cause/effect in the popularity of oxblood last fall sets the stage for a washed out pink as a counterbalance to statement pops of color. A milky peony is also a nostalgic ultra-femme alternative to overtly eager pinks that are so commonplace in the lingerie and teen market. 
 
It takes more than optimistic thinking to track and edit relevant trends before they're commonplace. Contact us to take the guesswork off of your plate. 
Shrub
Shrub
 
Bitters lovers beware. Drinking vinegars known as "shrubs" are finding their way into soda and cocktails across the country. 
 
Tart, acidic, and wonderfully refreshing, we put up pickled cherries to experiment with the ingredient last summer. Between then and now, shrubs went mainstream with craft cocktail enthusiasts and healthful beverage aficionados. Made from sour vinegar liquid syrup, shrub is a lovely addition to sparkling water or a mouth-pleasing new dimension when mixed with the liquor of your choice.
 
Read more about the history of this colonial-era sweet and sour syrup made from fruit, sugar, and vinegar here
Simple and Crisp
Simple Crisp
 
Some things are just meant to be. One day we spot a new product in the cheese department at Whole Foods and the next we’re introduced to the founder of Simple & Crisp through a friend.
 
Encouraged by friends who loved her pairings served with dehydrated fruit, Jane Yuan launched her newest venture this month (she is also the woman behind Seattleite) to enhance the flavors of sweet or savory appetizers, beverages, and desserts. And it's easy to understand why Simple & Crisp will resonate with customers — in addition to being a gluten-free alternative, the products highlight the evolution of DIY and preservation trends with seasonal minimalism.
 
Simple & Crisp
{photo: Simple & Crisp}
 
We love how Simple & Crisp celebrates Lessism and sophistication.
 
build a beer
{photo: Machine Project}
 
Here's a new spin on personalization from Machine Project in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. 
 
The art gallery is hosting an educational, deconstruction, and consumption class/event tomorrow to explore the distinctive flavor of various beers by playing around with different extracts, oils, and other flavors to create new styles on the spot. Home brewers Andrew Hong and Nick Clute-Reinig will discuss the different ingredients to create "beer magic" or turn a boring old pale ale into an IPA in a matter of seconds.
 
This hands-on approach to food events can work in many industries with minor modifications. Machine Project has already hosted a series of classes and workshops on a variety of skills from bookbinding to welding.
 
We love this new take on informal education – which combines DIY with storefront retail as a 501c3 non-profit corporation.