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This is 2020: Part 6

This is 2020: Part 6

Five cocktail & beer trends to raise spirits on both side of the bar

I’m a Brooklyn-based beer and spirits enthusiast and I love it when bars and restaurants get things just right. Here are some trends I’d like to see continue into 2020 and beyond.

Corporate goes craft

Independently owned bars will always be my go-to for cocktails with local flavors, but smart corporations are starting to trust their employees to know their territory. Take hotel bars, for example. Long a guarantee of just-good-enough cocktails, you now have an excellent chance of getting a truly artisanal drink thanks to programs like Crafted by Westin, which charges bartenders with creating local and seasonal recipes—including non-alcoholic options.

The plastic-straw void will be filled, but it won’t be cheap

It’s good that disposable plastic straws are on the way out, but I miss them, because they worked better—and cost less—than any of the options vying to replace them. But here we are, so … paper straws? Get ready for tipsy customers who know it’s a race against time before they’re useless. Edible sugar straws are popping up in flavors like strawberry and ginger, but they’re a no-go with some vegans, thanks to the use of bovine jelly. Grass, wheat and other alternatives exist too, but the future is most likely in reusable straws. Whatever shakes out, get ready to factor the higher cost into the drink.

Sweet beers are getting serious

For years, brewers have added chocolate and fruit flavors to beers, but 2020 is when they go from good to great. Brewers like Brooklyn cult favorite Other Half are making imperial stouts, weiss beers and other styles with ingredients straight from your favorite sweet shop. Their $100 Soft Serve Sour boasts blackberry, vanilla and soft-serve ice cream, while Raspberry Frozen Swirl Crun Chee has raspberry, coconut, maple, and more.

“Pastry stouts, milkshake IPA’s and fruit-forward offerings have definitely been growing in popularity over the last couple years,” says Chris Riley, beverage director at Jake Melnick's Corner Tap in Chicago. “Brewers have done a great job dialing in their process and making more consistent and stunning offerings.”

Forget your troubles, come on, get app-y

The craft beer movement is made for social media, with a constant flow of new brews needing to find their way to drinkers. Apps like Untappd allow brewers and bar owners to announce releases while letting drinkers track their favorites, check in to venues, and more. While operators grumble that they cultivate a one-and-done mentality, it’s an opportunity to get visitors to stay for another round, a flight, or a perfectly paired food option.

It’s 9:00 a.m. somewhere

Today’s flexible schedules mean happy hour is whenever you want it to be. Enter spots like Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, which will happily serve you a Morning Marg or Orange Snoozius in an environment that blends roadside diner with upscale cocktail lounge. Tapping a new day part for booze is a risky proposition, but with an expansion underway, it seems the time is right to break free from the 5 p.m.–4 a.m. shift.


  • Author: Victor Ozols
  • Posted: December 12, 2019
  • Categories: Trending Now
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