Cocktail Bar Essentials: Amaro

20 Apr

[Taken from Colonial’s Weekly Newsletter]


You know things are changing quickly when we have a whole section that almost no one knows about.  In the middle picture you see our small but growing amaro section.  And they are becoming a staple at many bars that do great mixology (although I often enjoy them on their own).  But what is amaro?  Here is Wikipedia’s definition which I think is spot on:

Amaro (Italian for “bitter”) is an Italian herbal liqueur that is commonly drunk as an after-dinner digestif. It usually has a bitter-sweet flavor, sometimes syrupy, and has an alcohol content between 16% and 35%.  Amaro is typically produced by macerating herbs, roots, flowers, bark, and/or citrus peels in alcohol, either neutral spirits or wine, mixing the filtrate with sugar syrup, and allowing the mixture to age in casks or bottles.

Not all amaros are Italian, and some common examples include Becherovka and Jagermeister.  There is also a style of amaro called “fernet”.  Fernets tend to be more sharply bitter and the most popular one “Fernet Branca” has a strong mint component.  If you read these emails often, you will know that Fernet Branca is one of my favorite things in the world.  But recently I have had the clove-driven Becherovka and the classic Amaro Montenegro, and they are fantastic.  I highly recommend the Amaro Montenegro to make The Reanimator, which is complex on the palate but very easy to make.


The Art of the Infographic

13 Feb

Here is a nice short about using visual design as a way of interpreting difficult-to-understand data. For something as complicated as the world of drinks, this bears some careful consideration.

11 Feb


The sake section is growing up. And before the quarter is over we should have two new importers on line.

Managing Choice

3 Feb

At Colonial we deal with many thousands of items; and it is no secret that this is very intimidating to customers.  In this TED Talk Sheena Iyengar gives a great overview of the negative impact of too many choices and also provides solutions for managing those impacts and keeping customers engaged.

Web Design Search Begins

9 Sep

It is long overdue, but finally we are searching for a team to redesign our website.  Now for the tricky part: what do we want?  I think answer will be something along the lines of “similar but better”.  Really we could do more with what we have, but there are some fundamental changes that need to happen as well.

If you have found your way here and also happen to be a web developer, contact me here.

Our site is built on Joomla, Zen Cart and WordPress, but we are not married to any particular platform.  Still, knowledge of those is a plus.

Also a plus: mobile app development.  We need that, too!

Sake Strategy

1 Sep

Welcome to our sake section. It’s not much to look at, yet!


Since coming back from New York and having passed the Sake Professional Course Exam, I have made it my mission to get this section in top shape, possibly expand it, and additionally grow the market for sake in Central Arkansas. Here are a few thoughts on how to do that. (And a big thanks to the folks at Sakaya and the British Sake Association for their input on this!)

Bottle Size – immediately the first problem with the picture above the predominance of 300ml bottles. I strongly believe that 300ml bottles are the wrong size for retail. Why? Well look at every other bottle in your store or the store where you shop. I’m going to guess that 95% of them regardless of category are 750ml bottles. It is a size customers are comfortable with. If your customer has any desire to split a bottle with multiple people (which is very likely if it is their first time trying sake), 300ml just does not look like enough. No one wants to try a glass of something they really enjoy, and then have to drive right back to the store they were just at to get more.

Start making the transition to 720/750ml bottles. Do have some 300ml bottles available, but I firmly believe a more standard wine bottle size will be more successful. Continue reading

Beginning Our Mobile Strategy

29 Aug

We may be a little late to the party, but today our mobile strategy officially begins with a very simple Foursquare deal.

If you follow Gary Vaynerchuk in any capacity, then you have already heard how vital a mobile strategy is for practically any business.  Everyday I see more customers walking the aisles with smartphones in hand, looking intently at an app or bookmarked webpage that they are using to shop.  Over the next month or so, it is a major priority to become part of that experience, and this Foursquare deal is the easiest way to start.

If you have not tried this out, it is very easy.  And you’ll be surprised about the level of engagement you may already have from your customers.  It took me about 10 minutes to set up this deal, and it was free.  Talk about a low barrier to entry!

Next for our mobile strategy will be using QR codes.  I can’t wait to show you what we are doing with those!