Where did publicans vacation In 2019?
Have you ever wondered where publicans go to unearth fresh ideas?
PubTIC has crunched the numbers and Emma Castle reports on where publicans have been travelling to get inspired.
Based on the analysis of data from 112 PubTIC newsletter reports in 2019, the leading destination for publicans is the USA, with California, Washington, Texas, New York and Colorado the most visited states.
Beyond that, the UK is the second most popular country, with New Zealand, Greece and Indonesia running close behind.
So what are publicans going to see on these international fact finding missions? And where should you go if you want to stay abreast of global trends in hospitality? Read on to find out.
When people think of the USA, they think of honky-tonk bars, TGI Fridays and Hooters, but there is so much more to this nation of 327 million people.
From the Disneyland theme parks of California and Florida, to the national monuments of Washington DC and New York City, the USA’s drinking culture is as varied as its states.
In a nation that loves over-the-top seasonal events, align your visit with Super Bowl weekend, Halloween, Thanksgiving, St Patrick’s Day or Independence Day if you want to see America at its most festive.
Failing that, be sure to check out a basketball, ice hockey or baseball game, and lay your liver on the line for Mardi Gras in New Orleans, around the gaming tables in Las Vegas, and in the live music venues of Austin, Texas.
So where should you go to get your hospitality hit?
Craft beer: Portland, Oregon, has over 75 breweries – more breweries than any other city in the world. That’s why it’s called ‘Beervana’. So if you’re keen to check out beer trends, including bizarre additives like bull’s testicles (yep, it’s a thing) and beard hair, Portland is the place to do it.
Cocktails: The French Quarter in New Orleans has the widest variety of cocktails. Forgiving the fact that Southern Comfort was invented in New Orleans as a way of masking foul tasting hooch that had sailed down the river to the bayou State, this part of the city is where the Sazerac (the official cocktail of the city) and the Ramos Gin Fizz first saw the light of day.
New Orleans will see you work your way through tiki cocktails brought back to the states by returned WWII servicemen, but don’t assume the Hurricane is one of them. This tiki favourite was actually created in New Orleans. Southern favourites like the Mint Julep and the Old Fashioned are readily available and you can even avail yourself of a slushie daiquiri if no-one is looking.
Wine: It’s obvious to say California because it’s home to Napa Valley and this is certainly an ideal place to try Cabernet Sauvignon – 40 per cent of land under vine is devoted to this varietal – but Chardonnay and Zinfandel are also local favourites.
If you want to go somewhere less well-known, hit the tasting benches in Washington State (not to be confused with Washington DC). This region has as many square hectares of vineyards as Napa Valley, and is also known for Cabernet Sauvignon, but the main difference is climate. Napa is sun-soaked and Washington State is much cooler, resulting in completely different wines.
Food: New York is the number one place to visit to research food trends. Fickle New Yorkers churn through everything from pop-ups to Michelin-starred restaurants without a second glance. If a food trend survives the ‘test of fire’ that is New York City, you can rest assured it will take flight in Australia.
Many of the food trends in New York are interpretations or twists on dishes from other countries. For example, catch-your-own sushi, bao-gels, spaghetti doughnuts and burrata ice-cream.
Legal cannabis: Colorado is the best place to go if you want to get a little Rocky Mountain high. While it’s unlikely that Australia will decriminalise marijuana any time soon, it’s interesting to explore the hospitality culture that has cropped up around the 2014 legalisation of the drug. There are catering companies that specialise in the munchies, and there are some pubs, cafes and clubs where public consumption is legal. There is even an International Church of Cannabis in Denver where you can smoke weed during the Sunday service.
New York-style Spaghetti Bagel
Bang for your buck
The strength of the US dollar vs the Aussie dollar means the conversion rate is roughly AUD$1 = USD$0.65c. The only good news is that eating (and drinking) out in the US is relatively cheap compared to Australia because of the lousy wages and subsidised food prices. And hey, it’s tax deductible if it’s research, right?
The United Kingdom is the birthplace of the public house so it’s little wonder publicans are drawn to this corner of the world.
Pub culture in the UK is closely tied to heritage and tradition but there are certain aspects from which Aussies can glean new ideas.
Gastropubs first appeared in the UK, and trends such as boutique ciders and destination pubs with high-end accommodation have filtered down to Australia from our British friends.
So what should you check out if you’re heading to Ol’ Blighty on a research mission?
History: The oldest pub in the UK is Ye Olde Fighting Cocks in St Albans. It was established in 793AD (although its licence only goes back to the 17th century) and is about 30 kilometres from London.
Literary fame: The Jamaica Inn in Launceston was immortalised in Daphne du Maurier’s eponymous 1936 novel; The Spaniards Inn in London gets a mention in Bram Stoker’s Dracula; The Newman Arms is the ‘proles pub’ in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four; and Davy Byrne’s in Dublin appears in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
Celebrities: The Grapes, in Limehouse, is co-owned by Sir Ian McKellen (aka Gandalf in Lord of the Rings), and The Walmer Castle in Notting Hill is owned by David Beckham and Guy Ritchie. While you are in the neighbourhood, head to Bertie Blossoms on Portobello Road to hang out in the pub owned by Ed Sheeran.
Live music: If you’re keen to introduce more live music into your venue, head to Dublin. While Dublin is famous for poets, many of those poets are making a living writing lyrics. Ask around to find a ‘seisiún’ – an informal ‘session’ where musicians get together and jam.
Bang for your buck
If you’ve spent any length of time dining out in Sydney pubs you won’t get price shock in most of Britain except for the higher-end gastropubs in London.
On the radar: Hotspots loved by publicans
Crack open a Tui, sip on an L&P or stick your nose deep into a glass of Central Otago Pinot Noir.
Our Kiwi neighbours do hospitality particularly well in tourist towns like Queenstown, Waiheke Island near Auckland and Lake Taupo.
Publicans have a soft spot for Greece. With local tavernas serving tapas-style dishes, ouzo and Greek beer and wine, what’s not to love? The popularity of Mediterranean cuisine has been growing in Australia. It supposedly helps you live longer … holidays on beautiful islands can’t hurt either
While mainland Indonesia is primarily Muslim, the islands of Bali and Lombok tend towards Hinduism, which permits alcohol consumption. Hence, the islands do a roaring trade in beach clubs, from family-friendly places right through to ultra-stylish places with international DJs and celebrity chefs.
The pub scene is an amalgam of British and Australian-style venues with a dash of Asian flavour. It’s not uncommon to stumble across AFL and cricket matches being screened in pubs, as well as Tooheys, VB and XXXX in bottles behind the bar.