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Despite an interest of specialty cocktails in restaurants, there are probably a few lonely bottles of timeless aperitifs on your backbar that haven’t been touched in months. That’s a shame, because Lillet, Pernod, Punt e Mes, Cynar, and fino Sherry are perfect before-dinner drinks, filled with classic flavors that inspire the taste buds for the meal ahead.

Añejo rums are smooth and luxurious. These aged rums have more in common with Cognac and Sherry than they do with their light rum, un-aged counterparts. They are elegant, sophisticated spirits best appreciated in a brandy snifter.

To ensure heightened wine sales now and for years to come, it would be wise for hospitality professionals to create sales-building programs that cater to these extremely stable—and thirsty— consumers.

All restaurateurs would agree that controlling food costs is a primary constituent of any winning operating formula. Culinary schools cover the subject in detail, and self-taught chef/owners develop a working system or quickly go out of business. At Toulouse and Portofino, my restaurants in Atlanta, we’ve developed a method of costing out each menu item plate we serve.