Beverage Industry Innovator of the Year
Few people have been more enmeshed in the food and beverage industry from birth than Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay, the founders of the New York-based Tippling Brothers. Tanguay grew up in a restaurant family, and Carducci is half Italian-American and half Southern. “So food was always the focal point of every gathering of my life,” Carducci notes. He learned to taste wine with his grandfather at age 12 and went on to waiting and busing tables in his teens.
“There is no better high than designing something to make people happy,” Carducci says about the food and beverage business. “The real pros all share a burning need to please people.” In the restaurant business, he notes, “you always have an audience,” while the bar business offers a whole other bag of tricks to make people happy.
Tanguay and Carducci met during the first year of the Beverage Alcohol Resource’s five-day program in 2006, when Tanguay was the corporate beverage director at New York’s Sushi Samba and Carducci was running the beverage program at the Pluckemin Inn in Bedminster, NJ. “We shared a common bond, were both intense about restaurants and wanted to cast a wider net,” Carducci says.
So they quit their day jobs and founded Tippling Brothers. The two have since worked with an estimated 50 operations and done brand consulting all over the world. They are also partners in the They are also partners in the Mercadito Hospitality Group of Mexico-and Spain-influenced restaurant concepts such as Mercadito, Barcito and Tavernita.
ROLL OUT THE BARREL
Tippling Brothers is reinventing cocktail service with a kegged cocktail system that has been part of the Mercadito Hospitality Group’s concepts from the get-go. Why kegged cocktails? They are “a way to serve great cocktails quickly,” notes Carducci.
Unlike barrel-aged drinks, these quaffs are fully created before they go into the keg, fresh juices and all. Keeping the drinks fresh and in balance requires selecting the right kegs and preservative gas. Carducci estimates that each location goes through two 50-liter batches per cocktail of the top drinks in a weekend.
Mercadito offers 10 different pre-kegged.cocktails, including sangrias, as well as 18 to 20 kegged wines.
The bar’s mixologists sell 23% to 24% more cocktails on a busy weekend night than they would be able to without the help of these kegged cocktails, Carducci says. That comes to an impressive 1,200 to 1,500 drinks on a busy evening.
He estimates that his three bartenders also earn close to 25% more with cocktails on tap; servers can sell more rounds as well, thanks to the kegged-drinks concept. It also allows each bar to operate with one less bartender on busy nights, although a bar manager is designated to oversee the kegging process.
What’s in store for Tippling Brothers in 2013? They just opened a Brasserie in Chicago called Little Market, which highlights charged cocktails featuring house-made carbonated mixers. Future plans include another dining concept that will be a “drinking garden,” a concept in Las Vegas, plus more new Mercadito openings.