Could Someone Else Please Clear the Air?

In a most unusual all-in action, the New Orleans City Council unanimously approved a no-smoking ordinance, applying a ban on use of tobacco and faux-tobacco products at bars and casinos. Enforcement of the new ordinance has been assigned to business owners and patrons, possibly creating a form of anarchy that could only happen in New Orleans. No cops, just cocktail infused citizens. “Yes, you are going to jail for lighting up, but first let’s have a Harvey Wallbanger.”

The most likely outcome of the new ordinance, besides clean air in an alcohol-laden atmosphere, will be the clogging of the sidewalks outside of bars in the Crescent City with tobacco-needy bar denizens creating clouds of smoke through which everyone, not just those who thirst, have to pass. Obviously a desire of the Council is to force everyone to go inside the bar in order to breathe smoke-free air. This is a key component of the Council’s infamous business development program, which heretofore had been kept at Double Top Secret status.


Thank You, I’d Love a Drink of King Cake

It was just a matter of time, and the only question was how good was it going to be, but again this year, PJ’s Coffee locations are offering King Cake flavored coffee. And it’s really good.

While PJ’s could have gone too far into the sweet range and ruined the whole concept, instead they have opted to take the topic seriously, using a base of excellent coffee, roasted to perfection, and infusing the beverage with the flavors of a cinnamon King Cake, a food on which most true New Orleanians can live. Needless to note, the coffee contains not a single Carnival color nor does it have a “baby.”

PJ’s carried this concept to the next level by also creating a traditional, in the New Orleans sense, King Cake, with both cinnamon and cream cheese flavors, which pairs beautifully with the coffee. Should you wish there is a package of several small personal King Cakes, along with several helpings of King Cake coffee that will have that away-from-home New Orleanian scrambling for plane tickets to return to Carnival.

King Cake coffee and King Cakes are available at all PJ’s Coffee locations but only for a limited time. When Carnival is over, so are the featured coffee and the cakes.


Zigging When They Should Have Been Zagging

Part of the issue in working with products that take years to come to market, like wines and spirits, is planning. Distillers and Winemakers have to “crystal ball” their livelihood and guess who is going to want what, and how much, years down the road.

Distillers were caught short by the current Bourbon craze because when the product was placed into barrel 3 to 7 years ago, there was no rush to Bourbon from a thirsty public. Winemakers, particularly Champagne houses, were making projections of sales in the midst of a recession when demand had softened considerably.

Not only were there wild-ass-guesses (WAG in technical accounting jargon) as to how much to make but also there was a certain “where” factor. China was looking like a pretty attractive market to many product managers in Europe and California.

That sound you recently heard was likely a collective “ooops!” from corporate executives going over the cliff from which the Chinese market has fallen. New tax regulations changed the Asian landscape and suddenly more traditional markets regained their luster.

But not all traditional markets are shining. Europe is experiencing a lingering hangover from the recession coupled with strict enforcement of strict driving-under-the-influence laws, a double whammy.

Fortunately for manufacturers of distilled and fermented products America has taken a “Well, okay, if you insist” attitude. The United States is not only the largest wine consuming nation on earth in total sales, but also qualifies in that category in spirits. Finally, we have decided to shed our Puritan heritage and rush headlong into that happy place of adult beverages. New Orleans has been there for quite some time. (That last piece of information probably did not need to be stated.)

Importantly for distillers and winemakers, it appears the good ole’ US of A is in this happy consuming place to stay. Projections point to solid and sustained growth for the foreseeable future.   

Remember, as we always say, enjoy wines and spirits responsibly.