good bar design
Bar Design
The best part about traveling for business is the ability to see all sorts of fun things in the name of research. The worst part about visiting an ever-changing assortment of restaurants and bars is a failed customer experience that could have been saved with slight adjustments to design.
While we won’t hand out our list of favorite bars, we are willing to share various ways that restaurants, drinking establishments, architects, and construction firms are currently applying these ideas into inspired design. There’s something here for everyone – from independents and fine dining to fast casual concepts and restaurant chains.
Here are our top six tips for building a better bar:
  1. Before adding small plates to your menu to increase the average ticket, think about investing in stools with a back so your patrons will be more inclined to stay longer. It’s a small investment that pays off by encouraging patrons to linger. 
  2. Give ladies a spot for their handbags. Purse hooks concealed under a bar help to fill your bar, because women won’t use an extra seat. And, in crowded spaces or captive venues, your customers will feel safer in your establishment knowing that their belongings are near.
  3. U-shaped bars will make your bartenders life easier and make for happier guests. From a central point in the U, your staff can hold court while serving multiple customers in a smaller space. Long bars, while less costly to build, require more employees to cover a similar number of patrons.
  4. Forgo the clunky Point of Sale station and equip your staff with technology. The iPad and various other tablets can integrate with your current software. If they don’t, consider an upgrade. Digital dining helps to streamline operations, expedite service, and might save you money by eliminating licensing fees or hidden costs.  
  5. If you are going to have dim lighting as part of the atmosphere, consider printing your menu with streamlined sans serif font. And limit your use of fonts on any menu to two (which should never include Herculanum, Papyrus or Lucida Handwriting).
  6. Add power before jumping on the latest trend that’s targeting Millennials. This generation – and others with money to spend – wants to plug-in (literally). Installing power sockets is a better investment for keeping patrons coming back again. It will likely drive your social media engagement, too. 
Pumpkin Spice
Pumpkin Spice Latte
So, what does the prevalence of pumpkin spice say about our culture?
1. Nostalgia pays off. In contrast to the retail backlash around marketing and decorating for the Christmas holiday, fall denotes warmth and nostalgia without any gift-giving pressure. And pumpkin-inspired, limited-time offers are up 234% from 2008 to 2012, according to Datassential Menu Trends.
2. Imitation is flattery. As if pumpkin spice candles weren't enough, there are a plethora of products to choose from to complete your personal pumpkinification, such as: M&M’s, Pringles, Hershey’s Kisses, Planters, Eggos, Jet-Puffed Marshmallows, Country Crock, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Bath and Body Works, and yes, even Glade Room Spray. The icing on the, pie...of proliferation came via a feminine care products spoof by Saturday Night Live.
Pumpkin Spice
3. Indulgences are in our nature. A slice of pumpkin pie has nearly as many calories as a 16oz. pumpkin spice latte with 2% milk, but who’s counting?
4.  The rules are tricky. It’s acceptable to launch some products early as long as there is customer demand and the item doesn’t have religious or date-dependent ties. Pre-promotion of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte in celebration of the popular drink’s 10-year anniversary had a domino effect within the industry starting in September.
 Pumpkin trends
5. Seasonality rules. Winter squash is harvested in autumn and is most likely native to Guatemala and Mexico and surrounding areas, dating back 10,000 years, according to author Kim O’Donnel.
6. Smell is a powerful sense. It’s not surprising that pumpkin spice tastes nothing like pumpkin. Hidden behind aromatic combination spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, you’d be hard pressed to pick a butternut squash out of a lineup.
7. Don’t jump to conclusions. Contrary to popular belief, pumpkin pie and definitely pumpkin spice do not contain your Halloween friend. Squash style pumpkins, which are sweeter, are best for pie filling. 
8. Brands Beware. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In addition to the SNL skit, there's a plethora of disdain for the commercialization of pumpkin spice, but you shouldn't blame Starbucks. The relationship with the flavor combination has evolved over the past ten years, and companies have followed suit. It's definitely time for product development teams to consider new alternatives. 
UPDATE: 11.21.13: More regarding #8... A writer for Slate spent a week on a Pumpkin Spice diet and lived to write about it. We love his commentary and would add that "special edition" has lost meaning altogether due to various marketing campaigns that don't really live up to expectations. 
Bar Agricole
Bar Agricole
In San Francisco, we were taken with the wine menu at Bar Argicole. Instead of listing each wine by color category, the menu highlights each unique estate. 
Additionally, each page includes a brief introduction. Here's an example: 
"François Chidaine makes Vouvray and Montlouis; the latter is across the river from its more famous sister. The wines in Moutlouis are a bit more rustic with lovely honeyed, nutty aromas and flavors. The bournais FDP comes from a section of the vineyard where the vines are planted on their own roots."  
We love how this is not just a clever marketing and communication tactic  but a merchandising tool for assisting the customer in understanding the breadth of the list and producer. 
Simple and Crisp
Simple Crisp
Some things are just meant to be. One day we spot a new product in the cheese department at Whole Foods and the next we’re introduced to the founder of Simple & Crisp through a friend.
Encouraged by friends who loved her pairings served with dehydrated fruit, Jane Yuan launched her newest venture this month (she is also the woman behind Seattleite) to enhance the flavors of sweet or savory appetizers, beverages, and desserts. And it's easy to understand why Simple & Crisp will resonate with customers — in addition to being a gluten-free alternative, the products highlight the evolution of DIY and preservation trends with seasonal minimalism.
Simple & Crisp
{photo: Simple & Crisp}
We love how Simple & Crisp celebrates Lessism and sophistication.
Something caught our eye at Bistro Ralph in Healdsburg, CA and it wasn't the charming room.
It was the unique astrology-inspired horizontally-placed VML black-and-white label which tells a whimsical story of the woman winemaker as sorceress — blending natural elements through rich black images within a utopian backdrop. The illustrations seem to move with the seasons as insects, flowers, and human kind are in sync with the planting calendar.
The visual story of the winemaker as a sorceress and the lovely Pinot Noir was riveting combination. Beyond compelling — we had to visit the winery.
{photos by The Dieline Wine & VML Winers}
VML Winery opened in April 2011 at the location previously occupied by Belvedere Winery owned by Bill Hambrecht and later C. Donatiello.  The winery is named for winemaker Virginia “Ginny” Marie Lambrix and is a partnership of Bill and Woody Hambrecht, Phil Hurst, Mark De Mawulenaere and Paul and Heath Dolan.
Ginny’s approach to winemaking is organic and biodynamic. In a 2011 interview in Wine Business, she was was quoted as saying “I do believe there is something more to the vitality of the estate when the person farming it is completely engaged. Biodynamics is a really elegant way to farm, and I think the wines that come out of grapes that are grown Biodynamically are more interesting.”
VML Winery
VML design
At the winery located on Westside Road in Sonoma County, the wine menu uses similar graphic elements. The tasting room, with large pounded brass bar, is a perfect backdrop.
The graphics for VML were created by Stranger & Stranger, a packaging design agency for spirits, beer, and wine based in London. Within firms website, the case study copy describes the inspiration for the collateral with cheeky humor: "Ginny Lambrix is a witch. Ok, she’s not a pointy-hat-broomstick kind of witch but she's a biodynamic winemaker and she does things with potions and skulls that just sound a bit too witchy. So we made her a label that was suitably worshipful."
astrology influencing design
As fashion continues to embrace the celestial trend, it's only logical that other industries adopt tactics and themes that already resonate with a design-conscious demographic. We love astronomical objects and the biodynamic philosophy with artistic integrity in a rich scheme.
bergamot alley
There's so much to love about Bergamot Alley — a charming, and decidedly streamlined, wine bar owned by former flour + water/A16 sommelier Kevin Wardell and partner Sarah Johnson in Healdsburg, CA.
Let us count the ways...
1. The shelving from the Healdsburg Machine Shop.
2. The 17-foot ceilings are finished in their original tin from 1896.
bergamot alley
3. Custom barstools from old school desks.
4. 1950′s hot dog bun baking tray bar table kickers.
bun baking kickers
5. Old vinyl on the record player.
6. A temperature-controlled cellar with a barn door entry; dubbed the “porn room”.
7. A wide selection of local draft beer displayed in a medical refrigerator.
8. A Jars & Tins menu of canned pickles, pates, and more. (coming soon)
9. Non-local wine. (from France, Spain, Morocco, Italy, and Greece-- in wine country no less).

10. The squid decal by Telluride, CO-based artist Nathan Frerichs.

Aldo Salon
{photos courtesy of butter London}
Aldo Salon, a pop-up concept from the shoe brand Aldo, has some pretty cool company on 15th Street for one week. The temporary space, right next to the main entrance at Milk, is poised to be the go-to spot for a beverage of your choice, indie magazine or a mani/pedi during New York Fashion Week. 

Inside, Butter LONDON has set up shop with waterless nail services and 3-Free lacquers in the seasons most coveted colours while Bleach London (clients include Florence Welch, Pixie and Peaches Geldoff, and Alice Dellal) rocks the epic “dip-dye” treatments.

If primping is not your thing, re-fuel at Blue Bottle Coffee or check out the Creatures of Comfort newsstand. There's a little bit of everything— from mags to VitaCoco; Proper Attire condoms to roll-up ballet flats; Luna bars to mini's of Kanon Organic Vodka. 

Open 10 am to 8 pm during NYFW.


Wine for Women shaped like perfume bottle

{photo: Food & Drink Europe}

Essentia Vitae, launched in Germany and Italy, is reaching out to female consumers by packaging its wine in perfume-like bottles. Marketed under the name Mazzetti d’Altavilla Essentia Vitae, the wine comes in three different varieties: No. 4 Ruche – jasmine scent, No. 6 Malvasia – rose scent, and No. 8 Moscato – violet scent.

Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics team has singled out the packaging as its “Innovation of the Week.” It does a global search to find out what it deems to be the most inventive food and drink products.

“While perfume-inspired wine may be an acquired taste, Essentia Vitae goes further than most to connect to female consumers,” said Tom Vierhile, director of Datamonitor’s Product Launch Analytics. “Its perfume-like packaging should break through the crowded product assortments that can often confound shoppers.”

While statistics show that women are the primary purchase influencers, we think it's going to take more than clever packaging to reach anyone who is uninitiated to the world of wine. Give ladies some credit. If the average woman can bargain shop a rounder of last seasons skinny jeans and navigate the vast isles of Costco, we're pretty sure they are savvy enough to explore a crowded assortment of wine.

This Chanel No. 5 knock-off stinks.


- The Alexander McQueen retrospective that just opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is the Costume Institute's most popular exhibition ever.
- Guerrilla gardening goes mainstream with the Kabloom SeedBom.

- Missoni is the next brand to partner with Target on a 400 piece collection to debut September 13, 2011. We predict a NYC event and/or pop-up to coincide with Fashion Week & Fashion Night Out.
- Catch the London Olympics fever before the Anglomania trend peeks: Stella McCartney unveils adidas Olympic collection in fashion film.

- The Southern California companies that outfit and customize catering trucks (or lease them out) enjoy a boom as the food truck trend spreads throughout the country.
- Innovative punches that will make your Granny blush.
- Startup Tabbedout, a platform that allows you to pay your restaurant or bar tab with a smartphone, has raised $3.7 million in additional funding from New Enterprise Associates to complete the company’s Series A round of venture funding, totaling $5.75 million.


- Hong Kong developer sees a future for more 'art malls' in China. Could the concept, dubbed K11, translate globally?

- London studio of Solve Sundsbo, known for a style of digitally manipulated imagery that could be described as a modern mannerism, captures the McQueen Exhibit and the mannequins are actually models.
- Bergdorf Goodman invites consumers to design and crownsource a Fendi 2Bag on Facebook.

- Pop Pub, a spinoff from NYC latenight favorite Pop Burger, launches this Friday and Grub Street has the details on new menu items that target three distinct dayparts.
- Karl Lagerfeld and Rachel Bison premiere their film shorts for Magnum Ice Cream at the Tribeca Film Festival.