Master Mixologist Joaquín Simó Explores Seasonality Behind the Bar

Joaquín Simó on Seasonality Behind Pouring Ribbons' Bar

When most folks think of seasonality it’s normally in preparation of Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall; but when consumers, more specifically foodies, think of seasonality it is usually in anticipation of pumpkin spice lattes or breast cancer pink cookies. At Symrise we are constantly looking for ways to innovate and that means going beyond the scope of normal. It also means not only looking for inspiration within, but outside of the box — our box being the food and beverage space. To do that, we teamed up with Brand Genetics to interview eleven experts spanning several, very different industries to get their take on seasonality in hopes of guiding you on your path to being informed, inspired, and innovative.

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Joaquín Simó, co-owner and mixologist at Pouring Ribbons in NYC is no stranger to Symrise, he sat down with us earlier in the year to talk about his life and cocktails. We invited him back for another round of questions, this time focusing on seasonality.

What is your process for coming up with and sharing ideas?

My process is relatively open. I use a whiteboard — throw out a lot of ideas, see which ones most engage me, what could apply for multiple seasons, and what has a varied amount of content related to it so people have different aspects to feel attracted to and research. I have a moodboard on Pinterest with visual references that I share with the staff. I create and share google docs for ideas and recipes and I like to have an idea of what people are working on so we’re not duplicating efforts by doubling up on ideas.

Tell us about seasonality in the bar space.

Depends on the market, NYC has seasons, but mid-fall to early spring (November to April) the farmers market looks exactly the same. California is completely different, they have citrus.

In NYC the struggle is to find much more inspiration it is harder to find something and to make it special. Seasonality is not outdated, but after a couple of menus it is harder to motivate customers in that way. The best tasting drinks have to do with the best ingredients and those are the ones in season. Citrus is at its peak in January and February so sours are on the menu!

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For events like Valentine’s or Halloween, maybe we do a one off for that night, rather than fit it into the permanent menu.

What are your thoughts on what attracts customers to a bar?

Every time a consumer returns into a shop they are reminded/bombarded with options, so in a sense they are primed. They don’t know why, but they want to try something new because they are spoon fed to try it. That’s the benefit of unrelenting information overload — reposting or re-tweets — are also doing some of the priming.

Give people an easy in, they’ll be more likely to try something on the menu because it spikes a memory. Smell is another thing that gets people, it bypasses everything in the brain and heads straight for memory and emotion. Without your brain realizing, it brings you back to a specific time and focuses on a vivid experience.

The biggest takeaway from this series of interviews is that seasonality is about about novelty (think charcoal ice cream), flavor (pumpkin spice latte), functional benefit (plant-based everything), association (gingerbread cookies during Christmas), excitement (unicorn frappe), and priming (marketing). It is also a reflection of our world — weather, time of year, ingredients, locales, cultures, etc. Seasonality can be a good product development tool with the right balance of market curation and experimentation. At the same time, it can be expensive and hard to pull off without a healthy balance of change and stability.

This series is backed by our Seasonality Initiative where we help our customers develop pipelines of new concepts and flavor ideas for the seasons and major holidays. If you have questions or would like to learn more about our initiative please contact us.

RELATED: Interview With Mixologist, Joaquín Simó, Pouring Ribbons, NYC

Images courtesy of Pouring Ribbons' Instagram (@pouring_ribbons).

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