Alright guys, welcome to another episode of live with the cork in the road and I'm Kelly. I'm your wine Explorer here in Atlanta, Georgia and I am chatting with people who are shaping the southeast wine industry.
Hello, welcome to the A Cork in the Road podcast. I'm your host Kelly based in Atlanta, Georgia, and this is Episode 119, the second to last episode of 2023 and today's show takes us into the parallel world of cocktails with my guest Francis Coligado, the beverage director for a Restaurant Group here in Atlanta, which includes two locations of one of my favorite restaurants in the city Del Bar. They specialize in Middle Eastern cuisine and Francis has been on board since day one when they opened the Inman Park location of del bar in 2020. He says it was a leap of faith to take this new role, though after bartending for 15 years, but we talk about the aspects of management that he really enjoys and how he is continuously learning new skills every single day while also fostering creativity among his team. They recently received recognition in Atlanta's first Michelin Guide, so we explore how this might impact the beverage program scene here in Atlanta going forward. And while most widely known and nationally recognized for their cocktail program, I have always been so impressed by their wine list. So it was really fun to talk to Francis about the process for designing a wine list that complements and highlights their Persian dishes and such a wide variety of herbs and spices. He definitely gives a shout out to all of his distributors who have helped him learn so much about wine in this role. Talking to talented bartenders from a wine perspective, though is fascinating to me because we speak a similar language. When it comes to flavors and textures and the concept of balanced a cocktail specialist palate is trained to notice nuances in very similar ways to those of us who study wine. So I loved hearing Francis tell me about how he approaches making cocktail recommendations to someone who typically drinks wine. Let me know what you think of this conversation. And I hope it sparks your curiosity to try something new this holiday season. I'll definitely be heading to del bar to try that eggnog that Francis mentions at the end of this episode as one of his go to holiday beverages. Speaking of the holidays, there are a lot less events on the calendar for a cork in the road, LLC so I can spend a little more time with family and friends. But thank you so much to everyone who came out to all the events we had this fall because it was a huge year for not only the podcast, but for creating opportunities for wine exploration and designing so many educational events. It really is a privilege and an honor to run this business and I can't thank you enough for making it possible. There is one more huge event on the calendar though so you don't want to miss this if you will be in Atlanta on Sunday, December 17. And that's the first ever Sommlympics competition that I dreamed up with Chelsea of the oenophile Institute, teams of three wine professionals have been signing up to compete in service, theory, and tasting events and I think they're only two teams spots left so make sure you sign up if you are interested in competing and the link to purchase spectator tickets can be found under the Events tab on www.acorkintheroad.com. And you can also see all the prizes that are supported by our generous sponsors posted to a highlight on my @acorkintheroad profile on Instagram. The grand prize is an epic night in Tampa sponsored by the Epicurean hotel who's giving hotel rooms to the winning team who can then walk across the street to Bern's Steakhouse and spend their $1,000 gift certificate sponsored by Ross Knoll vineyard, La Fete Wine Co, and Branca USA - all companies who already support what's happening here in the Atlanta wine scene and really encourage education for our industry. It's been the coolest thing to be able to put this all together so thank you all so much. I'm really looking forward to this event. So until the 2023 finale episode of the podcast releases on December 13, drink some amazing wine, enjoy learning about cocktails from today's episode, and please take care of yourself finding joy wherever you can right now so cheers and talk soon.
Fun fact - I am not one 100% sure But I think I'm the only Francis Coligado in the entire world in the world
like in the whole wide world?
The only Coligados that I know and every time I like Googled my last name everything comes from the Philippines. It's from one small area in the Philippines as well. So I'm I don't know I think I'm the only one in the world.
I'm gonna say that you are, I'm gonna believe it. I love it. Well, thank you so much for being the only Francis Coligado that could ever be on this show.
Absolutely, I appreciate you. Thank you for having me on.
Appreciate you being excited about it because I just randomly messaged you and you were totally up for it. So I don't know why you said yes, but thank you so much.
You know I saw it I was like Sure. It might be a mistake. It might not be but you know what? I'm gonna jump on board.
Oh, not a mistake at all. I love what you are doing with you and your team with the restaurants. And I notice creativity in a bar program when I see them. So I noticed what you were doing. And I appreciate every time I come in. It's a fun place to be, huh?
Oh yeah, it's super fun. It was, it was, I love the fact that the owner Fares, he, you know, he had faith in what I could do. This is my first beverage program ever. I've been a lead and a couple of places, you know, but nothing that really was my own. So it's really, really interesting and a lot of fun. There's a great learning experience.
Learning something every day will keep you excited about your job, at least a little bit. I think that has something to do it that when I posted that you would be next on the show. I got a DM from someone that said Francis, and I quote is Atlanta's Best Bartender hands down - end quote
Oh, that's amazing.
Have you been told this before?
Oh I have been told this before. But there are several several great people out there, especially now here in Atlanta. It's like, it's a great time to be in this industry here in Atlanta. So, yeah, there's several of us out there.
Yes own it, own it that someone said this and it might not be the first time. But that makes me wonder what to you makes a great bartender. What would make you say that about somebody?
You know, it's funny, a lot of people like think it's gonna be you know, great drinks, if they're able to put on a show, but really is just about that guest experience really, just to be able to give a guest what they want and just make them feel something, you know, I think that's really the most important thing, like just having that good, good connection with the guests. If I gave them a great experience, that's really what what drives me in this industry,
having that good time. And if you're talking to somebody and providing an experience is really part of your job behind the bar, I totally get that. But what are some of the skills that you think had been key to your success in your longtime career, I mean, many, many years behind the bar
Really it's funny, I haven't been well organized in my like personal life, like when it comes to maintaining my house or at school, like keeping my notes in check. But when you're behind the bar, really, that mise en place is really, really key, just having everything where they're supposed to be, it looks great to the guests to have all everything set up to where it needs to be, especially when it's busy as well. So definitely, it's definitely like keeping well organized and just, you know, keep an open mind. So people get your ego out of the game, you know, they're not here to see, they're not here to see you there. They're there to have a great experience. And it's our job to you know, provide that for them.
I like that you were talking about the not organized in the rest of your life. But behind the bar, that's your number one goal. And that would make you successful when you enter a shift is being organized like that.
I feel like I'm like my best my best self when I'm behind the bar. Like that's not the best version of myself. That's where I like feel at home, feel my true self. So the second I stepped into the bar, it's me. And the second I step out of the bar, I'm like, Oh, God, what's going on?
That little bubble? Just stay in that as long as you can, don't leave. I like that. But you are constantly thinking about that experience. And probably also what you're concocting behind the bar, like what you're making is also really important But after all these years, and I'm thinking about now, your role in Atlanta, where are you finding inspiration when you're developing a drink a cocktail? Are you getting your ideas from travel from nature from media? Where did these ideas come from?
Oh, really, it's it's everything really. When I'm walking down the BeltLine, I see trees, I smell something. Usually it's really culinary driven. I taste some food, or I get inspired by other people's drinks. I think for the past five years, they've all been culinary books and cocktail books. Just finding inspiration that way. Working in a Middle Eastern restaurant, I'm like, I get access to all these different spices and herbs. And we try and do things all around the Middle East as well. Not just Persian Cuisine. So just having access to all those different spices, like I love to smell something and like, oh, this will go really well. And maybe a pina colada riff or something like, you know, taking that something that's very familiar. And doing a little twist on it that fits our brand is something that's so so much fun. I can I can put my own style to it as well. So yeah, it's really, really interesting. I have a great bar team. We have full creative autonomy back there as well. I know that's something that's really really important, especially when I was just you know, a bartender, just having a creative output was super important to me. And they all have their own their own different styles as well. So just being able to combine that is awesome. Some of my favorite things like really nostalgic stuff as well. I have this idea in my head where I you know the rocket, the rocket pop popsicle. Yeah, I don't have any flavors into this but I know exactly what it's going to look like. But I'm just waiting for the perfect opportunity to I just want to make a bright blue drink with a bright red cherry. Just something really cheesy, but have it like just tastes amazing. I don't know, I just you know, I find inspiration with everything.
You're really walking down the Beltline and someone might be like, Oh, Francis is having a cocktail idea right now that actually can happen?
Oh yeah, go down and find the King of Pop you know find all their all their flavors I'm like this this this probably could work I can probably put a little twist on this
And tapping into our nostalgia How dare you that's gonna make people emotional at the bar, tapping into our emotions and seeing our souls. That's what you're doing with these flavor combinations. You said the experience is key to being a great bartender. So if that's already front of mind for you, and it sounds like it's your own experience too. But what would you say is the most unexpected but delightful combination of flavors that you have put together?
So um, my style is I like to split base spirits. So usually, like, when it comes a cocktail, there's like one base spirit. So like, for example, like a whiskey sour has, you know, whiskey as that base spirit. What I would like to do if I were like tweaking something, I would maybe make it a whiskey and say I want something just to touch a more herbaceous or maybe split base it with a gin. Right? So you get that oakiness. And then you but you still have that floral aspect as well. Something I don't know, something fun for spring.
Got it. Okay, so you're combining things that aren't typically even other bartenders in a classic cocktail. You're switching that up even?
Yeah, absolutely. I guess one of the most unique cocktails that I've put together for for del bar is is probably one of my favorites. Honestly. It's called the Golden Palace. We split base Mezcal with gin. And then we do some carrot juice. And it's got zatar and thyme and coconut cream. So it's like this beautiful riff on like a pina colada. It's almost like a carrot Coolatta. And it's nice and creamy. It's, it's it's refreshing, nice and herbaceous and has that touch of smoke. It's, it's honestly one of my favorite cocktails that I made. And this is bright, creamy orange color. It just looks so beautiful as well.
How did you dream this one up?
I really, I was I wanted to do something with Zaatar. And thyme together. I love that savory element. But it was summertime and I was looking at the menu, I was trying to balance it everything out and I needed, I wanted something a little bit tropical. And somebody came in drinking carrot juice. I was like, Oh, I love the color of it as well. So I just kind of put it together,
there's a light bulb moment, a light bulb moment because of someone carrying carrot juice. This is pretty awesome. And that can happen to you at any moment. So you're always looking around to your nature to people to the atmosphere of what possibly could happen with the flavors. I think that's such a cool thing with cocktails. And you are a beverage director for a restaurant group with multiple locations. So we just kind of sped into where you're currently working in some of the flavors that you're around. But how would you describe these programs to people who might not be familiar with del bar with Bibi - what sets y'all apart?
So we're modern Middle Eastern cuisine. I think right now, Atlanta if not the not the United States is we're seeing this like big Middle Eastern boom in the industry. It's so hot right now. I know several friends that are opening up, you know, Turkish restaurants, Middle Eastern restaurants. And it's awesome to see I worked at Rumi's in the past. And that's how I met the owner. I've been I've been eating this cuisine and working this cuisine for a really long time. I mean, it's just a modern take on it. Me and Fares have both worked at Rumi's for a long time. More like traditional Persian Cuisine and me and Fares are I don't know a little bit more modern. So we we wanted to do our version of it. This has been really, really fun.
And it is so popular here. Okay, Francis, because it's one of my favorite places to go and take friends when they're in town. How far in advance right now, do I need to make a reservation? Because it's usually pretty difficult how far we lookin?
for you not very long.
Good answer. It's always so busy when I walked by the Inman Park location, which is the only place I've been I know you have a few other locations now. But the last time I was there, not only was it super busy, and it's always got this great energy and there's smells you talked about being around the spices and the herbs and everything. You can have that experience when you're dining there. But also last time I was there I sat across from Francis Ford Coppola, no joke, how often are you starstruck because I was pretty starstruck there
Yeah. I've been like I said, I've been a bartender for are almost jeez saying out loud makes me feel old but almost like 15 or 16 years. And I've seen my my fair share of celebrities and also I say that they're normal people like in my head, but honestly, they're not really normal people you know? it's so interesting because you see them and you feel like you know them because you see him all the time. But they don't know anything about you. How often am I starstruck? Not very often really, I try to treat them like every other guests then. And those particular guests kind of either need to be kind of set aside and you know, make sure that no one bothers them. But there was one time I really, I really couldn't help myself and Harrison Ford came in and it was amazing.
Oh, was he filming in Atlanta?
He was filming in Atlanta. I grew up on Star Wars Indiana Jones. So I feel like I kept it together. But in my head, I was freaking out.
Oh, obviously. Do you remember what he ordered?
It was late at night. He was drinking mezcal, which is you know, it's amazing.
So a man of your heart. This is such a picture in my head right now. It's its own movie. I'm watching this at Del Bar unfold. But it is that's the energy in that bar. Yeah, it's a range of people in Atlanta, it is a little microcosm of the community I love so much. That's what I see happening at this restaurant. So you're doing something really cool to create that type of energy. And you have been in the service industry for a long time. Well not that long. I mean, you're not you're not that old. Just long enough. You know some things. What is something that you're learning now, though, in this role? You said this was the first time in that beverage director role for you? So what is something that you're learning now that you didn't know, before? In all of your years.
Yeah so a lot of my time behind the bar in this industry has been, you know, behind the bar. So really creative side, and no problem with that, you know, and that service side, not a problem. But now that I'm kind of more outside of the bar, outside looking inward, really managing people is probably one of the hardest things there is to in this industry. I mean, this industry there's so many different kinds of people, right. So there's a lot of a lot of big personalities, you have to manage guests and staff, you know, so really managing people has been the thing that I've learned the most. And also the admin part that a lot of paperwork, a lot of paperwork, I have a lot of I have a lot of people that I've trained in moving up into management roles, which is awesome to see in this part of my career that now I have people that I've trained personally, as a bartender, now moving up into manager roles, and I tell them learn Excel, learn Excel, please. I'm not one of those people that learned Excel very well, during this, but my, my beverage manager just now got promoted to AGM in Inman Park, he is excellent at Excel. And he's amazing at it, the things he can do on that thing is, it's, it's incredible, it would have made my life a lot easier in the doing this position. So learn learn Excel, people,
you heard it here, first, Atlanta's Best Bartender, he's telling you, he's telling you learn it. But then Okay, so maybe so maybe it's not necessarily your favorite part is all the admin work because I know how much you like being creative behind the bar. But what is your favorite part about this current role with the multiple locations and all the people you get to work with?
you know, it's funny, I kind of do like the admin part, it's, you know, it is a struggle for me, because like, every ounce of my body wants to go back there, you know, I want to be in the thick of everything but being able to take a step back. And when I was a lead I knew the numbers on a basic level, but really getting into it on a multi restaurant level. And you know, having those goals, I love learning new skills. And I mean, this is just another skill for me to learn and grow in this career. So really, the admin part is cool. But also like, back then, when I was bartending I wasn't really able to go to many like trade shows and everything. So that part is a lot of fun to like, the networking part of it is, is awesome. Just being able to build a community here in Atlanta, when it comes to you know, beverage wine, cocktails, you know,
you're stepping into it with confidence, the appreciation of learning, something you didn't know how to do before will get you very far. If you are open to learning new things, which I know you are, then a role like this will just exponentially help you grow. And in your bio that you sent me I was laughing because he mentioned even specifically in just describing your current path to where you are now you mentioned that leaving previous roles to take this one was a risk. And I have to ask how so how so why Why was this the biggest risk for you to take this job?
Biggest risk? Well, maybe a year prior to I took this job. I was working on becoming a lawyer. I come from very, like traditional Asian family. So there's only a few options that were supposed to be available to me, you know, doctor, lawyer, accountant, engineer. Both my parents are doctors. I have a huge extended family and all of my cousins are in the medical field. So when it comes to family reunions, um, all my Auntie's are like so you work in a restaurant. I'm like, yeah. So when I moved to Atlanta, I was working on becoming a lawyer. And I was working at cooks and soldiers at the time. And I realized, you know, this could be my career like, I've been doing this for 15 years. I love it. Like I said, I find my true self is behind the bar. In this industry. I feel like I'm just I was just born to be hospitable. And Fares, the owner, he contacted me maybe like, six months prior to him opening and said, you know, he's working on something I'd like to jump on board. And I wanted to like that. I really did. And then march 2020 hit. We all knew what happened March 2020. And I was working for CHG really good company had avenues to go and management roles. And then the whole world shut down. And Fares was still gung ho about opening this, like nothing, nothing was going to stop him from opening the restaurant. I remember him texting me, at the very most I knew I was going to help them out in some sort of way, create his menu, train his bartenders, if he had any. I knew for a fact that I was going to do that for him because me and Fares go way back. He texted me one day, with a picture of business cards that he bought me that said, Francis Coligado, beverage director, and I was like, I guess I'm jumping on board
You can't return the business cards.
And it was like 2000 of them like or, like 10s of 1000s of them. And I was like, I'm still going through that original batch from three years ago. Yeah, it was just, it was just a awkward time to be in this industry. But somehow we made it out. And we're thriving.
Thriving is a wonderful word. That's how I feel about the growth that you're having the locations, the like I said, the crowd that you're drawing in each night. It's very, very exciting for that. Also, though, as this train is rolling, I mean, thank goodness, you took a risk on this, because now you're even getting some pretty cool recognition, named recently, best new US cocktail bar in the US East in 2022 by Tales of the cocktail, I saw that and then also, this most recent mansion in Atlanta's first Michelin Guide. So how is this changing the game to get this type of recognition?
I mean, it you know, we had no idea that we were going to be this successful, especially three years in starting in 2020. Right, especially how we started, we were Nobodies, when, when we opened del bar and just to have this recognition is amazing. That same list was with double chicken, please, in New York, and I think they're the best US cocktail bar, North American cocktail bar in the world. So it's like, amazing to be on that same list as them and then the Michelin guide that I mean, that's, that's every restaurants dream right to, to be on that guide. So it's just been a crazy, crazy ride. It's It's really amazing how our community has supported us through this time. So it's been amazing.
But it's so well deserved, as well, Francis, because, like I said, when I notice a creative approach to a beverage program, it stands out. How do you think that this type of recognition will impact if at all? Maybe not? Maybe it won't at all, how you are working with your beverage program?
So really, it was really, really exciting when when we when we first got it and then now we're like, oh, no, we have to maintain this.
I was worried you're gonna say that.
A different level of stress. But I think we're up to the task. And I'm really just being able to, you know, maintain those those level of standards that we do have and just, you know, keep educating keep training when we when we don't want to be in that conversation. Well, yeah, they used to be good. Last year, two years ago, three years ago, we want to keep maintain that we were one of the best restaurant groups and in Atlanta, so just a different level of stress for us. We've definitely seen a big uptick in reservations, Inman Park has reached a kind of a max, but we've seen some trickle down effect over there in Alpharetta as well. And when you just opened that six months ago, so that's been awesome to see as well, just to see the growth in Alpharetta.
And people are seeking you out because it is something different. They are excited to eat and drink there. So the pressure I can see I was actually a little worried that that might be the case for some folks that are mentioned and be like, well, now what now we got it. But it's all worthwhile because it is elevating what you can do with the bar program people are watching so how exciting is that? You're just gonna keep doing what you've been doing. But people are watching.
Yeah, people are watching now. We're, we're on the map now I guess. I always want to be better and do more things. I think this iteration of our of our cocktailt menu is like super ambitious. A lot of the bartenders back there. We did some, like crazy things, but we kind of mix some flavors together that we're not really used to and Some techniques as well, we added just to see if we can do that at the volume that we do. Because we're kind of limited of some techniques, cocktail wise, that we can do just based on the sheer volume, right, we want to bring out those cocktails as fast as possible to get and then we have these different techniques, and we can't really do it if it takes a long time to do. So this one was a really super ambitious, we may not be this in depth for the next time, it was a little too much. But it's been a really fun menu. So we're, you know, we're still exploring new new avenues, new techniques, new flavors, just to bring something something to the table again,
not too much, just enough, just enough for the fall of 2023. I think it's worth it. You're constantly thinking about these things you told us even while you're walking, you're thinking about this. And obviously your team enjoys that creativity and that autonomy, but how are you in your role, how are you working to foster that type of creativity in a cocktail list? Like how are you allowing your staff to explore those possibilities?
You know, I have a like pretty much open door. My phone is always open to those guys, I get blasted with text messages. Does this work? Does this work? We'll find out first and then if it works out, well, then next time you see me like some I'm in the restaurant, I can I'll taste it. And I'll give you what I think it needs. You can try it, you can not try it. I always ask them, you know, what do you what are you trying to get out of it? Right? Like what do you want this to be? What do you want it to? You know, that's I think that's the most important part is to make sure you have a plan before you start adding things together. So I always tell them, put it on paper, look at it and envision it in your head what it needs to be, and then create
you're coming in and tasting and seeing where they're at with that and having those conversations.
Yeah it's, it's awesome to just to see their growth, I had this one bartender who was just like so, so excited about creating, creating and he's great in front of guests, he gives them that experience, but then he like really, really wants to create and he's adding all these things together, you know, start simple first, you know, and then you can start adding things it's really truly a wonder to see him grow on that creative level.
Especially because you said this is a new aspect for you in bartending is managing people. And yet here I am listening to you be proud of your staff and encouraging and, and creating that atmosphere that allows them to have growth. And I have read that you prioritize not only mental well being for your team, but physical as well, because I'm sure there are physical and mental demands of your job right now
Back then I was a workaholic, I was working six days behind the bar, probably four or five of them are doubles, you know, and it just got like really taxing. And I was young back then. So my body could handle it. But like really mentally, it was really, it was really bad. It was just, I was on my days off, I wasn't doing anything, I wasn't going out exploring Atlanta like I like I want to, you know, just kind of stuck on the couch. And so I make it a point where all of my bartenders and Inman park, they have four days. That's it. If they want more, then we can we can we can probably give it to them. But I keep them on four day schedule. Because it's really intense. It's really intense to be to be on stage like that in front of guests eight hours a night, and the intensity that we have behind del bar as well. Like, once one, two guests leaves, another one is right behind it. And you have to, you know, be on stage immediately after. So yeah, I want to make sure that they're mentally okay for the job as well. Because a lot of people think it's like physically physically taxing, and that's it. But it's really more mental than anything.
People don't always think about the mental capacity. There's always the you know, you're on your, you're on your feet for the whole shift. And you're moving around for that, but 4 day weeks, that's pretty cool.
I mean, like I said, if they want more, I warn them on having that fifth day. If it's a financial thing that for them, then yeah, well, we'll make something work. But if it's not, then yeah, four days.
Amazing. And that's something that someone in your role can do to directly support the overall well being of your staff. And I really appreciate that that's a priority for you, whatever, you know, mechanisms that you're using to allow for that, whatever that is, you're prioritizing it. And I can hear that.
And it's great for retention as well. The person who has been behind the bar them the least has has been a server with for us for you know, a year and a half. They've been with the company for almost two years. So the retention is great. So I have a strong strong team and knows how my standards for the longest time. So it's been great for retention as well.
So cool. Well, that means a lot because some things I always feel when I come in to Del bar are one, I feel like there's such a great energy and it's celebratory. It's super fun. And then two, everyone is so excited to tell me about the menu and what they have and I can tell that your staff enjoys is working there. And I can feel that as a guest. And then the third thing is that I always start with a cocktail. And for somebody who has studied wine and lived in the wine world for as long as I have, that, to me is always a surprise, even to myself, because I'm like, Ah, I'm here, I want a cocktail. So I always get a cocktail to start, but then I do have fun choosing from your incredible wine list. So for someone who loves wine, how would you help them to start discovering cocktails that they enjoy? How often does that conversation come up? How does that go?
Oh, it comes up a lot. Because I mean, I do have some a little esoteric ingredients in there. And then like I said, like just we we try to use the Farsi name for some of these Persian Middle Eastern ingredients. So a lot of those questions arise, and you know, they, they have their preference on spirit. But what we focus on is flavor. Right? That I think that, to me is the most important thing is, is flavor wise. So what spirit Do you like, is really the third or fourth question that we that we want to ask. So the first question I like to do by process of elimination, so we can separate the menu. So we do do like refreshing or spirit forward, you know, so you can segue into that way. And then the next question the what do you normally drink? Based on what they normally drink? We can kind of gauge what they do actually like? And then third question is really, is there anything that you don't like? I think that's a more important question than what you do like, you get a little bit more specific answer. And then we can really process of elimination can narrow it down to one or two cocktails on the menu, if it's if it's a really good balance, I really focus on balance and everything. When it comes to the menu, flavor, color, texture wise, like it's balanced is super important. So I think we have something for everybody. So even the wine drinker,
even the wine drinkers can be helped and find their way to a cocktail. But let's say you have the cocktail, because I always start with that, then I'm moving into the incredible wine list that you do have. How would you approach the wine side of things right now for Del bar, for this type of cuisine? What's your thought process when you're thinking about wines to showcase on the menus,
so as we've talked about, for the past 30 minutes, I'm like a cocktail person like that is that is, that is something that I have no problem with doing. When I took this role. I still feel like I'm still a beginner when it comes to wine. I really lean on a lot of my reps to help me out on that. It's been a lot of fun learning about it, though. So I knew that when we started when we opened del bar, I wanted to keep everything well, Inman Park, specifically, I wanted everything from the Mediterranean. So just keep those flavors and in mind, we want to really showcase our food. So most of the time I look for wines that are you know, food friendly, but pretty interesting. I like to combine things that are approachable with something a little different
Familiar but a little unexpected.
You're not scaring them off too much. Right? The number one sold wine that or the number one requested wine is you know, Sauvignon Blanc and at Inman Park I don't have one that's just Sauvignon Blanc and there's such a wide range of Sauvignon Blancs right, New Zealand, Sancerre, and they all have different profiles. So when somebody orders Sauvignon Blanc, well, I do have a wine that has Sauvignon Blanc in it, but it also has, you know, Assyrtiko, and Malaga, Lucia. So it's from Greece. And they get really interested in that and it has some tropical notes and is pretty herbaceous as well. So you may like that. And then, and then that's when we segue to, let's let me try Asserytiko or something, or something a little different, you know, so it's a good avenue, like, helps gain the guest's trust. I love combining stuff that are not really, but still, I know this, this might not be too bad.
You're giving people what they are familiar with. And then you're taking them just a little outside their comfort zone. And I'm laughing as you're talking about these types of wines, even the ones that you just mentioned, because my mouth is watering. And I'm thinking about how I do love higher acidity in the wines when I'm having that type of cuisine when I'm having the middle eastern food you have that what's the rice dish, oh my gosh, crispy rice on top.
The crispy layer of our rice dishes is called Tahdig.
That's it. I want something really high acidity with that. And so that's specifically my mind is going to that and I think I typically have Island wines. When I'm there like Corsica, I had a Rose from there. I'm thinking about Mediterranean thinking the coastal influence of those wines. And that stuff goes really well with your food.
I think Rose in particular, for me, I love drinking Rose with with our food has that bright acidity, but also has those aromatics that go really well with our aromatics. So it's really interesting, so I love it. I get to play around so much, and honestly, I get to learn so much as well because as proud as I am of that cocktail menu, I'm still super proud of the wine list that I curated, you know, it's probably my favorite part about this role is really learning about wine. Just knowing this whole community of wine lovers has been, has been amazing.
You are automatically connected when you're in a role where you are creating a menu of wines, you have distributors that are coming in that are showcasing everything to you. So you're probably tasting a lot. And you mentioned that community of wine professionals, are they starting to get to know your taste?
Yes, they know exactly what wines I love, they bring you some stuff. But I've also learned, you know, I have to, I have to balance it out as well, like not only in the content, we have to balance out that wine list as well. And so what I like might not be something that they like. And I've probably made that mistake a couple of times when putting ones on the list. That's it's a little bit selfish of me to put this on the list. Because really, that's for me really not not for you.
This is Francis' section, it's totally fine. Just for you. You got to have a little bit of you on the list, and you're the one designing it that's totally expected. But would you say that it's kind of a 50/50 split on beverages that are sold to people come in wanting cocktails, and wine? Or is it more heavily a cocktail program?
It is mostly cocktails, but honestly, I think it's you know, what our staff is, you know, selling, we have an amazing staff, they work so hard for us. So just continue that education for them. Every time we have education, we do see an uptick on wine. So it's really just getting them comfortable talking about it.
Isn't that cool? Because you're talking about the food, it's sometimes unfamiliar flavors, unfamiliar ingredients. So your servers are having those types of conversations at the table. And then you can add into the conversation, these places that they might not know, or in the cocktails have the ingredients again, that they might not know. That's the type of education that can happen to the staff and then provide that table side and spread the word.
Yeah it's amazing to see too, because I had one server that's been with us since the very beginning, he was young didn't really know that much when it comes to like beverage. But then now man he is full on with with this wine journey of his and it's just so amazing to see
you let him explore, see give people access to wine and away they go.
I think I had two more two more servers who want to do it. And they're studying right now. So it's amazing.
So cool. I was thinking about this, you know, the staff and the importance of the education side. With all the years that you've had working in this aspect of the hospitality industry. What do you think will help beverage programs take it to the next level here in Georgia? What can we do that will keep us elevating?
I think really just being part of the community really, I think you can't live in your own bubble, I think you need, you do need different types of people like educating each other, really, because my experience is way different from somebody else's experience. And my level of wine knowledge is way different from somebody else's, as well. So as long as we you know, build that community, I think we can just grow, grow and grow and grow.
Oh, you just made me super excited. I did not expect you to talk about the people when I asked you that question. That's so cool.
I think that's the biggest part though. I think, um, I mean, even today, it's so exciting to be in Atlanta right now, especially in this industry, like everybody, like after the Michelin, I have a group of people in the cocktail community and we just now we're just doing all these pop ups together and just building something together. It's awesome to see
What are these pop ups? Wait a second, I just got pumped because I was just going to ask you what excites you about the beverage scene in Atlanta? And then you told me about not only cool people, but pop ups what's happening? What's the collaboration that's happening that I might not know about yet.
I recently did one last Sunday. It's called the lost and found these two guys, they do it every month. And they pair a guest DJ with a guest bartender. So we're combining music with cocktails. And I've been I've been fortunate enough to be on three of them. It's a great avenue for me to do you know, do something that's just truly just for me. It's just a lot of fun. I know muchachos does their bar bestie where they have two bartenders from around Atlanta also, you know, be able to jump behind their bar. It's just amazing to see and then the whole industry comes out and supports and we all network and just have a good, good good time.
Oh that sounds awesome. So you're making stuff that isn't necessarily on the Delbar menu. This is Francis's own personal concoction.
Yeah, it's it's awesome. I mean, their style is way different from mine. So I'm always learning something new whenever I work, work with them, and we just vibe really, really well. You just like to have a good time.
So what did you make this past Sunday? What was it?
So I usually make something using Filipino flavors. Just I don't think a lot of people in Atlanta have been witness to it. The two Filipino restaurants in Atlanta just got Michelin awarded as well, which is absolutely amazing. ___ in Grant Park just got Bib Gaurmand, and then kamayan like right on Buford highway, and they were a pop up for years before they, James Beard nominated pop up here in Atlanta and they just got their brick and mortar not too long ago. So what I made there's this Filipino dessert is my favorite dessert. It's called Turon, banana and jackfruit wrapped in egg roll paper, and we fry it up, put some Burnt Sugar over top and it's just the most amazing dessert because the Yeah, the texture of the the crispy shell and then the gooyiness of the banana and the jackfruit it's my favorite I could eat 1000 of those.
And that's what you built into the flavors of this cocktail?
Yeah, so I use mantha tequila with a banana liquour I made this jackfruit syrup that was amazing balanced to that with some lime and then I made a jackfruit foam overtop
We're not going to see that on the on the menu or del bar that's like come to your house and have that one.
Yeah, I don't know. Maybe I could be I'm sure I can do a little twist on it as well.
So so cool. So cocktail pop ups keep an eye out Atlanta for this, because that was that was what I was thinking about. What should we be excited about for 2024? What are you looking forward to being part of in the coming year?
For Del bar we have we have two more restaurants opening up next year, hopefully so keep an eye on on that. We just announced Del bar in Buckhead. We're gonna be taking over the King and Duke location which is an amazing, amazing location. The building itself is amazing has this huge, huge patio and satellite bar that we can do some events. So I don't know maybe Lost and Found wants to do a Lost and Found in Buckhead, and we have the space for it.
There's an upstairs room at that location too, kind of like private dining. I've done a few events in there.
It's a really cool room. It's super, super private. I don't know, look out for some wine dinners, some cocktail dinners.
Sign me up. Let me know when this happens. This sounds awesome. It got me excited thinking about the expansion of your success and kind of knowing that you were part of this from day one. And the retention among the people that now you do work with all the time. So we're rolling into the holiday season, your podcast will be one of the last ones to close out this year. So as we're going into the holidays, what's your go to holiday cocktail these days? What will you be celebrating with?
Oh, so my holiday cocktail. I love eggnog just to be a little cliche. We usually do serve eggnog at Inman Park, two weeks before Christmas, we run a eggnog special until we you know, it's it's amazing. I love it.
Well I'm gonna have to come and try that. the two major things that I've done recently with cocktails have involved being a judge. So I am using my picky wine palate to judge cocktails. And I'm coming in being like looking for balance and acidity and all these things. But one time, I judged a Grappa cocktail contest in New York. So that was that was really interesting, because I knew the spirit, but I was seeing it in cocktail forms. I was cool. But the other thing I did Francis, I was a taste tester for an article about the top 10 eggnogs that you could buy. So I would like to say I have an adjacent skill in tasting eggnog.
There you go. Christmas time I'll give you I'll give you the eggnong, my version of economics.
I'm gonna have to be very judgmental to hold up my reputation now as this egg nog tester.
in Alpharetta we maybe will do the same eggnog but every year we do a hot buttered cider. I love that drink. It's so rich and decadent. And just like very, very comforting. It's a huge restaurant though. So you can probably walk off the calories just walking around the restaurant.
Okay This sounds like a very festive holiday cocktail list to me. You're in a wonderful place to share your knowledge, your excitement about beverages, your knowledge from the industry, you're in a really good place and I'm feeling very lucky to have you here in Atlanta. So thank you so much. How can people connect with you and find out more about your programs? What's the best way to see what you're up to?
You can follow delbar at on Instagram @delbaratl. You can follow me as well @fcoligado23. I'm constantly on that thing. I should probably slow down a little bit but can't help it.
No, because you said you're getting inspiration for cocktails everywhere. And so I'd rather have you paying attention to everything. Right? You never know when that when that idea might hit. So keep watching. Keep talking to people. I think that's really exciting. Thank you so much for being on the show and for chatting with me and inspiring hopefully a combination of people who love wine to try some cocktails and some people who try some cocktails to see what you're doing on the wine list because that's what it's all about.
Thank you so much for having me. This was this was so much fun. Have a good holiday. Thank you.
Cheers. Thanks for tuning in to the a cork in the road podcast. Coming to you live from Atlanta, Georgia, and interviewing people who are changing the wine world in the southeast and beyond. You can find more about A Cork in the Road at @acorkintheroad on Instagram and make sure to check us out on www.acorkintheroad.com.See you soon guys, cheers.