Dishes should be casual and clever, with equally delicious libations to match.
As clubs and resorts renovate their bar areas to make them more modern, casual and welcoming, bar menus are also getting a major makeover. Casual, well-executed small plates, shareables and cocktails are having a significant impact on member satisfaction, bar traffic and revenues.
At Pinehurst Resort and Country Club in the Village of Pinehurst, N.C., a new bar called The Deuce opened in September 2016, and became a fast favorite with members and guests alike.
The Deuce overlooks the 18th green of the famed Pinehurst No. 2 and is adorned in vintage photographs and other memorabilia illustrating that course’s storied history. The 5,000-sq. ft. venue features a brand new kitchen and serves lunch every day, as well as an array of appetizers and small plates throughout the afternoon and evening.
The bar, which is open to the public, features an assortment of specialty cocktails and North Carolina craft brews, including Pinehurst Pale Ale, brewed specifically for Pinehurst by the Highlands Brewing Company, as well as selections from the nearby Southern Pines Brewing Company.
“We wanted a nicer lunch venue,” says Thierry Debailleul, Pinehurst’s Executive Chef. “This space and the view is so unique that it became very obvious we needed to focus on turning it into a destination bar-and-lunch concept.”
The Deuce has quickly become the quintessential 19th hole for the Pinehurst property, with craft cocktails and homemade casual fare that draw both members and guests alike.
“As we established the menu, we focused on making each dish the very best iteration possible,” says Debailleul. “It’s fresh, inventive and original food, made from scratch in a casual, comfortable environment.”
The Deuce’s best seller is its burger. House-made from short rib and brisket, it’s served on a brioche roll with lettuce, tomato, onion, pepper bacon and a choice of cheese. “It’s a beefy and beautiful burger,” says Debailleul.
The kobe beef meatball hoagie is The Deuce’s second-best seller. The meatballs are made in-house from ground chuck, spices and herbs, then slow-simmered in house marinara and served on a corn semolina roll with mozzarella and shaved Parmesan.
At 3 p.m., The Deuce shifts from a full lunch menu to a simplified small-bites menu that is served until an hour after dark, when the bar closes.
“Our ‘Sliders Served By The Twos’ are easily our most popular small-plate option,” says Debailleul. “They allow the guests to control their dining experience and decide how much they want, and of what.”
The four slider choices on the menu include the house patty; a house pastrami slider with pickled onions and mustard ale; a pulled bbq pork shoulder slider with an onion ring and coleslaw; and a buffalo chicken slider tossed in buffalo butter, house-made ranch and peppercorn bacon.
“With the new kitchen, our speed of service is unbeatable,” says Debailleul. “Everything is fresh, cooked to order, and fast.”
Other popular light bites include crab hush puppy beignets, lobster mac ‘n cheese croquettes, wings, pretzel bites, pimento cheese and hummus. Then there’s Debailleul’s personal favorite: the “Taterman” tots, which closely resemble a deconstructed poutine.
“A lot of times, groups of golfers will come in and order one of everything on the menu to share,” says Debailleul. “They’ll make a meal out of the small bites.”
Libations to Love
No bar is complete without a cocktail menu, and The Deuce’s is as good, if not better, than its food menu.
Developed by Christian Draughn, Food & Beverage Manager of The Deuce, and Adam Tillman, Head Bartender of Pinehurst’s Ryder Cup Lounge, the new venue features ten specialty cocktails that change monthly (in season).
“We wanted to go out of the box and use fresh ingredients, just like Chef Debailleul uses in the food,” says Draughn. “For example, in the ‘Divot’ [one of the bar’s specialty drinks], we muddle fresh mint and make our own fresh kiwi puree. And in ‘The Deuce’ [a drink named for the venue], we muddle fresh rosemary and ginger.”
The Deuce also serves two different barrel-aged specialty cocktails daily that are infused with fresh, seasonal ingredients. The bar is the only one permitted by the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission to barrel-age cocktails.
“All of our drinks are thought-out and deliberate,” says Draughn. “We wanted to feature North Carolina products and present them in the very best ways.”
And they do. The menu features North Carolina sweet potato vodka, rum, gin and Crude orange bitters (from the state’s first cocktail bitters company). Every detail of each drink is considered—all the way down to the ice cubes.
“Consistency will always be a challenge in a cocktail environment, but our staff is smart and well-trained,” says Draughn. “With so many new cocktails coming on board all the time, they always have something new to sell, and they’re passionate about it.”
Where Everyone Knows Your Name
Cocktails are an equally big part of the new bar concept at DeBary (Fla.) Golf & Country Club, a ClubCorp property that underwent a reinvention to create a more casual bar area while expanding seating inside and out, and adding a fire pit.
“Our mixologist is always featuring new and interesting cocktails based on what members like to drink, or contests ClubCorp is hosting,” says Daniel Carrico, Executive Chef, who has been with the club for seven months, but with the company for more than 13 years.
DeBary’s bar menu features eight different sips, ranging from a Grey Goose Strawberry Limeade to a Deep Eddy Peach Sipper made with peach vodka, fresh lemon, simple syrup, mint, brewed tea, and peach puree.
The handcrafted cocktails at DeBary have become so popular, Carrico says, they now account for 15% of a la carte sales.
“We try to keep the food menu simple and casual like the cocktail menu, [while also featuring] high-quality ingredients that we can cross-utilize across the operation,” he adds.
The ahi tunawrap is DeBary’s best-selling dish. It features pepper-crusted ahi tuna, brown rice, lettuce, carrots, crispy wontons, green cabbage and creamy Asian dressing, wrapped in a tortilla. It’s sliced like sushi, so it’s easy to share and eat while holding a cocktail.
Other bar favorites at DeBary include lobster corn dogs, BBQ brisket sliders, and a Tuscan tenderloin bruschetta made with beef tenderloin, blue cheese, roasted grape tomatoes and parmesan cheese.
“[National Football League] season has been popular with members since the reinvention,” says Carrico. “The new atmosphere, menu and cocktails are the perfect fit for watching the game.”