Shock-jock Tom Leykis knows his nightlife. The host of “The Tasting Room” - a lifestyle program covering topics ranging from fine wine, high-end spirits and craft brews to first-rate dining and premium cigars - Leykis routinely covers nightlife in his weekly two-hour show. He'll bring that knowledge, edginess and his own unique take on the trends in nightlife to the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show when he delivers the Keynote address on Wednesday, March 9. Leykis chats with us about some of those trends, innovations and what to expect when he steps to the podium.
NCB: What do you see happening on the bar and club scene? What's hot right now?
Leykis: Mixology is hot - it’s like having your own personal chef. You can have someone who custom crafts a cocktail for you, and what’s cooler than that? One example is the drink “Tapping the Admiral” from La Descarga bar in Los Angeles. It’s a custom-bottled cocktail aged in the bottle, and it’s something exclusive – people can’t get it anywhere; you can’t even buy it [bottled] from the bar. More places want exclusives such as this. Anybody can make an Appletini.
NCB: What trends are on their way out?
Leykis: The $16 cocktail. Drink prices have had to come down. So have glass sizes – we’re seeing smaller cocktails because of the economy. Places are sensitive to your wallet. Overpriced is over.
NCB: What do you think consumers are interested in from a nightlife experience?
Leykis: That depends on whether it’s a man or a woman. Women like to dance; men usually want to take somebody home. Everybody wants entertainment, a special and memorable experience, such as a theme. For example, being at La Descarga is like watching a Cuban burlesque show in Havana in the '40s – there’s dancing, shooting fire and more. Every hour there’s a show; it is a lot different from having a beer at Hooters. People can make drinks at home – they want entertainment when they go out.
NCB: What do you think the future of nightlife will be? What can the pros in the industry expect in coming years?
Leykis: In Southern California and other similar markets with a lack of public transportation and stiffer enforcement of drunk driving laws, shuttle service is a fabulous idea, both from a PR and a liability standpoint. It’ll definitely increase business. There’s one place in wine country called Maverick Saloon that will pick you up at the beginning of the night, just like a cab, and then take you home later. More places should be like that.
NCB: What can we look forward to with your NCB Show Keynote speech?
Leykis: I’m going to talk about how to give people unique experiences they can’t get elsewhere. Take Portland, Ore., for example, and McMenamins Kennedy School Bar. It’s a restored elementary school where the focus in each classroom is a different aspect of nightlife (Scotches, craft beers, cigars, etc.), and in the auditorium, guests can enjoy live entertainment. Another topic I’ll discuss is how to make people aware of your venue’s existence, particularly in crowded markets such as LA, New York and Chicago.
NCB: How excited are you for the NCB Show?
Leykis: Thrilled! I had so much fun last year. It’s mind-boggling at how huge the NCB show is. It’s bigger than the radio broadcasting convention! Though, unlike broadcasting conventions where you stare at gadgets, you’re looking at booze. And that’s always fun.