Daniel Bothman lets us in on La Fiamma’s innovative beverage program
La Fiamma Wood Fire Pizza
Dan and Ken Bothman opened La Fiamma in 1998 with an offering of wood-fired pizzas and unique toppings. The pizzeria has a strong beverage program. Last fall, La Fiamma rolled out a beer-focused philanthropic initiative, Barb’s Beer.
Barb’s Beer was created by Tom Murphy in honor of his wife who passed away from non-smokers’ lung cancer and a portion of the sale from each glass of Barb’s Beer is donated to cancer research. Tom, Barb and family have been regular customers and supporters of La Fiamma since our early days and we are honored to have been an instrumental participant in its launch. When Barb’s Beer launched La Fiamma was the first place to offer Barb’s Beer. We hosted a commemorative run along her favorite trail culminating with a pizza and beer party on our deck. This has been a very popular offering, and we were excited to present CancerGrace.org with a check for $3,125 after just a couple months of sales. Barb’s Beer has grown so fast, it’s moved to higher-capacity brewers twice already — not bad for a beer that launched earlier this year! You can find out more about Barb’s beer at barbsbeer.org. Next up, Tom has some partnerships arranged with some Seattle pizzerias then he will take on Boston and NYC.
At any given time, we’ve got nine beers on tap, all of of them regional, and some even made on the same block as our restaurant. As microbrews were beginning to take off around the country when we first opened our door we decided to limit our selections to a measurable region. We somewhat arbitrarily decided to set the scope of our offerings to ‘within three days by horseback.’ Somewhat silly, but it was also fun and engaging.
Two years ago when we decided to add cocktails to our menu we wanted to do something different. I spent months refining a recipe for house-made tonic and ginger beer, which were the foundation for our cocktail menu. The tonic is made with an infusion of citrus, sugar, herbs and Peruvian cinchona bark. We’ve recently started bottling the syrups and they have found homes at other local bars and restaurants, giving our brand a little more visibility and helping to solidify the correlation between the Fiamma brand and quality.
We also offer a wide selection of wine. Sometimes we have Gragnano wine specially imported for our restaurant. Gragnano is the go-to wine in Naples, where they call this sparkling red “pizza cola.”
For the kids or the non-drinkers, we offer a highly addictive rosemary-infused lemonade and all the soda and juices you’d expect.
Because we are a busy restaurant and don’t have the luxury of a proper bar and bartender, we had to be innovative with the way we made our cocktails in order to be quick, efficient and consistent because of our constraints. Many of our drinks are ____+ tonic or “mules” which are _____+ ginger beer, both sodas we make in keg and on draft for quick service. Instead of drinks that are made individually to order, we opted to create the cocktails in larger batches and bottle them. This ensures that it is speedy for the servers, but also that each drink is prepared consistently. We’ve been working on a number of ideas for the future of our beverage selection and manufacturing. Draft/kegged/carbonated cocktails, slushy/granita cocktails and cocktails made with boozy sorbets are all in some stage of testing.