A cocktail menu can help your business generate some great profit margins and attract an entirely different demographic to your normal customer base. It causes intrigue with customers and in this day and age where people now tend to go out to make memories and experiences, a lot of people seek out quality over quantity. When you look at top end cocktail menus, their lists are more akin to a Michelin-starred restaurant's food menu. Fresh unique ingredients, crafted by expert Bartenders. However, this is top tier level. The vast majority of venues don't need to go down this route. But, you do need to be able to offer something different.
When we talk about cocktail menus with Bars, we do also emphasise the point that it's not just a Cocktail Menu. Drinks aside, it's a fantastic tool which most customers will pick up and read during their visit. So not only should the drinks sound appealing, but they should also really sell the venue. Bars use Menus to promote upcoming events for example. But when we do actually really start to talk about the Drinks, for some venues actual physical Cocktails may not be the right path to take. Sometimes, simple 3-4 ingredient Hiballs work really well and can be the better option.
One of the first factors to consider when thinking about a Cocktail Menu is the venue's current business levels and the type of Business you are. For example, if you're a busy Draught Beer lead venue, then adding a Cocktail List may not be the right option. However, you do need to add some form of diversity with drinks, so sometimes a 4-5 item Hiball Drinks menu may be better. Drinks that are quick and easy to bang out. Drinks that have a decent GP behind them. But ultimately Drinks that are not going to harm current sales because your Team takes too long to make them.
Hiballs are long drinks that get served up in taller Hiball glasses and traditionally don't need shaking. A few years ago, they were more simply known as Spirit and Mixers. Think Rum & Cola, Whiskey & Ginger, even Gin & Tonic. However as times have changed, Hiballs have transitioned into 3 ingredient Cocktails. Sometimes even 4 ingredients. But ultimately remain very easy, and more importantly quick to make.
To make a 3 ingredient Hiball, we tend to think of the simple addition of a flavoured Syrup or Puree to the Spirit & Mixer. But with the flavours available, we can even turn traditional Cocktails like a Mojito, into a 3 ingredient Hiball. For example; Rum, ODK Mojtio Syrup (which includes Mint and Lime) and simply top it up with Soda. Or, maybe Rum, Monin Mojito Syrup and say a Traditional or Sicilian Lemonade. See even with that Cocktail, there are many ways you can make it.
When we talk about 4 Ingredients, most of the time we're referring to maybe a dash of Bitters to enhance flavours, but sometimes that could be a second flavoured Syrup or even Juice. There are no real rules to adhere to. It's just down to your creativity.
Now the benefit Hiballs have to a venue is that not only are they quick and easy to make for most Bar Teams, but they suddenly make Cocktails, like a Mojito, very accessible to your Customers. And you're not compromising on taste. Syrups are so good these days, they really can taste like the real thing if used in the correct proportions.
As mentioned above. Cocktails can easily help you increase Profits too. I'll give you an example, but bear it mind buying prices completely differ from venue to venue. so this is just a very broad outline.
Even on the very broad examples above, you can see that Spirits in whatever form, always increase Profits over Draught Beer and normally Wine. But there can be some downsides. You have to invest in Staff Training. But you could argue, you should be constantly investing in Staff Training anyway, but that's a separate discussion.
Another downside can be wastage. This can be easily eradicated if your menu is really well put together and you use long-shelf garnishes like Dehydrated Fruit. But sometimes, no matter how busy you are, there will always be some things that need throwing away. Purees or fresh juices.
The other side to it is Ice. Ice is cheap. And actually factored into the prices above. But the simple fact is, you'll use 5x the volume of Ice you previously have. So you need to invest in a decent Ice Machine if you haven't already, or a decent freezer to store it if buying it in. Which can actually be really cost-effective, if you have a good ice supplier locally.
But all this said, very rarely do the negatives vastly outweigh the benefits.
There are a number of factors you do need to consider which we'll talk about in future blogs. But ultimately it comes down to how your Bar is set up, the skill levels of your team and the time you have to train them. And your customer demographic. At the end of the day, offering decent spirits lead drink options will increase profit margins and add additional revenue, it's just how you implement them.
Read our Next Blog in the series;
First Steps to Creating Your First Menu