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How to Create a Cocktail Menu that Increases Your Revenue

A vibrant and creative cocktail menu will entice new customers, enhance the guest experience and help increase revenue in your bar. Mixed spirits are often the most profitable in any wet-led venue with a pour cost that allows for an 80-90% markup. According to the Diageo Bar Academy, one in three customers doesn't know what they want to drink and will consult a menu to help them make a choice, and one in nine people will stick to that first drink choice for the rest of the evening. Having cocktails on offer gives people something to choose from and talk about. But that is a double-edged sword because you need people to go away from your business ready to spread glowing reviews — so it has to be a good cocktail menu. 


What Makes a Good Cocktail Menu?

To make a great menu, you need two things; to know what your customers like and to have the skill to make cocktails. The first is something you know as the business owner already, and the second is something you can learn with a bit of help, practice and experience.

Think about what your customers would like. Try to consider people's dietary preferences. For example, there is growing interest in functional drinks, vegan recipes and low alcohol options. You could also consider ingredients based on seasonality, locality, nostalgia and the customer's point of view. By 'point of view', we mean whether they're ready to party, if they come to your bar for casual drinks or special occasions, how much money they're willing to part with and how much time they're prepared to wait. Once you've figured out the stylistic choices, you can begin to think about your profit margins.

Do Cocktails Increase Your Profit?

The industry standard pour cost for a mixed drink is around 18%, but many cocktails come in sensibly below this. For example, an Old Fashioned, depending on your choice of whiskey, not only has a pour cost of around 14%, but there is high customer demand. Likewise, with classics like the Margarita and Daiquiri. More straightforward cocktails like the Cuba Libra, Moscow Mule and Bloody Mary can come in as low as 10%.

Over the last two years, people have been stuck home for long stretches without access to hospitality. One result has been an increase in people making cocktails at home. Google trends showed an enormous increase in internet users searching for cocktail recipes, and there have been increased e-commerce sales in both cocktail ingredients and equipment. The 2022 consumer has more understanding and experience of making cocktails than ever before.

There are factors beyond the pure ingredients to consider, though. Costs can creep in for research and development, marketing, design and printing costs and most importantly, staff consistency. Staff training is imperative to prevent haemorrhaging money through mistakes, accidents, poor efficiency and customer care. Train staff well, though, and they can both up-sell your menu and deliver a brilliant guest experience. 


An Easy Guide to Creating a Cocktail Menu

Once you've worked out your customer needs and profit targets, you can consider these additional factors in making a great cocktail menu.

  • Variety

 You'll need a well-rounded cocktail menu, some tall, some short and some martini style drinks and some sweet, tart, savoury, and maybe some spirit-forward offerings. 

  • Amount on offer

While it's tempting to pile on the options, keeping a cocktail menu concise will keep your own, your bartenders and the customer's life simple.

  • Appeal to the guest's senses

Unfortunately, you can't have a cocktail menu without paying to market it. To appeal to your guest's senses, you'll need good images, tantalising product descriptions, attractive menus and a website or social media account. 

  • Bar layout and prep

To maximise the time it takes to make a drink, you'll need an ergonomic station with bottles, ingredients and ice strategically placed to reduce the time it takes to make the drink. You may also need to consider preparation times in advance of the bar shift. Cutting or juicing fruit, checking fridge temperatures, polishing glassware or batching spirits, are the bartender equivalent of mise en place.

  • Logistics

Where and who to order your ingredients from, legal responsibilities, shelf life and other storage factors, stock taking, tracking, and budgeting for ingredients and extras like straws, glasses, and ice all take up resources. Having a business forward approach to the practical elements of selling cocktails is as crucial as the flair and theatrics of making them.

  • Pricing

Several factors affect your pricing. Your target margins, obviously, but also your customer wallet spend, your competitors, your brand and your longer-term overheads like glassware, training, electricity and so on. There is also plenty of research supporting menu pricing psychology.

  • Menu design

In general, simple and easy to read menus are best. You'll want to invest in effective design and branding, but also consider championing a house style or star cocktail. Naming the drinks well can help the appeal.  The menu is an important clincher in the sales transaction.

Staff training

You can train your existing staff to make a simple menu worth of drinks. Alternatively, you can hire and encourage experienced bartenders with a bank of classic cocktail recipes in their heads who can innovate and develop their own menus. It's up to you how much time and money to invest.

 Is Cocktail Consultancy Worth it?

Cocktail consultancy takes some guesswork from developing a drinks menu that's perfect for your venue. You mitigate the risk of trying something new with the aid of an experienced professional. Usually, cocktail consultants have expansive talent and skill in making and developing drinks. They will be aware of industry trends and market forces that will save you time and better inform your choices. They will draw out of you the best ideas to suit your customer base and create a profitable and actionable menu that you can implement straight away.

Our resident cocktail consultant, for example, has been developing drinks lists for nearly two decades and has a pragmatic, practical approach to menu development as well as a flair for creative ideas. He can do a one-to-one on Zoom to help you get your head around the Flavour Blaster bar tool and help with any other sticking points preventing you from launching your new cocktail menu. If you’d like to kick off the new year with a new menu in 2022, then get in touch to book an appointment



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