June 16 2014 – Robert Fiumara
While food sales and service has seen a slight decline in profitability over the last several years, specialty drinks and cocktails have stayed consistently viable on all menus. There’s a particular art in using and serving these sorts of beverages in your restaurant, and utilizing them effectively can make or break your menu options.
Bolster Your Menu With Unique Drink Options
To best take advantage of these drink options, most research indicates that your menu should have between 12 and 20 specialty drinks. Standard mixed drinks, or basic martinis and margaritas should not be included. On whole, if you allow customers to order whatever they want, without much guidance from a strict menu, they will often opt into lower cost and less profitable drinks. By only suggesting certain drinks, you help craft a particular beverage experience. To top it off, with specialty drinks you can select what quality spirits you will include, as the value of a given drink is determined in its perceived value, rather than its actual component costs. Put a little more effort into your garnish and presentation, and the drink’s perceived value will be much greater.
To further build up your drinks menu, look at inventory and balancing logistics. For one, what sort of menu are you looking to craft? What image? A sports bar will have a very different set of brand choices than a mid-scale or higher cocktail bar. Think about the sort of glasses and presentation you want to achieve. Likewise, focus on bringing in anywhere between 30 and 50 brands of spirits. If you get a more diverse inventory than that, you’ll find that a large chunk of you inventory will sit and never sell. In this vein, you should cross-utilize ingredients from kitchen to bar, in order to minimize spoilage.
Make the Greatest Use of Your Ingredients
Your drink choices should balance the spirits and ingredients available in the bar. The menu shouldn’t get too large, and the prep work in each featured drink should differ. If you vary the presentation and drink style among the drinks on your menu, you can increase kitchen and bar productivity. Keep a careful eye on the dining habits of your patrons, and stock accordingly. If all of your featured drinks come in rock glasses, how many of those glasses will you have to have in stock in order to meet demand at peak hours?
Offering drinks can be burdensome to those looking to bolster their menu, but there’s no doubt that if done correctly, and with a careful eye, that offering these sorts of beverages in your restaurant will strengthen your bottom line.