Creating a signature cocktail for your bar (or yourself for that matter) is not as simple as it might at first appear. There are many factors to consider, so we’d better get started. Whatever you want your drink to represent, that is a good place to start.
What is the history of the city you live in, what is it famous for? If you see your bar as being typical or representative of its locality, this is a great thing to consider. For example, a bar looking to represent London would often use London Dry Gin as a base for their cocktail, a Tennessee or Kentucky bar would be likely to feel well associated with Whiskey. You can delve much further of course, is there a local craft distillery or brewery nearby that has a history in the area? You don’t have to be literal in your interpretation of local history, even just a nod from the garnish or a single flavour will give you a great way to tie your drink to the area.
The Feel of Your Bar
I didn’t use the word ‘Theme’ as bars can have a subtle style or hints of a theme without being a full on theme bar like an 80’s nightclub for example (nothing wrong with those either!), for example Apres which has the feel of a ski lodge, but without the need for skier animatronics and fake snow everywhere. Somewhere like Apres for example could have a range of liquor hot chocolates that would be at home in the Alps but are just as warming by the cosy fireplaces in the bar.
Get The Level Right
There is no point in trying to offer a molecular French 75s with spheres of Cointreau and Cognac floating in it when your bar sells mainly Sex on the Beach and Woo Woos, as the comparative price will most likely be prohibitive and the clients will be unlikely to order it anyway. Pitch your signature as a slight premium to your more standard offerings by all means but don’t try to convert your peach schnapps drinkers to Old Fashioned drinkers in a single step.
There is also no point in coming up with something so complex to make that your staff are either slowed down when serving them, or they even steer your customers away from the drink to avoid the effort. Make is fast and simple to make as the whole point is you want to be making a lot of these!
Be sure to consider the look of the drink, and make it stand out visually from the rest of the drinks you serve. You want people to see others with it and want one for themselves! In Jon Taffer’s Bar Rescue, he has gone so far as putting signature drinks into souvenir cups with flashing LEDs where the drinks were generally ordered to go, so that everyone on the street knew where that drink had come from!
Whatever you choose to make, make sure its fun and has mass appeal for the kind of guests that come into your bar. Your signature drink should be featured prominently in your menu to maximise sales, so make something cool and become a legend!