The drinks you offer say so much about your bar – when it comes down to it, you’re only as good as the drinks you serve, and they are one of the main reasons your guests will keep coming back, time and time again.

A drinks offering is far more than just your cocktail list – Just as important are your bottled and draught beers, wines and house spirit selection, along with a solid alcohol free offering and if appropriate to your bar, hot drinks. Of course the ideal list will vary based on your location and client demographics.
Here’s a brief overview, but if you’d like a one to one consultancy on relaunching your drinks offering, please get in touch for a chat on


Beers & Bottled

If your bar concept is not centred around beer and marketed as a beer oriented bar, you probably have too many varieties of beer in your fridges. You should be hitting all of the main groups – regular and premium lager, cider (including modern fruit ciders), ale and ready to drink. Too often will you find a bar trying to please everyone by having their favourite beer – Here’s the list at a bar I used to work at:

  • Budweiser,
  • Becks
  • Peroni
  • Stella Artois
  • Sol
  • Corona
  • Sam Adams
  • Coors Light
  • Kronenberg
  • Strongbow
  • Smirnoff Ice

For starters, there is never any need to have both Sol & Corona on the same bar menu, they’re essentially inter-changable, and while they had a huge amount of popularity a few years ago, the Mexican beers are now loosing ground, especially outside of the summer outdoor drinking scene. Its also a terrible idea to have Corona & Peroni on the same menu, especially in louder nightclubs as the face shape saying both beer’s names are the same, and you’ll waste beers when they’re opened incorrectly.

Peroni, Becks & Stella have similar full flavour profiles, and can be consolidated to just one of these. Becks is served in a smaller 275ml bottle than the 330ml that the others come in, so bear this in mind, if you sell these at a lower price you will loose money, as people drinking in rounds buy in rounds too and won’t buy more because of the lower drink volume.

I would personally recommend a list closer to this:

  • Budweiser
  • Peroni
  • Brewdog Punk IPA
  • Samuel Adams
  • Brothers Apple Cider
  • Brother’s Wild Fruit Cider

I know it seems really short – but if you’re offering quality cocktails you don’t need to have RTDs like Smirnoff Ice, and fruit ciders are rapidly filling the space for a sweeter bottled drink that WKD, Reefs and the like used to fill.

When people want a beer, they really choose by category more than brand – so make sure you have a good lager or two, a good ale or two, a stout if your customers like it, and include craft beers if you think they’ll sell. Buy a case to trial them and if they sell quickly enough, add it to your menu!

Don’t overstock your bar with too many lines – unpopular beers will sit on the shelf and deteriorate – Fresh beer tastes better! Its a Budweiser strap line, and its true. There’s a good reason I included Bud in the revised drinks list too – while its not the world’s best beer according to most, its a safe option that most people can happily revert to when their first choice of beer isn’t stocked. Light tasting and un-offensive, and as a result, a proven best seller.



While wine consumption is falling, those who do drink wine are spending more as they expect better quality than before. Be sure to have a Champagne available for those celebrating birthdays, anniversaries or engagements and make sure you have plenty around Christmas and New Years. At the same time, offer a lower priced sparkling wine such as a Cava or Prosecco, making the premium experience more affordable and giving your guests the opportunity to indulge and feel special more often. Consider offering your lower priced bubbles by the glass also, but reserve your Champagne to by the bottle only to keep your wastage low (Bubbles loose their fizz quickly) and keep drinking real Champagne special.

Try to keep an affordable Red & White house wine that is easy drinking and decent quality – A merlot is usually safe for red and a Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc for the house white will offend very few, then look to offer a couple of premium options such as Rioja, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir, along with a quality Rose wine (Guests are often willing to pay a premium for Rose, so you don’t need to keep one in line with your house wines in terms of pricing).


Spirit Selection

Avoid skimping on cheap house spirits, you speed rail should be filled with bottles you wouldn’t be ashamed to have on your back bar. When your standard drinks, your vodka & colas, your gin & tonics taste like crap, people won’t stay to try your cocktails, so put in a standard like Smirnoff, Gordon’s & Bacardi to give yourself a solid base level to build your premium spirits offering on top of.

Include more interesting choices in your call and premium brands like Bulleit Bourbon, Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Havana Club rums, Hendricks or Burleigh’s gins and Skyy vodka to give your back bar some excitement.



If you’re not running a bar that focuses on Cocktails, there are a few easy drink styles that you can include to cover a lot of tastes without adding massive amounts of new ingredients. Hold everything you need to make Sour drinks, and have a standard recipe that you can add Amaretto, Midori, Whiskey & Vodka to, giving you an instant range. Throw in a few classics like Martinis, Old Fashioneds, Margaritas & Daiquiris and you’ll have a serviceable menu in no time that you can add to as time goes by.

BartenderHQ Services

Drinks & Cocktail menus will of course vary based on the clients that come through your door, and the style of bar you want to be. For consultancy including on the layout and design of your menu to maximise your sales, drinks choices and pricing, please email me directly and we can work on your menu together.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: