Are you making drinks with flavours your guests demand?
Caveat – in the UK, many bars need to list their entire cocktail menu as there isn’t always the assumption that bartenders can make off menu drinks.
There has long been a trend for using unexpected or unfamiliar flavours in drinks. It’s often seen as a way to show how progressive or original a bar is, but there is a danger that it can alienate guests.
It’s vital that even if you choose this way to demonstrate your mastery of flavour that your menu also includes “safe” options. Not every guest wants something adventurous every time they visit your bar.
There are certain drinks and flavour combinations that are classics and popular for a reason – not every drink has to reinvent the wheel.
Does your menu describe them in a way your guests can understand?
Not every guest in your bar will be interested in every ingredient in each drink, but they’ll at least want to know roughly what to expect of the drink they’re throwing $12-20 at.
Not everyone will know what Tonka beans or tobacco taste of, or even the practical differences between lemon and lime juices. Even if they have an idea of the individual flavours, how do they work together?
Can your guest even tell from the menu if they’re getting a long drink on the rocks, something short and boozy or even straight up vs frozen? Different occasions and moods will find these factors more important to a decision even than the flavours.
Can your bartenders explain the menu to your guests clearly?
Just as important, if not more than your written menu is how well your bartenders can explain the detail and what to expect from the drinks on the menu.
Not just what the individual drinks taste like but how they relate to one another that counts here. Your bartenders should be able to take the guests through a journey from the first drink they order and progress them through flavours in a rational way.
How do you bring people through the doors to order the drinks?
Nothing matters if no-one comes into the bar to actually buy anything. So make sure you encourage social engagement. Dark bars were all the rage a few years ago but they’re terrible for the gram, so keep things a little lighter. Engage on social platforms as much as you can and be genuinely interested if you want to do well.