7 Strategies for Building a More Effective Beverage Program

7 Strategies for Building a More Effective Beverage Program

Every drop counts! Beverages arguably play a larger role in the industry today than they ever did before! 

You could try and make everyone happy by offering dozens of options at your restaurant, cafe, or bar, but we all know that’s likely not going to happen. An establishment needs to carefully consider their beverage menu, whether alcohol-focused or not, and offer one that is balanced, targeted, and one that fits their concept.

Many operators continue to face a challenge, however, when it comes to developing an effective beverage strategy. As with its food counter-part, consumers are more educated today about beer, cocktails, wine, coffees, sodas, and even a variety of waters. They understand retail prices and flavor profiles because they’ve become (or think they’ve become) a barista, mixologist, and/or wine & beer connoisseur at home. When they’re dining out or visiting a bar now, they crave something that’s ‘differentiated.’ 

How can restaurants, cafes, and bars take advantage of this segment and develop a memorable, consistent, and profitable beverage strategy that creates differentiation? Here are some tips to review when creating or re-engineering your next beverage menu. 

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Tequila Recipes: Ultra-Premium Craft Tequila Cocktails Revive the Spirit

Tequila Recipes: Ultra-Premium Craft Tequila Cocktails Revive the Spirit
  • Foodable Mixologist creates Premium Artisanal Tequila Cocktail Recipes

  • Embajador shares their Ultra-Premium Craft Tequila

Today, Foodable unveils our brand new Smart Bar with our Master Mixologist, Oscar Castaneda. For such a momentous occasion, what else could we christen the set with than Tequila! Oscar introduces us to Embajador Tequila in 3 ways. Ever had sipping tequila? Well my culinarians, you’ll want to try this one.

Embajador Tequila produces premium 100% Blue Agave tequilas, offering incredible value to patrons.

For his first beverage, Oscar pairs the Platinum tequila with fresh mixes to match the quality of the spirit. Using a strong beet puree, homemade cilantro syrup, and a homemade jalapeno syrup (both using coconut sugar), he balances the tequila for a sweet and savory taste. Then in true Tequila form, he adds a lemon-lime sweet and sour mix giving a beautiful layered effect.

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Bringing Bud to the Bar: Leafly Releases Top Beverages To Complement with Cannabis

Bringing Bud to the Bar: Leafly Releases Top Beverages To Complement with Cannabis

here are now 8 U.S. states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana and more than half of the country has legalized the flower for medical use. With legalization on the rise, restaurant and bar operators are encouraged to learn how cannabis can enhance their menus.

Leafly, the largest cannabis website in the world, just released a list of 10 beverages that can be enhanced by cannabis tinctures.

What are cannabis tinctures?

A tincture, in this case, is an alcoholic extract of plant material. To qualify as a tincture, a solution should have an ethanol percentage of at least 25-60%. A tincture of cannabis is an alcoholic extraction of cannabis, which is sometimes known as “green dragon.”

Once made into a solution, tinctures can be easily added to a number of beverages to induce a high not attained by alcoholic beverages.

Top beverages include coffees, hot chocolates, and teas, though beverages like smoothies and bubble tea also make the list. See below for a couple excerpts from Leafly.

“1. Coffee - Cannabis and coffee are old companions in the Pacific Northwest, with the combination often affectionately referred to as a “Seattle Speedball.” Caffeine can help counteract the somewhat drowsy effects of cannabis, but beware, as the jolt of energy from caffeine in conjunction with some strong sativa can be overstimulating for some. “

“2. Tea - Tea is enjoyed and consumed for a variety of personal and medicinal reasons. By design, tea is comprised of an assortment of botanical ingredients that are dried and combined to create certain flavors and aromas. People also drink it for a variety of health reasons, such as ginger or mint tea for digestion, chamomile for sleep, black tea for energy and alertness, or green tea for antioxidants.

While THC is not water-soluble, a tincture will still swirl about in your hot, brewed concoction and add a little something special to your tea of choice.”

Read the full list here for more beverages on your menu that could benefit from a drop or two and let us know how you’re working cannabis into your operations.

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How To Better Profit From Crafted Cocktails

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Crafted cocktails are not a new invention, but from the days of the good old “Harvey Wallbanger” to today’s gastronomy driven “Old Fashioned,” they have evolved to complex, costly, and labor-intensive items.

“What is a crafted cocktail?,” you may ask. First off, nothing pre-made out of the bottle mixes—Fresh, fresh, oh did we mention you need freshness in your drink? That would consist of using real fruit juice made to order or prepared the day of. Please keep lime-in-the-bottle out of the bar and remember to use fine liqueurs with no artificial flavors and opt for natural flavored syrups. Fine spirits stay away from the well brands. You just can’t make it work, this is not the way to save or cut costs on the main showpiece.

So, many barmen and women think they should just stay behind the bar, but this is wrong. Today’s crafted cocktails are full of exciting ingredients from spices to fresh herbs, and use co-kitchen ingredients like pork fat, tomatoes, and fruit and vegetable scraps.

Here are some tips to keep it crafty and profitable:

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  1. Pick fine spirits for your cocktail. A little goes a long way here. A one ounce fine whisky pour in a cocktail will standout versus a two ounce well whisky. People ordering crafted cocktails are becoming more knowledgeable and will seek a small batch liquor when selecting. Yes, a fine liquor will cost more than a well brand, but lower pours will aid your costs.

  2. Batch make some of the more labor intensive items like fresh juices, and syrups during prep. They should be stored in glass not plastic. This will save labor and timing and you can control your usage throughout the day. You can also calculate your yields from your raw ingredients.

  3. Know your COSTS! Use measuring tools like jiggers to calculate costs. Set a cost goal that you are comfortable with and gives the customer value. Many times, owners are surprised to find out their cocktail list is costing them 40 percent just in products.  Know before you pour.

Formula:

Total cost of ingredients divided by the sale price equals the cocktail cost percentage per menu item. 

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  1. Keep all cocktail production under three minutes each. This has been one of the biggest speed bumps for many bar programs. Time is money, and customers don’t want to wait until their meter is out. How to make a crafted cocktail within a reasonable time? Train bar staff and know what items can be prepped beforehand and still be fresh within the given shift. You can pick off mint leaves and precut some garnishment. People still want to see the whole process, but if the bartender is making cocktails for a table away from the bar, this will not matter, as the taste and level of freshness will be the same; so saving the show for the bar top is not short changing anyone.

  2. The kitchen has a wealth of free ingredients you can use to make syrups and garnishments from just scraps. Ask the chef what he is throwing out—peels, herb, stems and more. Michelin star restaurant, Providence, in Hollywood uses many kitchen scraps in their cocktail program daily, and bar manager Kim Stodel had no previous cooking knowledge but has learned from on-staff chefs how to best utilize ingredients. It would also be great to include your chefs on your cocktail creations, as they will give you insight on which free kitchen scraps you may be able to exploit.

  3. Ask your supplier what crafted spirit specials they have. Many times you can work out a deal for case discounts and/or refunds if you just place the liquor brand name on your cocktail list. We have more small batch spirit companies than ever, and they are thirsty for business and willing to give a break in cost for a spot on your list and sales. ASK ASK and ASK and you will find a fitting brand willing to invest in lowering spirit costs. Spirit companies are willing to do joint promotions, which will also aid you in costs. Ask for package deals being offered with other items, like ginger beer. Also remember that many times your sales rep will be forgetful in offering, so you have to keep asking every week.

  4. Changing up the menu and keeping it seasonal will also keep costs down, as many of the fresh items, such as citrus and herbs, will rise in costs as they fade out of season. Use the seasons as your guide for refreshing your cocktail menu; it’s a great way to keep your cocktail menu from going stale.

When creating crafted cocktails, the end goal is to make a refreshing beverage that will leave a lasting memory on your guest.  So many bar programs end up with a list of ingredients longer than a French cookbook; don’t get caught up in making it complicated, and just keep the glass full of value and quality.