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.
 

Non-Alcoholic Mixology 101: How to Attract Guests With 'Mocktails'

Non-Alcoholic Mixology 101: How to Attract Guests With 'Mocktails'

By Brian Murphy, Foodable Industry Expert

Non-alcoholic drinks are on the rise, and mixologists are up for the challenge of mixing up delicious alternatives to the standard non-alcoholic beverages. A choice of iced tea and lemonade in addition to soft drinks should no longer be the exclusive options, as discriminating guests are venturing further down the road of craft beverages.

Guests choosing not to consume alcohol are demanding to not feel left out, or simply overlooked, for not holding up their end of the shifting societal norm (and increased check average). Indulge them, and while you are at it, make the people consuming their go-to alcoholic beverage take notice of your leadership stance on craft, non-alcoholic drinks in the process.

Read More

The Pop Up of Craft Soda: How a Big Brand’s Smaller Focus Makes a Giant Impact

The Pop Up of Craft Soda: How a Big Brand’s Smaller Focus Makes a Giant Impact

By Mae Velasco, Custom Content Editor

[Editor’s Note: This is a sponsored post.]

Soft drinks have been going through some hard times.

Soda is falling flat, not necessarily in flavor, but in consumption. ABC News reported that 2015 marked the lowest consumption per capita in the last 30 years, and according to Fortune, sales for carbonated soft drinks have declined for the 11th year in a row. Needless to say, this isn’t a mere trend we’re seeing in consumer demand. It’s a tremendous societal shift.

The bloodline of a brand is consumer love and loyalty, but it has become increasingly challenging for brands to thrive and woo today’s consumer. As buyers have become more educated and more invested in the quality of experience in their foodservice, they expect more — more transparency on ingredient sourcing, more unique culinary flavor profiles, or more storytelling to resonate with their purchasing decisions.

However, it’s not to say that the pop industry is about burst. A CDC study revealed that one in three American consumers drink soda every day. Major brand sodas have a relatively high consumer sentiment score of 78.12 out of 100, as shown in a recent Foodable Labs report. Still, there’s no denying that the soda industry has to rethink its strategies to avoid a complete fizz out. But how? By offering more options in terms of fun flavor selections and premium ingredients. And what new beverage segment does just that?

Two words: craft soda.

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McAlister’s Reveals Consumers Rather Give up Chocolate than Sweet Tea in New Survey

McAlister’s Reveals Consumers Rather Give up Chocolate than Sweet Tea in New Survey

By Kerri Adams, Editor-at-Large

The fast casual chain, known for its popular sweet tea product revealed some interesting consumer insights from a recent survey the brand conducted.

1000+ participated in the survey. 57% of the respondents said they would rather give up the fan-favorite treat, chocolate than sweet tea.

Some of the other survey findings include–

  • 69% of respondents said a glass of sweet tea is better than a good afternoon nap.
  • Even though coffee is still the most popular specialty beverage, 43% of the those surveyed would trade a cup of coffee for sweet tea.
  • 57% prefer to have lemon with their sweet tea.
  • 48% would drive at least three miles out of their way to get some sweet tea.
  • 93% believe sweet tea can be enjoyed all year round.
  • 34% of those in the Southeast enjoy a glass of sweet tea a day, 33% do so in the Southwest, 28% in the Northeast and 22% of Westerners are daily sweet tea drinkers.
Read More

Innovations from NRA Show 2016

At the NRA Show, the industry's biggest and most dynamic trade show and event, it is an endless sea of exhibitions, educational sessions, products, and new ideas across the 2.6-million-square-foot-space of Chicago's McCormick Place convention center. Needless to say, while every inch is filled with discoveries, it can get a little overwhelming.

In this episode of "Rock My Restaurant," show hosts William Bender and Eric Norman do the leg work for you. After walking the floor, they sit down and product review some of the best innovations they spotted at NRA Show 2016. Trying to figure out the latest software and technology to take your restaurant to the next level? Check out these finds and get ready to rock your restaurant.

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The Lineup

Noodoe: Noodoe could potentially be the next breakthrough in efficiency and speed of service. This device consists of a wristband, which servers wear, and a cube with different icons symbolizing different needs, such as a check or beverage refill, that the table of guests hold onto. These pieces of tech connect wirelessly to the cloud and effortlessly speeds up waiter-to-diner communications, and in the future, could lead to better communications to the back of house.

"I thought that [Noodoe] was pretty cool because it's fully customizable, too, so the owner or operator can put anything they want on there. So, depending on what side the little unit is sitting on, that's what translates to your wristband," Eric said.

Zenreach: Email capture and marketing is one of the most challenging aspects when it comes to improving your restaurant's client base. Through Zenreach, brands can build a database through their Wi-Fi. When guests log in by submitting their email addresses, Zenreach collects this information and brands can use these lists to drive sales in marketing, whether through sent reminders, customer loyalty programs, or other incentives.

HotSchedules: HotSchedules it a revolutionary, restaurant management platform. From talent recruiting, to a continuous training e-learning program, to flexible staff scheduling, to instant message communications, this software does a lot of hard work to make processes a lot easier. Not to mention other features such as inventory and asset management — what can't you accomplish with HotSchedules?

STUBBORN Soda: STUBBORN soda is a paragon of what craft beverage should be all about. Through its natural ingredients and unique flavors (Orange Hibiscus, Lemon Berry Açaí, or Pineapple Cream Soda, anyone?), guests will be thirsty for more.

"What this does is really allow an operator to be better, special, or different," Bill said. "They also have a wonderful dispenser for fast casual restaurants called a pumper."

TradingTable: Whether you are an operator, distributor, or supplier, it doesn't matter what side of the table you sit on — this digital, paperless ordering platform connects each party involved in the transaction. It is a seamless solution and is a total automation of a purchasing agent's duties. The system has algorithms set to help operators find the best prices for products, which they can then order through the platform.

Ovention: Ovention may look like a typical conveyor oven, but this high-capacity, high-speed oven has two shuttles, allowing chefs to cook different food items with similar cooking temperatures. Chicken strips cooking on one side (through closed cooking, which means no need for exhausts or hoods) can then switch over to cookies on the other. This maximizes versatility and speed.

Riage X3: Two words: massage chair. 

"You were able to fit that into your schedule?" Bill asked.

"Ahh, 20 minutes of pure heaven, man. I could hardly get out of the chair" Eric said.

Watch the full episode now!