Just as the perfect dishware plays foil to a memorable main course, a great drinks menu enhances a diner’s experience altogether. Whether you serve horchata, sorrel, saké or Manhattans, putting together a striking beverage program should be top of mind for any restaurateur looking to increase sales.
We’ve brought in cocktail specialist Ricardo Anthony to guide you through the do’s and don'ts of a drinks menu. Anthony also has acumen in areas stretching from food and beverage program management to catering logistics. Here are four tips he has for those looking to start a beverage program or simply hone one already in existence:
Nothing is more important than catering to your neighborhood and regular customers. As Anthony explains, getting to know your patrons' tastes is crucial to good bartending. Take stock of your clients’ frequent drink requests, budgets and of course, the ambience of your own establishment. All of these environmental factors will help you to decide where to take your menu, whether it be classic cocktails, beer and wine, or even tiki drinks.
Patrons can be overwhelmed when handed a pages-long drink list. Instead, focus on making a few cocktails really well, ensuring less research work for the customer as well as less expenditure for you on a long list of libation ingredients. Anthony suggests keeping your menu closer to 5 signature cocktails, while also taking customer requests for classic drinks when possible.
You shouldn’t be spending an arm and a leg to get your bar stocked. Anthony recommends cutting back on costs by making your own sweeteners and other mixers. Then splurge on good spirits and premium garnishes, two components that will stand out no matter what cocktail you’re making. A well-made spirit forms the backbone of any cocktail, and whether putting a signature spin on your old-fashioned or marketing your cocktails for take out, diners drink first with their eyes.
Ensure that your food offerings complement your libations to make the dining experience memorable. As you craft a drinks menu, consult with your chef and taste potential drinks alongside your food to be sure there is a dish pairing for each drink.
To conclude, we asked Anthony for his desert island cocktail list: the drinks he would serve if limited to just three. His choices speak to breadth, variety and a long pedigree. An Old Fashioned, a Martini, and a Margarita - something for everyone at a microscale. So keep in mind that even if your budget is small, you can always find a way to appeal to a diverse clientele. Once your menu is cemented, give us a shout! We’d love to help you get those offerings online as soon as possible. So try out Views, HERE!