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Mixology

Specialty Drinks, Ingredients Raise Revenue

May 12, 2010 By: Robert Plotkin


What’s in the glass matters to your bottom line, so be creative in what you’re offering and how you’re presenting it to your guests. The fact is, most patrons already have a go-to drink when they come through your doors, but can be convinced to switch out for the mixer or go for more innovative ingredients and handcrafted spirits. So don’t shy away from alerting them to your special offerings or from creating a signature drink that will make your bar the must-revisit stop or newest hotspot an any evening. Based on the standing-room-only “50 Ideas in 50 Minutes” session presented by author and beverage management guru Robert Plotkin and NCB Publisher and Editorial Director Donna Hood Crecca during the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas in March, here are five tips for specialty drinks, spirits and ingredients that sell.

Local Micro-Distilled Spirits – Small Batch Brands on the Charts With a Bullet
Small distillers are handcrafting some of the finest spirits produced, possibly down the road from your establishment. Highly acclaimed vodkas like Tito’s Handmade, Cold River, Vermont Gold, Hangar One and 45th Parallel are pot-still wonders with the authentic feel of home. In the whiskey arena, distillers such as Tuthilltown in upstate New York, Pritchards in Tennessee, Dry Fly near Spokane, Wash., and Templeton in Iowa are grabbing double golds in the international competition. With the renaissance of the cocktail and the ever-growing interest in high quality spirits, stocking brands like Bluecoat gin and Charbay Rum, Charbay Tequila Blanco and their micro-distilled brethren makes considerable sense.

Sessionability – What the Classics Have and the Rest Don’t
The essential quality that all great cocktails share in common is sessionability. The term is used to describe a drink so engaging that people stick with it throughout the course of a night. Success in this case depends entirely on balancing the drink’s characteristics so they can be appreciated equally. Stray toward any one extreme and you’re headed for trouble: A drink with too much flavor will quickly become overbearing; not enough and it’ll be a lackluster dud. Go for balance and you’ll wind up with more customers staying longer and spending more.

Develop a Signature – Specialty Drinks a Dime a Dozen
Most bars and lounges today sport drink menus loaded with specialty drinks, which is a smart business tactic. But equally sage is working to develop a cocktail so intriguing and universally appealing that it becomes the signature of the house. Ultimately, crafting an amazing cocktail is an exacting science involving drops, dashes and dollops — the combining of dissimilar ingredients so that in the end, the sum becomes more than its parts. Create a popular masterpiece and the world will beat down your front door for a sip. Where else are they going to go to get it?

Sangria – Profit-Laded and Certified Delicious
Americans get cranky when parched. On those summer nights when the A/C isn’t cutting it, there’s nothing more thirst quenching and delicious than Sangria. Best of all, it’s a forgiving concoction, so you can’t make a wrong mix. It’s a classic punch traditionally made with red wine, fresh fruit and a wide assortment of spirits and liqueurs. It’s easily prepared, loaded with profit and a perfect companion for light summer fare.

In Praise of Syrups – Simple, Agave and Flavored Cocktail-Essential
In a business where success is measured one sip at a time, serving guests dull cocktails is hardly an option. So bar chefs and mixologists are increasingly using syrups to bolster the flavor of cocktails. One viable tactic is infusing simple syrups with the flavor of cucumber, peppers, spices, ginger or seasonal fruit. Another creative outlet is relying on a premium brand like Monin to deliver a true-to-fruit payload regardless of the season or market availability. Creative potential alone qualifies them as indispensable.


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