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Mixology

The Simple Science of Drink Menus

February 26, 2013 By: Kristen Santoro


Does you bar need a boost when it comes to creating new and exciting drink menus? Are you designing your menu layout to optimize margins and revenues? If not, then it’s time to rethink the way you present one of the most important documents your venue has. Make sure your menu works hard for you by designing it properly.

The goal of a drink menu is to maximize profitability by subconsciously encouraging customers to buy what you want them to and showcases your best and most profitable cocktail. By properly structuring your drink menu you can squeeze more profits out of your operation. Jon Taffer, President of Nightclub & Bar Media Group and Star of Spike TV’s hit show Bar Rescue states that there are three main components to think about when creating a new drink menu. 

The first is demographic targeting; meaning you need to understand who your audience is and the price point that’s suitable for them. There is a big difference between creating a beverage program based on a premium well or a regular well. The products that you showcase on your menu should complement your target demographic while staying within their price point.  For example, you need to determine whether or not your demographic target and your business can support well based cocktails with a 14% cost at $4 or premium cocktails at a 20% cost for $7. 

Quite simple but consistently overlooked by venues creating or revamping a beverage menu is the second component.  Basically, it comes down to male vs. female. You need to understand how important the female audience is to your establishment states Taffer. If you run a sports bar that is 85% male, then your drink menu should cater to the tastes and choices typically associated with men. However, if you have a dance club where you need 60% females you better make sure that this is taken into consideration.

Finally it comes down to regions. If you’re in southern California you should have tequila based cocktails on your menu as it’s usually consumed in higher quantities in this portion of the country than say New England. However, there are staple spirits that should be incorporated into every cocktail menu.  “Every menu should have a vodka and flavored vodka cocktail; they are too popular to ignore,” says Taffer. “You also need a margarita. It’s the most popular mixed drink nationwide and it would be unwise not to have one.” In addition to these it’s best to have at least one rum and one whiskey based cocktail to round out the menu. 

Once these main components are carefully thought through you need to make sure that you emphasize the importance of the design and layout. “If there’s no emphasis on graphic design then your menu looks unimportant,” reminds Taffer, and sales can suffer. Even on a drink menu you want to box or shadow the things that you are known for.  “Everything should be premeditated and purposeful when it comes to your menu,” states Taffer. “It must be deliberate or it won’t succeed.”


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