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Cranberry, Orange Juice and Tonic Water Again? Let’s Mix Up Table Mixers

November 10, 2011 By: Sean Evans

No matter which club you’re in, bottle service is ubiquitously standard. Regardless of the city or the format of the venue those opting for bottles are issued the stock set of mixers (cranberry, orange juice, tonic and soda water). Sure, you can ask for a carafe of Sprite or Coke (if you’ve ordered whiskey), which are often complimentary, and cans of Red Bull are available for an additional charge, but beyond that the options are essentially nonexistent. Why is that?

We’re in the age of the custom cocktail. The mixologist is back with a vengeance and has introduced extensive lists of carefully crafted libations. New and unique ingredients are finding their way into our drinks and our palates are finding them so pleasing that our wallets are willing to part with $20 per drink (and an upcharge if the venue is pretentious enough to request more for the Kold-Draft ice.) It's clear consumers appreciate the time, thought and care that is going into their glass. Yet, when it comes to choosing bottles that mindset is completely forgotten and cheap and generic mixers are plunked down alongside the spirit.

Considering the high premium that accompanies bottle service – and the fact that it’s about all the attention that’s paid to the guest, from the placement of the table to the VIP host knowing their name – the final product of the drink is severely lacking. Vodka still dominates the bulk of table sales but that doesn’t mean the resulting tableside pours can’t be as tasty as what’s being created behind the bar.

The mixer realm also represents an area of lost revenue. Operators should think outside of only providing complimentary juices and sodas from the bar’s gun. There’s no reason they can’t offer – for additional fees – quality bottled sodas and juices that come from independent labels, such as Fever-Tree, or they can work with an outside group such as Alchemy Consulting to help bartenders make their own syrups, tonics and other mixers in-house. At your venue, you can have carafes of blends available on your bottle service menu, too. Imagine being able to offer a Cosmopolitan mix, or a Moscow Mule mix, already prepared. All the servers have to do is add in the vodka at the table. Now picture how much extra money you could charge for those options.

There’s no reason to overlook specialty ice offerings either. The Jimmy at the James in NYC’s Soho goes so far as to freeze bits of cinnamon sticks in their ice cubes for some of their bourbon-based drinks to spice up the liquid as it melts.

Admittedly, it would cost more in raw ingredients to implement a high-end mixer program, but the consumer knows the difference. Ultimately, it would stand to set your brand apart from the masses, and any point of differentiation and innovation within nightlife means your market will eventually buzz about it, as well as your venue. If marketed and sold properly, the result would be higher rings and happier clients. After all, no one’s currently bragging, “I had the most amazing bottle service last night. It was so delicious.”


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