Bar snacks help increase sales and keep customers drinking.
At Café Adelaide & the Swizzle Stick Bar in New Orleans, guests are able to sample a range of culinary delights while they drink at the bar, spending very little money.
Here, there’s a very large happy hour bar snacks menu, provided deliberately to give guests a taste of what’s on the restaurant’s lunch and dinner menus. These dishes are all served in small portions.
Bar snacks are a great way to boost revenue and encourage guests to linger.
“We want to get people excited about the food we’re serving – excited enough to come back. And, we make sure to serve bar snacks that are very flavor-forward – enough to get keep people drinking.”
The dishes include Shrimp & Tasso Corndogs; Chef’s Seasonal Rillettes (made with whatever meat is in season, but often duck or pork confit); Cochon & Cracklin’ Nachos (nachos New Orleans style, topped with slow cooked pork, crispy cracklins, and pimento cheese); and House Smoked Boudin Boulettes.
The snacks cost $3 to $6 during happy hour (3:00 PM to 6:00 PM). “These prices are very cost effective for our guests and that price range gives the flexibility to order without spending all their money before dinner,” Bickford points out.
Bickford keeps the bar menu fresh with new snacks, mostly as new menus come out but also as inspiration hits her. “We think about local ingredients, and what we want to represent, and different flavor profiles.” For the summer she’s working on some lighter snacks such as a drunk melon salad with watermelon and cantaloupe, marinated with different spirits, with greens and a granola, and a creamy cheese; and a Gulf seafood escabeche.
Bar snacks were added at Copper & Oak, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, as a way to keep customers there longer. The bar serves only neat drinks – no cocktails or wine – in 1-oz. or 2-oz. pours, with 1 oz. being the most popular, says owner Flavien Desoblin.
“Customers don’t stay for a long time, and even if they do end up staying, they don’t plan to stay for long,” he says. Since he’s added the bar snacks menu, customers have been hanging out more.
On the menu are anchovies; giant Spanish olives; “ponsoy” chips, rye whiskey-roasted Brazil nuts; parmigiano chips, biscotti, and a pork and beef sausage stick. Prices range from $5 to $12, with the anchovies being the most expensive. The olives and Brazil nuts are the favorites. All of the snacks are simple since the bar has no kitchen.
Each bar snack also lists a spirit – or spirits – it pairs perfectly with. The biscotti, for example, are ideal with Cognac or rum. The food always comes second here, Desoblin says, so guests order food to go with their beverage, rather than the other way around.
To encourage longer stays, Copper & Oak may give away some bar snacks during the early evening, and on Sundays they’re complimentary from 2:00 PM until 10:00 PM.
This fall Desoblin will probably remove the least popular bar snacks and add in a couple of new ones.