At Red Square, located in Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, the menu features 30 cocktails and vodkas from around the globe. One vodka that sells particularly well in cocktails is Kai, made in Vietnam. The increased sales on this brand are due mostly to a staff incentive program headed up by general manager Kari Olsen.
“We do an incentive program every few months where we allow the bartenders to create a drink with Kai, either the regular or the lychee flavor, and then the entire staff gets to vote for the favorite and that drink is added to the menu,” she says. “We have done this about three or four times, and the staff gets really into it.”
At a pre-shift meeting, the group gathers to taste the different cocktails and fill out comment cards on which they like best and why.
“Having them explain why they like the ones that they do helps the bartenders get feedback and an idea of what people are looking for in taste,” Olsen explains. “The winning cocktail is not separately highlighted in any way on the actual menu, but it’s usually a big seller since the winning bartender always suggests it, and the servers feel a little more attached to it, so they promote it tableside as well.”
Kai supplies the bartenders with sample bottles to play with so the bar doesn’t work through the stocked product. The most recent winner is the Kai Blossom, which appears on the spring/summer menu.
“We estimate,” Olsen continues, “that these cocktails account for at least 30 percent of our overall cocktail sales each night.”