What you sell and how you present it is the foundation of your business’ success. To keep today’s sophisticated clientele coming back, both elements have to be in sync or your seats will soon be empty and your doors closed. To quote the old cliché, you have to sell the steak and the sizzle – in other words, make a great product and present it with flair. And behind the scenes, you have to work your costs, operations and training to do so profitably. From the “50 Money-Making Ideas in 50 Minutes” session presented at the recent Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show by author and beverage management consultant Robert Plotkin of BarMedia and Nightclub & Bar publisher and editorial director Donna Hood Crecca, here are this week’s five ideas for successful bar management.
Product and Presentation — Selling Both the Sizzle and the Steak
Be Prepared For Success – Stock Proper Bartending Tools
This is one of first things King Cocktail Dale DeGroff teaches: Chefs have their own tools; bartenders should too. Chances are good that the house will not provide them, so as a bartender, you need to put together a tool kit with the necessary tools to build great drinks: jiggers, shakers, strainers, bar spoons, muddlers, even knives. When you arrive, set up your station so everything you need is within arm’s reach and ready to go. For the operator, look for this level of preparedness and professionalism when hiring bartenders.
Drink-Making in a .08 Universe – Smaller Portions, Lower Concentrations
Today’s DWI laws dictate responsible drink making, and that means concocting cocktails that don’t deliver exorbitant amounts of alcohol. The days of the highly potent Margarita in a fishbowl are over! Traditional cocktails were much smaller than the ones poured today, so if you’re tapping into the retro trend, feel free to reduce total ounces (given, of course, that you’re providing a superior drink and you explain as much to the guest). And, consider that syrups, tinctures and other alcohol-free flavoring agents can take the place of liqueurs – a means of delivering flavor with less alcohol.
Sparkling Mixology – Champagne Cocktails are Classy, Delicious, Profitable
Adding Champagne to a cocktail really takes it up a notch in terms of visual and flavor appeal to the guest, not to mention perceived value. This little splash of luxury elevates the occasion and the drink experience. Something as simple as vodka and pineapple topped with Champagne takes the drink, and the profit margin, considerably upscale.
Think Global Sparklers – Prosecco, Cavas and Others
French bubbly is not your only option. Sparklers from outside the famed Champagne region are less expensive. Look to Italy, Spain, South America, California and beyond for different styles that can really bring something unique to a cocktail. These sparklers also deliver on the bottom line, as they’re less expensive than Champagne, and provide an opportunity for a little guest education about global bubbles.
Recipes for Success – Drink Consistency Counts
Use drink recipes – especially for signature cocktails and popular drinks. Have recipes readily available to all bartenders and insist they follow them. The result is better cost controls and a better guest experience, both of which improve your bottom line. Guests will come back time and again if the Margarita is always as good as they remember.