As consumers’ concerns turn more towards their waistlines and operators think more of their bottom lines, there’s a product offering that fits both needs: dessert cocktails.
This year the Gerber Group, which owns eight bars in New York City, and other venues across the country, launched The Grasshopper, a classic drink that became popular in the 1950s and 1960s in New Orleans.
“People sometimes like to order these in place of dessert,” says Vinny Mauriello, a managing partner who spearheads the beverage program, because they’re “more fun,” he says. Dessert cocktails are especially popular with consumers who plan to move on to another bar or nightclub, he says, since “they don’t weigh you down like a heavy dessert.”
The Grasshopper costs $12 and is rolling out to all of the Gerber Group’s bars.
“You’re always going to have a better profit margin on these dessert drinks rather than food,” he adds, especially since a customer may have more than one of them, as opposed to a dessert, which is only consumed once.
Ken Hall, mixologist at Fizz in Las Vegas, which opened last month (November), agrees. “These are not the kind of drinks you’re going to drink all night long, but they’re fun. What happen is a lot of times a group of four will order four so they can each try them all.”
Fizz serves two dessert cocktails, each of which costs $18 and has food costs of $2 to $3.
The Hercules is a peanut butter and jelly cocktail made with Belvedere Black Raspberry vodka, Toschi Walnut liqueur, Pallini Raspicello raspberry liqueur, fresh raspberry puree and real peanut butter.
The Jamaica Jerk-Off is made with fresh coconut puree, Godiva Chocolate liqueur, Toschi Walnut liqueur and Ciroc Coconut vodka. The glass rim is lined with chopped coconut and cocoa.
Dessert cocktails are a great opportunity, says Gregg Rapp, “menu engineer,” based in Palm Springs, Calif.
“It’s opening a whole new daypart—or nightpart—so you’re opening the doors to customers (some of them new customers) stopping in for an after dinner drink. And when you introduce people to a new drink, they respect you for it, and the more they are going to remember you for it.”
Make your dessert cocktails easy to find. Rapp suggests having an entire section on your menu devoted to after-dinner drinks and including the cocktails in there.
The cocktails at Fizz are featured on iPad menus. “That technology allows us to post the photos and descriptions of each cocktail with a list of ingredients so guests get a great feel for what they're ordering,” says Hall. “And of course our bartenders will make suggestions too.”
At Gerber Group bars they’re offered verbally. Mauriello explains: “The best way to promote them is to simply make a suggestion to the guests as they are wrapping up their meal.”
Your customers will always find it hard to resist something sweet and colorful in a glass.