Beverage is a fluid business — pun intended — where product is merchandised through menu descriptions, brands, photos, server suggestions and taste. But when was the last time you sought out glassware advancements to enhance your bar program?
Maybe it’s time to do just that. Guests drink with their eyes. In fact, research shows that a drink sells better when its photo is available on menus and table tents. And we all know that a spectacularly presented drink turns heads as it makes its way across the bar, so capitalizing on smart glassware choices can affect your sales positively. These days, many patrons also appraise the libation placed before them on its appearance. The vessel you choose for serving drinks can influence how guests order as well as their perception of your establishment. Glassware choices also can impact your overall operating costs.
Luckily, bar glassware manufacturers continue to innovate, pushing the limits of production processes and various materials to develop high-quality, functional and decorative products. Currently, manufacturers are strengthening rims while reducing rim thickness, providing a more focused channel for beverages to be experienced in the mouth. Some companies guarantee that the rims, stems and feet of certain brands will not chip, which is a nice insurance on your investment.
Double-walled glasses, new to the market, are making a splash. Recent rollouts include one-piece models featuring two walls of glass separated by a layer of air. The design protects cold beverages, such as beer, from hand heat and ambient temperature, enabling the beverage to remain at the proper temperature for optimal enjoyment. The same double-wall principle allows operators to serve hot beverages in handle-free glassware.
Over the past few years, a few manufacturers also have been experimenting with resin. Adding resin to the inside of a glass or between glass layers can help prevent shattering, thus reducing worker and guest injuries and lowering replacement costs. Utilizing resin also can protect glassware decorations or branding from hands and dishwater. Currently, a small group of manufacturers is developing ways to reduce glassware weight and ensure more efficient mass production.
Plasticware also is vastly improved. Select manufacturers are marketing lightweight, seamless plastic glasses featuring clean lines that rival actual glass. This styling increases presentation value while providing the benefits of being shatter-resistant. Available for everything from bubbly to beer, many plastic glasses are dishwasher safe; what’s more, modern polycarbonate options are a far cry from the renditions of years ago, which would cloud up after just a few runs through the washer.
The type of glassware — or stylish plasticware such as those above — you choose for your establishment can influence your clientele’s drink selections as well as overall operating costs.
Beer glassware is a segment that’s truly evolving. The days of the standard “mixing-glass” pint are beginning to fade as operators focus on serving craft and imported beers in glassware shaped to accentuate the taste experience of the specific beer. Beer glassware styles are becoming available to bars, including the chalice, pilsner, pint/nonic/tumbler, snifter, tulip, weizen and mug/stein.
One of the latest glassware trends actually involves the use of ice. A variety of machines and molds can produce glass-shaped ice; pre-made ice glasses also are available. Although these chilly glasses are a great way to merchandise drinks, their increased costs should be calculated into the drink’s selling price. Preparation/freezing time, behind-the-bar freezer storage and equipment costs also should be considered.
As the popularity of beer, wine and cocktail flight samplers grows, the number of miniature-glassware offerings also is increasing. Additionally, a wide variety of miniature decanters can be used with wine-by-the-glass programs to portion and present premium wines decoratively, increasing the perceived value for the guest.
A variety of innovative cutting-edge glassware currently is available, so you should approach glassware selection with an eye on form and function. You quickly will see how glassware selection can impact your sales and cost-control goals. Cross-utilize glassware to limit the inventory you will require, but take advantage of at least some specialty products to differentiate your beverage program and grow sales. NCB