People drink with their eyes, which means that the better the view, the more money for you. Based on the standing-room-only “50 Ideas in 50 Minutes” session presented by author and beverage management guru Robert Plotkin and NCB Publisher and Editorial Director Donna Hood Crecca during the Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show in Las Vegas in March, here are five tips for product presentation that sells. But first, here’s the real tip: Presentation matters, but if what’s in the glass doesn’t deliver, then you squander an opportunity to create a lifelong customer.
Product and Presentation — Selling Both the Sizzle and the Steak
Muddling – Injecting Cocktail With Fresh Ingredients
Muddling does for a cocktail what high definition does for television. In both instances the result is crisper, more brilliant and, ultimately, yields a more pleasurable experience. The drinks prepared with muddled ingredients are a slice above the rest, typically possessing supple, satiny textured bodies, generous bouquets and palates imbued with enticing, tree-ripened flavors.
Equally beneficial is that the technique effectively expands what products can be incorporated into drink making, a nearly endless selection of ingredients ranging from ginger, cucumbers and peppers to basil, mint and every type of fresh fruit imaginable. Factor in how it enhances production value and you’ll begin to appreciate why muddling has become a significant beverage trend.
Double Straining – Serve Fresh Cocktails With No Floaties
For some time, venerable drinks like the Mojito and Old Fashioned marked the extent of a muddler’s professional range, with the prevailing rationale being that swirling pulp and muddled debris had no place in cocktails. However, today’s top-notch bartenders rendered the status quo passé by outfitting their bars with handled tea strainers. At once, the creative floodgates were thrown open. Mixologists and bar chefs soon began crafting cocktails by muddling fresh products directly in shakers rather than the traditional service glass. Then after vigorously shaking the contents — ice, muddled fruit and all — the bartender pours the frothing cocktail through the fine mesh strainer en route to the chilled glass waiting below. Nary a trace of flotsam makes its way to the finished cocktail.
Gun Control – Bottled Mixers Enhance Quality, Production Quality
The better the ingredients, the better the drink. Despite their higher cost, bottled mixers make crisper, livelier drinks. They’re bottled at the right brix level with high-quality, long-lasting carbonation — two things that can’t be said for mixers dispensed out of on-premise post-mix systems.
Ice Balls – Not All Ice is Created Equally
The nature of the ice used is an important consideration when making cocktails. Its contribution goes beyond lowering the temperature of a cocktail to its proper serving temperature. The relative hardness of ice is an often-overlooked attribute. If ice isn’t hard enough it will melt too quickly and over-dilute the cocktail. Another consideration is the nature of the water used to make ice, the quality of which will affect the taste of the finished drink.
Additionally, the size and shape of the ice you use plays a key role in how a drink will taste. According to Debbi Peek, portfolio mixologist for Bacardi USA, small ice cubes tend to melt faster than larger cubes and therefore more quickly dilute mixed drinks. “Since ice balls are round they melt slowly and won’t over dilute a cocktail. They’re crystal clear and last a long time, leaving the first sip as cold as the last,” she says.
Backbar Management – What to Stock and How to Best Merchandise It
Regardless of the type of beverage operation you’re running, the backbar is your principal and most effective marketing device. Ensure that it has the right product mix and that it best supports your beverage program. In these challenging economic times, it’s important to reduce your inventory levels, which will result in freeing up working capital and lessen your exposure to loss. Distinguish between underperforming products — those that take four months or longer to deplete — and dead stock, which are products that remain on the shelf longer than nine months. Underperforming products have low returns on investment, while dead stock are ultimately financial lost causes.