Throughout the UK, bar and restaurant owners have cottoned on to the high value of offering cocktails at their venue. This can be anything from the list of classics which include Bellini’s, mojitos and long-island ice teas, and can branch into the more exotic.
Recently I went to bar in Paris called Dernier Bar Avant La Fin Du Monde – which roughly translates to ‘the last bar before the end of the universe’. It’s a classic venue that most Parisians will know of and is famed for its array of deep mahogany chairs and tables and a selection of classic board games tucked into nooks and crannies for guests to enjoy together. What brought my friends and me back here time and time again was the ever-changing cocktail menu that makes puns out of popular culture, such as TV, film, comic books and music. In fact, the name of the bar is inspired by the second book of the popular book series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Essentially, this venue has found its niche and as a result has become one of the most popular bars in Paris.
Venue and hospitality managers must keep their cocktail offering fresh to ensure they don’t go stale, so below are some tips to help:
Perfect the classics
The cocktail classics cannot be overlooked; they are the foundation of any good cocktail menu, and often form the foundations of anything a little bit more experimental.
Recently, the Pornstar Martini was voted the most popular British cocktail – and rightly so. In fact, it’s a British invention, mixing delicious vanilla vodka with passion fruit liquor and puree, accompanied by an oh-so-sumptuous shot of prosecco. If you don’t have it on your menu, you should do, but it should be perfect. You need to consider the brand of vanilla vodka to use, the liquor too. Will you top it off with a freshly cut passion fruit and lace the glass with sugar? What prosecco will accompany?
Have some fun with your team trying different brands and coming up with the best combination that stands out for you. If the classics are good, the consumer will come back for more.
Make a house cocktail
Before Gigi’s closed earlier this year, they served a cocktail that was nearly £9,000. It was the house cocktail and was a champagne cocktail that consisted of 1990 vintage Cristal and 1888 Samalens Vieille Relique Vintage Bas Armagnac brandy, topped off with gold leaf. It was infamous among the Mayfair socialites for a time; it was known as ‘The Gigi’, and its niche was that it was simply lavish and totally in excess.
However, there is a lesson to be learned here. Create a house cocktail; and make sure it reflects you. If your bar wants a sense of excellence and excitement, create a cocktail that mirrors that, perhaps by combining two opposites such as prosecco and tequila. Be experimental but be authentic too.
If you intend to change your cocktail menu regularly, try to combine seasonal feels and flavours into your menu. Perhaps you’re creating a new cocktail menu in October – consider implementing Halloween elements to your repertoire. Have you considered what a pumpkin puree Bellini might taste like? Or perhaps a cocktail served in a hollow pumpkin with a spooky straw? Small and significant changes like these will make your establishment #instafamous overnight and cause consumers to spread the word about your limited-edition cocktail selection.
Do some research
Who are your usual customers? Who do you want to attract to your establishment? How does your cocktail menu reflect your target customers tastes and wants? These are questions you need to ask yourself. Questions that will help you produce the perfect cocktail menu.
Why not host a free cocktail tasting afternoon, with some already established customers and targeted advertising? Whip up a few favourites and allow a select few to sample them and provide open and honest feedback.
Using this information, reconsider your approach to various cocktails and keep the favourites. Your cocktails need to be by the people, for the people.
Only the best
If you wouldn’t drink it, neither will your customer. This is something hospitality professionals need to be told time and time again. You need to be using the most delicious brands to form your cocktails; that doesn’t mean you need to break the bank – but it does mean you need to consider all the elements of your cocktail and consider whether they are tasty.
You don’t want to disappoint customers by making a promising house cocktail, only to find that the core elements aren’t up to scratch.