The Best Drinks to Beat the Heat
Cocktails reimagined as popsicles might be one of the “coolest” trends to hit the bar scene. Though these unique treats may not always be the easiest feat, this frozen fad has the potential to rule your summer menus! Could it be possible that the best drinks to beat the heat aren’t even technically drinks?
Popsicle-cocktails or “poptails”—as Julian Bayuni of Vesper Bar in Amsterdam cheekily refers to them— are a whimsical take on frozen cocktails. One can enjoy them as a simple dessert or swirl them around in a glass to let the flavors slowly melt into an accompanying drink. Either way, these eye-catching frozen treats are a great way to refresh your cocktail menus for the summer months. Though poptails may appear to be daunting to prepare, with just a little research you’ll see why they’re a perfect fit for your drink program. Read on for a few tips to keep in mind to execute these summertime treats effectively and profitably!
Tip #1: Keep it Simple, Classic & Juicy!
So, how can you begin reimagining your cocktail recipes into delicious frozen poptails? One thing to keep in mind is that a poptail’s juice-to-spirits ratio is equally important as flavor. To ensure proper freezing and consistency, poptails require both spirits and non-alcoholic ingredients. We recommend beginning with a ratio of roughly 5:1 non-alcoholic ingredients (i.e. water or juice) to 80 proof spirit.
Though this ratio is a great place to start, it’s important to remember that certain cocktail styles will naturally be better suited for their poptail debut. For example, high ABVs will typically prevent spirit-forward cocktails (like Old Fashioneds, Martinis, and Manhattans) from freezing. On the other hand, all “Sour-Style” cocktails (those using a spirit, citrus and sweet element) will work great when properly proportioned! Keep in mind that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel in order to offer fun and unique options on your menu. Start simple by making poptails out of well-loved classics, like the Paloma or Margarita - they’re just as delicious as normal cocktails, yet even more appealing when frozen!
Tip #2: Think Outside the Box
Poptails can also be a brilliant way to incorporate unexpected cocktails, low abv options or culinary treats at your venue. Take advantage of this blank canvas to play with flavors and ingredients that are unique to your bar concept or menu offerings. This way, you can craft personalized options that are true to your local flair and that can only be found at your bar or restaurant! Since poptails offer the perfect vessel for limitless creative combinations, your team can experiment with unusual flavors like Scotch and Honeydew or Watermelon and Chili Peppers to create their own sophisticated twists on drinks, desserts and sorbets.
Speaking of dessert, don’t forget the fan-favorite: ice cream! Reimagine this summer staple by taking inspiration from some of the classics. For example, creamy cocktails like an Orange Dreamsicle with Ketel One Vodka or a Baileys Frozen Mudslide are never-fail fan favorites.
Tip #3: Creative Solutions for Potential Challenges
When considering a menu revision, only you will know what concepts are right for your bar or restaurant. Every decision comes with pros and cons, but with some creative thinking, you and your staff can find ways to make any idea work! For example, in the case of poptails, it’s no secret that freezer space is a premium in bars and restaurants, and behind-the-bar freezer space is even harder to find. If you want to offer your guests these delightful treats but know there isn’t enough freezer space to keep them available throughout service, offer them only in specific windows throughout the evening. Late-night or Happy Hour are perfect times to draw guests in with a unique experience. Plus, guests are used to limited offerings during these windows, so changing menus (without guest friction) will be a breeze.
Additionally, advertising limited availability items adds excitement to the menu; a transition that feels special. For example, the move from lunch or brunch offerings to the dinner menu can often feel uncomfortable to guests, especially if that means no more Eggs Benedict! Introducing limited availability offerings can smooth these transitions and enhance the guest experience. Alternatively, you can exclusively offer these specialist cocktails on a secret menu – driving organic buzz and allure around these more exclusive options! This tactic is a great way of launching a particular item into the market with immediate pop-culture appeal.
Tip #4: Highlight Their Unique Value
Given their eye-catching appeal, poptails are a great way to capture the attention of your target consumers. By making even simple adjustments to your promotional plan, you’ll be able to reinforce their value and test higher price points. For example, if you highlight these unique offerings in a separate section of the menu or use your social channels to emphasize their limited availability, consumers will naturally be drawn to these one-of-a-kind concoctions and will likely be willing to pay more for the associated experience. In other words, when leveraged correctly, poptails can be used to directly impact your profit margins.
All that said, margin does not always equal true “value.” For example, though a vodka soda may have a higher margin than your poptail, the poptail may have a higher value based on a few different factors. Since these frozen treats are very visually appealing, they can be used to generate press or buzz for your venue through online promotion and social sharing. On the other hand, since poptails are sure to turn a few heads, they may be repeatedly ordered after guests see it carried across the room to another customer. With this in mind, though the margin may be slightly lower at your bar, this offering would be contributing marketing value to the business while also driving potential sales. Either way you spin it, poptails have such a unique value – it all just depends on how you personally choose to use them in your bar or restaurant.
In sum, anyone who has designed a cocktail menu before knows that there’s no invention without some risk and a lot of play. Cocktail popsicles might not be the high-volume answer to your summer push, but they surely leave an impression. As a dessert, garnish, or cocktail unto their own— poptails make delightful and engaging ambassadors of summer fun anywhere! When implemented effectively, poptails can build rapport with guests, create niche appeal, and keep them coming back for more. Check out the recipes below to try them for yourself!
½ cup Don Julio Blanco
3 cups grapefruit soda
6 tbs. fresh lime juice
1 slice of grapefruit (per mold)
Blend and pour into ice molds, freeze.
Makes 12-15 pops.
½ cup Ketel One Vodka
3 cups (2 - 12oz. cans) ginger beer
6 tbs. lime juice
1 tps. lime zest
Lime wheels for garnish
Blend and pour into ice molds, freeze.
Makes 12-15 pops.