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Why You Should Create Your Bar’s Signature Serve

Signature serves are everywhere nowadays, but why are they so popular and, more importantly, why and how do you create one? We caught up with Steve Timpson from the Diageo Bar Academy training team to find out.

What is a signature serve?

A signature serve should be totally unique to your bar. The serve could be:

Why you should create a signature serve

Customers want to be inspired and have an experience they can’t replicate at home—they want something new and exciting.

1 in 3 consumers are prepared to spend more on special-edition drinks due to several social behaviors. For example, by championing a signature serve you can help create a social storm, where guests will not want to be the one left out while everyone else is enjoying your serve. Also, by changing your serve regularly a scarcity message happens, challenging guests to try it soon before it has changed again and maybe lost forever. In addition, your bar will be the only bar with this serve, meaning guests will not be able to replicate the experience anywhere else and therefore making it a really profitable unique selling point. The results—more profits for your bar and more tips for you!

Some signature serve myth busting

Myth 1: Signature serve is just a fancy phrase for a cocktail.

With a signature serve you can legitimately refer to it as “our way,” This could help stop people claiming that it is not the “correct” way to make a Daiquiri.

Myth 2: You have to have lots of ingredients to make your signature serve.

Absolutely not, a signature might just be the addition of herbs or a dash or 2 of bitters to a G&T.

Myth 3: Signature serves are really expensive to make.

Spirit and mixers are the most profitable part of your alcohol range, so long as you are sensible it can really help you achieve your bottom line profit.

How to create your signature serve

When creating your signature serve, anything goes and the consumers trying them are willing to pay that little extra for an experience. Remember this is the industry we are in, to make memories.

Step 1: Use the most popular spirit and make it premium

Think about which spirits you already sell lots of—this can really help when starting the creative process. Try to fit your serve around your guests or maybe the profile of the guest you wish to have. When putting your ideas together have a look at your existing cocktails and what is working.

By using premium versions of your most popular spirits, you can enhance flavor and give an all around more rewarding experience for the consumer.

Step 2: Ingredients

Think about using exclusive ingredients and what will make your signature serve unique to your bar. High on the consumer radar is provenance—having local links to the serve promotes loyalty to it and you. It might be that your bar is in an area famous for growing apples or you have freshly grown mint picked from your beer garden—but whatever it is shout about it!

Step 3: Think of the presentation

A signature serve should stand out, be that with an interesting glass, a beautiful garnish or a flaming flourish.

Have a good think about what you wish to serve your drink in—this will focus you when piecing the serve together so you know how much liquid and ice may be in the finished drink.

Step 4: Name your signature serve

The name of your signature serve is important. Make sure the name says something, not only about the drink but equally about your venue, concept or team.

Step 5: Create a story about your signature serve

The very best signature serves have a story to tell around the drink. Maybe talk about the inspiration behind your serve or the original cocktail you based it on and the benefit of the twist you have added.

Step 6: Work out all the costs

You can work with your bar manager on this to ensure the price of your signature serve gets a fair price for your labor of love.

Cost out the whole process in development—how much each drink will cost in liquid, the cost of additional glassware (if needed), the cost of garnish and how long it takes you to make the drink during service (frequently forgotten).

Step 7: Hero your signature serve

Make sure people know about your creation! Promote your serve and make sure it is the hero on the menu. Remember to let all the staff in your bar know about your serve and ensure the bartenders are confident on how to recommend and make it.

Give it a go and enjoy it!

Lastly, enjoy the creative process! Test your recipe, try different things and ask other bartenders their tips and thoughts. Make it a team experience. Not many things make a bartender prouder than knowing that their creation has been successful for their bar!