How to Create a Show-Stopping Signature Serve
Want to create a cocktail serve that will stand out from the crowd, with flavours that will wow your customers? Award-winning bartender Ago Perrone from the Connaught, shares how to create signature cocktail serve that will guarantee return guests.
More Than Just a Cocktail
A signature serve is a drink that not only carries your mark and style, but also goes beyond the test of time and becomes a new classic. More than a cocktail, it is an experience that drinkers are looking for. You need to craft such a remarkable experience to make standout memories which will remain with your guests and encourage them to come back and embark on that drinking journey with you again.
When designing a new serve, we start by experimenting with ingredients which carry different tasting notes to achieve the perfect balance that can adapt to different palates. But a signature cocktail is not limited to balance, it also encourages discovery and connections. Every ingredient needs to contribute to build a meaningful narrative that you’ll be able to share with guests. Drafting the story of the drink alongside its flavour profile is what will allow you to establish a connection and make the guests remember their experience. Think about the story you want to tell through your serve. What makes it stand out? For instance, is there a particular type of glassware that heightens the cocktail experience or a particular ingredient that best represents your serve or even your venue?
The Connaught’s Signature Serve
For us, at The Connaught, our signature Martini does just that, and this is the reason why 12 years after our launch it is still a favourite. We designed this cocktail with the idea that a hotel bar was to champion the classics. What’s more classic than a Martini? But we also wanted it to stand out as our Martini, and we wanted to do this by building a memorable ritual around it. Guests needed to relate to this drinking experience, and this is how the idea of making something bespoke was conceived. We crafted our signature in-house blend of vermouths to complement the spirit base and then we added the aromatic bitters – something intriguing for the guests who can select according to their tastes and mood. The theatre of the Martini trolley enhances the whole connection we establish with the guests, making them feel truly part of the experience.
Bringing the Story to Life
Think about your signature drink as the founding element of your venue. The style of your cocktails needs to be the same style found in the service, the décor, and the team approach. This is why when designing a new menu, the whole team gets involved in the creative process. Every single team member needs to contribute in order to relate to the stories and cocktails you’re bringing to life. Each Connaught Bar team member enthusiastically contributes with different skills to the creation of our drinks lists. Giving them responsibilities and deliverables really helps raise the level of involvement and the outputs of every working session, starting from ingredients analysis and experimentation, to techniques, presentations and concepts of the drink.
When designing a new serve or new menu, don’t be afraid to outsource talent and counsel. Once you’re confident with your core ideas, refer to F&B designers, stylists and drinks brands to help you nail the glassware, presentation and elevate the final results with promotional assets.
New Creative Opportunities
Lately, as a team we had to adapt to changing and challenging circumstances, but we embraced these as a creative opportunity. Across the industry, we have seen RTD cocktails boom as a simple and effective way to continue to serve our guests. When adopting such a concept, there are many elements to consider in order to create high-quality bottled or canned serves that stand the shelf life. From the freshness of ingredients, to the types of blends that might separate after a certain period, to carbonating systems to create sparkling serves, to allergens, softening the use of bitters as they release more flavour with time, conducting stress tests and so on. Whichever mix you decide to create make sure you consider every detail before marketing it, and always remember that your guests will think of you while sipping it. These drinks should always encourage a smile, even at home.
Five Key Takeaways
- A signature serve is more than a drink, it is an experience that encourages discovery and stands the test of time
- Guests need to relate to their drinking experience in order to remember it and visit again - think about the narrative and inspiration behind it
- The whole drinking experience needs to reflect the style of your venue and of your team – the active participation of the team in designing the menu is therefore paramount
- When creating a cocktail serve, always think about the feelings you want to offer to your guests
- At home or at the bar, serve straight up with style, and don’t forget to smile
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