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PRO TIPS FOR CREATING LOW COST, IMPRESSIVE SERVES FOR YOUR VENUE

From building supplier relations to reusing ingredients, Natalie Ng, co-owner of Sydney bar Door Knock shares her tried and tested tips to maximise profits, minimise costs and offer creative and exciting serves that impress guests.

Ultimately, it’s important that your cost of goods work for you and not the other way around. Cocktails prepared in clever way, without compromising on quality and flavour are a great way to achieve just that. At Door Knock we focus on working smart and efficiently to offer drinks that deliver on flavour and still have a good gross profit.

It may seem very simple, but you should always develop a solid relationship with both your alcohol and fresh produce suppliers to get the best deals and ensure only quality perishables are delivered. Take time to learn about their products, tell them about your menu or ideas you may have for mixing your menu up – they may even have some ideas on innovative serves and how to create them.

Our tips for building and maintaining supplier relations:


Taking a sustainable approach to ingredients can prove very cost effective. The World Resources Institute found that for every $1 a restaurant invests in reducing food waste, they save an average of $7. Something you should seriously consider for your bar or restaurant if your goal is to improve your profit margins.

Always think about waste ingredients that you could repurpose to round out the rest of your cocktail menu. The recipe below is a great example of this. The Grapefruit Paloma Twist is made with a grapefruit and chamomile soda but you can then go on to use the grapefruit in a number of ways for a really creative serve. The grapefruit pulp for example can be turned into a salt to rim the glass with, this adds a nice second dimension to the overall drink and is a really cost effective way to elevate your serve and impress guests.

The grapefruit skin could also be made into an oleo sac which could be used in another drink or saved for future creations as it has a very long shelf life. This also saves time in prep as the homemade soda can be made in bulk and carbonated for use, as well as quickly and consistently made during service.

We also look for ingredients that cross over from the kitchen to maximise their use and potential. If the kitchen is using dill for example, we would look to use the stalks at the bar to infuse a spirit and create a more vegetal/herbaceous aroma etc. Using ingredients like this in a unique way enables you to offer a more creative serve that guests will perceive as premium and special.

Grapefruit Paloma Twist

Ingredients

40ml Don Julio 

60ml Grapefruit & Chamomile Soda 

10ml Sweet Vermouth 

Garnish: Grapefruit pulp salt 

Alcohol content: 13.19g


The more ingredients you have on your hands, the more complex a cocktail becomes. It will also take much longer to make and perfect. More ingredients don’t mean a better drink either, some of the most creative, unique cocktails are made using no more than three ingredients so there’s a lot to be said for toning it down - and not just for financial reasons.

At Door Knock our goal is to craft balanced, flavourful drinks our guests can appreciate. We typically start by identifying a flavour that we want to home in on and experiment around that with each element carefully thought out. The Paloma recipe above is a fine example of this.

The fewer ingredients we work with, the lower the cost per serve, and the more efficient our team can work, helping us deliver a healthy bottom line and great guest experience. Watch Rob Poulter demonstrate a simple serve, made with just three ingredients, in the video below.


Read these easy tips on how to introduce sustainable methods when creating cocktails.


When working with fewer ingredients you can’t hide behind anything so make sure your bar team understand and can do the basics well e.g. how to juice properly, muddle or how to make cordials.

We tend to do a lot of on-the-job training, ensuring that everyone knows exactly how to make each serve. We also encourage the team to build their product and flavour knowledge through experimentation.

A lot of venues share their cocktail specs with the team, even on classics, because that is how they are made consistently but it’s also important to train staff on respecting the ingredients and produce that goes into them. For instance, you might need to alter your specs depending on how acidic the limes/lemons are at that time of year and hence you might require some adjustments. A well-trained bartender can identify this and adjust on the spot to create the best serve for the guest. Watching a confident bartender at work assures guests and builds anticipation and excitement for their drink.


KEY TAKEAWAYS


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