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FOOD AND COCKTAIL MOMENTS – HOW AND WHY WE DO IT

Guests are looking for the ultimate food and drink moments and, if you’re not already providing pre and post meal experiences, then it’s worth thinking about how you bring these exciting moments into the mix. Whether it’s a spontaneous bite to eat or planned meal out, food and drink go hand in hand, with individuals now more inclined to choose a venue based on its drink’s menu. Global Gastronomer Mark Moriarty gives his knowledge and experience of bringing together food and cocktails.

WHEN COCKTAIL OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS

The ultimate dining experience is when the bar and the kitchen are working well together to bring powerful flavour and surprise to the table.

The versatility and excitement of cocktails responds well to the increasing desire for something new and different for guests. Individuals are more willing than ever to move away from the traditional choices and experiment with new flavours.

Pre or post meal moments

Pre or post meal moments are a great opportunity to introduce guests to something adventurous, be it the ultimate Gin and Tonic to start off with, or a delicious Espresso Martini to finish. A great aperitif will be an exciting start to your guest’s experience, whilst the digestif will bring everything to a very satisfying close.

Elevating your guest experience

Anything that adds value to an overall menu and is part of story weaving is positive. Where a pre or post meal experience is concerned, a carefully curated cocktail will naturally enhance a customer experience. Take for example, a Zacapa Rum Old Fashioned ahead of a meal. This simple cocktail will be a perfect welcome drink before a delicious starter, its bittersweet taste providing that all-important wow factor.

Let’s stay here a little longer

The addition of food will service another consumer need: allowing them to continue eating and drinking in the same place. This results in them staying in an establishment for longer, boosting the average spend and bringing added buzz to your bar.

THREE QUICK TIPS FOR SUCCESS

1. Waiter recommendations

Ensuring staff are onboard with the immersive food and drink experience is key to your pre and post dinner drinks success. Develop a language of flavour with your staff, so they can introduce cocktails in an authentic way, connecting pre and post dinner experiences in the customer’s mind.

Guests are open to suggestions from waiters who are considered experts so it’s important your staff have the requisite knowledge and passion behind the whole menu experience. A timely prompt or suggestion enhances the guest experience and can even have the added benefit of taking pressure off the kitchen during busy service times.

2. Disruptive menus that champion simplicity

A well curated cocktail (and food) menu will draw guests into the full experience, enhancing the customer experience, increasing spend per head, and open up social media opportunities.

Through your menu, break down each cocktail into its basic flavours, starting to imagine how you can present and maximise these flavours in innovative ways alongside food. Be creative with the types of spirits used in different occasions, thinking outside the box to present them in a new and eye-catching way.

3. Be passionate about flavour!

It could be adding something sour to the drinks menu that will complement one of your dishes. You would be surprised at how adding some bitters to a cocktail can level the sweetness of a chocolate dessert… bittersweet!

I recently created a dish of very lightly cured salmon starter that I poached in smoked bone marrow, a la smoked salmon. If you were to introduce, for instance, a scotch and soda before this starter, the sweet smoke in the whisky would really enhances the smoke of the bone marrow and the strong smoked salmon flavours. This is an example of how, in an unlikely way, the bar and the kitchen can really work so well together.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

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