IVY MIX’S FOUR FESTIVE RECIPES TO WOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
With over a decade of experience in the service industry, co-owner of NYC’s Leyenda, Ivy Mix, has seen her fair share of the good, the bad and the ugly during the holidays. Ahead of this year’s busy season, Ivy shares some advice on how to best adapt your bar and offers four cocktail recipes to get your customers in the festive spirit.
I opened my little bar, Leyenda, in New York in 2015 – specializing in Latin spirits, cocktails and food. However, following our first two holiday seasons, we were beginning to notice a trend: we just weren’t that busy.
Of course, after some soul searching, it all became pretty apparent; we are a bright, lively, open Latin bar with a backyard and open windows. Not that many people walk past and think, ‘Oh! The holidays! I want a daiquiri and some tacos!’. So, we decided to up the ante and create a holiday pop-up at the bar: the affectionately known, Sleyenda. One part Christmas, Santa and ho-ho-ho and one part female empowerment.
We blew it out of the water and made a lasting impression on our clientele, both old and new. Along the way of course, I learned a few things that I’d like to share with you.
DEAR BARTENDER, FOR CHRISTMAS I WANT A…
People really enjoy going out during the holidays and have so many options available these days. To engage regulars and win new customers at this time of year, try adding something new and, preferably, festive to your offering.
My suggestion is to make a special menu for the holidays, or even just feature holiday specials, focusing on three or four drinks.
These should be in addition to your normal menu and keeping the number down should enable you to really blow them out of the water. Get creative. Understand that people taste with their eyes first and play to that. So make them pretty, festive and totally instagramable - that will get the word out!
Then we need to get to the fun part, which are the cocktails themselves. It is important to vary your cocktails with different base spirits so your menu is more accessible (not everyone loves rum!).
FORMULAS TO GET FESTIVE
I like to design concept menus so people can opt for different spirits to elevate their drink and make it more premium – same drink, just $2 more! I’ve noticed clientele love this, especially during the holidays, as it is a tangible way of acknowledging a special occasion. It also gives you more fodder for your festive fire.
When considering a festive menu, don’t overthink things. It’s important to adapt to the seasonality and have fun, but this doesn’t mean a drastic overhaul of your menu. There a few ‘go to’ ingredients that are versatile enough to work with many recipes and across many spirits; these can be really useful to swap in to recipes that already work well in your bar or restaurant. This is an easy way of incorporating festive flavours and a bit of fun into your drinks, offering a limited time for customers to try their favourite creation of yours with a holiday twist, but also allowing you to be flexible, too.
For example, a regular who typically orders G&T can swap out for the Tannenbaum & Tonic: intrigued by the change for Tanqueray and use of Douglas Fir liqueur. However, if they change their minds after one or two, you are easily capable of reverting back to a G&T.
Below, I’ve outlined some festive ingredients you can swap into some existing drinks and four of my favourite recipes from our Sleyenda cocktail menu, with a suggested upsell recommendation for each one.
Spiced Christmas Coquito
Coquito is like egg nog for Latin America, particularly Puerto Rico. We did a similar version for Sleyenda and everyone loved it! Traditionally made with evaporated milk, I prefer to make mine with some coconut milk and serve it in a holiday mug. Top with nutmeg for more cheer.
45ml Captain Morgan
20ml Oloroso Sherry
30ml Coco Lopez
30ml Coconut milk
1 Whole egg
2 Dash Angostura bitters
Nutmeg for garnish
- 1.Add all ingredients to a shaker (or make a batch with all the ingredients and keep bottled in the fridge to pour to order for faster service. It’ll keep for 2 days).
- 2.Strain and pour into a Tom and Jerry mug with no ice.
- 3.Top with grated nutmeg.
Try suggesting Zacapa Rumas an upsell for this serve which will add more chocolate and nutty notes in the Coquito.
14.22 grams of alcohol* (according to mls of the serve)
Tannenbaum and Tonic
It seems that the Gin and Tonic never fails to be the be the ever-popular drink of choice – no matter the season.
I particularly love it because it can give people who are perhaps trepidatious about bigger menus something to fall back on. Just add a little Douglas Fir and a few cranberries and this classic drink has some Christmas cheer. I love it!
45ml Gordon’s Gin
15ml Douglas Fir liqueur
Cranberries and a pine sprig for garnish
- 1.Fill a highball glass with cubed ice.
- 2.Add all the ingredients.
- 3.Garnish with a few fresh cranberries and a pine sprig.
The perfect upsell for this recipe is Tanqueray No.Ten Gin. Made using all of the citrus fruit rather than the just the peel this quality gin will give this serve a smoother and more citrusy flavour that really pops with the Douglas Fir liqueur.
17.28 grams of alcohol* (according to mls of the serve)
This is an amped up riff on the classic Cosmopolitan, a light and refreshing take on the holidays – as opposed to heavier options you usually find around winter ingredients.
Replacing the cranberry juice with cranberry compote provides more depth to the drink. It's a very visual cocktail, too – with a bright pink hue and cute grapefruit twist, it’s perfect for online shares and getting the word of a festive menu out there.
45ml Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka
15ml Lemon juice
1 heaped tablespoon of cranberry preserves (to make cranberry compote)
Grapefruit twist for garnish
- 1.Add all ingredients to shaker
- 2.Shake, strain and serve up in a coupe glass
- 3.Garnish with a grapefruit twist (we got tiny cookie cutters to look like Christmas trees!)
Suggest Ketel Oneto customers for its copper pot still production and citrus forward flavour profile, resulting in a Christmas Cosmo with added bite.
18.96 grams of alcohol* (according to mls of the serve)
Manhattans seems to be the cocktail of winter; even at Leyenda where our focus is mostly Latin Spirits, we always sell a ton of Manhattans during the winter months.
In the Manhattan family of cocktails is a distant relative called Bobby Burns, and this drink is a riff on that. The hazelnut liqueur adds a delicate comforting sweetness to the light smokiness of the scotch- the perfect drink to have by the fire.
45ml Johnnie Walker Red Label
10ml Hazelnut liqueur
20ml Sweet vermouth
2 Dashes Angostura bitters
Orange twist for garnish
- 1.Stir together the Johnnie Walker Red Label, hazelnut liqueur, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters.
- 2.Serve up in a short glass (preferably festive).
- 3.Garnish with an orange twist.
Suggesting Johnnie Walker Black Label in this serve will provide a creamier texture to a Johnnie Nutcracker, with smoky notes on the finish.
17.58 grams of alcohol* (according to mls of the serve)
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