« back to Tips & Tricks

HOW TO CREATE AN APPEALING AND INSPIRING COCKTAIL MENU

When it comes to building a cracking cocktail menu, there are plenty of things to consider. So, whether you’re starting from scratch or updating your offering, here are a few must-read tips from Diageo Bar Academy trainer, Kris Jadach, on creating the perfect cocktail menu.

GETTING STARTED

When creating a new drinks menu, there are four key things to think about:

MENU DESIGN

Great menus make customers want to pick them up, touch and read them, so it’s usually worth getting them professionally designed. Even if guests don’t intend to order a cocktail when they walk in, a good menu can change their mind.

In the last venue I worked in, we updated the menu every six months, leaving our most popular drinks and playing around with signature or seasonal cocktails. When it comes to creating a visually appealing menu that’s going to sell drinks, here are a few things to consider:

Drink Descriptions

Guests might not know exactly what to expect from a cocktail, but they definitely know what they like. Accurate and expressive descriptions will boost your sales and improve customer satisfaction. Compare these two descriptions of a Negroni:

“Negroni: Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Italian liqueur”

“Negroni: An aromatic Italian aperitif stirred with Tanqueray London Dry gin and bittersweet Italian liqueur, balanced with sweet vermouth and garnished with a slice of Sicilian orange.”

The first description is bland, whereas the second ignites the senses and conjures up an image in the reader’s mind. Try using any combination of these four types of description:

Iconic/Geographic – Sicilian oranges

Nostalgic – Grandmother’s secret recipe

Sensory – Zesty, fruity, fiery

Brand Names – Tanqueray London Dry Gin rather than simply gin

Cocktail Names

Naming your cocktails is undoubtedly one of the best parts of building a new menu! A good name gives a drink character and adds to its appeal, making it stand out on your menu.

I have a few different approaches when it comes to creating the perfect cocktail name:

Keep it literal – If you’re stuck for inspiration, stating the key ingredients or flavours is always a good option. A simple mango daiquiri or grapefruit and thyme Collins is descriptive and informative.

Location, location, location – Highlight the origins of your ingredients or incorporate the name of your venue, such as the Clover Club or the Bristol ice tea.

Get to grips with your history – Historical events or people can provide great inspiration for cocktail names, for example the Hemingway daiquiri or the French 75.

Make it personal – Draw from your own experiences and memories to give your cocktail names a very personal touch.

Images

Always try and include images or illustrations of your serves. If a guest wants something long and refreshing, they’ll be disappointed with something short and straight up. Not knowing what cocktails look like can be a major barrier for customers when ordering, and images will avoid any uncertainty and build a cocktail’s appeal

Prices

Everyone is conscious how much they spend on a night out, and many customers will have a limit in their head. Including prices on your menu puts your guests at ease and makes them more comfortable – no one likes that moment of panic when the bill arrives and you’ve gone way over budget! A few things to think about:

Keep it simple – Studies show that removing currency symbols and ending prices in .99 or .95 instead of .00 makes customers less likely to focus on the cost.

Think about positioning – Rather than writing prices in a column from lowest to highest, randomise your prices and put them next to the drink name or description in the same font. Mixing up the layout makes guests think less about money and more likely to choose something they’ll enjoy rather than the cheapest option.

Highlight your profitable drinks – Draw attention to your most profitable cocktails by separating them or putting them in a box. Indicating that a drink is “recommended by our bartenders” or “best seller!” can have a huge impact on sales.

CHOICE OVERLOAD

As tempting as it may be to include dozens of cocktails on your menu, studies show that customers have a harder time making decisions when faced with too many options. There are a few different ways to avoid this “choice overload”:

You’ve built the perfect menu, now you need to fill it! Sign up to Diageo Bar Academy today for unlimited access to all the latest recipes and serve inspiration from some of the biggest names in the industry.

Recommended for you: