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Ready to put together your next menu but don’t know where to start? Here’s our top tips on how to create the perfect cocktail menu.

Why should you create a cocktail menu?

Simply because it enhances your customers’ experience and your bar’s revenue! Take a look at some of these statistics:

With mixed spirit drinks being the most profitable drink your outlet can sell, it really makes sense to use all the available tools to influence your customers’ choice. A cocktail menu can really help promote these mixed drink sales and it gives you the opportunity to suggest new drink ideas to your customer while allowing them to be inspired and make informed decisions.

Even if you already have a permanent menu in your bar, it is always worth considering complimenting it with a seasonal menu. For example, when summer is approaching, think about creating a summer serves menu to showcase the fresh seasonal drinks you have on offer and tap into this opportunity.

7 steps to creating the perfect profitable cocktail menu

The process of creating a menu can be tricky and the most difficult thing is to make this menu profitable. These 7 steps will ensure you get it right!

Step 1 – Get the right mix of drinks!

Looking at which spirit categories sell well in your business is a great place to start. Look at having a few different styles of drinks (sweet and fruity is not for everyone remember). You could include some signature serves that suit your bar as well as some perfect serves of the classics. Ask around and use the rule of 3 - get 3 of your staff to ask 3 guests, 3 colleagues and visit 3 venues and find out what they all like.

Step 2 – How many cocktails should you have?

In many cases, this is where the phrase “less is more” can really be applied. It is far better to have 10 brilliantly executed cocktails than 50 made poorly. Remember that by offering too much you run the risk of overloading your customers and eventually discouraging them from making a choice. A good recommendation is to divide your cocktail list into sections with 5-8 drinks in each.

Step 3 – Use beautiful drinks images

Quite often people scan menus and one way for them to stop and take notice is a beautiful image. Having beautiful, high quality images of your cocktails on your menu can create appeal and it gives you another talking point to sell your cocktails to the customer.

Step 4 – Weakest vs busiest

So you may be able to produce all of your cocktails consistently but can all the members of the team? It is important to ensure every bartender can make all the cocktails on your menu to the same high standard and ensure they can keep this consistency during the busy periods in the bar. Failure to do so will create a negative impression of the bar when you have the most exposure.

Step 5 – Remember the bar layout

Beyond the capability of the team we should consider the capability of the structure. Having 6 shaken cocktails on a menu and no sink will only end in poor performance. Try to work with a 2-step rule and make it a mission that everyone has little reason to step off the line during busy periods. Talk to everyone in your team and discuss issues and bottlenecks. If you have a positive attitude in approaching potential problems, you will be surprised by the inventive solutions you can come up with.

Step 6 - Pricing

Pricing of your drinks is very important. Not only does it drive the profitability of the outlet but it also influences your customer’s order. Remember when creating any menu to always include the finished drink price (spirit and mixer). When thinking of the price to charge, note how long it takes to make the cocktails during service and compare this against your regular spirit and mixer serves. Pricing may have to be structured accordingly. Other things that are often overlooked when putting a menu costing together, is ALL of the liquid, including the mixers, bitters, lime/lemon juice and of course, garnish. Remember the presentation and if you will need to buy new glassware or other serving vessels.

Another part of the pricing to consider is anchoring it with bars in your area. For example, if a competitor is producing inferior products to yourself then you should be pricing above them. On the flip side be honest with yourself - if there is a bar which you know you’re not at the same level as (yet) than make sure you price accordingly.

Step 7 – Menu design

Many a great cocktail list has been let down by the design. A few things to consider are:

Championing a drink can be quite simple. It may be literally having this serve in a box to make it stand out or just a little stamp of approval, like “bartenders choice” or “house favourite”. People love stories around their drinks and being able to explain what inspired this serve or an interesting fact about the brand or ingredients can be great way to champion a cocktail.

Time to get started!

The benefits of putting a cocktail menu in place can be to measure way beyond bottom line profit. It can help make you and all the other bartenders in your team feel more professional as well as help the bar gain a competitive advantage with an expanded offer. Cocktails can lead to higher average spends and a vastly improved bottom line profit which hopefully results in more tips for you! So what’s stopping you, get creating!

Step have you created a cocktail menu before? Tweet us at @diageobarac, share your serves on Instagram @diageobarac or like us on Facebook – we’d love to see all your creations! Sign up and become a member of Diageo Bar Academy today and unlock the latest industry news, trends and tips to keep your bar knowledge up to speed!