champagne glasses

Alcohol can be a major source for profit, far more so than food.

A successful beverage program can be a game changer for your restaurant- when done right. At the end of the day, you want happy customers and a strong bottom line. Keep reading to see how a couple tweaks to your beverage program, can deliver you just that.

How much does that cost?

It is essential to know exactly how much it costs to make a drink. Not just with the price of ingredients, but labor costs as well. Think about it- if a drink is fast to make, you can sell more of it.

When developing new drinks, often times bars will start by making the drink exactly how they want without focusing too much on the ingredient prices. From there it’s easy to go in, price out everything and see where there are opportunities to rework portions or substitute less expensive ingredients like a mixer. This kind of process allows you to find the sweet spot between crafting a high quality and highly profitable product.

Think about price points

Cocktails can really range in price, for example you could make a great drink for $20 with prestigious brands of liquor or you could make a similar drink for $6. In crafting these various drinks consider what brands of liquor your customers are looking for.

Managing Server Time

Several restaurants and bars have found success in bringing in bartenders early and paying them as non-tipped employees, to prepare ingredients for the night. Not only does this make their lives easier during the busiest times of the night, but it lets guests enjoy their drinks quicker.
Mocktails
An article by National Restaurants News shared how a bar, Izakaya, preps ingredients ahead of time:
“For our Highball Tropical, the sherry is infused with pineapple ahead of time, strained and then fortified with vodka before service. So when they go to make that drink it’s literally a pour into a highball glass with one bottle, and then ice, and then top it with ginger beer. So that’s a great drink because it’s not only cost-effective, but also time-effective, and we’re able to sell a lot more drinks because some of our better sellers are these really quick, easy-to-make drinks..”

Think about what aspects of drinks can be prepped in advance to save you time and money.

Make it eye-catching

Glassware can be a major reason someone orders a particular drink. When a bartender serves up a cocktail in an interesting or unique class, it can get the attention from the whole bar. Gone are the days of one size fits all glassware. If you have classic drinks, consider getting the traditional glassware to match. When beautiful drinks with a cool glass, you can guarantee phones will come out and photos will be posted on social media.

Another thing that makes a drink photo-worthy is garnishes. The more creative, the more you’ll see it on Instagram. Rethink how you can use fruit, plants and even the rim of the glass differently. Gorgeous garnishes support a premium priced drink.

Reshape your menu

Happy Hour Menus can also be a great opportunity to test out new drinks. If you’re thinking of adding a few new options to your main menu, try putting a few variations on your happy hour menu and see which sells best.

Seasonal drinks are another major opportunity that should be taken advantage of. Whether it’s a refreshing drink for a hot summer day or a festive classic cocktail during the holidays. The NPD Group found that seasonal beverage offerings can spur additional purchases by established customers, bring in new consumers, draw customers from competitors, and stimulate business during slow periods.

If you have a separate drink menu, think about adding which beverages pair well with food items to upserve your beverage selections.

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Morgan is a restaurant veteran based in Providence. For nearly a decade, she has worked in the restaurant industry in server and bartender roles. As a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Morgan has pursued her passion of exploring the intersection of hospitality, technology and of course, delicious food. Her favorite travel buddies are meal sharers who enjoy being adventurous and trying something different.