How the Craft Cocktail Culture can increase revenues:

We hear a lot of craft cocktail questions. What are they exactly? What does that mean? Is it a fad that will go away? I actually see it becoming even bigger as more and more locations understand the impact they have on their overall operation. People got bored with the old stand-by cocktails like a Cosmopolitan, Lemon Drop, or Margarita. These drinks generally have lots of vodka, are sweet and colorful with fancy names, but light on flavor! Educated and adventurous guests are seeking out more depth and refinement in their glass.


Bars that are passionate about real crafted cocktails can show a dramatic increase in traffic, both in food and beverage areas. Having a strong Craft Cocktail Culture demonstrates your passion for the authentic and for flavor. It shows to the world that you take your business seriously. This is how restaurants develop a solid reputation; people do talk and will recommend your establishment based on the level of skill and sophistication. Generally speaking, this will attract more traffic to the bar, which will in turn, bring more traffic to the restaurant. Reputation and word of mouth is so easy to achieve if you do it right and are really passionate about doing food and beverage right.


In addition to increased traffic visiting your establishment, revenues and profit can be affected by selling craft cocktails. Premium cocktails demand premium prices and generate some of the best profit in the bar – often doubling or tripling beer and wine profit. People who appreciate a great hand-crafted cocktail will not usually be averse to paying the price. Craft cocktails carry more sophistication, more depth of flavor, and authentic tastes.


The art of hand crafting has actually been around for years, and in its simplest forms date back to pre-prohibition days when that was how all cocktails were made. Now, however, we are seeing a resurgence in demand as our customers look for something new and creative with a bold flavor palette!


Now we see our best bartenders being transformed into the “Mixologist” role. A sorcerer of kinds, mixing potions and creating works of art. They are almost Chef-like as they create a blend of flavors, balancing fresh, real ingredients with delicate accents and hints of character that ultimately bring the drink together as an exquisite work of art. I actually, very recently heard of a bar area being referred to as our “liquid kitchen”. A fun example that talks to the skills and art involved in cocktail creation.


So, what are crafted cocktails? Think fresh ingredients: herbs, farm-fresh natural fruits and hand-squeezed juices, premium [sometimes small batch] liquors, homemade bitters of varying flavor, muddled ingredients, and most importantly local ingredients that talk to, and tie in, the flavors of the area. Other important ingredients would be large square or spherical ice cubes, so as to not dilute the drink [and it looks cool], to unusual and bespoke glassware that is distinct and makes a statement itself – all adding to the mystique. The ingredients don’t always have to be exotic, however, they do need to be of the highest quality.


The most important ingredient, a Cocktail Artist [read bartender], that has the passion and the “want” to create, invent, and concoct that magical cocktail. They should be center stage, performing their craft with style and flare!


In our next article, we will review and evaluate the art of taste. How to picture the flavor in your mind, build-on its depth, and improve your cocktail, or food dish, until a harmonious blend of flavors is achieved, and Voila, perfection!


Russ Blakeborough, Managing Director, Focus – F&B, Global Food and Beverage Consulting.

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