Best Chain Spirits Program
It’s challenging enough to create a stellar spirits program in a chain of grand hotels. But when those “hotels” are enormous seafaring ships, it brings a new level of complexity to the bar.
Yet Celebrity Cruises’ molecular mixology has resulted in an eye-popping 25% increase in monthly sales of cocktails across its fleet of 10 ships. Sales jumped from an average of 15,000 to an average of 20,000 cocktails sold each month.
“We’ve always tried to do new, cutting-edge restaurants that would rival any land-based restaurants,” says Tony Tahmosh, beverage operations manager for Celebrity Cruises.
Celebrity’s spirits program includes more than 100 different specialty cocktails and over 350 unique spirit selections. The cruise Line relies on extensive market research on brands and trends and the help of outside resources to stay ahead of competitors. For instance, Celebrity works closely with beverage agency MarkeTeam Inc. to update beverage menus.
The Cruise line also partnered with The Liquid Chef Junior Merino, who created its Molecular Bar. Merino travels the ships to train staff and test out the boundary-pushing libations, which are accented with ingredients such as liquid nitrogen and foam. Since these complex drinks require longer prep time, guests receive a “cocktail amuse bouche” to enjoy while they’re waiting.
The Molecular Bar is “the most talked-about bar on the ship,” Tahmosh notes. “On average, we sell over 4,800 cocktails a month at the Molecular Bar on the four Solstice-class ships,” he says, noting that “this is from a bar that seats just eight people.”
Meanwhile, Celebrity’s Renew Signature Cocktail Program embraces spa, wellness, and “skinny cocktail” trends, featuring drinks such as the Superfruit 57, a “cleansing elixir” of Veev Acai, lemon juice, blueberries, pure cane syrup and a splash of sparkling wine.
A region-specific Signature Cocktail program also is available, highlighting Celebrity’s cruise destinations. The specialty menu features five to six cocktails that best represent the local culture of each destination city, ranging from Italian aperitivos on the Mediterranean inspired menu to Pimm’s Cup variations on the U.K.-inspired page.
“We want people to feel transcended with every cocktail; to drink like a local and truly feel engulfed in the culture, wherever the ship may be,” says Chanelle Duarte, corporate sommelier and beverage programming manager.
What’s more, Celebrity partners with leading spirits and beer brands to initiate sales with seasonal promotions, including Patron tequila for Cinco de Mayo, AB Inbev brewery for Oktoberfest and Hendrick’s gin for the holidays. Since the inception of these fleetwide seasonal promotions, Celebrity has seen an incremental increase in gross revenue of 11% year over year.
Celebrity also conducts a “Celebrity Life” branded series of educational spirits events for guests. Single malt Scotch, small-batch bourbon and Irish whiskey are some of the products highlighted during these tasting events for guests. Suppliers also are invited onboard periodically to give training seminars to crew members, as well as to provide additional education and tastings to guests.
“Two of our goals are to have the best trained spirits staff in the industry and the most educated guests,” Tahmosh says. “Our philosophy is the more our guests and understand and love about spirits, the more adventurous they will become, which often translates into increased spirits revenue for Celebrity.”
Based: Miami, FL
Number of units: 11 ships
Parent company: Royal Caribbean International