When the December holidays are in full swing, there’s a heavy emphasis on home entertaining—decorating tips, menu planning ideas, suggestions for what drinks, beer or wine to serve, and so on. Plenty of seasonal celebrations take place in bars and restaurants, but much of the focus is on recreating some of that on-premise magic at home.
Should operators be intimidated by that? Absolutely not. Especially with cocktails, if you have developed a recipe that’s so delicious that a guest wants to replicate it at home, that’s an impressive endorsement of your quality and relevance. And most consumers who try to re-create cocktails at home will share the original source of the drink, which is word-of-mouth publicity and branding for the bar or restaurant.
Some bars might not be willing to share their exact cocktail recipes with guests, but many will, and I’m a fan of that. New York cocktail lounge Pouring Ribbons, for one, has postcards at the ready for jotting down drink recipes.
The postcard includes spaces for specific details on the exact measurement units, choices to circle for “rinse float or bottom,” and “egg: yolk, white or whole,” as well as the method (shaken, stirred, built, swizzled), and ice (cube, crushed, shard, cylinder, cracked), and garnish. And for the glassware Pouring Ribbons used, the card includes line drawings of seven different cocktail glasses, which is helpful if the guest doesn’t know the proper name of the glass.
Arming guests with this level of detail about the drinks you serve doesn’t mean that they’ll never return to your establishment; if anything, it means that they probably will. Even the best mixologists will tell you that the drink someone else makes for you is always better than one you make for yourself. Getting customers excited about and involved with what you do and how you do it is a great way to build loyalty.
If you need some unique seasonal drink ideas, our cover story details how bartenders are incorporating new spirits, mixers and flavors into their holiday cocktails. The feature Bubbling Up offers some insight on sparkling wine options for operators, while International Flights reports on trends in imported whisky. Then there’s Tapping Into Craft Beer’s Momentum and a roundup of our wine panel’s highest-rated wines of 2013, and much more.
It’s been quite a year for full-service operators, from the continued strength of craft beer and spirits to fresh interest in varietals like moscato and trends such as locavore cocktails, flavored whiskies and kegged wine. Here’s to an exciting and prosperous 2014.