Some super slick, super simple tricks to make your cocktail offer the cream of the crop
1) Name cocktails after bar staff
You can add an all-important air of expertise to your cocktail menu by using staff names to personalise drinks (e.g. Sally's Sea Breeze or Mike's Mai Tai) or even a local cause.
This has the added benefit of encouraging ownership of those drinks by bar staff – Sally's going to make it seriously clear that every single one of her colleagues needs to be on their a-game when making *her* Sea Breeze.
And if you really want to engage staff, suggest they personalise "their" cocktails with a new ingredient or garnish, thus making Sally's Satsuma Sea Breeze truly unique to your pub. And then hope Sally doesn't leave to go and live in a shepherds hut in Margate to practice "mindfulness."
2) Sell just 8 cocktails
If you're new to cocktails and think offering 30 is a good idea, then you need a reality check my friend but luckily Inapub is here to help, so listen up: more choice doesn't equal more sales. Capiche?
Start by taking a look at your sales list and seeing what you sell the most of. Experts say just two cocktails can make up as much as 95 per cent of your cocktail sales, so choose around eight drinks based on the flavour profiles of your top sellers.
There's no need to waste menu space on really ubiquitous cocktails, either – people will ask you if they want a Mojito (there's no helping this sort) or a Long Island Ice Tea (seriously? It's not 1997 guys).
3) Ditch the fresh fruit garnish
It's a truth universally acknowledged that the cocktail world is about 75 per cent strawberry garnish, so dare to be different.
Apart from the fact it's really boring, adding a fresh fruit garnish to a cocktail can ramp up wastage and add to costs (a slice of lemon, a blackberry and some mint can make up at least a third of the cost of the drink) so increase your margins by being more inventive.
Consultants and bar-owners The Cocktail Trading Company use everything from biscuits to candyfloss on their drinks. Or think about using sweets (retro sweets are always popular); popcorn or even small toys bought cheaply from t'interweb.
This works because most people order in the "I want one of those" impulse, driving them to spend their last remaining £8 in the world on a cocktail called Army & Navy, garnished with toy soldiers, for example.*
4) Invest more in your liqueurs
We know premium spirits are vital these days – 65 per cent of people agree they'd be willing to pay more for a premium spirit (TNS Omnibus research), so why then go and mix them with a cheap liqueur, like a fool?
Many mixologists say that the liqueur has a bigger impact on flavour than the spirit, so making a switch will generate a huge change in the quality of your drinks for just a few pence in extra cost.
If you doubt my authority on this matter (and if you do, frankly, why are your reading this?), start with a small trial on the ones you use most and then Tweet me a profuse and very public apology when your cocktails taste better than the competition's.
5) Only offer the same cocktails in promotions
Speed up service and simplify the actual life of bar staff by offering – for example – two-for-one cocktails during happy hour only on the same cocktails.
That means when a customer orders a happy hour tipple staff only need to make the one drink in double quantities not a daiquiri and then a margarita, for example.
This is much quicker, cutting wait times, the number of ingredients and glasses you need and it reduces pressure on staff during what will likely be your busiest sales period for cocktails.
6) Make cocktails in advance
In hipster-speak this is known as "pre-batching" a method made trendy by influential bartender, Ryan Chetiyawardana, who sells ONLY pre-batched cocktails at his White Lyan bar in London.
You can take a leaf from Ryan's book and make them all from ingredients and spirits made in house or you can take the less labour intensive route and buy in premixes such as those from Funkin or Finest Call, or Hi-Spirits' Tails range will take you one step further with the spirit already incorporated into the bottle.
You can then spend all the time and money you've saved on an all-inclusive luxury break in the Caribbean for yourself and the Inapub team that helped you save all that dosh in the first place. It's only fair.
7) Use the same glass for everything
It doesn't even have to be a glass – empty jam jars seem to suffice for everything from serving a porn star martini to pretentious muesli bowl nowadays.
If you want to add a bit more pizazz to your offer, then of course a delicate and elegant martini glass for Martinis or a kitsch coconut cup for a Piña Colada are a good idea, but if you don't want to make a huge investment in a fledgling cocktail offer, or you simply want to speed up service, just have one standard cocktail glass for everything.
A hi-ball works well for most cocktails, think about a nicely shaped one if you want to make it bit more special.
8) Always use two straws
It's the small things that count, as my ex-boyfriend used to say, so pimp your cocktails by presenting them with one that has, at the very least: a basic garnish, two straws in the glass and is on a beverage napkin. You can add 10p to the final cost of the drink for that kind of palaver.
If you want to get a bit more serious (as the ex never said) then invest in a sexy bar spoon or two. Even the most simple of mixed drinks can be given a veneer of professional care and attention if they are gently stirred with an elegant bar spoon before serving.
Or get involved with these just launched "cocktail foams"...
9) Get your shakers out
There is literally no point in offering cocktails if you don't shout about what you're doing, so put any equipment you have on show as a sort of visual aid.
Also promote your highest margin drinks on blackboards, A-boards and menu boards until you're bored – but by then you'll have made a ton of extra money, so you won't care as much. And just in case someone still hasn't clocked you are the local freakin' cocktail maestro, paperclip your cocktail list to your food menu as well.
If they still don't order one after that, then they probably just want a pint of cooking lager.
With thanks to...
• John Parsons, UK ambassador for Bols, Maxxium UK
• Andrew King, CEO, Funkin
• Rob Poulter, on-trade consultant, Diageo
• Dan Bolton, MD, Hi-Spirits
• Manuel Terron, global brand ambassador for Midori
• Amy Burgess, trade communications manager, Coca-Cola Enterprises
• Matthias Lataille, brand ambassador Martell Cognac UK