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Don’t get this wrong: how to create the perfect serve

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cocktail

Lacklustre mixed drinks and cocktails will not do for drinkers these days, even for those who in the past would have accepted an iceless G&T served in a warm glass garnished with a sliver of limp lemon.

The difference between a great drink and a dud is not just the ingredients but also the presentation.

  • NEGATIVE AFFECT: 71% of customers who say a badly-served drink would put them off buying another

Five steps to the perfect serve:

  1. Use a clean, dry glass
  2. Fill the glass with ice. Ensure the glass is at least ¾ full with ice. Too little ice can ruin a drink. It is just as important as every other ingredient
  3. Add your branded spirit
  4. Top up with the mixer
  5. Garnish and serve

A swathe (78%) of consumers say that, aside from taste, presentation is what makes the perfect serve and 71% add that a badly-served beverage is likely to stop them from coming back to the bar for another [TNS Omnibus Perfect Serve Survey 2012].

Getting it right is not science; there is no mystique or even trickery that will take a lifetime of training to learn. It is actually simple to teach, with success ultimately boiling down to consistency. Four out of five consumers claim they know how their drink should be served, so get it wrong at your peril.

There are five key steps to serve perfection when making a mixed drink. These are: use a clean, dry glass; fill the glass three-quarters full with ice; add your spirit; top up with a mixer; garnish with a generous wedge of fresh citrus and/or a sprig of herbs, depending on the flavour profile of the beverage.

Consider your glassware – is it attractive? According to CGA’s Mixed Drinks Report for April 2016, more than a third (36%) of consumers will buy a drink based on the glass it is served in. Stand out from competitors by introducing designer or quirky glassware, for instance.

When it comes to garnishes, you do not have to stick with citrus. Spruce things up a little by using fresh berries, other fruits, even vegetables or aromatic herbs like lemongrass, thyme and rosemary to highlight the characteristics of a spirit.

  • LOOKS MATTER: ​30% of consumers who would buy more drinks if they were served better

Get the offer right for all of your customers, too. Men account for almost half (45%) of cocktail purchases according to the Mixed Drinks Report and prefer stronger flavours, including beertails and smoky flavours such as those in an Old Fashioned. Women, meanwhile, tend to go for drinks with fruity accents, such as Strawberry Daiquiris.

Things can get a little complex when it comes to more detailed drinks, such as those with more ingredients, the need to be shaken, strained or made with crushed ice.

However, the same rules when making a G&T apply to all mixed drinks. Ensure the glass is inkeeping with the drink, that it is attractive to the drinker and is eyecatching to other drinkers in the pub or bar.

Don't be tempted to over-garnish the drink with hundreds of pieces of fruit, straws, glitter or other non-edible accessories. It is better to keep the look simple and let the drink's flavour and the glassware do all of the talking.

If it is a long drink that needs to be served in an ice-filled glass, but sure to top the drink with more ice before serving it – whether that's cubed, chipped or crushed – so it looks pristine.

Deliver ultra professionalism by serving every cocktail on a bar napkin, which, not only looks sleek, but is also practical and saves on drippy glassware when the customer walks away from the bar.

Watch the video above to see how to create the perfect serve. Meanwhile, follow this link to see five twists on the classic gin​ and tonic.

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