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Get the cocktail message across

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Cocktail offer: three-quarters (75%) of the nation's bars sell cocktails
Cocktail offer: three-quarters (75%) of the nation's bars sell cocktails

Related tags: Cocktail, Sales

Having a great offer when it  comes to cocktails is a proven way of increasing trade, but making sure you convey what you have to customers is the crucial aspect in building sales. Nicholas Robinson reports.

A strong cocktail offer is nothing without an attractive and intelligent menu to sell it. No matter how well made or on-trend your drinks are, customer buy-in will only happen with the right delivery.

It is a complex process and every site will differ in its approach, but there are some simple steps to take that will set you in good stead when starting out.


of spririts sales accounted for by cocktails (CGA Mixed Drinks Report, April 2017​)

To start, look at what your customers enjoy most about your current offer, consider the most popular drinks and ask what they like about them. If you do not currently sell cocktails, then experiment by adding a few simple serves to see how they go.

Create something your pub can be famous for – a signature serve – to differentiate yourself from competitors. This could be a twist on a classic, such as a Rhubarb Negroni if, say, your pub is in Yorkshire. As with food, tailor cocktails to the seasons and think whether a customer would prefer a Mojito or a hot toddy in winter.

Less is always more when it comes to these things. Break the menu down into sections (this could be done by spirits category, country or origin or style) and offer eight options in total. Most importantly, be sure all of the drinks you choose can be served to the same standard at rush hour as they are during quiet periods – less than two minutes is the optimum.

Make your menu pop


of the nation's bars sell cocktails (CGA Mixed Drinks Report, April 2017​)

Curating the cocktail offer is the hardest part, but putting it on page is not a complex science and there are four simple tips to ensure a menu pops.

Do not include pound signs on the menu because consumers will start to think more about cost. Round prices up to neat round numbers, which makes things cleaner and easier. And there is no need to list products according to price. Doing so makes it easy for consumers to ignore the most expensive sections and could lose you profit.

Finally, if there is a best-selling drink or something the bartenders need to push, include this in a boxout on the menu. Not only does this promote a particular serve, it also eliminates any choice overload and simplifies the decision-making process.

1 in 10

say the Mojito is their favourite cocktail – making it the on-trade's most popular cocktail (CGA Mixed Drinks Report, April 2017​)

When it comes to describing drinks, use enticing words that appeal to the senses, but keep it simple and clean. An example for a Mojito could be: “Crushed ice and white rum muddled with fresh mint, zingy lime juice and caster sugar topped with sparkling water.”

Ensure a smooth sales process

Having put in so much effort getting the menu right, it is vital the rest of the sales process runs smoothly. Be sure your menu is placed wherever customers can order cocktails. Ensure bar staff can make and deliver the drinks consistently and can recommend drinks based on customer preferences.


of adult customers like to try new drinks in the on-trade (CGA Mixed Drinks Report, April 2017​)

Don’t forget that cocktail menus are the second biggest driver of consumer choice (Diageo Omnichannel Research, February 2016​) and that on average a customer will spend only 109 seconds looking at a menu (Gallop RRG Consulting​) so it is essential they provide standout and guide choice.

And operators should never lose sight of the fact that the return on sales for spirits in outlets that promote cocktails is £35,000 greater than in establishments that don’t (CGA Mixed Drinks Report, October 2016​).

What to consider when building your cocktail menu

■ Choose a cocktail list that suits your style of outlet and the customers you want to attract

■ Outlets offering cocktails for the first time should choose a short, well-thought-out list with five to eight cocktails – including classics

■ Choose quality ingredients that justify the price premium you are charging and present them in interesting, quality glassware appropriate to the drink, or something quirky such as teapots or jam jars

■ Choosing a cocktail can be a little daunting for some consumers, particularly men. Adding a small glass icon to
show how the drink will be presented will help new consumers into the category make an informed choice around long or short drinks, and those in tall glasses v Martini glasses

■ Don’t forget to shout about your cocktail offering – using chalkboards and eye-catching menus can inspire undecided customers to choose a
profitable cocktail

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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