Expert Advice on Hospitality Topics

Managing Liquor Costs to Achieve Maximum Profitability

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Thu, Jul, 26, 2012 @ 09:07 AM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing
 

The Basic Mathematics of Profitability

Liquor Cost ControlA typical beverage operation generates a constant stream of data and information, endless columns of figures and daily records. But you'd be surprised how few managers actually do anything with these figures, let alone fully grasp their implications. So how can you tell if you're operating profitably? The answer is you can't, unless, of course, you get to grips with some basic mathematics. For a start, you'll need to know how to perform a few simple calculations, such as working out an item's cost percentage. You don't need to be a mathe­matician to figure the following straightforward formulas:

  • Cost per ounce. This is the basic unit cost of a drink. For example, to calculate the cost per ounce of a liter bottle, divide the wholesale cost of the bottle by 33.8 ounces, or in the case of a 750ml bottle, by 25.4 ounces. The figure you arrive at is the cost per ounce.
  • Cost per portion. To be able to price a certain drink, you must first calculate the base cost of the serving. Use the cost per ounce to work out the cost per portion. For example, if the cost per ounce is $0.60 and the recipe requires 1.5 ounces, then the portion cost is $0.90.
  • Cost percentage. Master this formula. You cannot function without it! To calculate the cost percentage of an item, divide the product's cost (or portion's cost) by its sale price and then multiply by 100. This simple calculation gives you the cost percentage. Profitability hangs on this key calculation. This calculation is the most frequently used formula in the beverage industry. It indicates the profit margin of any drink and represents the difference between the cost of the item and the price for which it is sold. If cost percentage increases, profit margins decrease..

Measuring Bottle Yield

You know the theory: to obtain the cost per ounce, you must divide the cost of the bottle by the number of ounces in the bottle. Fine, so far. But sometimes, in practice, the final sales volumes and profits can seem disappointing. You're confused because you have done everything by the book, and now, somehow, the figures don't quite add up. Get wise.

  • Consider evaporation and spillage. When calculating a bottle's cost per ounce, the secret is to deduct an ounce or two up front, before dividing, to allow for evaporation or spillage. Although this will slightly increase the cost per ounce, it will also give you a more realistic starting point.
  • Calculation errors. Slight variations can easily creep into a calculation involving both liters and ounces. For example, assume a highball contains 1-1/2 ounces of spirit (or 45ml): using ounces, a liter bottle yields 22.54 measures, whereas, using milliliters, the bottle gives 22.22 measures. Tip: "round down" in the interests of reality.
  • Maximize potential yield. You know that a bottle of liquor yields so many measures at a certain cost. However, you also know that sloppy pouring methods can wipe out potential profits. The best way to overcome this problem is to standardize portion serving as much as possible. You've paid for the liquor and want maximum returns.
  • Buy big. High-turnover liquor, wines and spirits should always be purchased in larger bottles for better yield per measure.

Gross Profits: The Lowdown

There is no better indicator of a business's success than its gross profit figure. By definition, gross profit is the cash difference between an item or portion cost and its sales price. All attempts to reduce costs should focus on this gross profit figure. Get to grips with how to figure out some important calculations related to gross profits.

  • Gross profit. To calculate a drink's gross profit, simply subtract its portion cost from its sale price.
  • Gross profit margin. This figure represents the percentage amount of profit made by the sale. Divide the amount of profit by the sales price and then multiply by 100. The result is the gross profit margin.
  • Sales percentage profits. To calculate the selling price (based on the required gross profit margin), divide the portion cost by the gross profit margin percentage "reciprocal," i.e., the figure you get from subtracting the target gross margin from 100.
  • Cost multiplier. This calculation is often used in the beverage industry to figure out the target selling price for a drink based on its portion cost. Divide the cost percentage you require by 100 and then multiply the result by the portion cost of the product.
  • Mixed-drink prime ingredient costing. A calculation used to determine the target sales price for a mixed drink that has only one main ingredient, such as gin and tonic or scotch on the rocks. All you have to do is divide the drink's portion cost by the target cost percentage.

This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Liquor Wine & Beverage Costs, authored by Elizabeth Godsmark, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company
Amazon.com

Topics: liquor inventory, Bar inventory, bar efficiency, bar profitability, NightClub Management, managing liquor inventory cost, Bar Management, alcohol cost, bar control, cost control, inventory control, managing liquor costs

Pricing Drinks to Optimize Profits

Posted by Nick Kaoukis on Thu, Jun, 28, 2012 @ 08:06 AM
By Elizabeth Godsmark
Atlantic Publishing
 

Establishing a General Pricing Plan

Pricing StrategySensitive pricing can make or break your operation. Pricing decisions should never, ever, be made arbitrarily. It is crucial to achieve that fine balance between pricing for optimum profits and making customers feel that they're getting value for money. Of course, you want to sell the drinks at their optimum sales volume, but if you tip the balance by raising the sales price too high, the sales volume will actually drop. So will the profits.

  • Research target audience. Investigate your potential market. Check out the opposition, even if this means visiting every liquor outlet in your locality. Get a feel for how much guests are prepared to pay for certain types of drinks.
  • Compete. A realistic view of market positioning is essential. Aim to match, beat or pitch for exclusivity (known as a "highball decision", in the beverage industry). All three methods can work. What won't work is a "muddling along" approach. Make a decision, set your goals and price accordingly.
  • Type of operation. Customers' image and perception of your establishment play a major role in establishing a pricing structure. Guests have fixed expectations about costs. For example, they expect to pay above-average price at a smart nightclub or "adult" establishment. They expect neighborhood bars, on the other hand, to be cheaper. Devise a pricing strategy that meets customer expectations.
  • Portion costs. You may have done your research and drawn up the perfect plan to wipe out the opposition, but, if you haven't "bought in" at competitive prices, you're not going to win. Keep portion costs to a minimum by buying low.

Take a Fresh Look at How You Apply Your Pricing Strategy

Having carefully considered all aspects of your pricing strategy, including cost, availability, competition and target audience, it is essential to make your pricing plan as user-friendly and easy to operate as possible. Simplify.

  • Price lists. A complicated price list with too many options and variables leads to employee confusion and incorrect charging. Even if those errors result in higher gross sales, customers will soon complain and you will lose business.
  • Devise main price categories. Group products according to their wholesale costs. Use standard increments, like 50 cents, to separate price categories.
  • Keep drink prices based on quarters. Prices ending in quarters - $0.25, $0.50 and $0.75 - are easier for bartenders to add up mentally.
  • List product prices with their corresponding specific portion size. For example, alongside each item in the liquor inventory, list the appropriate portion size for that drink.
  • Point-of-sale system. Make bartenders' lives a whole lot easier! Invest in an automated system, where a few keystrokes are all that's required to find any drink or item on the price list.

Markup: Where to Pitch It

There are no standard markup guidelines in the beverage industry. Unfortunately, getting it right is very important. Profitability, cost control and so much more hang upon those difficult markup decisions. Here are a few guidelines to point you in the right direction:

  • Broad guidelines. You need to start somewhere. The following markup suggestions may help:

Cocktails......................................... 3 l/24 times cost

Other liquor......................................... 4 - 5 times cost

Beer................................................. 2 1/2 - 3 times cost

Wine by the glass ............................... 3 - 4 times cost

Carafe wine.................................... 2 l/23 times cost

Dessert wines.................................. 2 - 2l/2 times cost

  • Three main pricing methods. There are, however, three general approaches to markups in the beverage industry. A basic understanding of these options will guide you in the right direction:
    1. Traditional markup - a combination of intuition and local competition. Don't rely on intuition alone - you'd be on to a loser.
    2. Cost plus markup - here, price is determined by adding a markup to the  cost of the item. Easy to apply, this method is popular in the beverage industry.
    3. Item cost percentage markup - similar to cost plus pricing, but linked to profit targets.
  • Type of establishment. Markup is often driven by the type of establishment. For example, luxury hotels, restaurants and nightclubs can command heftier markups. Bars and taverns, on the other hand, have to compete more fiercely with similar outlets in the locality.

This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Liquor Wine & Beverage Costs, authored by Elizabeth Godsmark, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company
Amazon.com

Topics: bar profitability, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar Management, opening a bar, Increasing Profits, pricing drinks

Bar Management: Standardizing & Optimizing Serving Practices

Posted by John Cammalleri on Tue, May, 15, 2012 @ 12:05 PM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing
 

Part 3 of 3: The Service Bar

service barThe service bar is an area of the bar dedicated to the servers only. If designed well it can greatly improve the flow of drinks from the bar to the customers. Alternately, if your service bar is not designed well, it can add yet another delay in an already-crowded process. When setting up a service bar, the things that should be considering are:

  • Layout. Will your staff need to make a long trip, past waiting customers, to get to your drinks server? Placing the service area off to the side of the bar might seem like a good plan when the bar is empty, but when it's full, a drinks server who has to yell to be heard is a disgruntled drinks server - and a frequently delayed one.
  • Drinks station.Is everything the bartender needs to prepare drinks positioned within six feet (a step and a reach) from a drink preparation area? If it isn't, you're only adding waiting time, opportunity for spillage and even waste to the drinks serving process.
  • How far do your drinks servers have to travel to reach your customers? Do you seriously expect your server to negotiate a heavy crowd with 12 drinks on his or her tray and not encounter spillage? Clear the way. Improve not just your server's efficiency but also customer traffic flow.
  • Service bar communication. If you have a bartender or bar devoted purely to drinks service, consider providing your servers with radio headsets that will allow them to communicate a drinks order to the bar from the floor. This simple move can save your servers from making literally hundreds of trips across the floor a night and can slash service times considerably.

Glass-Handling Rules

Too often, bar staff think of glasses as disposable partyware and all but ignore the fundamental rules of handling drink service equipment. Make your bar staff aware of the following, or you could find yourself in hot water down the road when someone complains:

  • Never, ever, use glasses as ice scoops. A tiny chip of glass falling into your ice bin can cause a great deal of injury, and bar glassware certainly isn't designed to shovel rocks of ice. Along the same lines, any time a glass breaks in or near an ice bin, the entire ice bin needs to be emptied and the contents disposed of before it can be used in the preparation of another drink.
  • Staff should never touch the upper half of a glass in the act of serving a drink. It's un­hygienic; it looks terrible to the customer; and the glass will be much more susceptible to breakage if it's being handled regularly in this manner.
  • Stemmed glasses. They're far more susceptible to breakage than most other types of glasses - not to mention usually more expensive. Make sure that all staff take extra care in the handling of these items, perhaps even to the point of washing them by hand.
  • Inspect. All glasses need to be inspected, if only briefly, before they're used in a drink order. A lipstick smudge, chip, crack or remnants of a previous drink are not only off-putting to a customer, but they're also hazardous to the customer's health.


 

This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company 
Amazon.com


Topics: bar efficiency, NightClub Management, bar supplies, bar business, Bar Management, bar design

BAR MANAGEMENT: TRENDS TO LOOK FOR AND EXPLOIT

Posted by John Cammalleri on Thu, Apr, 26, 2012 @ 13:04 PM

The nightclub business can be a rough. With a plentitude of competing venues, and with customer tastes in constant flux, the average half-life of a bar or nightclub is all too brief. Survival can depend on your ability to stay ahead of the curve and be in tune with your customers’ ever-changing demands. In short, you need to be constantly aware of what’s in  and what’s not in order to remain vital. Here is a brief compendium, in three parts, of some of the emerging and continuing trends in the industry, just a few things to look out for in 2012 and beyond:

Part 3 of 3: STORE CONCEPTS

mixologistSimplicity over pretention. While bars that employ top-notch mixologists offering creative drinks will continue to attract more and more customers, you can also expect a trend towards simplicity. As David Wondrich put it in Nation’s Restaurant News, “The biggest trend I see is bringing mixology down to the fun/dive-bar level.” Expect to find well-made, “sophisticated” drinks in friendlier, “less sophisticated” surroundings.

Live music and entertainment. Live acts are in. More and more bar patrons are looking to be entertained while they enjoy a drink or a bite. While live entertainment has always been a good  way to drive traffic to your store, drinkers and diners—particularly the over thirty crowd—are starting to look for it more and more. Thanks to the Internet, booking these acts—whether a local band, a jazz singer or comedian--is easier than ever before. What’s more, social media sites like Facebook and Myspace allow you to gauge the kind of following these acts have, giving you some idea of the level of traffic you might expect.

Bottle Service. With economic recovery on the horizon, expect bottle service to once again gain popularity. While it never really went away—at least not in the VIP lounges of the latest hotspots—bottle-service popularity did wane a bit during the recent economic meltdown. Look for a comeback.

“Daylife”. Daylife has begun to rival nightlife in bars and clubs across the country, especially during summertime. Rooftop bars and hotel pool areas are natural “hotspots” on sunny days. But patrons’ willingness to partake in daytime drinking shouldn’t be ignored, even if your store lacks a rooftop, pool or courtyard area. A weekend brunch bash or an early happy hour on weekdays can be just as profitable. Expect more and more bars to begin taking advantage of customers’ gameness for early revelry.

Larger Nightclubs. Expect to see larger—20,000+ square-foot—venues opening up in major cities. Also expect some of these new mega clubs to be segmented into distinct areas within. Instead of roped off VIP areas, you’ll begin to see entirely separate enclaves, or mini-clubs, within the larger store.

Multi-use spaces. Hand in hand with the (re-)emergence of larger nightclubs is the trend toward multi-use venues. Instead of putting all their eggs in one basket, drinking establishments will increasingly employ versatile-design  elements (such as colored glass walls that can be turned into projection TV’s) to start to cater to different clienteles. Expect to see multi-use spaces  that can be turned into dance clubs, live-music venues and sports bars.

brewtruc

Cocktail trucks. Where not prohibited by law, expect to see cocktail trucks peddling alcoholic concoctions. You may have noticed food trucks on street corners of major U.S. cities. Often run by talented chefs and would-be restaurateurs (who may lack the requisite capital to establish a more permanent store), these trucks offer a various, often high-quality, fare. This trend is now being extended to potables. In San Francisco, BrewTrucs can be seen  roving the streets hawking coctails and beer to thirsty pedestrians. Moreover, cocktail trucks have become a tool for liquor manufacturers nation-wide to build brand recognition. While legal issues will limit the growth of these bars on wheels, you may well see more and more of these trucks at parties and campus events.

Topics: Bar trends, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar drinks, Bar Management, Bar products, Nightclub trends, opening a bar, bar design, Bar Promotion

Bar Management: Standardizing & Optimizing Serving Practices

Posted by John Cammalleri on Thu, Apr, 12, 2012 @ 08:04 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing
 

Part 2 of 3: Ensure Quality & Avoid Wastage

Mixed Drink Tips

cocktailsMaking a good mixed drink isn't always a matter of A + B = C. In fact, there are numerous small details that can contribute to turning your creation into something just that little bit better than the norm and, more still, that can help you keep your ingredients at peak freshness and productivity. Consider the following:

  • Champagne wastage. Many mixed drinks require champagne or sparkling white wine as an ingredient. Opening a fresh bottle for one drink can be wasteful. Consider purchasing a champagne bottle resealer for your bar, and make sure your bar staff knows how to use it.
  • Keep champagne fresh. If you have a steady flow of champagne drinks in your bar, just drop the handle of a metal spoon into the top of the champagne bottle and put it back in the fridge. This will keep the sparkle in your champagne for up to 12 hours.
  • Is fresh-squeezed orange and lemon juice a selling feature of your cocktail menu? If so, you should know that you'll get a lot more juice from lemons and oranges if you soak them in warm water for a while before juicing them.
  • Stir, don't shake. When a mixed drink consists of clear liquids and/or carbonated beverages, stir it - don't shake it. You don't want your clear liquids to bruise, nor your bubbles to go flat, and shaking the concoction guarantees both will happen.
  • "Difficult ingredients." Mixed drinks containing juices, sugar, eggs, cream, milk, or any other difficult-to-mix ingredient should be shaken - and shaken like crazy. Don't just give the contents a three-second rock around the mixer; give 'em heck!
  • Adding eggs. When you shake a drink that requires an egg, add an ice cube to the shaker. This will help break up the egg and allow it to blend into the drink more easily.
  • Prevent dripping. When serving wine or champagne from the bottle, a clean piece of wax paper rubbed along the rim of the bottle will prevent any dripping when you pour.

 

Serving Quality Drinks

QualityThe difference between a good and great martini is very small, but very important. The quality of your cocktail menu should be of paramount importance to you. The methods by which those cocktails are prepared should be a point of pride for all concerned.

  • Presentation. The color and presentation of any exotic mixed drink is key, and by adjusting the amounts of key ingredients, the bartender can not only change the color of a drink, but can also adapt it to suit any taste. Impress the customers by asking how they like their drinks mixed. Would he like it sweet? Does she like it dry? Maybe a little easy on a key ingredient? Often they'll have no preference, but in asking you'll impress the finicky customer.
  • The process of drink creation can be as important as the drink itself. A little showmanship in the preparation of a drink may slow the process down a touch. Also, if the performance is good and the bartender shows personality, your customers might not mind a little longer wait.
  • Garnishes. Maraschino cherries, olives, a sprig of mint, a stick of celery, banana, lemon, lime, all carefully prepared, an investment in fridge space, and a bartender who is quick with a paring knife - they can all set your mixed drinks off with a sparkle. The right garnish is as important as the right ingredients.
  • Novelty glassware. Most bars consider glassware as merely a vessel in which to serve drinks, but the clever operators see that using exotic and novelty glassware and building the cost of the glass into the drink price can bring customers flocking to that drink in order to get the free glass.

 

This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company 
Amazon.com


Topics: Bar inventory, bar efficiency, bar profitability, Bar drinks, Bar Management, drink recipe, bar control, Drink Recipes

BAR MANAGEMENT: TRENDS TO LOOK FOR AND EXPLOIT

Posted by John Cammalleri on Wed, Mar, 21, 2012 @ 14:03 PM

The nightclub business can be a rough. With a plentitude of competing venues, and with customer tastes in constant flux, the average half-life of a bar or nightclub is all too brief. Survival can depend on your ability to stay ahead of the curve and be in tune with your customers’ ever-changing demands. In short, you need to be constantly aware of what’s in  and what’s not in order to remain vital. Here is a brief compendium, in three parts, of some of the emerging and continuing trends in the industry, just a few things to look out for in 2012 and beyond:

Part 2 of 3: INTERNET & TECHNOLOGY

Online reservations. Online reservations will continue to experience modest growth. While not a rapidly growing trend, the use of the Web to find where to go to eat and drink has become so common  a Web presence, and a listing in Zagat, Opentable and other where-to-go sites is crucial in attracting new customers

ipad in restaurantGoing mobile
. Google projects that mobile devices will overtake PCs as the most common Web-access device by 2013.The ubiquity of smartphones and tablets makes it imperative that Websites be mobile-friendly. As many of these devices either do not support or have trouble playing Flash content (which has become a staple of restaurant, nightclub and bar sites), you would be well-served to optimize your site to take advantage of the rapidly growing number of mobile users who rely on their iPhones and iPads to find where to go for a drink or a bite.

Social media. The growth of social media continues. Twitter, Facebook and Google+, alone, boast a combined 1.5 billion users. Moreover, social media sites will become a key component of Search Engine Results Page (SERP) algorithms. If you’re not already using social media as a marketing tool, it’s time, perhaps, to start. It’s often said that the best form of advertising is word of mouth. What social media does is combine the credibility of word of mouth with the reach of mass media. In fact, the social media’s reach far surpasses that of any form of traditional mass media. Given this, it may make sense to hire a social media manager to help promote your store.

electronic cigarettesElectronic cigarettes. Electronic cigarettes are becoming more and more ubiquitous. These electrical devices, which produce a flavored aerosol mist that simulates tobacco smoke, have become popular both as a way of quitting tobacco and as a way for smokers to kinda feed their habit in places where actual smoking is prohibited. Expect e-cigarettes to become a more common sight in bars and nightclubs in 2012. Also expect them to be sold more widely in drinking establishments. Not only do these devices provide an added revenue stream, they may actually have the added benefit of keeping smokers inside and drinking.

Tablets. By the end of 2011, nearly 34 million Americans owned iPads and other tablets. With new, less expensive tablets going on themarket, that number is expected to grow 63% in 2012, and by 2014 it’s predicted that 90 million Americans (or a third of the population) will own a tablet computer. Expect these devices to be adopted more broadly in the hospitality industry—not only as a (POS-integrated) replacement for the wait staff’s order pads, but as enhanced menus (with photos, ingredients, the calorie count of foods, suggested wine pairings etc.). Many wine bars and restaurants are already using tablets as a replacement to traditional wine menus. Tablets also provide an opportunity to provide cheap entertainment, in the form of interactive gameplay, to bar patrons.

DMX Lighting in Nightclub

DMX lighting. LED’s and new, cheaper and simpler-to-use DMX lighting software will allow owners of restaurants, lounge bars and nightclubs to modify the look and feel of their stores with greater ease, without having to overhaul the entire architecture. Whether as means of creating an entirely fresh look or as a way of changing mood lighting to match an event, a season, or a time of day, you’ll begin to see DMX lighting used more widely to create a fresh look and feel.

 

Topics: social media, Technology, Bar trends, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar Management, Nightclub trends, opening a bar, bar design, DMX lighting, Bar Promotion

BAR MANAGEMENT: TRENDS TO LOOK FOR AND EXPLOIT

Posted by John Cammalleri on Thu, Mar, 15, 2012 @ 13:03 PM

The nightclub business can be a rough. With a plentitude of competing venues, and with customer tastes in constant flux, the average half-life of a bar or nightclub is all too brief. Survival can depend on your ability to stay ahead of the curve and be in tune with your customers’ ever-changing demands. In short, you need to be constantly aware of what’s in  and what’s not in order to remain vital. Here is a brief compendium, in three parts, of some of the emerging and continuing trends in the industry, just a few things to look out for in 2012 and beyond:

Part 1 of 3: DRINKS

Cocktails and Spirits

infused spiritsHerb-infused spirits. Whether they be whiskies, vodkas or gins are gaining herb-infused drinks are gaining in popularity. Expect gin, especially, to continue to make a splash as both large producers such as Bombay and a slew of new micro distilleries continue infuse this old stalwart with fresh and interesting botanicals.

Flavored tonics. Tonic  water is a simplest mixer  there  is, and an obvious staple to anyone serving drinks. A variety of new tonics are hitting the market, however, which can transform the most basic of mixers into something more sublime. Look for new tonics to elevate simple drinks like gin and tonic into something for more interesting and complex.

Cask-aged cocktails. Drink mixes aged in wooden barrels for added nuance continue to gain popularity in major urban centers from New York to San Francisco.

Cocktails on tap. Cask-aged or not, expect mixed drinks to come out of a tap. For speed and consistency, many bars are starting to produce a selection of well-crafted cocktails in large

Solid summer cocktails. Remember the Jello shot? Expect to see it re-emerge, as mixologists exercise their creativity to concoct artistically-layered versions of an old party favorite. With the use of lecithins and other ingredients—which can alter the consistency and texture of fluids--becoming more widespread, expect solid-form cocktails to gain traction. You can also expect to see more and more cocktails turned into sorbets and popsicles when summer rolls around.

Super-premium beverages. Spirit enthusiasts and wine aficionados seem prepared to pay top dollar for a small taste of luxury potables. While they may not be willing to spend $300-$1,000 for a bottle of top-top-shelf cognac or premier-cru, more and more enthusiasts are showing a willingness to pay a premium for an ounce or two.

Smoked spirits. Flash smoking is making a move from the chef’s kitchen to the bar top. Still a relatively new phenomenon, bar-top smokers—used to infuse spirits with, you guessed it, a mild smokiness—are beginning to be found in a number of popular bars in most major cities.

Combination drinks. More and more bar owners are discovering the benefits of marrying two drinks and selling them together in order to boost sales. Whether it’s the classic shot with a beer chaser, or a more inspired combination of two cocktails with complementing flavors, double-hitters promise to become a hit among bar patrons.

Return to the classics.Cocktail menus have become chockfull of creative concoctions and signature drinks. More and more drinkers, however, are starting to embrace some of the

classics. It may be a good time to make room on the menu for the old standards—Daiquiris, the Manhattan, the Sidecar….

Skinny drinks. Expect cocktail menus to offer more and more low-cal beverages—whether lighter versions of standard fare or entirely new concoctions. Popular among the ladies and health-conscious patrons wanting to limit the number of “empty calories” they consume, skinny cocktails are a good way for drinking establishments to cater to this growing segment of their clientele.

Ingredient Trends:

Bitters—celery, whisky, lemon

Zwack, an herbal liqueur from Hungary made with a secret blend of 40 herbs and spices

Rye Whiskey

Honey Liquor

Beer

Vintage beers. A variety of aged, vintage beers are becoming available. The Modern in New York for instance offers a 1999 J.W. Lees Harvest Ale to drinkers wanting a taste of the past. Meanwhile many microbreweries are offering a variety of interesting, higher-alcohol beers meant mellow with age.

Lower-alcohol beers. While higher-alcohol beers continue to be popular, expect a rise in demand for flavorful, lower alcohol beers. Rather than nurse a pint of high-gravity, high-alcohol beer, many patrons will opt instead for high-flavor, lower-alcohol beers that they can drink in greater in quantities. Patrons’ taste for quality, low-alcohol beers is good news for bar owners, as they present an opportunity for increased sales.

flavored beerSeasonal and flavored beers. While nothing new, seasonal and/or flavored beers are starting to gain traction.

Wine

Local Wines.The movement towards locally-grown wines—from a variety of regions, including New York, Michigan, Texas, Virginia, Ohio, Ontario—c ontinues and is expected to accelerate in 2012.

Lower Alcohol Content. The popularity of big, fruit-bomb wines with high alcohol content is waning, while more classic –style wines—e eegant and more structurally balanced, with alcohol levels below 13% or 14%--are beginning to gain favor.

Burgundy Wines. With Bordeaux wines commanding huge prices, consumers are more and more turning their attention to the more affordable Burgundy region.  As reason wine auctions have shown have shown Burgundy wines are rising stars.

Organic Wines. The movement towards organic products has extended to the wine  world, where more and more wine makers are beginning to explore natural wine-making techniques. Expect consumers to start embracing these “sustainable” wines in coming years.

ProsecoValue. After several years of economic recession, consumers have acquired a taste for value wines. They are seeking bang for the buck—not cheap inferior wines, but good, well-balanced, flavorful wines at an affordable price. With many of these wines coming from Spain and South America, expect Spanish, Chilean and Argentinian wines to continue to grow in popularity.

Alternatives to Champagne. In keeping with consumers’ growing thirst for value, high-quality sparkling wines from regions other than Champagne are gaining popularity.  Sparkling wines from Germany, Austria, Portugal, the U.S. and Italy are expected to gain ground. Consumers are discovering that a nice, quality Prosecco can be just as enjoyable as a Champagne, often at a fraction of the price.

Non-alcoholic Drinks

Coconut water.  Already popular in cities like New York and L.A., coconut water will continue to gain popularity. With strong celebrity backing, and with major investments from the likes of Coca Cola, we should begin to see coconut water available everywhere, including the nation’s bars and nightclubs.

 

Topics: liquor inventory, Bar inventory, wine inventory, bar, alcohol, beer inventory, Bar trends, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar drinks, Bar Management, Bar products, Nightclub trends, blends

Bar Management: Standardizing & Optimizing Serving Practices

Posted by John Cammalleri on Mon, Jan, 09, 2012 @ 11:01 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing
 

Part 1 of 3: Establishing House Drink Recipes

A bartender makes a good drink with originality, panache, speed and skill - but a great drink starts with the boss. You determine the drink menu, you determine the recipes to be used and you set the price and make the rules. Your staff just follows your lead. In many bars, it's left to individual members of staff to know the "standard" formulas for cocktails and mixed drinks. Everyone is supposed to know that a Tequila Sunrise has one shot of tequila, right? Or is it two? Maybe it's a shot and a half... Profits are too hard won to just throw away alcohol when your staff crosses their wires about your drink recipes. Some easy steps to ensuring standardization of your house recipes include:

  • Recipe lists. Make sure when you take on new staff they receive detailed recipe lists to take home and look over before they start their first shift. It doesn't cost you a lot to photocopy a few pages of text and give them to your staff, so make sure there's no excuse for them not to know as much as they can before they start mixing on your dime.
  • Recipes on display. Ensure that there are either laminated index cards or recipes listed behind the bar at all times so that any member of staff - even emergency fill-ins and temps - can see exactly what is needed to prepare each drink - no more, no less. Below is an example of a recipe card and the information it should contain:
drink recipes

  • Cocktail menus. When you leave cocktail menus on tables, make sure that each one shows exactly what is in the drink - not just the ingredients, but the ounce amounts of each. This will not only serve as a more informative drink menu to your customers, but will also allow them to more accurately measure what they've consumed over the course of the night.
  • Premium ingredients. If you use premium or middle-shelf ingredients in your cocktails, make sure that your cocktail menus make a point of that fact by showing the brands used. There's no point in hiding the fact that your base spirits and liqueurs are of a higher quality than those of your competition, especially because your liquor distributor might chip in for some of the cost of printing if they're being marketed in your literature in this fashion.
  • Accuracy. Make certain that the cocktail and mixed-drink recipes give a clear indication of what glass is to be used, what garnish should be used, for how long and on what setting any blended drink should be blended and what brands of alcohol should be used for their creation. If you leave anything out, you can bet someone will get it wrong - and with alarming regularity.
  • Bartending recipe computer programs. For example, Interworlds Software's "BarBack for Windows" can tell your staff how to create a drink even if a customer asks for something ridiculously obscure. BarBack includes over 10,000 different drink recipes, as well as information on glassware, ingredients, mixing methods and garnishes. Rather than taking away from the skills of your staff, insightful programs such as these actually complement their skills to ensure your customers get exactly what they want in the quickest possible time. BarBack can be downloaded at www.barback.com .

 

This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company 
Amazon.com


Topics: inventory managers, Bar inventory, bar inventory levels, Bar staff, bar profitability, alcohol, NightClub Management, bar business, Bar Management, bar control, Drink Recipes, controling costs, liquor products

Outfitting Your Bar to Achieve Maximum Profitability

Posted by John Cammalleri on Tue, Dec, 06, 2011 @ 11:12 AM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing
 

Part 3 of 3: Streamlining Service Areas

underbar layoutWhen you design your service area, it's important to realize that every step a bartender takes in the serving of a drink is costing you money and making your customers impatient. Where does your staff need to walk to get a clean glass? How far from there to the ice bins and then to the spirit dispenser? And where are your soda guns in relation to the bottles? Is the cash register yet another trip away from the customer? Even if your bartender has to take only four or five steps between each of these posts, consider how far that means your bartender has to walk in the course of serving 500 drinks a night! This is bad enough for a solo bartender, but when two or three people are working behind the same bar and sharing facilities, it can be an unproductive nightmare.

  • Most bartenders are right-handed. With this in mind, your bar setup should allow your staff to pick up glasses with their left hands and bottles with their right, so that the drink creation process is at its most productive. If your bottles are on the left and glasses on the right, your people will do a lot of crisscrossing back and forth, resulting in more time taken to prepare a drink - and a lot more breakage and spillage.
  • Consider your customers. If they're lined up three deep to get a drink, and the bar staff need to take extra steps for every drink, each of those customers doesn't just wait longer for his or her own order, but for every order ahead as well. These people are lining up to give your business money - the last thing you should do is make it difficult for them to do so.
  • Low-cost equipment. If you can't afford to equip your bar with brand-new reach-in refriger­ators, there is another low-cost alternative. Consider keeping a sink full of ice directly beneath the bar top. Have three or four dozen high-turnover bottled beers in the sink at all times. Your staff can refill the "Bud bins" from refrigerated stock whenever there's a slowdown in customer traffic, thereby saving dozens of unnecessary trips to the fridge every hour, not to mention giving your customers faster service.
  • Pre-made mixes. To save time during their busiest periods, many bars pre-make cocktail mixes. While this is a good plan, be sure not to have these pre-made mixes sitting out in plain view. Ensure your staff don't refill them in the public eye. If your bottom line dictates that you have to use tequila from Peoria, it's best not to advertise the fact when you're charging eight bucks a drink.

The Under-Bar

Your under-bar is the engine of your bar area. If it's designed well, your staff can get from order to delivery in seconds. If it's poorly designed and dys­functional, your customers and staff could spend a good portion of the night stuck in bar traffic.

  • Focus on the customer. Employee interaction is the key. The under-bar area should contain everything your staff needs to fill 80 percent of their drink orders without moving a step away from the customer. If your staff aren't able to engage your customers in steady conversation as they're filling their orders, you're not only putting your staff through more work than they need, but you're also making your customers wait too long.
  • Bar layout. If your staff can work more effectively within a smaller area of the bar, you will be able to fit more staff behind that bar during peak periods, ensuring faster service and higher productivity. Take a fresh look at the bar area and consider what changes you can make to improve productivity.
  • Streamline your workstation. Many bar-fitting companies sell sink units that include speed racks, jockey boxes, ice sinks and more. They can also replace aged fittings with a minimum of fuss and expense. This will give your staff a compact, efficient workstation from which to maximize their time and effort. Prices vary, but when you consider the time, labor and customer tolerance savings, it's a purchase that will pay for itself many times over. BigTray (www.bigtray.com) can sell you this kind of equipment online or over the phone at 1-800-BIG-TRAY

 

 

This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company 
Amazon.com


Topics: Bar inventory, Bar staff, bar efficiency, bar profitability, bar, NightClub Management, bar supplies, bar business, Bar Management, Bar products, opening a bar, bar design, Increasing Profits

Outfitting Your Bar to Achieve Maximum Profitability

Posted by John Cammalleri on Thu, Oct, 27, 2011 @ 17:10 PM
By Chris Parry
Atlantic Publishing
 

Part 2 of 3: Design Your Bar With the Customer in Mind

 Consider Customer Comfort

Bar DesignHave you ever sat under a blue neon light for an hour? While neon decor might look great when a bar is packed to capacity and the music is pumping, when business is slow it's like a power drill closing in on the center of your forehead. Certainly your customers should be impressed by your decor, but will the very look that draws them in end up driving them away early? Consider the following:

  • Invest in comfortable seating. Wooden barstools may look fine, and are usually very cheap to purchase and maintain, but are they likely to give your patrons buttock cramps after an hour? Try padded seating. Make sure the customers can move their seats to suit with a minimum of fuss - never have barstools and tables bolted to the floor.
  • Consider installing booths. Replace those cheap tables. If you want your customers to stay all night, give them the kind of seats that will make them too comfortable to leave. Customers tend to settle into booths, especially if a venue is crowded. If your drink servers are attentive and food is available, a group in a booth is all the more likely to settle in until closing. Remember, a shaky table is very easy to walk away from.
  • A comfortable bar surface keeps your clientele happy. Make sure your customers can lean on the bar and get comfy without getting cold elbows. This is much more likely if your bar surface is wood than if it's stainless steel or marble.
  • Lighting. Your lighting does more than just keep people from bumping into one another - it sets a mood. If you've inherited a system of overhead fluorescent lights or neon, consider getting a lighting specialist to give you suggestions on potential improvements. It won't cost as much as you think. Generally a quote is free.

Color Schemes Influence Buyer Behavior

Have you ever wondered why fast-food outlets almost always follow the same color scheme? The McDonald's decor and logo are yellow and red, as are those of Taco Bell and Burger King; KFC's are red and white, just like Pizza Hut, Wendy's and Jack in the Box. Coincidence? Not quite. Research has shown that certain colors promote cravings in consumers. When an establishment is decked out in reds and yellows, customers tend to experience feelings of hunger, not to mention an inability to settle down and relax. It's believed that those colors will cause a moderately hungry person to order a little more than he or she needs. They also will prompt customers to move on quickly once their money is spent. Blues and greens, on the other hand, promote relaxation, serenity and even lethargy amongst customers, which might be the better option for an establishment like a bar, where you're looking to keep your clientele seated for the long haul. How can you utilize these colors to quietly "persuade" your customers to buy, buy and buy?

  • Menus and food areas. A red and yellow color scheme on your tabletop menus or food area signage may cause your patrons to develop a stronger urge to order food, yet not be so over­ whelming as to chase them out the door.
  • Bar decor. Some hardy potted plants, maybe a few palms and a little pastel color on your walls may help your bar promote a feeling of island- like serenity in your customers, compelling them to relax a little - and stay.
  • External decor. Your signage and building front are supposed to draw people in. But does your frontage inspire the desire to party? Or does it drive people to the KFC down the street?
  • Staff uniforms. Do the colors of your employees' uniforms say to your customers, "Welcome, stay a while," or "I'm busy, what do you want?" Your staff uniforms are an important part of your overall decor. Your decisions about their design can radically change the atmosphere of your establishment.

 

 

This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Bar & Beverage Operation, authored by Chris Parry, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:

Atlantic Publishing Company 
Amazon.com


Topics: nightclubs, bar efficiency, bar, NightClub Management, bar supplies, bar business, Bar Management, Bar products, bar design