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True signature drinks

True signature drinks

If I mention signature drinks you’ll probably think about a table tent with a list of non-descript, overpriced cocktails. That’s often what a signature drink menu is in bars. I think signature drinks are about when a bar becomes so well known for a particular item that the item and the bar become associated in some way. If somebody mentioned drinking that particular drink, you’d automatically think of that bar. If a bar is genuinely known for a particular drink, I’d say they can claim to have a signature drink. That’s not the case with most drinks you find on signature drink menus.

So how do you go about choosing a special drink for your bar? Like many of these posts I can discuss the theory, but putting it into practice at your bar is the hard part. It’s also the part you’re best placed decide since you know your customers better than anyone. I’d say the key thing is to choose a drink which is going to be attractive to your regulars or the clientele you’re aiming to attract. One our clients who uses our liquor inventory system has a great example of this: They do a great lunch and dinner business but most locals would probably think of them first as the best place in town to get breakfast. Their signature drink plays on that fact. They serve a genuinely amazing Bloody Mary which has a great house made mix and has very cool presentation. The mother of all Bloodys comes in a round goblet with an extravagant skewer of pickle, celery, pepper and a 6oz chaser of a local brew. It’s a great choice for a business which has some of its busiest shifts each month on Saturday and Sunday brunch. The other key element that’s clever is adding add value by taking a mid-range vodka and making it into a fantastic drink by infusing it in house and presenting it really well. Displaying the infusion jars behind the bar encourages people to order the drink and is something unique to the bar. They end up hitting a great margin on a product they sell in great volume. Most importantly when the locals wake up on Saturday with that “nothing will fix this hangover except more alcohol” feeling and want a bloody fix, they go to this restaurant.

Borrowing from this technique, how about making a house infused spirit tailored to your bar. The vast majority of bars these days sell more vodka than any other spirit which makes that an obvious choice however with some creativity you could make some amazing whiskey drinks using herbs or amazing margs by adding a touch of spice to a half decent silver tequila.

Here’s a step by step on how you could go about this:

1. Choose your spirit. 

2. Source some attractive glassware for the infusion (so you can show it off behind the bar). 

3. Add the herbs, fruit or whatever to the jar (fresh ingredients will always work best). 

4. Pour in the spirit of choice. Don’t use the cheapest thing around but equally don’t use top shelf liquor. Something that’s around $10 a bottle works well in many cases.

5. Allow between 3-6 days of infusing in a cool, dark place and be sure to shake and test regularly until the desired intensity of flavor is achieved.

6. Decant into liter bottles. This allows your bartenders to pour the liquor using a speed pourer as usual from a bottle making it easy to portion the cocktails.

If you want to price out particular drinks the easy way use our liquor cost calculator. You should aim for a liquor cost for the drink of perhaps 15% or lower so the drink will help your overall liquor cost and obviously the key to your success is how effectively you can promote and sell your signature drink in volume. If you involve your staff in the process of designing the drink, they’ll be more likely to get into selling it too!

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