What exactly is a “crafted cocktail”? Typically, a crafted cocktail is made with nothing out of bottled mixes. It uses fresh ingredients, like real fruit juices that are made to order or prepared in-house. The use of fine liqueurs with no artificial flavors are what crafted cocktails are all about and they are mostly made with natural flavored syrups. Don’t forget, no well brands, with crafted cocktails you are expected to use top of the line spirits. Crafted cocktails are not a new invention, but they have evolved to complex, costly, and labor-intensive items on your menu.
Here are some tips to keep these cocktails crafty and profitable:
- As said before, pick fine spirits for your cocktail. A little goes a long way with a fine spirit. People are starting to notice the difference and look for small batch liquors when choosing a cocktail. Even though a fine liquor will cost more than a well brand, smaller pours will help cut your costs.
- Prepping is key. Make some of the more labor intensive items like fresh juices, and unique syrups during prep time. Make sure you store these prepped items in glass and not plastic. This prepping will save labor and timing. Also, you can control your usage of these ingredients and calculate your yields from raw ingredients.
- The 3 minute rule. It is vital to keep all cocktail production under three minutes per cocktail. This has been one of the biggest hurdles for many operators and bartenders. Time is money, and customers don’t want to wait forever for their crafted cocktail. To aid in the 3 minute rule, train bar staff and know what items can be prepared beforehand and that will stay fresh within the shift.
- Kitchen scraps. Your kitchen has tons of free ingredients you can use to make syrups, juices and garnishes from leftover scraps. Speak to your chef to see which items he/she is throwing out— herbs, peels,stems and more. It’s also a great idea to consult your chef on upcoming cocktails, depending on the season the chef can offer great insights into what scraps they'll have for you to incorporate in your crafted cocktail.
- Know your COSTS! Use measuring tools like jiggers to calculate costs. Set a cost goal that you are comfortable with but is also reasonable for the customer. Many times, operators are surprised learn that their cocktail list is costing them 35-45 percent just in products! The key is to know before you pour.
- Seasonality! Changing up the menu and keeping it seasonal will also keep costs down. Many fresh items (citrus, herbs, flowers) costs will rise as the season dwindles. Use the seasons as your tool for updating your cocktail menu. Also, consumers love an updated, seasonal cocktail menu.
What are some of your crafted cocktail tips or drinks you love?