Bartender’s Choice Menus: Get Free PR and Increase Profits

Industry insiders predict that, among other things, 2015 will be the year of bartender’s choice menus. The rise of the cocktail over the past few years has whetted customers’ tastes for strong drinks with unique flavor profiles—and for many guests, your Manhattan or Sidecar with artisan bitters is no longer going to cut it. Never fear! At Uncorkd, we’re all about helping you make your cocktail menu awesome. This week’s handy post explains how you can add bartender’s choice drinks to your menu to improve your press and profits. 

Inspiration comes when you least expect it

This past weekend, my husband and I were down in the Loop. We were on foot. It was seven degrees with windchill. No matter which direction we walked, small, icy flakes of snow needled our wind-chapped faces.

We were determined to have phenomenal drinks—but as we passed chain sports bar after chain sports bar, we started to lose hope.

We almost went to Trump Tower (after all, that enormous sign was right in front of us every time we looked up), but on our way there, we passed The Berkshire Room at the ACME Hotel. Thank goodness we gave them a try! That place is incredible—and their “Dealer’s Choice” menu rocks.

“Wow!” I thought, when I looked at the menu. “Why isn’t everyone selling drinks like this?” 

1. How to Set Up Your Menu Like The Berkshire Room

When I’ve run across bartender’s choice menus before, I’ve only had the option of choosing my alcohol. This was different. My range of choices was like Choose Your Own Adventure: The Drinks Edition.

Ordering was simple:

  1. I chose one of 20 listed alcohols. (Usually not brand name.)
  2. I chose one of 6 flavor profiles. (Herbaceous, smoky, etc.)
  3. I chose a glass. (Rocks, coupe, flute, etc.)

I ordered Aquavit with a spicy profile, in a coupe glass. (Yeah, you read that right: Spicy Aquavit. It was delicious.)

I tried to do the math to determine how many drink possibilities The Berkshire’s Dealer’s Choice menu offered, but math isn’t my strong point so when my calculator gave me a number with an exponential, I gave up.

Not only can a bartender’s choice menu empower you to offer nearly unlimited drink possibilities to your customers, it also gives your bartenders the freedom to be creative. 

2. How to Ensure That You Get Free PR

As the old saying goes, “If a bartender mixes up creative drinks in the forest, but no one’s around to taste them…” Terrible paraphrasing aside, my point is that if you haven’t got butts in those seats, you haven’t got business success.

A well crafted bartender’s choice menu will generate some automatic buzz as guests take pictures of their drinks (or the menu), and then share them on social media networks. However, there are two steps you can take to improve that free PR and make sure more people hear about your biz.

  1. Make your drinks pretty. Beautiful drinks are extremely photogenic, and your guests are more likely to take pictures if you’ve delivered a show-stopper to their table.
  2. Ask customers to tweet about you or post to Facebook. You’d be amazed what people will do for you with a little nudging. It’s a good idea to tell your guests that they should share their drink option on social media. Plus, creating (and mentioning) a drink hashtag for Twitter is always a good way to garner free press. A good hashtag could be #BerkshireMyDrink (as long as you replace “Berkshire” with your restaurant’s name, of course).

A well made drink and a polite request will go a long way toward building your online footprint. 

3. How Varied Menus Increase Your Profits

You’ve got a cool menu, you’ve got some free buzz, but how does all this increase your profits?

  1. It saves you money on menu printing costs because at least one page stays constantly in season.
  2. It improves your margins because you can charge premium prices without having to pour name brands.
  3. It brings in adventurous customers—and they can return an unlimited amount of times, never drinking the same drink twice.
  4. It increases your tabs when you offer bartender’s choice meal pairings for your entrees.

If a simple menu change can both save you money and make you money, that’s a lot of money floating around. It seems to me that you should at least give this menu idea a try. 

Closing Thoughts

When you set up a varied drink menu, you make your customers happy and your bartenders happy. Everyone can be creative and every drink becomes an unexpected and delicious adventure. Not only is a bartender’s choice menu easy to set up, they also increase your online buzz and improve your profits.

Don’t believe me? I’ve got proof. Five minutes ago, you had never heard of The Berkshire Room. Now, you want to go there.

Sound off!

I just said that bartender’s choice menus were awesome… but that’s just my opinion. Tell me why you think that bartender’s choice menus are a terrible idea. Join the conversation on Twitter @UncorkdMenus.  

Photo licensed by Marnie Joyce