Bitters: The Secret Ingredient for Profits

When customers come in to your bar or restaurant and nurse a single drink for hours, it can kill your revenues. Not only is the customer a slow turnover, they also aren’t providing any extra business through ordering more drinks. What’s even worse is if the customer has simply ordered a well drink and sips on that forever. Today, we’re going to talk about a way that you can interest your customers in ordering more drinks while also increasing the price of each drink. If you’re looking for a way to increase profits on your well drinks especially, bitters may be your answer.

A simple trick you can use tonight

A simple trick that you can use tonight to increase your profits is to offer bitters as add-ons to your well drinks. If your servers offer your guests a  “flavor enhancement” for an extra dollar per drink, your customers’ interest should be piqued at the very least. Many guests will order their flavor enhancement tonight, and many others will return to your restaurant tomorrow or this weekend, just to see how bitters can make their drinks better.

To upsell this flavor enhancement even more, your servers should be prepared to explain and discuss bitters with your guests (see below), and you should prepare a bitters flight so that your guests can try out the various options they have to increase their drinking pleasure.

How should my servers explain bitters?

Even though bitters have made a huge comeback recently and their versatility makes them a staple in every bar, you can be assured that you still have a large number of customers who think that the only bitters are Angostura bitters. Other customers may have heard of bitters, but don’t really understand what they are, and yet other customers will know all about bitters–but those customers are likely to be ordering top-shelf liquors or cocktails already, and wouldn’t be the market for your bitters flight.

Bitters can be explained very easily: they are to alcohol as spices are to food. This analogy makes sense because bitters are frequently made out of spices such as cardamom, lemon peel, cassia, etc. They also add interest to alcohol like a spice does for food. When explaining “flavor enhancements” to your guests, your servers should be able to discuss the various types of bitters that your bar stocks, and should be able to make recommendations based on each guest’s dinner selections. Or, if your customer has not ordered dinner, your server should be able to cross-sell dishes that complement the flavors of their preferred bitters choices, thereby increasing your profits further.

Try this simple sell tonight, and see if you generate some extra profits from your servers’ recommendations.

Photo licensed by the Boston Public Library