The Cocktail Menu Fight for Fundamentals (Part 2 of 2)
We recently talked about the current debate that’s been insidiously sweeping the cocktail world for a few years now. Namely: Should your cocktail menu be complex and creative…or tried and true? Our earlier post suggested tips to make your craft cocktail menu a success, but this article weighs in on the other side. Here are some tips to make your cocktails both simple and alluring.
Remind guests of the good ol’ days
Truthfully, I’m not quite sure why the question of simplicity versus complexity has become such a hot-button issue in today’s cocktail menus. After all, it’s not as if the drinks we’ve had for years are bad. On your classic drinks menu, remind your diners why the classics are a smart choice. To do this, use images from the golden days of our collective history—images of curvy cars, exuberant flappers, long cigarettes in holders, monogramed cufflinks, noir silhouettes. Consider using an art deco font on your menu as well. When you highlight the beauty of the “good ol’ days,” your guests will implicitly understand that a “classic” cocktail menu is not a “boring” cocktail menu.
Make sure you always have the best
Just as classic doesn’t mean boring, it also doesn’t mean “tastes exactly the same as always.” While people love and miss their mother’s home cooking, few people miss their grandfather’s drinks. I mean, really, what kind of moonshine was grandpa pouring into that shaker?!
As a restaurateur, you must always remember that while your recipes can be beloved classics, the nation’s alcohol quality has come a long way. Use the good stuff and keep your customers happy.
Don’t forget the coffee
You know what’s one of the most classic drinks of all? Coffee. (Though my friends argue, “That’s not a proper drink at all!”) Along with offering old-fashions, Negronis, Manhattans, and Sidecars, you should also make sure that your menu contains warming comfort drinks like Spanish coffees and Irish coffees. (See! Coffee is a proper drink!) And make that coffee high quality. Seriously.
Rules for restaurants
In a cocktail bar setting, businesses must create innovative new drinks or perish in the backwaters of failed mixology hell. But as a restaurant, you are exempt from all that drink competition. Since food is your main focus, why are you dividing your limited creative energy between your passion (food) and a passing trend (craft cocktails)? If you keep your cocktail menu lean and basic, your food will finally have its well-deserved chance to shine.
Interested in checking out the other side to the contentious cocktail menu debate? Read part one.
Photo licensed by Ken Johnson
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