DRINK AT A GLANCE — A SCOUTING REPORT

• DIFFICULTY OF PREPARATION (1–10) — In a perfect world, the amount of time it takes to properly prepare a drink shouldn’t affect the decision of whether to promote it at your bar. Ah, but this far from a perfect world. For many high volume operators, the amount of drink preparation is important because it directly affects speed of service. As a result, promoting cocktails requiring involved preparation may not always be a feasible option.

On the flip side, many a bar and lounge have made a considerable success out of featuring fabulously intricate concoctions made to order. So before jumping in with both feet, we’ll give you some sense of what you’re getting into time wise.

According to our difficulty scale, a drink assigned a value of 5.0 or lower means it’s quickly and easily be prepared, while one with value closer to 10 indicates that several days and an advanced engineering degree are required.


• UP-SELLING POTENTIAL (1-10) — Some cocktails have a nearly unlimited potential for showcasing top-shelf spirits. Martinis, Cosmopolitans, Margaritas and Manhattans are often requested made with call brand spirits for that very reason. From a marketing perspective that makes those drinks highly valuable performers.

For most bars and restaurants, boosting premium liquor sales makes good sense. Call brands command higher prices so gross sales can be expected to rise. Along the same lines, bartenders appreciate pouring the good stuff, since the higher the tab, the larger the tip.

On the flip side of things, drinks like Piña Coladas, coffee and espresso drinks and Mai Tais, Hurricanes and Zombies aren’t typically requested made with premium brands. Classic as these drinks are, they don’t necessarily lend themselves to this strategy.

Our relative scale assesses the up-selling potential for each style and type of drink. A rating closer to 10 means it’s a financial thoroughbred that prefers being seen in the company of classy top-shelf brands. On the contrary, an up-selling potential rating below 5 signifies a drink in which the brand of spirits used are of secondary importance compared to the overall effect looking to be achieved.


• ALCOHOL POTENCY — In this day and age it’s important to consider the alcohol potency of the drinks being you’re promoting at the bar. Some cocktails have higher concentrations of alcohol than others and we’ll give you the heads-up on those.

How a drink is prepared and served also affects alcohol potency. For instance, a Margarita prepared as a cocktail and served straight up is more potent than one served on the rocks. Alcohol is water-soluble and increases how quickly ice melts. As a result, the ice in the drink will render it increasingly less potent over time. Likewise, a Margarita blended with ice is less potent than either one served straight up or on the rocks.


• PORTIONING CONSIDERATIONS — Most cocktails are constructed according to time-honored formulas. For instance, Daiquiris are usually concocted using one part rum to 2 parts lime sour, while Margaritas are typically prepared using one part combined alcohol (tequila plus triple sec) to one part sour mix. We’ll provide you with the blueprints and you can take it from there.


• SEASONAL ORIENTATION AND TRADE PERIOD — Some drinks are better promoted during one part of the year than another, while others are closely associated with a particular holiday. They’re good things to know about ahead of time.

Likewise, there are drinks more successfully promoted at one time of day (trade period) than another. Mimosas and Bloody Marys, for instance, are often associated with brunch, while Brandy Alexanders and Keoki Coffees are typically after dinner fare. While there are no hard and fast rules, a little insight into the prevailing customs and social conventions couldn’t hurt.


• GLASSWARE OPTIONS — Conventional wisdom contends that the better a drink looks and the better people look drinking it, the better the drink will sell. While difficult to prove empirically, it does stand to reason. People do buy with their eyes.

Most bars stock several styles of specialty glasses in which to merchandise their drinks. Premium cocktails should be presented in glassware that properly showcases the creation. The best way to make your cocktails look as good as they taste is to present them in a fabulous looking glasses.

We’ll give you the skinny of what your options are with respect to style and function. A little elegance goes a long way toward creating a dramatic presentation and conveying a quality message.


• ALCOHOL-FREE OPTIONS (1–10) — Where is it written that drinks need contain alcohol to be genuinely sensational? Nowhere, right? In fact, increasing numbers of Americans are choosing to entertain without alcohol as a lifestyle choice. So be hospitable and market a few delicious, visually appealing alcohol-free specialties. Your guests will appreciate it.

As you can imagine, some styles of drinks fully lose their identities when stripped of alcohol. The Martini quickly comes to mind. How do you take the alcohol out of that? On the other hand, there are many types of drinks that do retain their zeal and exuberance with nary a drop of added spirits.

We take it upon ourselves to keep you apprised of the eye-catching, smile-inducing, palate-pleasing possibilities. A drink with a rating of 5.0 or higher signifies it has great alcohol-free applications and is a real trooper in the realm of zero-proof.