Imagine you’re the first-time owner of a new bar that’s about to open. You have a space, a staff, maybe even a theme, but you’ve just about used up your launch budget and need to start earning some cash. The last step: the menu. How do you craft a cocktail list that keeps costs down while getting guests excited?
Creating such a successful menu is one of the most fun but tricky balancing acts in a bartender’s career. After all, rent, payroll and other external factors will remain more or less the same after you’ve opened the bar. But a menu is something you and your staff can change and learn to adapt over time. And throughout the lifespan of your bar, the menu will be a great tool for reducing your overhead costs and increasing profitability.
If one drink does exceptionally well due to its popularity—think viral Instagram trends—perhaps try leaving it on even as the other drinks change. “I change my menu seasonally,” says Rael Petit, the beverage director at The Williamsburg Hotel in Brooklyn. “But we always keep the If You Like Piña Colada, which is a cocktail made with Singani 63, Kikori whisky, pineapple, lime, coconut and CBD oil, served in a cat cup. It’s our number-one drink, and some guests come here just for the drink.”