The modern guest craves great restaurants as a part of his or her hotel experience, so much so that the F&B department’s prestige is becoming a critical factor in the purchasing decision behind location and price. Moreover, fantastic cuisine and beverage selections help to attract the locals to thereby amplify a property’s ancillary revenue streams as well as its renown – that is, a passive marketing contributor.
With this trend fully in play, hotels all across the world are constantly tinkering with their restaurant offerings by opening new concepts and inviting award-winning or celebrity chefs to craft the menu. Indeed, many past articles in this In Vino Veritas series have extolled how a well-curated wine list can work in your favor to garner more interest in your food outlets and more alcohol sales at that.
However, with all the attention primarily on culinary inventiveness, we may be neglecting the potential of cocktails to help differentiate your F&B slate. Moreover, there are many guests who consider mixed drinks an essential part of a restaurant’s identity and will specifically seek out or recommend such places based upon its originality in this regard. So, much like you would promote your executive chef into a pseudo-celebrity to boost the profile of your restaurants, you must now also become an impresario for your bar team.
To rewind about two decades, consider the ‘first generation’ of this evolution as the position of the head bartender morphed into the more scientific-sounding role of mixologist. While not quite at the same level as the sommelier which has an actual accreditation, such individuals have done wonders to offer dynamic and inspirational beverages for guests all around the world.
Now that that title has become mainstream, however, it isn’t perking brows like it used to. And so, a few bold marketers have put on their neologism hats to conjure up a few more tongue-in-cheek iterations to help stoke the fire and keep guests actively buying those $20 drinks.
As four relatively simple progressions that I’ve seen, think ‘executive mixologist’, ‘celebrity mixologist’, ‘beverage curator’ and ‘cocktail consultant’. I’ve even seen the term ‘farm to bar’ used in some eateries where local sourcing is mandatory for practically all cocktail ingredients.
Some of these terms will air towards authenticated professionalism while others will be fun and perhaps a little cute, but the bottom line is that you are helping to create a more specific experience for your guests, as well as empowering your team members to be constantly creative with their liquors.
All the while, such distinctions will help you to command higher prices without guests feeling slighted, but only if the end results actually fit with this story. That is, if you are going to designate someone as an executive mixologist as a ways of differentiating your restaurant, he or she better not just craft any old G&T or old fashioned. In other words, if you are going to elevate the mixologist position, you must also spend a lot of time creating a truly exceptional cocktail menu.