Alcoholic drinks: Expert tips on maximising sales

By Carina Perkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Alcoholic drinks: Expert tips on maximising sales

Related tags: Wine list, Alcoholic beverage

For the final part of our special feature on alcoholic drinks, BigHospitality asked some experts for their tips on maximising sales of wine, beer & cider, and cocktails.

So you know the latest trends in beer, cider, spirits and wine - what next? A well-stocked bar should aim to please every consumer whim, with a good range of both specialist and mainstream products to ensure that you can capitalise on the desire for premium while also serving those who have less cash to splash.

To help you out, we asked some experts on their top tips for putting together a wine list, cider & beer offering and cocktail menu.

Wine: Ruth Spivey, founder of wine bar pop-up Street Vin


Wine lists have got shorter and easier to read. Consider a vague theme, rather than just a list of wines from anywhere and everywhere. It helps the customer get to grips with the list, gives them a starting point.

Serve plenty of wines by the glass - consumers don't always want to commit to a whole bottle and there is a strong trend for 125ml glasses, rather than 175ml, and carafes.

It sounds obvious but choose wines that people actually want to drink, and drink plenty of. An ‘interesting’ list might be just that but it’s no use if it doesn’t get people drinking bottles and returning for more.

Choose wines and styles that are fun and engage the staff who will then be inspired to offer them to the customers with much more passion and enthusiasm.

Make sure you like your own wine list – chefs don’t cook food they don’t like eating, you shouldn’t list wines you don’t like drinking. 

Beer & cider: Mark Reynolds, co-owner of Renaissance Pubs 


The golden rule is not to put too many lines on the bar to make sure quality is not compromised.

Wastage is also a major factor that you need to consider because if you have too many products there will not be the through put on the individual lines. You need to do a minimum of 2 x 9 gallons of cask ale and 1 x 11 gallons of lager to justify having it on the bar.

Look at your target market to work out what products to put on the bar. Fosters may give you a good GP but might not be right for the venue.

Make sure you have a balance of GP percentage verses cash margin on your bar. Peroni will give a great cash margin but Becks Vier will give you a great GP percentage.

Do have a niche beer or cider to compliment the range but understand that the volumes will be low and you will need to take a hit on profit and margin.

Make sure your staff understand what they are selling and the importance of branded glassware and good customer service.

Don't be over ambitious with your range. Customers much prefer a beer or cider served well rather than lots of choice served badly.

Cocktails: Matt Greenwood, Product Innovation and Standards manager at Dirty Martini


 In such a competitive market and well-advertised market, consumers are a lot more brand conscious and it is important that good quality and premium spirits are used when making the drinks. The leading cocktail bars are also always known for using fresh produce such as fruits, herbs and juices – poor produce will compromise the quality of the cocktails.

The cocktail menu should incorporate aspects of the current trends happening within the industry – this shows you are a leader in the industry and are aware of what your competitors are doing.

Take advantage of fresh produce that may only be available at specific times of the year – also in summer customer would be more interested in light, fruity and refreshing drinks while in winter they may be looking for something with warmer tones.

Know your clientele – it is important to develop your menu that you know will be well received by your core clientele –find a balance between well known favourites that customers are comfortable with but also have some twists on these for the more adventurous customers.

Ultimately we are running a business and it is important that the menu is designed to deliver a GP that the company is happy with and falls in line with their budgets. As much as many bartenders would love to use the most expensive ingredients, when developing drinks there is no point if you have to sell them at a price point that doesn’t deliver a profit or they are priced so high that they would not sell.

The menu should be well balanced with enough choice/variety for everyone. Customers have a wide range of palates and it is important to try and cater for everyone's tastes, even if you are a particular spirit themed bar, it is good to have options made with Vodka, Gin, Rum, Tequila, Whiskey, etc

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