• Dan Bowes

Developing Cocktail Menus

Developing cocktail menus is a wide topic and one I love.


I have seen many menus; menus that don’t address the clientele and have no positive impact, but after having done consulting and redesigning menus for my clients we have immediately seen sales improvements with people swarming to get their hands on some of my cocktail creations at their venue. What did I do? I will share a secret.


First of all, a menu is not just a written list of ingredients in any order. Your mouth watering drinks need to be communicated with the right graphic design (typography, colours, paper texture, etc.), the right order and organisation of your items, right prices and right pricing strategy, categories, menu length and ease of use, etc. They all play a role in defining your identity and finally maximising your sales while having an amazing menu people will flock to you for.





A properly designed menu can improve your guest’s perception, and more money in your pocket with less effort. If it sounds like too much for your little weak menu; with total confidence I can assure you  that with the right menu you’ll see an increase in your sales.

One of the services I provide is complete development of efficient menus (from the recipes and training down to the menu itself), including the development of its text and descriptions. A simple rule you can use to see if the items in your menu are selling is to apply the rule of 100% (which I learnt back in the day, which can apply to your whole drinks offering and not just cocktails).


All you need to do is print out sales report for the last 3 months for example, then see what items sell the most and which ones don’t sell at all (you may just be surprised!). So if you have a menu of 10 cocktails, you highlight and  keep the top 60% sellers (so 6), add the next 20% (the next 2) remaining and get rid of the non selling 20% (the last 2). Now as you have just cut two cocktails you can add two brand new additions to the menu. Make sure you check the prices and make adjustments if needed. Then try this “quick edition” of your new menu and check it once a week for the next 4 weeks. Check how all your staff performs with this new menu and try to improve the quality of your drinks and offerings whenever possible.


When it comes to describing your drinks you need to know some of the basics and flavours it's best to brainstorm words, flavour profiles and the way the drink looks when trying your drinks and get others to help you.


For example, how would you describe something as natural or fresh without sounding cliché or boring? Let’s quickly try it out with a Mojito for a healthy clientele, with a little more money to spend than say a student bar.

“Our genuine Mojito combines soulful mint with unrefined pure sugar cane and pristine lemon juice. Carefully muddled and topped off with refreshingly crisp club soda making it a very relaxing and low-calorie drink.”

Now this description is around the maximum length that you would put on a menu as it should be short, descriptive but not overly complicated and each description should be tailored to the clientele that your venue attracts. 

An example of a Mojito description for a student esk venue would be.

“A refreshing Cuban signature cocktail of Rum, lime juice, sugar and mint schmuddled over crushed ice and topped with soda or lemonade if soda isn’t your thing.”

You can go on forever with developing cocktail menus and get into even nitty grittier parts of the development process but I will leave that for another day!

For help with your cocktail menu development, drinks design, staff training and more drop me a line at dan@mrmixologist.co.uk


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