The Shout Magazine (New Zealand)

How to successfully capitalise on cocktails

Frankie Walker, Director of Black Pineapple, shares expert advice on why cocktails should be part of every on-premise drinks menu.

Frankie Walker

As a venue owner you’ll know only too-well how massively the hospitality industry has been affected by COVID. The impact of the pandemic, combined with the increasing cost of living, has seen consumer habits change. But there is a silver lining. At Black Pineapple, we’ve seen an opportunity to capitalise on these changed habits with the mighty cocktail, and here’s why.

Cocktails are increasing in popularity

Consumers are now drinking less but are more discerning with their spend and are drinking better, which means higher quality, higher value drinks are more popular. The cocktail falls into this category, with the OPUS: On Premise User Study highlighting consumers, on average, are prepared to pay $11.60 for a glass of wine and $9.82 for a beer, compared to $17.42 for a cocktail.

Where a patron may have previously had three averagely-priced drinks on an evening out, they are now choosing to savour one high quality cocktail. According to CGA’s Pulse Reports, 32% of those surveyed said they’d had a cocktail in a bar, restaurant, or similar venue during the month of July 2023 compared to 22% in July 2022.

In short, to attract the crowds, cocktails are now an essential part of any menu or offering for a bar.

Cocktails make great content

The visual appeal of cocktails means they’re photogenic and more shareable on social media than any other drink. You’re more likely to see an Instagram post of someone in a holiday destination with a cocktail in their hand – or even a cocktail looking fab on its own – than you would any other beverage.

So how do you best leverage social media to promote your cocktail offering?
• Ensure your venue is on the big three social media channels – TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.
• Know your audiences and channels:

  • TikTok is where your 18-34 year-old audience sit – in fact, this age group are such super-users that many of them are more likely to search TikTok before Google when looking for information.
  • Instagram’s user group is predominately 25-34 year olds. It’s the most visual of the channels, so be prepared to invest in some professional photography for engagement and impact.
  • Facebook has a similar audience age to Instagram and is also where those aged 35+ will be hanging out if they are using social media.

Cocktails make money

Cocktails have great consumer pulling power. They are often a symbol of a venue or experience that’s premium or high-end and can attract a customer-base that’s willing to spend more.

This is highlighted in the stats. According to the OPUS: On Premise User Study , the average monthly spend of a cocktails drinker is $214 per month, whereas the average monthly spends for beer and wine drinkers are each less than $204 per month.

Cocktails are also more profitable than most other drinks. The average cocktail sits about 50% higher from a price point perspective, sells with an 8% higher margin, and makes an incredible 68% higher gross profit. In dollar terms, this means you’ll be making about $5.50 more gross profit per cocktail compared with other drink categories.

Now really is the time to make the most of the more discerning, post-COVID consumer, with a well-curated cocktail offering!

My guidelines for successfully capitalising on the cocktail

• The drinks need to look and taste incredible – this is a no-brainer. If they’re good, they’ll attract return customers.
• The person who serves your cocktails must create an awesome customer experience – invest in well-trained, engaging staff.
• Your cocktails should be served lightning fast – not only does this keep the customer happy, but efficient service means best returns. This is where pre-batching comes in – prepping what you can ahead of time considerably speeds up the serving process.
• Know your customers and design your cocktail menu to suit them – ensure your cocktails are accessible with ingredients your customers know and tastes they enjoy.

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