Chad Berkey, Master Mixologist, offers five tips for driving vodka sales.
Housemade mixers, interesting glassware and some finesse from a server or bartender who knows his or her way around the bar can turn a $4 vodka cocktail into an exotic $12 drink. Master Mixologist Chad Berkey shares his top five tips for how clubs can reposition vodka to maximize profit and please members.
- Find a favorite vodka and learn everything about it.
Berkey suggests that F&B Directors do a blind, room-temperature vodka tasting with servers and bartenders. “Have them rank, in order of preference, all of the vodkas that you carry in your club,” says Berkey. “Once they’ve chosen their favorites, reveal the brands and instruct them to them learn everything they can about [those spirits].”
- Use that knowledge to create an experience. For the same reason members dine at the club, they drink at the club. “Everyone has access to the same alcohol,” says Berkey. “What makes a member want to come to your club for a dirty martini? It’s all about the experience. So when your bartenders can share a story about how a vodka is made, where it’s from or what it tastes like compared to another brand, you can create value and a more personalized experience.”
- Be creative with what you have in-house. Clubs have access to high-quality, seasonal ingredients that can easily be repurposed for cocktails. “Take a second to look at your garnishes, especially [those that are used] for desserts,” says Berkey. “Be creative. A lot of the same garnishes you use on the plate can easily serve double-duty with cocktails.”
- Offer vodka variety. As quality cocktails continue their upward trajectory, it’s important to offer vodkas that follow a similar path. “Vodka purists are making a comeback,” says Berkey. “And traditional martinis are back in the spotlight. I’m seeing more consumers call certain brands than ever before. So if a member or guest calls a certain brand, you’d better have it. And if you don’t, you’d better be able to offer a similar option and explain how they compare.”
- Glassware can transform a drink—and boost your bottom line. Looks matter when it comes to cocktails. “Presentation is everything on the plate and in the glass,” says Berkey. “For example, if you pour a vodka cranberry in a workhorse bucket glass, it sells for $4. But if you take that same vodka cranberry and add a splash of fresh pineapple juice, a splash of fresh mango juice and serve it in a tulip glass with a cool, fruity garnish, you might be able to sell it for $12, even thought it really only has a little more juice. It looks exotic and attractive, and as members see it, they order it. Next thing you know, you just raised your beverage profits with a couple splashes of extra juice that only cost you a few more cents.”
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