When we think of cocktails, the same image comes to mind: that particular magic of watching a bartender in their element. But, as the world shifts with the dawning of new technology and new tastes, the beverage industry is shifting with it. As always, customers want a delicious beverage. They also want it served quickly. That’s where new innovations – such as kegged cocktails and on-tap dispensing – can automate processes that used be manual, paving the way for a better, more unique experience for guests.
As we explored in a previous blog post, kegs are on the cusp of sweeping the beverage industry. A study has shown that keg sales are expected to grow immensely over the next 10 years, serving as a dispensing option for any and all beverages. While any drink can reap the benefits of on-tap dispensing, let’s explore some of the unique reasons mixed drinks are finding their way into kegs.
On-tap dispensing offers advantages that would attract any beverage service. One example is cost and labor savings. Buying bottle after bottle can add up, especially considering the things that cocktails require – spirits and mixers. Kegs hold much larger volumes at a fraction of the cost because you won’t pay as much for the raw materials and labor that typically go into bottling. Depending on the regulations in your area, non-alcoholic mixers can be purchased in bulk, then liquor can be added to the kegs before service. Or, keep the liquor separate, dispense the mixer, and add spirits to each cocktail individually (which also offers an opportunity to upsell). Either way, only having to mix two items during service saves on labor, which will also saves money.
For cocktails specifically, serving out of kegs can save your servers (and guests!) a ton of time. Rather than devoting several minutes to mixing each beverage, service can be streamlined, opening up room to create a better, more personal experience for the guest. When all the bartender has to do is dispense, they can keep the line moving quickly while also making eye contact with the person they’re serving and possibly adding a flourish or upsell in the process.
On top of that, the end-product will taste consistently perfect. When mixing an individual drink, it’s easy to overpour one ingredient, spoiling the entire glass. In pre-batched kegs, satisfaction is guaranteed while also minimizing labor needs. Pre-batched cocktails allow for a single, skilled bartender to craft drinks for hundreds of guests at a time. The rest of your bar staff will be able to use their expertise in other ways, optimizing your program even further. With a personal experience, short wait time and perfect drink in hand, your guests are far more likely to return for a second glass.
Additionally, on-tap cocktails allow for a cleaner bar setup. Getting rid of all the bottles and tools that currently crowd your space creates a slick, modern feel. And, if the bottles are a part of your aesthetic, you’re free to use them in a more curated way, rather than simply keeping them where the bartender needs them. You can also offer cocktails in places you weren’t employing a full bar before. Look around your venue and consider putting a dispensing station with your best sellers in a place where people gather but you weren’t set up for service. More access points will translate to more sales.
Kegs also prevent loss. Shelf life is greatly improved by limiting contact with air, so spoiled liquor and mixers never go down the drain. A closed system also ensures the perfect taste from the first pour to the last. Moreover, the glass bottles that liquor typically comes in are easy to break or steal, whereas kegs eliminate both of those risks. The systems available to dispense cocktails in pre-measured, trackable portions further cut back on loss from overpouring and theft.
Finally, making the switch to on-tap dispensing cuts the carbon footprint of your beverage program. Both spirits and non-alcoholic mixers contribute a disproportionate amount of carbon emissions due in large part to their unique bottling process and subsequent waste. Using eco-friendly kegs eliminates that almost completely by getting rid of emissions from creating, filling, packaging, and transporting bottles. Most kegs are either recyclable or refillable, keeping a ton of bottles, caps, foils, labels, and more out of our landfills.
Shaking up service can feel daunting but there are many different ways to start using kegs. Start by offering your most popular drink on-tap. For example, if you prepare countless margaritas every night, batch those ahead of time, but keep the ingredients you need for less popular drinks on hand. Consider dispensing only mixers and continuing to add liquor during service, a tactic we discuss in our post on upselling. Do what works for your program, and let the kegs work for you