One of the most pronounced trends of recent times is that of health-focused drinkers consuming less, year over year. As bargoers continue to focus on quality over quantity, the concept of mini cocktails—a trend that has blossomed over the last couple of years—is one to consider integrating into your bar’s beverage program.
“Mini cocktails allow guests to sample a wider range of cocktails in a shorter amount of time. Think of [a] chef’s tasting menu with small portions that eventually add up to the perfect amount of weight or volume,” says Andrei Talapanescu, the head bartender at Pulitzer’s Bar in Amsterdam. “It also breaks the barrier in the decision-making process of choosing a suitable drink. In a way, it makes you feel like you’re investing less money and time into a certain experience while having the full benefits of it.”
Mini cocktails also provide a budget-friendly opportunity for drinkers to sample unfamiliar flavors—whether they be new cocktail converts trying classic cocktails or seasoned sippers looking to experiment—without spending full price for a full-size serve they don’t know if they’ll enjoy. They also give bars a chance to test cocktails on a smaller scale before rolling them out onto the full menu, as a way of assessing what sells and what won’t. “People in Amsterdam are very novice cocktail drinkers,” says Eric Van Beek, the former bar manager at Bar TwentySeven in Amsterdam and the current bar manager at the recently opened Las Brujas in Mexico City. “I found that, in this way, we could introduce classic cocktail flavors to people without [them] having to spend tons of money. People were willing to experiment and try new things. So many people used [the mini cocktails] section of the menu as a sort of personal cocktail tasting.”
Another application for mini cocktails, especially enticing for bars within restaurants, is serving them during meals as cocktail pairings with specific dishes—a feat many restaurants struggle to execute with excellence. A primary concern for these sorts of dinners is potentially leaving your guests overserved over the course of, say, three or four courses. Mini cocktails allow for thought-provoking flavor pairings without the inebriation that an equal number of full-size cocktails would impart.
The possibilities are vast and enticing for bar programs to incorporate these scaled-down cocktails onto their menus. With the trend of many health-minded drinkers consuming less, along with the enhanced business opportunities that come with guest-friendly cocktail-paired dinners and the ability to test cocktails at a smaller scale, mini cocktails provide a unique value proposition that many bar programs across the globe are beginning to embrace. Perhaps yours should too.
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