Signature cocktail recipes should be treated similarly to how a chef treats his signature dishes—as a craft. Signature cocktail recipes should be created with extensive research and deliberation as to what will work well together.
Mixologists should consider that a well-marketed signature cocktail recipe is what makes a business memorable. Many times, cocktail recipes have been the only distinguishable factor between a memorable restaurant or bar experience and one that fades into memory.
Cocktail Recipe Branding
Before creating a signature cocktail recipe, one should keep in mind that the recipe should align with the brand and menu. It is important that the signature cocktail recipe appeals to the appropriate targeted demographic for the restaurant.
Naming a cocktail after a significant part of its brand can help put a place on the map. For instance, if a business has a mascot that is a frog, a few frog-inspired drinks can help enforce the brand. A hard liquor drink could be called “The Tadpole Maker” or “Froggy’s Favorite.”
Associating a tagline with a drink is another good way to enforce a brand. For example, “If you’re feeling froggy, then jump all over this drink.” Signature cocktail recipes can also be made with cordials that will further emphasize a brand through coloration. A green drink could further emphasize a frog theme.
The point of a signature cocktail recipe is to help a bar distinguish itself and invite guests to become a part of the world it has created.
Cocktail Recipe Development
Cocktails represent a form of cuisine, and a bartender should show the same commitment to their craft. The classic methods, techniques, ingredients and sauces represent the foundation upon which the modern culinary arts are built, and these need to be perfected and understood before anything new should be attempted. Likewise, a bartender should grasp the fundamentals of the classic cocktails. Not just blindly following a recipe from a book, or a process that was passed down to them from a previous bartender, but really knowing and understanding why a particular recipe is presented in one form or another.
Old-school versus old-fashioned is a fast and upcoming debate in the world of cocktail recipes. Retro cocktails and martinis have become the latest and greatest. This phenomenon is more than a passing trend and has now become part of the fabric for cocktail recipe development.
Ironically current trendsetters are becoming increasingly younger in age and the drinks they flock to are getting older. A new trend is to make martinis based on classic cocktail recipes. Drinks such as the Cosmopolitan and the Rusty Nail are being reintroduced with new twists. Updated recipes that involve unique ingredients are pulling these classics to the forefront.
Innovation can be tricky though. If cocktail recipes do not match the brand, they will backfire and cause confusion among patrons.
Cocktail Recipe Ingredients
To create cocktail recipes that will raise the bar, an establishment can distinguish itself by using ingredients that are unique to its geographical area.
Using homegrown ingredients endears the consumer to the concept and can be an effective tool in creating cocktail recipes.
A restaurant in Plant City, Florida, which is known for having some of the world’s best strawberries, could create a unique and fun Strawberry Martini. Other Florida-based establishments could incorporate Touch, a handmade vodka produced from Florida wildflower honey, into their drinks to apply a homespun twist to normal cocktails.
One of the most important things to remember when creating cocktail recipes is that they have to be tasty. There are plenty of cocktails or martinis that sound good on paper and look pretty, but when the ingredients are actually mixed together, the drink falls flat.
Signature Cocktail Recipes
“Practice, practice, practice” is the key to creating a great cocktail recipe. Before a recipe is finalized, it should be able to be easily recreated by anyone. If it is not easy for a bartender to mix a signature cocktail, then it needs to be re-engineered or scrapped altogether. How quickly and easily a drink can be made is integral to its success.
Another factor to take into account is the cost it takes to concoct a signature cocktail recipe. A bar should not use ingredients that will raise the price of cocktails or martinis above its target market’s price range.
The average restaurant makes anywhere from 15 to 50 percent of its sales through the bar. Keeping costs low and quality and ingenuity high is as much a part of the bar as it is the kitchen.
The best cocktail recipes expertly combine flash, flavor and function. Keep all of these tips in mind and you might just be the next Bobby Flay of the libation circle.
Quantified Marketing Group’s restaurant beverage development department is composed of former bartenders and industry experts, along with a sommelier and certified beverage specialist. With QMG’s insight into the ever-changing world of spirits and mixology, it can provide direction for creating innovative signature cocktails that will be sure to draw an order for another round. For more information, please contact Quantified Marketing Group.