Apparently, Tosca Cafe agrees with Bruce Dern’s alcoholic Dad character in the movie “Nebraska” that, “Beer Ain’t Drinkin'”. The lowest ABV beverage on their drink menu is a 7oz pony bottle of Miller High Life clocking in at 4.2%. Now, admittedly, when I was drinking, I had a tendency to call Miller High Life, “Vaguely Beer Flavored Vitamin Water”. Ahem. We live and learn.
How about some statistics?
- As anyone knows, you will sell more of any drink if you put it on the menu.
- Leaving any drink as an off-menu choice to be explained by the bartenders and servers costs them time. Time they could be using to serve other guests or make drinks. Time is money.
- In the dining room, it also adds a second problem of misunderstandings between customers and servers and also between servers and bartenders. More often than not, bartenders can make more than a few off menu non-alcoholic drinks, but few servers have been trained to understand the full spectrum of drinks the bartenders may know and be able to execute with the ingredients they have on hand. More than once I’ve told by a server that the extent of a restaurant’s non-alcoholic drinks is water, coffee, tea, and a few soft drinks, only to discover a completely different story when sitting at the bar and talking to a bartender.
- Plus, asking about an off menu bar item means the server has to take a trip to the bar, get the attention of the bartender, ask what he can make, then bring that information back to the customer. More time wasted, and more money wasted.
- When calculating pour costs for a bar menu, i.e. how much the ingredients in a drink cost, the management usually doesn’t even take into consideration the cost of non-alcoholic mixers, (unless they are exceptionally expensive.) Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, and Orange Juice, for example, must be squeezed every day, and are usually thrown out after a day or two. These ingredients are just part of the cost of doing business. Looking at it like this, selling non-alcoholic drinks is, essentially, making a profit on what is a “rounding error” for most bars and restaurants. Thus, non-alcoholic drinks may, in fact, help a bar to gain profit on what otherwise may go down the sink at the end of the night.
- While we’re talking about costs, let’s not forget that most of the “pour cost” for drinks is usually in the spirits and alcoholic mixers, so from the restaurant’s perspective, putting a well executed non-alcoholic drink on the menu, even at a lower prices the regular cocktails, is probably going to have a higher profit margin for the restaurant than a regular cocktail. Something I am more than willing to allow for, if it encourages more restaurants and bars to serve good non-alcoholic drinks!
- According to a Gallup Poll from 2004, on average, 37% of Americans totally abstain from liquor. A bit less for the younger folks, but significantly more once adults are over 50.
“According to the aggregated data, 63% of Americans report that they drink alcoholic beverages such as liquor, wine, or beer, while 37% totally abstain. Men are more likely than women to drink (69% vs. 58%), and adults under 50 are substantially more likely than adults over 50 to drink (70% of adults aged 18 to 49 drink alcoholic beverages, as do only 54% of those over 50).”
So, for adults, we’re talking about approximately 1 out of 3, to nearly 1 out of 2, Americans who don’t drink, depending on the average age of the patron in your restaurant.
If you don’t have an item on your food menu you can sell to one out of every three people that comes into your restaurant, would you consider it a success?
Likewise, then, is your restaurant’s bar menu a success, if the only option you offer to non-drinkers is water?