[thechat] Design of a cocktail menu

Luther, Ron Ron.Luther at hp.com
Fri Jul 13 15:54:36 CDT 2007

Joel D Canfield noted:

>>if the menu describes the topography of the hillside where my tequila
>>once the sap of a blue agave, I'll probably read it. 

Saw one like that once ... It WAS an interesting read!  ;-)

Hi Madhu,

I think I'd make a couple of suggestions:

(1) Don't list every cocktail.  Maybe pick 8 or 10 and describe them in
(2) Possibly cycle the rest in and out through your 'special of the day'
Why shouldn't that be for cocktails as well as food?
(3) Train your waitstaff to upsell.  When I order my Black Russian I
expect to be asked what Vodka I would prefer or at least have the waiter
suggest Ketel One or something. Make sure they roll their eyes
noticeably if I say " 'Well' is fine."  It's okay to be a little snooty.

Caveats and/or market area differences:
- In the US customers are trained to know that the cocktail menu is not
exhaustive.  We have no qualms about ordering our favorite drink even if
it's not on the menu ... (heck, most of the time we won't even look at
the cocktail menu) ... and we'll explain to you how to make it if you
don't know what it is or if you don't make it to our liking.  [I
recently had some idiot bring me an effervescent Black Russian!  (Which
was a VERY good clue that it was made wrong!)  The damn thing had coke
in it!!  Harrumph!]  Your market may be different.

- To oversimplify (yes, there are plenty of exceptions, I said this was
an oversimplification).  A not very good restaurant will show me the
name and price of every last beer they carry on the back of their menu.
A middle of the road to good restaurant will have a cocktail menu
covering half a dozen or so 'specialty' drinks with silly names like
"Tiffany's Typhoon" or the "El Presidente Marguerita" that might come in
'commemorative glasses' and have detailed explanations and prices.  They
will also have a separate one or two page wine list - with prices.  A
top restaurant will have a multi-page leather bound winelist with
prices.  They will not have a cocktail menu.

- It's actually a bit odd if you think about it, but over here it's
almost bad form to ask the price of the drink you are about to order.
The waiter will ask if you want a cocktail.  Maybe you order a Crown and
Diet Coke, a 7 and 7, a Robroy, a Zombie, a Cosmo, whatever.  They bring
you the drink.  That's it.  You don't really find out the price until
you get the check after the meal.  Kind of an odd system, actually.  If
you overcharge for your drinks or make them too weak - word will get
around FAST ... but in a restaurant we generally don't ask prices for
cocktails first over here.


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