I work in a large London members' club and primarily responsible for the function floor.
The members' areas have a cocktail list but it's hard to stock our bars with the correct flavoured syrups and infusions enough to offer this list to the functions. Mainly my service consists of spirits and mixer serves though people do ask for cocktails. Until I've told them that we don't have a list but if they tell us what they are after, we can serve it. Most of the time this works out fine.
However, my staff and I understand that people want to be shown and list and presented the idea of making a six to ten short list of classics to offer during service.
I ran the idea past the head bartender and he liked it, and suggested the list does not include drinks that people ask for themselves - and people do ask for Cosmos, Mojitos, Whiskey Sours and Old Fashioneds - yet offers them alternatives in a similar vein.
With this advice and blessing in mind I drew up a list ofTommy's Margarita - Tasty and good GP with the lack of CointreauWhite Lady - Sour style drink to offer to Cosmo drinkers. Looks great and if time allows, a nice history to talk about.Vic's Mai-Tai - For those that like a Mojito or Daiquiri (The latter still criminally under-appreciated) Our House Mule - Vodka, homemade ginger syrup and Soda. Simple and pretty tasty.Sazerac - Because believe it or not people do order Old Fasioneds and other boozy styles of drink during busy club services.
I presented this short list and suggested I'd probably come up with one more to the bar Manager who promptly and point blank rejected all but the Mule and the Tommy's with reasoning such as "No, don't like it (White Lady) Too complex (Mai-Tai) and no one is going to order a Sazerac, Adam!"
Maybe I'm being too selfish but my view is that the Sazerac is not aimed at your Cosmo and "Passion Fruit Martini" drinker, nor is a list of fruity vodka cocktails ideal for someone who wants to taste alcohol. I'm not going to reject making a mojito because it's not on my list but people order those off their own back anyway, so I don't see the point in listing them.
I really don't want to curate a list of "Something Martinis" and long Vodka drinks but it looks like I'm being pushed that way.
My bartenders and I are a skilled and passionate lot that want to please but also make decent drinks that we like drinking ourselves. Have I hit a brick wall or is there a diplomatic middle ground I'm missing because I like Gin and Whiskey too much?
Any advice is appreciated.
Hello...what about an Imperial Mojito.
Muddle raspberries and mint with a lychee purée and fresh lime juice and a dash of simple syrup
Ice... 2 ounces of rum... and on top a champagne-raspberry foam.!
It may be too late for this, but perhaps a blind taste test of the candidate drinks where you collect some feedback and then reveal names/ingredient lists? It's very easy to become prejudiced towards a drink just because of a name and/or particular ingredient.
Nothing wrong with vodka drinks,, if you look at them the right way. :) In most cocktails, the spirit is the star, and everyone else is supporting cast. When vodka is the spirit, though, it gives those other ingredients a chance to be heard on their own. An Old-Fashioned is all about the whiskey; a vodka Old-Fashioned is all about the bitters. ;) Vodka is a good spirit to use when you are trying to get folks to consider an ingredient that they would never try on its own, because it is too sweet, bitter, herbal, or complex. (Italian amaros and the more unusual French liqueurs might be good places to start.)
Vodka is also good for creating surprises, because it will easily mix in places that no other spirit dares to go. For instance, the Bullshot would be a difficult drink to make with any other spirit. :)
I am fortunate enough to belong to (what sounds like) a similar club in NYC. As someone who enjoys a well-made drink, I'm always encouraging the club to try a little harder with theirs. We've made great progress in the main bar, but the challenge lies in the function rooms. At events, the satellite bar usually consists of a representative bottle of each liquor type (like you'd find in a well) and bottles of mixers, along with wine and beer. As a result, a "mixed" drink tends to be a highball (gin & tonic, rum & tonic, scotch & soda, etc.) or simply a rocks glass full of vodka or bourbon.
The challenge to doing better is speed of service -- the bar us usually several members deep, and is staffed by a server who "minors" in bartending. Anything involving a shaker is the death of speed. As a result, we've broadened the offerings with a small collection of stirred drinks (Manhattans), simple drinks (Gimlets and proper Old-Fashioneds) and a few built drinks (Tom Collins and Southsides). In addition, we do a featured a single drink that is batch-prepared; often a French 75, which is elegant and has a broad appeal, where all that is necessary is adding champagne. Have you considered trying to do a bowl of punch? I think they can be great centerpieces and easy to serve; unfortunately, most people are scared of them due to having had horrible concoctions called punch during adolescence!
Where we've made progress is that the main bar has a drinks menu and members are beginning to try them; as they continue to embrace them, I would expect their expectations to be increased in the function rooms. Can you start with a Sazerac in the primary bar and see if it catches on?