One of my coaching clients recently asked me, “What exactly is a beverage program?” Many of you may be wondering the same thing. Is it a spirits and cocktail list? Is it batching syrups? Is it hiring a beverage director?

Developing a great beverage program for your restaurant is more than just writing a great wine, cocktail, and beer list. More than the other things listed above. There are so many other things that impact your beverage success.

I have created hundreds of beverage programs for myself and my clients. I’ve always taken a very well thought-out approach to looking at the entire scope of creating a beverage program. Your beverage program decisions should be methodical and cerebral for the greatest success.

What are the features of a beverage program?

When I am talking about creating a beverage program, I am referring to the entire package. This includes:

  1. The People—Have we hired the right people that can execute the program? Who ultimately is responsible to lead the program? Who are the support people and what are their roles?
  2. The Product—What categories are we going to have? Wine, beer, cocktails, spirits? How will those categories be broken down? Styles, varietals, or regions for wine? Craft, draft, cans, local, imports, ciders? Craft, tiki, or quick cocktails for the masses? Liquor list emphasizing bourbon, whiskey, rum, tequila, or gin? Does your product fit your brand?
  3. The Processes—Are you batching syrups and other product? If so, who is assigned to that? When is it done? What is the shelf life? How are you tracking when it was made? Who orders the alcohol? Who receives it? Who does inventory? How often is it done? What about training? What does your training program look like? Do you have new employees intern as the one’s batching to help them learn how to balance acid and sugar? Do you use jiggers? Are your bartenders making drinks in front of the guest as a show? What does your service and hospitality look like? Do you have happy hour or other special events like wine dinners, spirits tastings. Who creates the list? Is it a collaboration of your bar manager and bartenders?
  4. Profit—Are your products costed out and priced to make you money? Is pricing competitive with the market? Are you looking to buy deals whenever you can? What products are you using in your well? Happy Hour?

When I was the general manager for Acme Feed and Seed, my team and I implemented one of the best beverage programs in Nashville and we gained national recognition. We were featured in multiple national publications and were nominated for the Tales of The Cocktail Spirited Awards.

This took me creating the vision, implementing the program, and getting the entire team on board. We created an extension of our casual brand with a second-floor bar dedicated to elevated cocktails, a phenomenal bourbon list, and staff education that included field trips to distilleries to pick private barrels, and on line and live training from Pernod Ricards Bar Smarts on line training and Diageo’s World Class live trainings as well as my training sessions.

When creating your beverage program here are 10 final things to consider:

  • What is your brand/concept and how does your beverage program support your brand/concept and food?
  • Does your list represent your brand both in selection and price point?
  • Does your beverage list reflect the desires of your current customer?
  • Does your beverage list attract the ideal customer you desire?
  • Are your beverage costs in line for profitability?
  • Is your beverage list well rounded?
  • Are you properly training and educating your team so that they can put more money in their pocket and profit to your restaurant?
  • Do you follow up on product quality?
  • Do you encourage up-selling to enhance the guest experience?
  • Are you properly marketing outside your four walls with public wine dinners, bourbon tastings etc.?

If you need help developing your beverage program BOOK A FREE CALL TODAY to discuss how working with me as a coach can really elevate your beverage program to a level that will catapult your restaurant’s success by clicking the link below

Editor’s note: This is the 33rd article in a new column from restaurant expert Monte Silva. More on the series can be found here. The first story, on Why Underpaying Restaurant Employees is a Recipe for Disaster, is here. The second, on Why Marketing is Not Expensive, is here. The third, on people-centric leadership, is here. The fourth, on Why Working 70-Hour Weeks in Your Restaurant is Not the Answer, is here. The fifth, on How to Provide Hospitality in a High-Tech, Low-Touch World, is here. The sixth, on ‘The Convertible Culture’ in Restaurants, is here. The seventh, on Why the Old P&L Model Has Set Restaurants Up for Failure,’ is here. The eighth, on How to Scale Your Restaurant Business When There is Only One of You, is here. The ninth article, The Secret to Finding and Keeping Great Employees is Not Difficult, is here. The 10th, What Culture Do You Really Want at Your Restaurant?, is here. The 11th, on Your Restaurant Should Serve People, Not Product, is here. The 12th, on Don’t Let Shiny New Toys Distract Your Restaurant from What’s Most Important, is here. The the 13th, on Why Restaurant Value Shouldn’t Be Based on Price, is here. The 14th, on The Case for Hyper-Focused Menus, is here. The 15th, This is How Your Restaurant Will Survive Beyond 3 Years, is here. The 16th, on The Difference Between a Restaurant Coach and Consultant, is here. The 17th, What is a Restaurant Tech Stack, and How Do You Know if You Built the Right One? is here. The 18th, You Can’t Make Someone Accountable if You Haven’t Made Them Responsible, is here. The 19th, Memo to Restaurants: Service and Hospitality are Not the Same Thing, is here. The 20th, Why a Penny Saved in a Restaurant is Not Always a Penny Earnedis here. The 21st, on Why You’re Never Too Old for Greatnessis here. The 22nd, Why Consistency is the Only Way to Keep Your Restaurant Openis here. The 23rd, on The Restaurant Industry Doesn’t Have a Labor Shortage—It Has a Leader Shortageis here. The 24th, Are Restaurant Employees Today Entitled? is here. The 25th, Should Hotels Rethink How They View Restaurants?is here. The 26th, Five Priorities Operators Must Follow to Successfully Run a Restaurant, is here. The 27th, Why Your Restaurant Needs an ‘Abundance Mindset’ in 2024, is here. The 28th, You Can’t Run a Successful Restaurant Without Persistence, is here. The 29th, Why Investing in Yourself as a Leader is the Best Way to Grow Your Restaurant, is here. The 30th, Gaining Momentum and Why Restaurant Success Grows with Time, is here. The 31st, In Restaurant Leadership, How You Finish is More Important than How You Start, is here. And the 32nd, Why Success in Controlling Labor is About Shaving Minutes, Not Cutting Servers, is here.

Bar Management, Beverage, Expert Takes, Feature