Topping Off Dinner

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After dinner drinks can provide diners with that something special to cap off the evening

After dinner drinks can provide diners with that something special to cap off the evening

After-dinner drinks are the ultimate in feel-good.

Diners can sit back and enjoy sipping on a beverage that either complements their dessert or takes the place of it, with flavor profiles ranging from sweet to spicy, bitter and creamy.

And having patrons who feel good is key for full-service restaurants because a diner who feels good will want to return to the source of his or her pleasure—over and over again.

“With after-dinner drinks, diners have something when they leave that makes them feel better,” says Tom Pirko, president of BEVMARK, a company that advises food and beverage industries, based in Buellton, California. “And if they feel good when they leave, they’ll want to come back. It’s a good way to part.”

The secret weapon to these drinks is alcohol, he adds, which always makes people feel good.

“With everything that’s happened in our economy and our changing times, people are really leaning to their dining experience truly being an experience,” says Tony Garcia, director of research and development for Patrick Henry Creative Promotions, a Houston-based marketing agency. “They’re picking and choosing when to go out, and when they do go out they want to have the full experience.”

After-dinner flights soar

One way to really provide an after-dinner experience is to offer an after-dinner drink flight.

Aroma Thyme Bistro in Ellenville, New York, serves grappa, port, and dessert wine flights.

The grappa flight, featuring almond grappa, chocolate grappa, and straight-up grappa, far outsells solo grappa, says chef Marcus Guiliano, who owns and operates the late-night restaurant.

“People might not order this themselves, but might share with friends,” he says. “It’s fun. Instead of trying one drink, they can try three, and it’s more fun to share it.”

Flights are great for his spirits business, he says. “If we have something that doesn’t sell, like a liquor, or a local spirit—if we put it into a flight, we can sell it. So it helps me move inventory as well and it also provides an experience. It also helps get people to know more things, and has a knock-on effect that they order a new-to-them drink next time.”

The flights cost $12–$14—“slightly lower than if [guests] ordered the alcohol à la carte. It offers an incentive to buy a flight.”

Garcia says that flights are “always great. They’re hot no matter what you’re doing, and everybody likes samples. It’s a noncommittal way to get a taste of everything and is relatively affordable. Everybody likes the experience.”


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