The Naked Cocktail

Restaurants are providing more information on their menus beyond the simple summary of dishes as consumers become accustomed to an increasing level of detail about what they eat.

In the spirits space, the motivation for listing ingredients on the menu is slightly different.

The cocktail revival is relatively new, and consumer confidence in ordering unfamiliar drinks or spirits is still building. 

“Listing every ingredient is important at this point in cocktail culture as many consumers still need educating as to what makes a smash, fizz, cocktail, or punch. It also helps highlight premium quality spirits and homemade ingredients,” comments Simon Ford, global brand ambassador for Pernod Ricard.

Ryan Magarian, part owner and bar manager of Oven and Shaker, a pizzeria and bar in Portland, Oregon, decided to take things even further: In his cocktail menu you'll not only find the ingredients of each drink, you'll also find the full cocktail recipe.

“When you have the audacity to 'run naked through the streets,' so to speak, and put all your cards on the table, it improves guest confidence in us to create and recreate our cocktails,” explains Magarian.

Beyond educating consumers and building customers’ confidence, full disclosure on a cocktail menu may also be a key tactic to have signature drinks transform into promotional vehicles for a bar or restaurant. 

“We would get calls and emails from around the world for our cocktail recipes at Bellagio,” says Tony Abou-Ganim, author of The Modern Mixologist. “Sharing recipes is the only way to expand a new drink creation’s journey to classic status.”

You'd think that by putting the recipes on the menu Magarian is increasing the focus on his drinks, while in fact, it's quite the opposite.

“Putting the cocktail recipes on the menu diffuses this idea that [customers] are going specifically for signature drinks. We put so much time and effort into the environment of this bar and restaurant that I want them to come for the experience flat out,” Magarian says.

“I want the food, the cocktails, the beer, and wine to be an accent. I want it to be an environment-driven experience rather than a product-driven experience.”
The results so far have been extremely positive.

“Our signature cocktail sales are through the roof. We can barely keep up with the signature drinks coming out of the wells. I'm absolutely convinced that this kind of disclosure has had a fairly profound effect on our success.”

Here's one of Magarian's most popular signature drinks. The recipe, of course, is courtesy of the Oven and Shaker menu:

Pepper Smash #2 Original

12-15 mint leaves + 2 oz. Krogstad Aquavit + 1 oz. freshly pressed lime juice + 1 oz. grade A maple syrup + 1 oz. freshly extracted yellow bell pepper juice.

by Geoffrey Kleinman


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