The craft cocktail event horizon has long passed. The truth is that craft cocktails are no longer a new thing. We’ve reached a point where customers expect virtually every restaurant and bar to understand their obligation for offering the drinks, even if it isn’t their main selling point. And that’s a problem. Creating a craft cocktail list and keeping up with it night after night is far trickier than many people think.
Part of the issue lies in the fact that mixing a drink and doing it well is a complicated process. This especially rings true when the server is trying to throw together a dozen different concoctions in just a few minutes to keep bar goers happy. The number of bartenders who can juggle all that at once is blatantly insufficient for the demand.
The truth is that craft cocktails are no longer a new thing.
In addition, numerous establishments that have attempted to implement an ambitious cocktail menu in the past are ultimately forced to return to offering their regular drinks. It’s unrealistic to assume that every 20-something with a few months of hospitality experience can be taught how to make a proper craft cocktail.
More so than execution, however, what trips up restaurants and bars the most is the planning. Given the wide variety of craft cocktails that already exist, it stands to reason that there are literally billions of potential combinations for various ingredients. So it should come as no surprise that many of those cocktails taste quite terrible. Because of this, there are actually fewer combination possibilities that are worth exploring. To top it off, the majority of the great cocktails have already been created and named.
That doesn’t mean an establishment should not experiment and see what they can come up with. Just because most have been done, what’s to say the next great cocktail invention isn’t right around the corner? Restaurants and bars would have a far smaller drink lineup without that experimentation. At the same time, it also doesn’t mean that every business should be trying to create something patrons have never seen before.
The reality is that an increasing number of customers are demanding what used to be a novelty everywhere they go, and it doesn’t matter where they are.
Not all restaurants should attempt to reinvent the wheel when exploring its food options. The same holds true with bars and the drinks they offer.
Despite all of this, the reality is that an increasing number of customers are demanding what used to be a novelty everywhere they go, and it doesn’t matter where they are. Whiskey drinkers are no longer content to stick with a well-made Manhattan. Even diners at Asian restaurants are asking to see a craft cocktail menu, even if the establishment doesn’t have one.
That’s taking it a bit too far.
The unfair assumption that craft cocktails are served anywhere drinks are available damages everyone in the hospitality business. Restaurants and bars can’t please those customers who demand they comply with their unreasonable expectations. Patrons may not be able to guess whether or not a specialty cocktail will actually taste any good. And genuine craft cocktail bars are forced to watch their products become lost in the shuffle.
When someone wants to try something exotic, they will make it a point to find a bar that already has a creative drink on their menu.
Everyone loves to try a creative food or drink once in a while when they go out to eat. But most of us are reasonable enough not to expect every pizza place to have its own unique topping combination. Many people would balk if a restaurant tried something creative with fried chicken. So why should cocktails be any different?
Not all establishments should feel the need to give in to the pressure of coming up with something new – because truth be told, classic combinations are perfectly fine just as they are for the majority of the population most of the time. When someone wants to try something exotic, they will make it a point to find a bar that already has a creative drink on their menu. Let them have their moment, and they’ll return soon enough.
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