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From Bartender to Mixologist: How a few small changes to your beverage menu can skyrocket your sales.

When did bartenders become mixologists? Is mixologist even a word? Word or not, the mixologist has replaced the humble bartender in dining establishments, both high and lowbrow, all across the country. Often, restaurants that use these terms for their bartenders can be a little intimidating, and yet they are absolutely onto something. Here’s what a mixologist knows that your bartender might not: today’s consumers are excited by buzzwords like, “in-house”, “locally-sourced,” and “organic.” Believe it or not, you don’t need a mixologist to incorporate all of these concepts onto your beverage menu. Here are some simple ways to update your menu, increase your profits, while staying relevant sans pretension.

House-made simple syrups: Can your bartenders boil water? If so, they can probably pull off a variety of unique, made-in-house simple syrups. Not only will you save some money, but guests are perpetually impressed when they discover that you make your own rosemary and hibiscus syrups.

House-made sodas: Once you have mastered the simple art of the simple syrup, you are half –way to making your own sodas and tonics. Once you have perfected a few basic flavorings, the sky is the limit. All you need is a fountain jet carbonator, which can be bought at an extraordinarily reasonable price at most big box stores. Again, your guests will be thrilled and impressed that you are producing your own one-of-a-kind sodas.

Infused liquors: Believe it or not, infusing your own liquors is even easier than making simple syrups. With a little research and a minimal amount of effort, you too can make and market your own special brands of infused spirits. Once again, your guests will be impressed and willing to pay a little extra for something that they can only get from you.

Signature drinks: It’s always a good idea to hire bartenders who can make the classics. But nowadays, it’s even better to find those who can create signature drinks that echo your restaurant’s general theme. Newcomers and regulars alike will appreciate your ingenuity.

Locally sourced garnishes and ingredients: If you are making your own syrups, sodas, and liquors, why not use organic, locally sourced ingredients? These minor upgrades automatically increase your beverages’ market value.

Locally produced spirits: If you’re not too keen on turning your own bartenders into chemists, seek out locally made spirits and beer. With small-batch purveyors and craft breweries on the rise, chances are that you won’t have to look too far. Not only will you be supporting your local economy, your guests will appreciate your good intentions and will probably be willing to pay a little more for locally-sourced alcohol.

Here’s the bottom line: restaurants don’t make the bulk of their money on food; they make it on booze. House-made spirits and concoctions are a fantastic way to boost alcohol sales and thereby increase revenue. Enhancing your beverage selection immediately sets you apart from the crowd of restaurants who are still buying bloody mary mix in a bag. Making your own beverage components also allows you to increase the price of your drinks without protest. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Do you have a bartender or a mixologist? Do you make any of your beverage components in-house? What do your guests prefer? Please feel free to leave a comment below.