Whether your establishment is a casual neighborhood pub or a trendy and upscale bar, having a standout drink and food menu is essential to your success. A great bar menu can improve your sales and increase your profits while providing your customers with a positive and unique experience.
How can you create that great bar menu? People have wide and varied tastes when they head out to enjoy a drink. Knowing what drinks and foods to serve, and how to design your menu, is key to keeping your customers happy.
Use these 13 menu ideas to maximize your revenue and bring in more customers to your bar.
Table of Contents
- 1. Know Your Customers
- 2. Distinctive Bar and Food Menus
- 3. Menu Design
- 4. Descriptions and Images
- 5. Quality Over Quantity
- 6. Showcase Profitable Drinks
- 7. Unique Wine Menu
- 8. Local and Craft Beers
- 9. Design a Signature Drink
- 10. Flights
- 11. Themed and Seasonal Drinks
- 12. Create an Exceptional Food Menu
- 13. Menu Costs and Pricing
1. Know Your Customers
What does your market want from a menu? Before you start building and designing your bar menu it’s important that you know who your target customers are and what they want. Identify your customer base by looking at demographics such as age, lifestyle, and location.
Once you’ve identified your target customers by similarities, consider the differences among your clientele and plan your menu with drinks and food items that appeal to your mass market.
A good way to find out what people want is by using your POS to track sales – what are your top-selling drinks and foods? If your most popular drinks are cocktails, your menu should focus on these drinks more than others, with a larger selection and drink specials.
Another way to know what customers want is by taking the time to research what other bars are offering their clientele. Check online for competitor menus – then take your menu a step further with a greater selection of unique menu items and design.
2. Distinctive Bar and Food Menus
Have a drink menu that’s separate from your food menu. It’s easier for customers to make choices when they’re not overwhelmed with an oversized menu that lists everything you have to offer. Make it even more practical by having distinctive menus at the bar for beers, cocktails, and wine.
3. Menu Design
Having your menu design reflect your bar theme and concept is a good way to build your brand. When you match the theme of your bar with your menu you can create a great customer experience that keeps people coming back.
Your menu should feature drinks and food options that reflect your bar concept. This means that if you’re running a trendy wine bar, your menu needs to feature a wide variety of local and specialty wines.
If your concept is a neighborhood hangout you may want to focus on a unique selection of craft beers that your customers can enjoy as they stop in on their way home from work.
4. Descriptions and Images
Whether it’s drinks or food, menu items sell better when they have enticing descriptions. Including information about ingredients and flavor can get customers interested and help them decide without letting price be a factor.
If you have cocktails on your menu, come up with interesting names to go along with the description to be even more creative.
Images bring even more attention to menu items, especially when you’re upselling your specialty drinks. Pictures go a long way in whetting a customer’s appetite and high-quality images can increase the sales of your top-selling items.
5. Quality Over Quantity
Don’t pack your menu with too many different types of drink options – when faced with too many choices, customers often stick to wine or beer. An exception to this rule would be if your bar theme is a pub with craft beer – you’ll want to offer a wide selection of beer options to support your concept.
The same strategy of quality over quantity goes for food. It’s better to feature a few food options that you do well rather than a wide selection that makes it harder for people to choose what they want. If you’re serving a full menu, limit the dishes to six or fewer mains. The same goes for appetizers or tapas dishes – stick to ten or fewer choices.
6. Showcase Profitable Drinks
Maximize profitability by highlight these cocktails and highballs on your drink menu. To do this use the “description and image” strategy, putting the item at the top of the menu to attract more attention.
You can also showcase your high-profit drinks by designing bold and creative tabletop bar menus. You’ll be able to draw customer attention to multiple top sellers at once and increase your sales.
7. Unique Wine Menu
No matter what type of bar you operate, wine should be on the menu. The wine list you offer can make a big difference in keeping customers coming back not only for the wines they regularly enjoy but also to try new featured wines. When creating a wine list, focus on these points:
Educate your bar staff on the wines you sell as well as pairing recommendations. Your employees need to have a good understanding of the wines on your menu and how they can be paired with items on your food menu. Otherwise your customers will just settle for lower-priced options and you’ll risk losing out on some profitable sales with your higher end wines.
Have a short and sweet wine menu. Unless your concept is a wine bar that features only wine, your selection should be manageable and compliment your food menu.
One of the biggest trends in bars and restaurants today is a focus on serving unique wines that are local to your area. Featuring these local wines is a good way to differentiate your bar from the competition – be sure to regularly update your menu with new wines every month as they become available.
8. Local and Craft Beers
Serving local and craft beers is another way to set yourself apart from other bars and bring in more customers. Featuring a diversity of beers on your menu is a great way to attract customers who want to experiment with different tastes and the food pairings that go with a cold brew.
If you want to focus on selling craft beer, design a separate menu to highlight these drinks and introduce two or three specialty drinks each month to keep your regular customers coming back.
9. Design a Signature Drink
It seems as though every bar has at least one signature cocktail drink – and there’s a reason for this. A signature drink helps to build your brand and emphasize your bar concept so that people remember who you are.
Your own signature drink should reflect your bar theme – use simple and unique ingredients to create an irresistible and delicious cocktail and come up with a memorable name that entices customers to come back and bring their friends.
Serving flights is just in demand now as when the concept was introduced a few years ago. Flights are a great way for your customers to sample what’s behind your bar. But don’t limit your flight selection to just beer – wine, champagne, and tequila flights are just as trendy and popular and let you offer a unique taste experience for any customer no matter their drink of choice.
11. Themed and Seasonal Drinks
You can encourage customers to order more than just a glass of beer or wine by including summer cocktails and warm winter drinks on your menu. Themed and seasonal drinks let you update and freshen your menu with new choices throughout the year.
Be creative and come up with new cocktails every month to match the season – this strategy keeps customers coming back to see what new drink you’ve come up with this time.
12. Create an Exceptional Food Menu
Don’t overlook your food menu, which needs to be just as exceptional as the drinks you’re serving. Offering popular classics, such as hand-cut fries, sliders, and nachos is a good way to provide simplicity that makes it easy for customers to choose.
Consider offering a few unique menu items that showcase new concepts and that pair with some of your more profitable drinks, such as a charcuterie board and fries with truffle sauce.
Consider focusing on tapas and sharing plates – customers will typically order several tapas and shared plates for the table, which can quickly increase your sales for the night.
13. Menu Costs and Pricing
If you want to maximize your profits you’ll need to optimize your drink and food costs. For optimal profit margins you’ll need to set prices correctly. If the price is too high no one will order, and if the price is too low, you’ll quickly start to lose revenue. Start by standardizing your drink and food recipes and then check the profitability by calculating the cost of each item on the menu.
Being smart about the drinks and foods you serve, and focusing on your overall menu design helps to create a great customer experience that will make your bar stand out from the rest. Using these menu ideas listed here can help you maximize your revenue, bring in new customers, and keep your regular clientele happy and coming back.