How to stand out from your competitors with five 'house-made' beverages

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Whether you are a bar, licenced cafe, or restaurant; you can be sure that an excellent drinks menu is an important part of your offering. It will bump up your customer’s spend, and is a great opportunity to showcase your creativity and healthy options.

From cold juices during summer, to boutique spirits and home-made liquor, going the extra mile with your beverage selection will stand you in good stead with your customers.

With only basic equipment requirements and low-cost ingredients, taking your drinks production in house is also a great money-saving opportunity. However the real bonus comes from the value perception it will add to your menu.

Here are six easy places to start when it comes to creating your own home-made drinks.

#1: Fruit and vegetable smoothies/ juices

The runaway success of juice and smoothie bars around Australia is testament to a newfound interest in healthy convenience. For many, a juice or smoothie is a quick and easy meal alternative that won’t break the bank.

Shakes and smoothies are so simple to make, and will only require a blender. Ingredients bases such as fruit and vegetables can be extremely cost effective if you request the producer’s ‘seconds’ - that is, bruised or misshapen goods that are unfit for retail sale, but perfect for blending. Frozen greens such as spinach or kale, and soft fruits like bananas and mango form a great base for a healthy shake or smoothie. Dice and freeze in batches to avoid wastage.

Having several varieties including non-dairy options and various $1 extras are a great way to boost profits and justify a high price.

#2: Dessert cocktails

After a meal, dessert AND a nightcap can be a little too indulgent for most. Instead, capture both audiences with a blend of the two with decadent dessert cocktails.

Espresso martinis, Brandy Alexanders, or a Mudslide are all great traditional options that can be simply blended and served in a chilled glass. For more elaborate options, consider dessert-inspired cocktails, like Tia Maria, or Panna Cotta.

#3: House-made spirits

Producing your own spirits in house isn’t going to be an option for most businesses, given the complex and expensive setup required. But one simple way you can add your own spin onto spirits is with in-house infusions.

From blueberry to bacon, honey to pickle juice, infusing your own spirits is so easy and won’t break the bank. Best suited to bars or restaurants with boutique alcohol offerings, infused vodkas or gins are a playful way to step up your drinks game.

To infuse, simple imbue a bottle of spirits with your chosen ingredient for as long as possible in a cool, dry place. Make sure you take special effort to let your customers know that it’s home-made, both on your menu and via your wait staff.

#5: Boutique cocktail jugs

Especially during the summer months, cocktail jugs are an easy sell to larger groups. Step up your game from basic spirits and throw in fresh ingredients such as herbs and fruit for a standout option. Long Island Iced Tea, Aperol Spritz, and Fruity Punch jugs are all popular options.

Cocktail jugs low-cost and can be made quickly. Be warned, however - this is not your opportunity to cheat customers on the spirits. They are clued on and will know if their jug has been watered down - but on the same token, be sure to respect your RSA obligations. No one wants their customers face down after one jug! Cocktails by the jug are extremely popular on Friday and Saturday nights if you have a crowd.

Attention to detail is what will take your venue from ordinary to memorable. By proving that you have a commitment to finessing and customising even the simplest of menu items - such as your beverages - you will be an exciting venue to visit! Take the time to put a little extra thought and care into homemade menu items, and you’ll notice the difference.

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