Online ordering has no doubt helped ease the pressure as restaurant operators have pivoted to technology platforms in order to stay in business. With more states now allowing alcohol for takeout and/or delivery, opportunities exist to boost sales in the categories of both alcohol and non-alcoholic beverage add-ons. Just make sure you first check legislative/state regulations in regard to beverage sales and then, plan accordingly.
Here are a few ways operators can capitalize on beverage sales to boost business now and in the future.
- Use your pre-existing inventory. If you already serve alcohol, offer discounted prices for items already in your inventory and offer them in tandem with food orders over a certain dollar amount. For restaurants that sell bottles of beer, wine and champagne, designate pairings with certain menu items. This will help boost sales and it also will help clear out inventory that may have been stuck on the shelves during the pandemic. The trick is to pair your alcohol-based beverages with their most appropriate day-part and then use your existing inventory to keep bottles moving.
- Make it fun. Create innovative cocktails for 2,4 or 6 and sell them in unique, branded containers that allow for easy pours once they get to their point of destination. As we head into the winter months, create a cocktail that speaks to current flavor trends. This can include pumpkin, pomegranates, or floral-flavored concoctions. According to 2020 fall flavor trend forecasts, beverages consisting of cherry blossom are making huge inroads as a flavored ingredient/taste profile. One potential is a cherry blossom-based gin or vodka and tonic. Beverages with a little heat also have seen increased mainstream acceptance in recent years. This can include jalapeno or habanero-infused beverages designed to bring a spice to life.
- Cash in on craft. If you’re a beer and burger joint, or a local craft beer destination favorite, capitalize on the craft beer craze by offering/pairing six-packs of local craft favorites with each order of two or more. You can also provide a two-pack for single-orders. One thing is for certain, even during the pandemic consumers want access to things that create a sense of normalcy. Allow them to bring a piece of your brand home along with some of their favorite craft creations.
- Be inclusive. Consider non-alcoholic beverage sales and creations for families with children and for customers who may not drink alcohol. You could offer a pitcher of pre-made Shirley Temple for the kids, or create a different mocktail designed to appeal to a wide audience. Mocktails have the ability to keep on-trend with flavor preferences. This could include spice-flavored orange or pineapple juice infusions, cherry blossom-based spritzers or Mexican hot chocolate. Get creative and then plan a marketing strategy or bundle surrounding it.
There are so many ways operators can get creative with their beverage sales, especially now that more legislative doors have opened for takeout/delivery beverage sales. Play into your brand’s strengths and keep in mind the holidays are coming. This opens the door for cranberry-inspired spiced cider (with or without alcohol), and egg nog-based beverages spiked with bourbon, brandy or rum. While 2020 has been difficult for everyone, there are silver linings, especially now when it comes to building your beverage sales.