The winter season is upon us, and that means Christmas and New Year are barreling quickly towards businesses of all shapes and sizes. Stores of all kinds are decorating their property with festive cheer, stores are filling their shelves with special edition products and gifts, and restaurants and bars are rolling out their festive season menu.
Having a festive menu is a great way to increase sales during this season, particularly your alcohol sales. Many out shopping love to splurge on something that will help them feel the magic of the season, and with so many excellent spiced seasonal drink ideas to choose from, you can customize the experience to your specific brand.
From cozy, relaxing drinks that help your customers feel warmed head to toe to fun, to spirited drinks that help them feel ready for a party full of glitter, there are so many exciting drinks you can add, remix, or customize for your bar’s personal drinks menu.
Top Spiced Drinks to Add to Your Menu
You can truly use every spice or botanical in a Christmas menu, though you’ll generally want your drinks to fall under one of three themes. The first is, of course, spiced. Think cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and even chili. These spices are perfect for warming any drink up (and your customers).
Eggnog is a classic and one that should be on your Christmas list. Eggnog is not a popular choice amongst bars due to how long it takes to make, but that’s what makes it such a popular option if you want your bar to stand out. Yes, it will take more prep time, but if you reserve it as a special during a happy hour, you can draw in crowds.
- Cinnamon Hot Chocolate
Don’t shy away from hot drinks on your bar menu, especially if you have an espresso machine and the ability to froth milk. Cinnamon hot chocolate offers a lovely spice and can be kicked up with a range of liquors from Baileys to coffee liqueur, and even whiskey. The recipe usually works as a blended ice drink as well, giving you two options for one drink.
- Spiced White Russian
The perfect White Russian for the holidays is spiced. You can make the Christmas-spiced syrup up to two weeks in advance as well, to keep your bar moving smoothly. The classic version of this Christmas remix is to add ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla to a simple syrup.
Other Great Christmas-Themed Options
Though spiced drinks are a definite highlight in any Christmas drink lineup, they are hardly your only option. You’ll also have the botanical range, which can go particularly well if you use juniper and rosemary. As for the fruity range, try to stick to winter and forest berries. Mango isn’t very Christmassy, but cranberry or blackberry certainly is. So long as you understand how your drink approaches the theme of winter and the holidays, you can have fun with it. Making up fun, clever names for your drinks (while making it obvious what they are, particularly if the drink is a classic) is another great way to set the theme and bring your guests on a cocktail experience like none other.
Business Tips to Keep in Mind
Having a great lineup of festive-themed drinks is great, but if you aren’t prepared for them to be popular, and if you aren’t marketing them effectively, the effort you put into curating your Christmas menu may be wasted. It’s important that you:
- Don’t Run Out of Ingredients
When you have a high-traffic bar or restaurant, know that you’re going to go through spices and ingredients quickly. During the Christmas and New Year seasons, it’s going to be even harder to get replacement ingredients than usual. That’s why it’s better to order in bulk from the start.
Buy all the bulk spices wholesale now, and don’t worry if you don’t use up all the spices in question by the time your Holiday menu is over. After New Year, you can create a new collection of winter-inspired drinks using those same spices to keep your customers warm and cozy. Just remember to offer virgin drink alternatives for those participating in Dry January.
The same applies to alcohol, mixers, botanicals, and so on. Buying in bulk now is smart, as you can always use those same ingredients later in a winter-inspired menu and eventually the Valentine’s Day menu, depending on how much you order and what’s left.
- Invest in Festive Barware
The glass that a cocktail comes in matters. It can make the entire experience so much more tangible and exciting, and there are so many different approaches you can use. If your bar is more high-end, buy glassware with stunning designs like ribboning or glitter to make your drink pop. For a cozy bar experience, don’t be afraid to go old-school. Small pop-ups can even go to the thrift store and buy up and Christmas-themed mugs for their hot chocolate or eggnog drinks.
- Advertise Your Festive Drinks
Your festive drinks need to be properly photographed for at least social media and your website. Depending on how touristy your bar or pop-up is, you may even want to use that product photography on your menus.
As for the menus, regardless of whether there are photos or not, you’ll want a special page printed out to go on top of the regular menu. This puts your festive range front and center, and since it’s the first thing your customers will see, they’ll be more inclined to pick from there than elsewhere on the menu.
The last thing you should do is print off your festive drinks menu, so that it goes alongside your regular lineup. You need your drinks to stand out.
- Make It Fun
There are many ways to advertise and market your drinks menu further. You could have a special 12 Days of Christmas special, where each of the first 12 days of Christmas has its own drink special where customers can get the drink in question at half-off. You could even theme the drinks around different Christmas traditions or go further and offer special drinks for those of different faiths who are celebrating Hanukkah or Kwanza.