• 10.-12. October 2022
  • Exhibition Centre Berlin

29 November 2021, by Damien Guichard

Optimal Bar Concept: What does really count?

What does really matter in order to have a successful bar concept? Damien Guichard asked himself this question and finally came to the conclusion: bar visitors are thirsty for more than just good drinks!

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From time to time, you may actually hear a bartender declare: “Drinks don’t matter”. While it may sound controversial at first, there’s actually a lot to unpack behind this statement. As the techniques behind cocktails are becoming increasingly complex, and the internet is now overflowing with a wide variety of recipes and specifications, some people rightly start to question whether all the work that can go into a drink is really worth it.


Drinks play a Decisive Role – or don’t they?

The answer is that they do… and they don’t. At the end of the day, every bar owner wants their bar to be successful. So, they want to make sure that their product sells well. Cocktails are the most obvious product of a bar. Just as guests go to restaurants to have food, they go to bars to drink.

Each cocktail is a representation of the bar, and it goes without saying that the quality of the cocktails is the most important factor. But that is only the beginning. The creativity, innovation and personality that go into the drinks also say a lot about the bar in which they are served. For example, highly technical cocktails made using lab equipment highlight the creativity of the bar team. Cocktails are a way to let guests know who you are, and a good drink menu gives them an idea of what they can expect from the bar.


How do you quench the Thirst for More?

Good drinks alone are not enough. The guest experience and the bar itself are just as important as the drinks. Let’s look at bars and beverages from a product development perspective: If a drink is viewed as a standalone final product, it follows a traditional product development process. After an idea for a new drink recipe is formed, there is a research and development stage where the final recipe is perfected, the drink is mixed for the guest in the production stage, and then it is delivered to the guest. If the guest is happy with the drink, then the whole process is a success. So, if the drink is good, your bar is a success, right? Well....


The Visit should be an Experience

In practice, there is so much more to consider to ensure that a guest has a good experience in a bar. A lot happens before their cocktail is even served. The first step is marketing: how do people find out about the bar, and what is said about it? Once the guest is there, there are more steps to consider: How is he greeted? Does he find a seat? Are they wined and dined and brought to a table? What does the décor look like? How do they order and how long does it take to be served? There are so many different factors that can make or break a guest's experience before they even try their drink.

If the drink is viewed as the final product, then the guests experience ends when they receive their drink and form their opinion. If they like it, then everything is successful. A night out in a bar is far more complex, and the guest experience is continuous. They arrive, order, enjoy a drink, maybe order another one, and the actual product is what happens the entire time. The quality of a bar is measured by the quality of the visit – from before the guest even walks in the door until the moment he leaves.


Another Round, or rather not?

An excellent cocktail is extremely important. However, if everything else around this wonderful drink has left the guest unsatisfied, then that is not enough. It is much more important that the guests have a good time in the bar. That is a sign of a successful product. And that is what encourages people to order a second round, come back, tell their friends about it and write positive reviews. Drinks should be of high quality, but that can be achieved in many different ways. For example, a bar can serve tiki drinks, minimalist drinks, use lavish garnishes or ingredients made in their own kitchen. The main thing is that they taste good!

So yes, drinks matter. They are the cornerstone of a bar's success. In fact, they are so important that you almost have to take them for granted. In a successful bar, the cocktails have to be so good that the bar can focus on everything else around it. Drinks are part of the overall experience, and that experience is what matters.