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Your Tasting Menu is Lacking One CRITICAL Thing

Your Tasting Menu is Lacking One CRITICAL Thing

These days, every restaurateur is looking to provide something that stands out above the rest – and a tasting menu might be just what is needed.

Providing your guests with a representative, engaging journey through all of your culinary wonders is one of the best ways to show off your restaurant’s skills and creativity. It’s an easy and fun way to get that much-needed buzz out about your location.

However, there is one critical thing to consider when it comes to developing your tasting menu and the pairings that go with it: in the modern restaurant environment, there needs to be something else on the tasting menu other than traditional pairings of alcoholic drinks like wine and beer. These days, having a non-alcoholic cocktail pairing on a tasting menu provides a remarkable revenue-increasing, cuisine-boosting kick-start for your restaurant’s fabled tasting menu.

Intrigued? Let’s break down everything you need to know about non-alcoholic cocktail pairings for your tasting menu here.

What is a Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Pairing?

First, let’s take a step back and define what a non-alcoholic cocktail pairing actually is. Rather than the traditional pairings that come with tasting menus or a beverage program – for example, white wine with a fish dish, a red wine with beef, or perhaps a dark stout beer with some type of dessert or sweet treat – a non-alcoholic cocktail pairing offers an opportunity for those who aren’t drinking to get into the same fun. Think of it the same way you would a traditional drink pairing with a tasting menu; non-alcoholic cocktails allow for natural enhancement of all of your food’s flavors, complementing or contrasting them in intriguing ways for a memorable guest experience.

It’s a way for your creativity to shine through and to boost the inclusiveness of your tasting menu. It’s a godsend for those that don’t drink, want a little break from alcohol, or maybe just aren’t feeling a few boozy drinks with the menu. We’ve already seen just how big the non-alcoholic cocktail craze is getting around the world (take a look at this article for some proof). Adding this option to your beverage program and your tasting menu is a logical (and very profitable) next step for your restaurant.

What Should You Consider When Building a Pairing?

When you sit down to examine your beverage program and your tasting menu, non-alcoholic drinks should be an integral part of the offering. So, what do you need to consider when building your non-alcoholic tasting menu pairings?

  • First, the flavor profile. The flavor should pair well with the dish. A good example of this? A spicy dish – a curry, for instance – would pair well with the engaging taste of ginger. Also, consider the emotional vibe of the meal. Energizing ginger would be a great option for the start of the meal; you want to ramp your guests up with energy and excitement for the rest of the evening! On the same token, a chilled and tasty lavender-based drink wouldn’t really work for the start of the meal – it would be too calming for most guests. Sit down with your staff and beverage experts and work up a good, strategic plan for pairing some creative drinks with the different flavors.
  • Second, the mouthfeel. Be on the lookouts for ingredients that create the same “mouthfeel” from food to drink. Explore sweet drinks (but not super-sugary ones like those typically-depressing mocktails), tea-based creations, and other creative ingredients like glycerin and egg white. Again, experiment. Find out what mouthfeels give off a good vibe between food and drink, and get creative.
  • Finally, the “sip-worthiness.” Like in the alcoholic cocktail game, we’re not looking for drinks that are “gulpable.” These non-alcoholic cocktails shouldn’t get slammed down in one or two swigs. They need to be sippable and savored, not chugged. Take the time to whip up the inspired flavors that will intrigue your tasting menu eaters. It will make for some of the more effective upsells you’ll have.

Why This is a Must For Any Tasting Menu

Here’s the bottom-line fact you need to know when it comes to adding non-alcoholic drinks to your tasting menu: it can increase your revenue. Statistics show that as many as 38% of diners will order the non-alcoholic pairing with the tasting menu. That’s a massive boost to your upsells and a nice way to offset those labor costs everyone is concerned with these days.

Here’s the other reason (beyond those labor costs and upsells) to start integrating non-alcoholic drinks into your tasting menu: it exceeds guest expectations. How many other places out there stick with the same wines, beers, and spirits when it comes to a tasting menu? Just providing the option on the menu – even if they may not drink it – serves as a testament to your restaurant’s creativity, hospitality, and inclusivity. In today’s restaurant industry, that’s a powerful differentiator.

Looking to get started with a non-alcoholic cocktail program for your restaurant? Take a look at what Team SweetCrude can do for you.

Michael is a freelance writer who writes about lifestyle and travel.

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