To-Go Cocktails and Wine. A Path Forward

It’s no secret. The hospitality business is being decimated. For those independents that are still in business, to-go cocktails and wine allow for a path forward.

State legislators have moved fairly quickly to address necessary changes allowing alcohol to-go and delivery options for restaurants that were shuttered or limited for in-person dining. More needs to be done. Permanent relaxation of laws around alcohol should be prioritized.

In the meantime, there are operators that have attempted innovation in their to-go and delivery options.

They are mindful of what customers miss when it comes to the cocktail and wine experience. What is it that customers enjoy about cocktails and wine?

What is it about a great cocktail or glass of wine?

For me, it’s partly the following. I enjoy reading through a bar menu and learning something about a new cocktail. What does it feature? What are the ingredients? How is it described and what might my experience feel like as I drink it? Where will it transport me to? In other words, when I’m out at a bar and I’m enjoying a great cocktail or glass of wine, I’m attempting to in some way, be somewhere else.

cocktail pic

I’m paying $14 bucks for a virtual trip somewhere else. Part of the experience can’t be replaced with my picking up the cocktail and taking it home. Part of the experience can.

Important parts of this experience include the curation of my choice by a pro behind the bar. I have learned much from the bartenders in my life. Experienced pros know how to ask the right questions about preferences, tastes, and dislikes.

Linden Pride of Dante explains their philosophy this way

“Because guests could no longer enjoy the ambiance and service they would get dining at Dante, we created new ways to add value to each delivery order,” The bar and restaurant, which was awarded Spirited Awards for World’s Best Bar and Best American Restaurant Bar at the 2019 Tales of the Cocktail, adds thoughtful touches to orders such as a complimentary bottle of Perrier or San Pellegrino or flowers from Popup Florist

What to do when your state doesn’t cooperate?

From Liquor.com – “Bars that aren’t allowed to sell liquor to go had to come up with legal workarounds. For instance, California only lets bars and restaurants sell to-go cocktails with food, but since Hello Stranger in Oakland doesn’t sell food at all, the bar team turned it into a bottle shop. The front of the store comprises a vestibule and antique cases that display the bottles for sale. Initially, it only sold beer and liquor bottles but then decided to borrow an idea popular among Bay Area corner stores that’s ABC-compliant: the Cutty Bang, a mini liquor bottle, a mixer of juice or soda, and a cup of ice in a Zip-Loc bag. “

What your establishment does will be contingent upon local and state regs. Now’s the time to throw your sacred cows to the curb and think through a way to success.

Value innovation in wines for on premise

Think about new ways to build margins and add value while lowering costs. The founder of https://www.miracleonewinecompany.com, Charley McPherson has launched a new wine line delivered to the restaurant community all built around keg wines. Click here to learn more about Charley’s story and company.

Operators who adopt this option for part of their wine list will have the ability to pour great wine into to-go friendly containers where allowed by law. This option will greatly increase margins, introduce better eco-friendly options, allow for a better narrative with customers, and still allow for great pairings with to-go menu options.

There are operators also producing virtual events with their chefs and wine suppliers. Shared Spirits Marketing produces these types of experiences with operators as well. Check out a case study involving a Nashville restaurant and Louis Latour Wines out of France. Click here for case study.

If you’re in doubt about your state regs, and most of you aren’t, check out this list. It’s a little dated but the hot links included at least allow your staff to drill down on who to call for clarification if there are doubts regarding your alcohol laws. Click here for the resource.

Shared Spirits Marketing has tools to assist in most all of these areas. If you want to simply chat over some ideas, we’d love to hear from you. No obligation. Just schedule a time and we’ll share what we know. Click here to book a free 30 minutes or so.