Christopher Jew of TATTU Manchester on how to update your cocktail list with the season’s latest trends.
Christopher Jew is the bar manager at TATTU, Manchester’s Asian-inspired fine dining restaurant where he is in charge of making sure that the drink program is fresh and current while still familiar. “As a bar manager, I have to know the cocktail market, trends, new products and influences,” he says. It sounds like a lot to manage but he says that it’s part of what he loves the most about his job. Earlier this month, Tattu debuted its new cocktail list; the result of months of crafting, and tasting new drinks with the team to make sure that the new drinks fit in with the food program at Tattu. “Every new menu that we make is a combination of current cocktails and old classics,” he says.
Crafting a new list means balancing a few different things: lists have to offer guests the classic cocktails that they know and love, while adding new signature touches and making sure that it matches the food program. Jew likes to think about his cocktails in two ways: “You have drinks that are really good for customers and drinks that are good for people who work in the industry,” he says. Customers love classics and variations on the drinks that they’re familiar with while fellow bartenders or people in the industry want to try something different and learn a bit while they’re at the bar. In either case, the goal is to make drinks that guests love. “The most rewarding part is when someone likes a drink that you’ve made,” he says.
Here are a few ways that Jew approaches creating a new cocktail list and ways that you can update your own.
Give your drinks an ‘Instagrammable’ edge
Drinks that look good on social media are more popular than ever, Jew says. “Our most popular drink is the ‘Skull Candy,’ with vodka and strawberry,” he says. The drink is served in a glass skull with dry ice so it smokes and bubbles in front of guests. The drink is so popular that it accounts for one out of every six drinks that Tattu Manchester sells, he says. He attributes its popularity to the fact that guests love to share it on their social media profiles. If you search ‘Skull Candy Tattu’ on Instagram you’ll find photos of the cocktail that guests have shared on their personal channels. These posts make other potential bar patrons in the area want to come to the restaurant to try it too. “We sold 25,000 of those drinks in six months,” he says. Add a colourful element or smoke to one of your cocktails to capitalise on the trend.
Drinks with a homemade touch
Guests love when a bar adds a craft touch to their cocktails, Jew says. “Right now you see a lot of places using homemade cordials or infusions made from foraged produce.” Homemade cordials have been a part of the bar scene for years but guests are now more knowledgeable about what they are and want to learn more. Adding a housemade infusion with a spirit and seasonal produce can be a great way to add a signature element to your cocktail list and an additional talking point for your bartenders.
While it might seem like customers currently want drinks to be complicated, Jew says that there’s a market for drinks that are straightforward. “Drinks like the Old Fashioned and the Mojito don’t go out of style because guests know what they’re getting.” On the drinks menu at Tattu, each cocktail has three ingredients listed for the same reason. “You want your customer to have three or four ingredients and know that they’ve had a drink from Tattu,” he says. Within those flavours you can add a personal touch that makes the drink signature to your restaurant.
Twists on classics
Jew says that when it’s time to update the cocktail list, he starts with cocktail classics and then adds his own twist to them. “A classic is a classic for a reason,” he says. The Tattu menu features drinks like the ‘Sailor’s Mojito’ with rum, ginger and mint smoke. Guests are familiar with the mojito but the mint smoke may be an element that they haven’t had before. Adding a familiar flavour in a surprising way is a great way to get guests on board with your new cocktails.
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