Holiday dining comes once a year, so consider innovative beverages to make the experience special and memorable: Here are some ideas:
Old-school cocktails. The growth of craft distilleries has made cocktails cool again. Classics such as the Sidebar, Aviation, and Sazerac are being discovered by younger diners and rediscovered by older ones.
Take a chef-driven approach. Technomic Inc. says flavor attracts consumers and keeps them coming back in every area of spirits, wine, and beer. Create housemade signature syrups and infusions of fresh fruit and herbs. Incorporate savory, smoky, and burnt flavors into beverages.
Warm up. Boozy coffee cocktails such as Irish or Spanish Coffee and Café Brûlot bring comfort, joy, and distinction to bar menus. Spike hot chocolate and cider. Use matcha for tea cocktails. For nonalcoholic holiday beverages, use flavored syrups and whipped cream to boost the indulgence factor.
Plan perfect pairings. List beverage-pairing suggestions for your shared-plates and snack menus just as you would for your regular food menu. Train servers to guide guests to good choices.
Curate craft beverages. Offer craft beers, cocktails, and make housemade sodas customers can only get on your menu.
Perfect presentations. Ramp up garnishes—use extra layers of fresh fruit or veggies, colorful spices, sprigs of fresh herbs, and sprinkles of crushed peppermint or shaved chocolate—that add flavor while enhancing perceived value. Add special barware to the mix, too, as beautiful glasses make drinks look special.
Run holiday limited-time offers (LTOs). Get the word out that the season is the reason for your holiday beverages. Create a “get ’em before they go away” sense of urgency.
Promote holiday beverages. Run late-afternoon happy-hour and late-night “happier-hour” specials.
Stay true to your brand. Holiday beverages must fit with your brand. A Caribbean-themed beverage promotion, for example, won’t make sense for an Italian restaurant.