Find out what well drinks are and how your restaurant can benefit from them!

‘’Can I please have a rum and coke?’’

‘’Oh, I would love a gin and tonic with my dish’’

‘’Tonight, I will be having a vodka soda, please’’

These requests are constantly heard in restaurants and bars all over the world. The drinks mentioned above are ordered again and again and you are probably wondering why. Well, most people know about these drinks, they are not too complex, and if the ingredients are of good quality, people will keep on ordering them. It’s that simple!

These simple and quick drinks are referred to as well drinks and are in most cases not even listed on the menu. Nevertheless, most bars and restaurants serve them due to their simplicity and high-profit margins. The purpose of this blog post is to show you how important it is for your restaurant to have well drinks on the menu.

What are well drinks?

Let’s start simple with the definition of well drinks. As you might have figured out already, well drinks are the cheapest type of drinks. Well drinks, also called house drinks, are simple cocktails, which usually consist of one or two cheap liquors and a soft drink. The liquors used for well drinks are usually kept behind the bar so the bartender can easily reach them, and are typically found in a long container that looks like a well - hence the name.

The most common liquors used for well drinks are vodka, rum, gin, whiskey, and tequila. As for the soft drinks that are typically used, these include sodas, juices, sour mix, triple sec, and multiple fruit garnishes. Get creative; make your drinks tastier and more appealing by adding exotic ingredients. Remember, it is not all about the taste. Your guests will see the cocktails before they try them, which is why the appearance can influence their perception of the drink - so make sure you are wowing your guests from the moment they enter your restaurant.

There can also be situations where your customer asks for a ‘’Bacardi and Coke’’ instead of a simple ‘’rum and coke’’. These types of drinks are referred to as ‘call drinks’ since customers ask for a specific brand of liquor. Call drinks are not the same as well drinks as they will typically be made with a bit more expensive liquor, depending on guests’ preference, of course. However, if the guest requests high-quality liquor, then the drink will rather be a premium drink. So, to sum up: Well drinks are made with relatively cheap liquor when guests do not specify the brand, call drinks are made with a specific type of liquor as requested by the guest, and premium drinks are made with high-quality liquor. 

Benefits of well drinks

Well drinks can bring several benefits to your restaurant. In the alcohol industry, it is usually the ‘Social Media- worthy’ cocktails, craft beers, or well-aged wine that get all the attention. But you can always change that. Make your well drinks stand out and your restaurant will be more profitable than ever.

Well drinks have the highest profit margin on a restaurant’s menu. According to these estimations, beer and wine have food cost percentages of 20 to 40% and the food served has food cost percentages of  25% to 50%, Meanwhile, well drinks only have food cost percentages of 5%. Why does that matter? Well, according to a study, well drinks could account for up to 40% of the total bar sales. That’s quite impressive, isn’t it? People appreciate the simple things in life.

Another benefit of serving well drinks at your restaurant is that well drinks are easy and quick to make. Your bartender doesn’t even need a shaker to make them! But they do still need to pay attention to the measurements, so they don’t overpour, and if the drink is appealing to the guests. If they are appealing, your customers will notice them and will automatically want to try them.

Having an affordable option for your customers is a huge benefit for your restaurant. Not every night has to be an over-the-top night. Your guests should just enjoy the time spent in your restaurant and be able to choose which quality of liquor makes them more comfortable. With cheaper options for drinks you may even attract a student or two. In this way you are not only hospitable - but you also think about the long-term strategy for your restaurant.

How to choose the best well drinks for your restaurant

Always keep in mind that what you serve to your customers represents your restaurant. To make sure you make the right choices when choosing your well drinks, there are a few things you have to keep in mind, such as:

  • Your customers: Consider your guests’ demographics, what well drinks you believe they would like, and what they would be willing to pay for. If you are not entirely sure, check out statistics or even conduct a quantitative questionnaire with people who fit your target audience to identify their preferences.
  •  Your restaurant’s brand: If you already have established a certain image for your restaurant, you wouldn’t want people to change their perception based on a few well drinks you didn’t give enough thought to. In case your restaurant is based on a certain theme, make sure you keep this in mind when you choose the composition and the way your well drinks look like.
  • The season: People have different preferences depending on the season. Each season should have a few signature drinks. If you are not sure which drinks you should incorporate for a specific season, always research the subject and pay attention to your customers’ behavior - and then make the decision accordingly.
  • The place: In order to attract customers from the area check out the local trends. A good idea would also be to find suppliers from within your area. It doesn’t only save costs - it also shows that you support the community, which is likely to bring in more customers from the local scene.
  • Price vs. quality: Always keep in mind the price-quality relationship when it comes to your liquors. You should have liquors that vary in price but remember to also think about the quality of the liquor and what’s profitable for your business.

Is the well drink itself enough?

Everyone loves well drinks but sometimes just the drink itself is not enough for people to buy it. You have to give your guests some incentives if you want them to keep ordering your products. Turning the simple action of ordering a well drink into an experience will only benefit your restaurant.

It’s not only your selling skills, it’s also the way you make well drinks appealing to your guests. There are more ways of maximizing your well drinks menu, such as:

  • Happy hours: We are all familiar with happy hours so just take advantage of that. Another option could also be to offer a free drink for your guests if they order a fancy dish; a dish that it’s not ordered that frequently but has a high profit margin. This technique gives your customers the incentive to try the food they wouldn’t normally go for - and hopefully order it next time as well.
  • Unique names: You can always add more ingredients to your classic well drinks and turn them into something completely new. While doing that, pick a great name for them and rebrand your well drinks with catchy names that people won’t forget that easily.
  • Photogenic drinks: It’s all about social media these days. If you invest in the way your well drinks look, people will more likely start advertising them. Add accessories like a little umbrella, slices of fruits on the side of the glass, or even sprinkles or glitter. Pour them into your specialty glassware to turn them into awesome instagrammable drinks. Turn your well drinks into fancy drinks and they will get a lot of attention on social media, bringing in more customers to the restaurant.
  • Garnishes: Don’t be afraid to use garnishes for your well drinks. Of course, the garnishes you use have to complement the drink so make sure one of your employees is properly trained in it. Add fruits, herbs, and even peels and always make sure they are fresh as your customers deserve the best!

10 of the most frequently consumed well drinks

Well drinks have different flavors and they range in complexity. Here is a list of the 10 most ordered well drinks that your well drinks menu can get inspiration from.

Vodka soda - a simple drink without too much sugar and calories

Ingredients:

  • 59.15 ml (2 oz.) of vodka
  • Soda water
  • Lemon, lime, or orange wedge as garnish, depending on the customers’ preferences

Screwdriver - a simple drink for brunch or dinner

Ingredients:

  • 59.15 ml (2 oz.) of vodka
  • Orange juice
  • Cherry or orange slice, depending on the customers’ preferences

Gin & tonic - simple to make and can also be ordered as a call drink or premium drink

Ingredients:

  • 59.15 ml (2 oz.) of gin
  • 118.29 ml (4 oz.) of tonic
  • Lime

Cuba Libre - classic easy-to-make cocktail

Ingredients:

  • 59.15 ml (2 oz.) of rum
  • 118.29 ml (4 oz.) of Coke
  • Lime wedge

Daiquiri - another classic and simple Cuban drink

Ingredients:

  • 59.15 ml (2 oz.) of rum
  • 29.57 ml (1 oz.) of lime juice
  • 29.57 ml (1 oz.) of simple syrup

Margarita - this classic cocktail is usually ordered at parties or celebrations

Ingredients:

  • 59.15 ml (2 oz.) of tequila
  • 29.57 ml (1 oz.) of triple sec
  • 29.57 ml (1 oz.) of lime juice
  • 14.79 ml (0.5 oz.) of simple syrup

Tequila Sunrise - simple cocktail but with a strong sweet flavor

Ingredients:

  • 59.15 ml (2 oz.) of tequila
  • 29.57 ml (1 oz.) of grenadine
  • Orange juice

Whiskey & Coke - also known as ‘’Jack & Coke’’, simple tasty drink

Ingredients:

  • 59.15 ml (2 oz.) of whiskey
  • Coke

Whiskey Sour - another classic drink for whiskey lovers

Ingredients:

  • 59.15 ml (2 oz.) of whiskey
  • Lemonade or sour mix

Long Island Iced Tea - a complex pricey drink made of all the previously mentioned liquors but with an amazing taste

Ingredients:

  • 14.79 ml (0.5 oz.) of tequila
  • 14.79 ml (0.5 oz.) of vodka
  • 14.79 ml (0.5 oz.) of gin
  • 14.79 ml (0.5 oz.) of rum
  • 14.79 ml (0.5 oz.) of triple sec
  • 29.57 ml (1 oz.) of lemonade or sour mix
  • Coke

Well drinks are an easy way to increase your restaurant’s revenue. Usually, they are not that frequently ordered but if you get creative and advertise them right, they can become the stars of your bar.

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Cheers to that!