How to Serve Wine & Cocktails On Tap
Imagine a world where every cocktail you served tasted the same no matter which bartender made it, and every glass of wine stayed as fresh as the first. You can stop imagining now because taps aren’t just for beer anymore! Serving wine and cocktails on tap is becoming a popular trend in many restaurants and bars. Having these drinks ready to serve straight from the tap not only cuts down on drink preparation time, but it also ensures consistency among drinks. In this article, you’ll learn whether or not these systems are beneficial in your particular establishment, and if they are, we’ll give some recommendations for your setup.
Wine on Tap
Do you ever wonder why certain wines can’t be ordered by the glass and only by the bottle? Truth is wine is a tricky beverage. Traditionally, it goes through a rather pricey packaging process. It has to be bottled, labeled, printed, sealed, and cased. Then, the cases finally get shipped to the restaurant or bar who has to pay for all of those costs. If all the wine is sold in a timely fashion, then it’s no big deal. But, for many establishments, someone will order a single glass of premium wine, and then that wine won’t get ordered again for some time after.
Once a bottle of wine is uncorked, the wine begins to oxidize. Oxidation changes the taste of the wine the longer it sits in the bottle, even if it's recorked. If someone orders a glass of wine from a bottle that’s been opened a week previously, it won’t taste nearly as fresh, and it won’t have the flavor it should. More often than not, the glass will be sent back, and the bartender will have to pour out the entire bottle of wine. That’s why it’s too risky for many establishments to offer wine by the glass. But now, there’s a solution to this wine wasting!
Benefits of a Wine Tap System
- More cost-efficient to package stainless steel kegs than multiple bottles
- Many kegs are reusable
- Keg is lighter weight than a case of bottles
- No oxidation since wine is constantly pressurized by an inert gas that prevents oxidation
- The last glass of the keg is as fresh as the first
- More premium options by the glass can be made available
- No wasted time pulling corks
- No bottles, corks, and cardboard boxes to get rid of at the end of the night
- Increased wine sales since customers can order premium options by the glass
- Kegs take up less storage space than bottles
- One keg equals approximately 26 bottles
Setting up a Wine Dispensing System
On average, it can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 to have a wine dispensing unit set up in your restaurant or bar; however, this cost will quickly pay for itself due to savings per bottle and savings from waste. In fact, many establishments will see a return on their initial investment within nine months.
Setting up a wine tap system is similar to setting up a beer dispenser. First, you simply have to decide where to place your dispensing system. Do you serve a lot of wine on a daily basis? If so, you should consider locating it centrally behind-the-bar. If wine orders aren't nearly as popular as beer orders, then maybe you can place your wine dispenser off to one side.
You also have to consider the special requirements for a wine tap. The valve coupler, tubing nipples, and faucet must all be constructed of 304 grade stainless steel. If wine doesn’t flow through a special 304 grade draft system, then the flavor will be affected. You must also have a 304 stainless steel oxygen barrier to prevent oxygen permeation, as well as an air tank that has a blend of 75 percent Nitrogen and 25 percent CO2. This blend preserves the wine’s quality and freshness and is readily available in many bars because Guinness also requires this gas blend.
Cocktails on Tap
Now, it’s time to picture this: It’s thirty minutes prior to your home team’s kickoff time. You own a sports bar, and the lines are at least five people deep. You have a cocktail special, but you still have to take the time to measure out perfect rum to lemonade ratios. Then, you get a complaint about someone’s drink not being as strong at their friend’s. There has to be an easier way!
Now there is. Outfit your high volume sports bar, night club, or casual restaurant with a cocktail dispensing machine that offers liquor on tap. Take this Hamilton Beach cocktails-on-tap dispenser, for example. These types of machines hold bottles of liquor on a tray that slides out for easy refilling. They also hold the bag-in-box mixer of your choice. With the simple pull of the unit’s tap handle, you’ll have a perfectly mixed and consistent drink within seconds. And, the best part about this is, you didn’t have to measure out a single ounce of alcohol!
Benefits of a Cocktails on Tap System
- Makes 5 – 7 cocktails per minute, compared to the 1 drink per minute average when done by hand
- Consistent drinks every time, so nobody gets a stronger or weaker beverage than someone else
- Units come prefixed with a set liquor to mixer ratio
- No more waste from over pouring
- Keeps lines in busy bars moving quickly
- Less dirty dishes from not using shakers and jiggers
- Attractive styling of tap head lets you advertise drink specials and drive impulse sales
Setting up a Cocktail Dispensing System
A cocktail dispensing system is very easy to install! Its compact size allows its base to fit underneath your bar, while the tap platform slides onto the bartop with no mounting hardware required. An included hose attaches to the tap and connects to the base, allowing you to dispense product. These units are also powered by a CO2 tank and require no electricity, which means you can place your unit almost anywhere. Simply choose a spot where bartenders can easily access the tap during happy hour, kickoff, or a special event.
If you're looking to reduce wine waste, offer more premium wine options by the glass, and ultimately increase wine sales, then offering wine on tap is a great choice for your restaurant, upscale bar, or lounge. However, if you're running a crowded sports bar, night club, or casual restaurant, you will benefit from having cocktails on tap. Not only will these systems cut down drink prep time, but they'll also provide consistency among drinks.