What are Well Drinks?
Well drinks, also called rail drinks, are mixed drinks made with the lowest tier liquor that a bar stocks. These lower-cost spirits are usually stored within easy reach of the bartender, in the speed-rail or well, which explains the origin of the name. The well is the best place to keep the bar’s most commonly poured liquors because of its easy access, and a good bartender can whip up a well drink very quickly. Well drinks don't need to be listed on your menu, and a customer should be able to walk into any bar and order a common well drink with consistent results.
Well Drink vs. Call Drink
All of the basic cocktails are considered well drinks if a specific brand of alcohol is not requested. If a customer orders a rum and coke without specifying the type of rum, they just ordered a well drink. If your customer has a rum preference and calls out the brand they like by asking for a Bacardi and coke, they just ordered a call drink. This rule applies to any variety of cocktails or mixed drinks. Well drinks have the lowest pricing and customers expect the drink to be affordable.
A call drink will be a little bit more expensive, and a premium drink made with higher tier alcohol will be even more costly. Prices for well drinks and call drinks are not usually listed on a menu, unless they are part of a happy hour or brunch special. Both types of drinks have their place in your bar program and it's important to keep your bar stocked with a range of liquors at all price points.
Benefits of Well Drinks
Well drinks can be prepared very easily and because they require very little effort to make, they’re also cost-effective. A bartender can prepare several well drinks in the same amount of time it takes to prepare one craft cocktail made with top shelf liquor. An additional benefit of well drinks is that they're an affordable choice for your customers. Because they're easy to order and won't break the bank, well drinks are the perfect addition to your happy hour menu.
Stocking Well Liquor
There are a couple things to keep in mind when you choose your well liquors. Cost is very important, and you'll want to choose affordable brands for your well, but you'll also want to take your customers' preferences into account. If you own a whiskey bar, your house whiskey should be a higher quality than the well whiskey at a neighborhood bar. If your bar is located in a very affluent area, your lowest tier alchohol might still be a higher cost brand.
No matter how you stock your well, make sure to keep a variety of the most commonly requested liquors. Here's a list of liquors you can use to make most well drinks:
You'll also need to stock a variety of mixers. With the following mixers, you can prepare many different kinds of well drinks:
- Sour Mix
- Triple Sec
- Juices and Sodas
How to Improve Your Well Drinks
Just because well drinks are affordable doesn't mean they have to be boring. Instead of using the same rocks glass for every well drink, try serving each drink in the appropriate glass. Treat your well drinks just like craft cocktails and enhance the presentation by adding creative garnishes. You can improve the quality of your drinks by using fresh juices or homemade homemade bar ingredients like grenadine.
Best Well Drink Recipes
Your bartenders should have knowledge of all the basic well drinks. These essential drinks are ordered frequently and equate to the bread and butter of your drink program. Here are some examples of the most common well drinks:
Rum and Coke
- 2 oz. rum
- Highball glass
- Lime garnish
- Fill a highball glass with ice
- Add the rum
- Top the glass with cola.
- Add a lime wedge to make the drink a Cuba Libre
Gin and Tonic
- 2 oz. gin
- 4 to 5 oz. of tonic water
- Highball glass
- Lime garnish
- Fill a highball glass with ice
- Add the gin
- Top the glass with tonic and stir
- Garnish with lime
- 2 oz. vodka
- 5 oz. of orange juice
- Highball glass
- Orange slice garnish
- Fill a highball glass with ice
- Add the vodka
- Top the glass with orange juice
- Garnish with an orange slice
- 2 oz. rye whiskey, bourbon, or Canadian whiskey
- 1 oz. of sweet vermouth
- 2 to 3 dashes bitters
- Cocktail glass
- Cherry or orange slice garnish
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
- Add whiskey, vermouth and bitters
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
- Garnish with an orange slice or cherry
Long Island Iced Tea
- 1/2 oz. light rum
- 1/2 oz. gin
- 1/2 oz. vodka
- 1/2 oz. tequila
- 1/2 oz. triple sec
- 1 oz. sour mix
- Hurricane or highball glass
- Lemon slice garnish
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
- Add vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, and sour mix
- Shake to combine
- Pour into a hurricane glass
- Top with a splash of cola
- Garnish with a lemon slice
- 2 oz. vodka
- 1 oz. fresh lime juice
- 6 oz. of ginger beer
- Moscow mule copper mug
- Lime wedge garnish
- Squeeze lime juice into a copper mug and drop in the shell
- Add 2 or 3 ice cubes
- Add vodka
- Fill with ginger beer and stir
Don't overlook well drinks as a valuable part of your beverage program. These drinks are ordered frequently and are profitable for your bar thanks to the low liquor cost. Dress up your well drinks with the correct bar glass and a garnish to impress your customers and make repeat sales.
How to Open a Bar
Have you been dreaming of opening your own bar but you’re not quite sure where to start? You’ve probably thought about your concept and your name, but maybe you’re unsure about some of the finer details, like how to obtain funding and permits. Running a successful bar can be lucrative and rewarding, as long as you perform some careful research and follow the correct steps. We outline the process of starting your own bar, from the initial concept to your grand opening, so you can fulfill your dream of becoming a bar owner. Shop All Bar Supplies How to Open a Bar Opening a bar requires some initial research and planning. You can make sure that you're covering all the bases by following our bar opening checklist below. Click on any of the steps to read the section that most interests you: Choose a Bar Concept and Brand Choose a Name for Your Bar Choose a Business Entity for Your Bar Write a Bar Business Plan Secure Funding for Your Bar Find the Perfect Location Obtain Permits and Licenses Find a Liquor Supplier Design a Bar Layout Buy Your Equipment and Supplies Hire the Right Staff Advertise Your Bar Host Your Soft Opening 1. Choose a Bar Concept and Brand The fun part of starting your own bar is creating your concept and brand. Your concept includes all the general ideas you have about what kind of bar you want to open. Your brand is slightly more defined and encompasses the identity and mission of your business. Every detail of your bar should support your brand, from your service style to your decor and ambiance. A good question to ask yourself is how do you want people to feel when they walk in your bar? Here are some examples of bar concepts to get you thinking about your own bar: An unpretentious neighborhood bar with comfortable booths and a jukebox of classic hits, where folks can unwind after work. A barcade with vintage pinball games that serves only a few types of beer, where guests can let loose and have fun on a Friday night. A moody martini bar with neon lights and hypnotic music, where guests can feel like they’re part of an exclusive club. A sophisticated wine bar with modern furniture and art on the walls, where guests can sip flights of wine paired with appetizers. The most important thing to note is that your concept and brand should be in line with the demographics of your chosen location. When you get to the step of performing market research, you may have to adjust your brand to meet the needs of the neighborhood you are serving. 2. Choose a Name for Your Bar Choosing the name for your bar can feel like the moment that your dream is becoming a reality, but how do you choose the right name? Make sure that it’s catchy, make sure it reflects your brand, and make sure it’s unique. Remember that your name will be used on all of your marketing materials and merchandise, including menus, staff uniforms, and advertisements. Stay away from names that are too long and complicated. After you’ve chosen a name that represents your bar perfectly, it’s time to consider trademarking it. This protects your name from being used by any other businesses, which can be helpful if your location is in a high-density area. It’s especially important if you plan to expand your business to multiple locations in the future. 3. Choose a Business Entity for Your Bar Every business owner has to decide what type of entity or business structure to establish. This impacts your legal liability, your ownership rights, how your business is taxed, and your funding options. These are the common entity types for small business owners: Sole Proprietorship - This is the most common type of structure for small businesses and requires no paperwork to set up. Once you start a business that operates for profit, you are automatically running as a sole proprietorship. The downside of this entity is that as the bar owner, you are liable for any lawsuits against your business. Partnership - A verbal agreement between two or more taxpayers is all that’s needed to start a partnership, which makes it very appealing. However, you are liable for the mistakes of your partner so it’s recommended that you go ahead and create a partnership agreement anyway. Always have a lawyer review your partnership agreement before signing. Limited Liability Company - Also known as an LLC, this type of business entity is very popular due to its liability protection. Because an LLC exists as its own separate legal entity, the business owner isn’t liable for any lawsuits against the business. The downside of an LLC is that it does require the proper forms and a fee to be filed with the Secretary of State’s office. 4. Write a Bar Business Plan This is the point where you need to sit down and get your business plan on paper. Having a thorough business plan is going to help you when you reach out to investors and apply for loans. It’s also a great way to work through any areas of uncertainty you may have about how your business is going to operate. A bar business plan should include the following: Executive Summary Company Overview and Description Market Analysis Business Offerings Management Marketing and Public Relations Strategies Financial Projection 5. Secure Funding for Your Bar After doing your financial projection you’ll have a better idea of the funding you’re going to need to make your dream happen. Make a list of all the startup costs required to get your bar running. Then add in the cost of daily operations, including the cost of alcohol, salaries, utilities, and rent. From there you can create a budget and forecast how much money you’ll need to keep your bar running for the next year. Next, determine how much money you have to put towards your startup costs and how much additional funding you’ll need. Now that you have a definitive number, you can begin the process of applying for loans. The initial investment that you make could be paid back within a few years if you run your bar successfully. 6. Find the Perfect Location Performing a location analysis is the best way to find the perfect location for your bar. There are many factors to consider, but these are some of the most important: Target Demographics - You should either begin by targeting a location with demographics that match up with your concept, or base your entire concept off of the demographics of a predetermined location. Health Regulations and Zoning - Zoning regulations can vary greatly between cities and counties. Make sure to become familiar with your location's zoning laws so you know what to expect. Visibility and Access - It’s extremely important to choose a location that is visible to people driving or walking by. Accessible parking is always optimal. Nearby Competition - If an area is already saturated with bars, you may want to either choose a different location, or make sure your bar has a unique concept that stands out. 7. Obtain Permits and Licenses Making sure you have the appropriate licenses may be the most tedious step along the way, but it’s vital to getting your bar open for business. It never hurts to enlist the help of legal counsel to make sure you have all the bases covered. The number of permits you’ll need and the total cost of fees will vary by state. These are some of the most important licenses required: Employee Identification Number - You’ll need an Employer Identification Number, or EIN, to apply for many of the permits below. This number identifies you as an employer and allows you to officially hire your staff. To obtain your EIN, visit the IRS website and fill out their online application. Liquor License - Without a liquor license, you can’t legally sell alcohol. Not only does the license permit you to sell alcoholic beverages, it also determines what type of alcohol you can sell and the times and days you can operate. The process for obtaining one can be lengthy, so you should start on this one right away by contacting your state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control agency. Or, consider starting a zero-proof bar, and you can skip this step. Foodservice License - If you plan on serving food at your bar, you’ll need a foodservice license. This ensures that your business meets food safety laws and regulations. To obtain a foodservice license, apply online at your state government’s website. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau - Referred to as the TTB, this federal agency regulates businesses that sell alcohol. Before you open for business you’ll need to register with the TTB, which can be done on their website. The TTB also requires that you keep a record book containing the date and quantity of all alcohol received from your suppliers. This step is very important because if you get inspected by a federal officer and fail to produce the log book, you could be fined up to $10,000. Here are a few examples of other permits you may need to open your bar: Sign Permit Music Permit Certificate of Occupancy Pool Table Permit Dumpster Placement Permit 8. Find a Liquor Supplier With most of the paperwork out of the way, it’s time to make a wish list of the spirits, beer, or wine that you want to stock in your bar. You might already have a selection in mind or you could do some research to see what’s popular in the area. The concept of your bar might weigh heavily in this decision, especially if you’re going to specialize in one type of alcohol, like craft beer or small-batch wines and spirits. You’ll want to find an alcohol distributor that offers the brand and products you have on your wish list. Many wholesalers have websites with portfolios that showcase all their products and pricing. Here are some things to keep in mind when you choose a distributor: Brand selection Minimum purchase requirements Payment terms and discounts Delivery dates Availability of brand ambassadors or promotional materials Once you stock your bar with alcohol, you should begin to take liquor inventory so that you can maintain the appropriate quantities. Taking consistent liquor inventory will give you an idea of how your bar is performing, what your par levels should be, and which products are selling. 9. Design a Bar Layout If you’re designing your bar from scratch, the best thing to do is take measurements of the entire space. You can draft the layout on paper or take advantage of design software to come up with a virtual blueprint. Having the blueprint is going to help you choose fixtures, equipment, stools, and seating that will fit inside your space. Keep in mind that the space should remain functional. Your staff should be able to move freely around any tables or booths. The area behind your bar should have enough space for liquor displays, speed rails, and bottle coolers. You should also allow enough room for the maximum number of bartenders on your busiest shifts. When it comes to choosing your decor, make sure it supports your brand and concept. Artwork, lighting fixtures, and furniture can all be used to create an experience for your guests. Check out current design trends to come up with ideas. 10. Buy Your Equipment and Supplies You’ll need to outfit your bar with some basic equipment in order to serve drinks. It’s important to factor in the space and electrical requirements you’ll need for these items: Bottle Coolers - These back bar coolers provide space for all the bottles and cans that you’ll need to keep chilled. Ideally, the bottle cooler will sit under your bar so that bartenders can access it quickly. Ice Machines - It’s going to take a lot of ice to keep the beverages flowing at your bar. You’ll need a reliable ice machine to produce large volumes of ice throughout the shift. Ice Bins - Once your ice machine makes the ice, you’ll need to store it in a place that’s convenient for your bartenders. Under bar ice bins fit beneath the bar so your staff can easily access ice for cocktails and blended drinks. Glass Washer - Having a glass washer under the bar is extremely convenient. Some models are designed to fit inside an underbar sink and require no electricity. Bar Blender - You’ll need a reliable, commercial-grade bar blender for making popular blended drinks like daiquiris and margaritas. Look for a model with a cover to reduce noise while blending. Beer Dispensers - Your bar isn’t complete without a beer dispenser. These units feature a refrigerated cabinet that holds your beer kegs, while the beer is dispensed through a tap tower on top of the dispenser. In addition to your bar equipment, you'll also need to stock up on other bar essentials. Make sure you have the appropriate glassware to serve your beverages. Depending on your menu, you might need garnishes, drink ingredients, and cocktail mixes. For your bar top, you'll need cocktail napkins, coasters, and stirrers. 11. Hire the Right Staff Different types of bars may have different staffing needs. For instance, a large nightclub will require some additional employees that a small neighborhood bar won’t need, like bottle service staff or a house DJ. If you own a wine bar, you might want a sommelier on staff. Here are some of the key positions that you’ll need to get most bars up and running: Bar Manager Bartenders Barbacks Servers Host / Hostess Security / ID Checker Many potential employees are enthusiastic to start a new venture and get in on the ground floor of a new bar. With such a high turnover rate, the best way you can keep your stellar bartending staff is by defining your workplace culture from the very beginning. In addition to interviewing and hiring new employees, make sure that you create a thoughtful training program that outlines clear expectations. A critical part of bar ownership is ensuring that your staff is well-trained to look for signs of visible intoxication. Your training program should emphasize these signs and provide guidance on how to deal with intoxicated patrons. It's your responsibility to make sure that your guests are safe at all times, while they enjoy drinks at your bar and when they leave your bar. 12. Advertise Your Bar You’ve done your due diligence and now you’re ready to let the community know about your new bar. This is where the critical step of advertising and marketing your bar comes into play. Here are some tips you can use to inform your potential customers about your business and build excitement about your opening day: Create a website – Building a website for your bar is essential. Many customers will be researching your business online before making a visit, so you should provide key information on your site. Your site should also be representative of your brand. Use social media – Another way to reach potential customers is by creating accounts on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You can share high-quality photos of your signature cocktails and advertise promotions. Make a Yelp account – Create a business profile on Yelp so that you have more online visibility and customers can submit reviews for your bar. You can personally ask your guests to leave reviews by putting a request on your bar receipts. Sign up for Google My Business – Google My Business is a free service that ensures your bar information will show up in Google searches and on Google Maps. Make sure to provide as much information as possible, including your website, hours, photos, and price ranges. Use your store front – As you’re doing construction on your new bar, passersby will be naturally curious about your new business. Make sure to utilize posters and sidewalk signs to provide information about your bar and the opening date. Place an ad in the local paper – Purchase advertising space in the local newspaper to share information about your new bar. You could even include a coupon for half-off drinks. Create a loyalty program – Sign up for a mobile app loyalty program and reward your guests for their continued business. If you specialize in craft beers, provide a way for guests to track and rank the beers they’ve enjoyed at your bar. Promote a Happy Hour – Happy hours are a great way to attract customers through value-priced drink specials. You can also offer complimentary samples and free snacks. Host an event – There are a variety of events you could host in your bar to create some buzz. If you own a wine bar, consider hosting a wine tasting. If you own a tap house, trivia nights can be very successful at bringing in more customers. Don’t forget the most important event of all, your grand opening! 13. Host Your Soft Opening A soft opening is a practice run that allows your bar staff to test out their operation on a limited number of guests before the actual grand opening. The benefit of a soft opening is that it gives you an idea of what you are doing right and what areas of your service may need more attention. Your staff gets the opportunity to practice without the pressure that comes with a busy opening day. An easy way to host a soft opening is to invite the friends and family of your employees for a sneak peek event. Now that you’ve become familiar with all the steps necessary to opening a bar, you can begin to make your dream a reality. By planning every aspect of your bar operation ahead of time, you can start your business off on the right foot. <aside class="pquote"> <blockquote> The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details. </blockquote> </aside>
Bar Marketing Ideas
One of the most important aspects of opening a bar is creating a marketing plan that will attract new customers. In order to successfully run a bar, you must have several bar promotions to not only reach new customers but also to keep existing customers coming back. Quality bar marketing will have your bar packed with patrons and well-established within the local community. Below, we’ll cover proven bar marketing strategies that will generate awareness for your bar and entice new customers. You can navigate to the different bar promotional ideas by using the following links: Bars Social Media Promotions and Online Advertising Bar Menu Promotions and Diversification Bar Entertainment Seasonal Bar Promotions and Calendar Events Bar Publicity and Partnerships 1. Bars Social Media Promotions and Online Advertising Most of the population depends on smartphones for communication, browsing, working, and social interactions. What better way to reach your target audience than through mobile devices and online platforms? Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are excellent bar marketing outlets that can provide a cost-effective and personal way to reach a large audience in a forum they are already visiting. Here are a few tactics you can use to reach new customers online and on social media: Create a Facebook Page You can create a page on Facebook where customers can interact with photos, polls, and reviews. This allows customers to share their feedback on bar event ideas you come up with. Experiment with posting at different times of day to see which posts your customers interact with the most. You can then find the best time range to advertise bar promotions. Utilize Facebook Events Create free online invitations for bar events you’ll be hosting that customers can RSVP to and share with their friends. Mention upcoming beer pong, pool, or poker tournaments on social media with these event pages. This interaction allows you to provide links to online registrations, gauge interest, and provide customers with reminders when the event is coming up. Use Advertising Hashtags Display your bar’s hashtag in your dining space to encourage patrons to reference your bar on social media. Offer special promotions like bar discounts for those who use your hashtag and check in at your bar on social media. Turn it into a monthly photo contest by offering a gift card for the best photo that features your bar's name and hashtag. Work with Brand Advocates and Influencers Invite local influencers such as bloggers, politicians, and public figures to your location in exchange for a free drink and a bar review. Consider asking loyal customers or employees to act as brand advocates as well and talk about your bar on social media to help boost your bar advertising. Create a Bar Website Consider creating a website for your bar and signing up for local directories such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Trip Advisor. A website or listing can help a wider audience locate your establishment. You can use keywords on your website that include the name of your town or city, such as “bars in Manhattan,” to attract customers who are searching for new local places. Start a Blog and Newsletter Update your customers on new menu items or give them a behind-the-scenes look at your business by creating a bar blog or email newsletter. Include unique marketing ideas in your blog by adding videos, photos, and interviews to keep your customers engaged and feeling connected to your bar. Post regularly and add a call to action in your posts to bring customers into your bar. Get Your Bar on the Map Help locals and tourists find your bar by making sure your establishment shows up on the map. By adding your bar to Google My Business, it will also add your location to Google Maps. You can input your business information directly in the Waze app to have it listed on their map. To add your bar to Apple Maps, just visit the Apple Business Connect website. Host a Live Stream You can keep your customers connected with your business by using live video services like Facebook Live, Instagram Live, or Skype sessions. These services allow your customers to chat back and ask questions. During bar closures, bartenders can stream live cocktail-making tutorials and other mixology tips. 2. Bar Menu Promotions and Diversification One of the main factors that will attract customers to your bar is your cocktail and food menus. For that reason, it’s important to make your bar menu diverse and easily accessible online. Below, we cover a variety of ways you can diversify your menu and amplify your marketing efforts to reach new customers and audiences: Promote Your Bar Menu Online Placing your menu online is a great way to reach more customers in your area. Getting your menu indexed by Google will help your bar’s website appear in the first few search results when local customers are looking for a bar near them. You can also sign up for a SinglePlatform account which allows for your menu to be published on a wide range of search engines, review sites, and social media platforms, increasing your bar’s online visibility. Bar Alcohol Delivery and Take-Out Options With the availability of third-party delivery services, alcohol delivery has become one of the fastest growing bar trends. By offering cocktail carry-out or delivery options, customers can enjoy your bar's menu from the comfort of their homes. You can even create and sell cocktail kits, featuring all of the ingredients needed for a signature cocktail, so customers can recreate them at their leisure. Diversify Your Bar Menu Encourage patrons to stay at your venue by offering an all-inclusive environment with beverages and food. Consider pairing your bar food and drink specials together for additional deals. If customers hear about combined specials, they're more likely to buy both, increasing your overall sales. Keep in mind that venues not previously serving food may need to acquire a license or permit. Here are some appetizer ideas for bar-side snacking that your customers may enjoy: Onion Rings Chicken Wings Boneless Bites Potato Wedges Chips and Dip French Fries Bar Specials Ideas Since these staple foods are available at most bars, you'll need to add some menu variety to gain a competitive advantage against similar businesses. Try these bar specials to stay relevant and fresh! Daily Specials - Encourage patrons to try new drinks each time they visit. Happy Hour - Offering discounted drinks within a certain time window is a great way to fill your bar during slower shifts. Seasonal Specials - Offer event-inspired or seasonal beers and/or mixed drinks. Mystery Drink - You could occasionally offer a mystery beer or mixed drink. It'll pique your patrons' curiosity and have them guessing the unknown beverage. Private Sampling Party - Invite your loyal customers to an invite-only sampling for new drafts or signature drinks. Prior to the event, guests will be frequenting your bar in hopes of gaining an exclusive invite. Plus, it rewards loyal customers for their continued business. Punch Card Challenge - If your bar offers appetizers consider offering a punch card challenge or a loyalty program. For example, after buying nine appetizers, the 10th one is free! This contest encourages patrons to order food while having a drink. Signature Dish - Offer a signature dish that can’t be found in other bars in your area. You can try being the home of 6-foot-long subs or extra spicy chicken wings. This will give your bar a memorable edge. 3. Bar Entertainment Successful bars create an inviting environment that keeps patrons coming back for more. Beyond just serving food and drinks, your bar can be the location of social outings with the implementation of bar entertainment ideas such as games, activities, performances, and other bar events. Bar Games Adding bar games to your establishment is a great way to increase your customer base and boost sales. Encourage friendly competition by providing yard and game room equipment like darts, pool tables, lawn games, Foosball tables, games of chance, vintage arcade games, pinball machines, or board games. You can even hold tournaments and offer gift card prizes for the winners. Bar Music Consider bringing in special entertainment like a DJ or local talent to attract the community's support to your bar. It could be the first time some guests enter your venue, so you'll want to make a good impression. Additionally, many local performers are likely to have a fan base that will come to watch them and simultaneously discover your bar in the process. Here are some bar ideas for acts and entertainment to add to your lineup: Local DJs Bands Karaoke Nights Poetry Slams Open Mic Performances Comedians Plays and Theater Performance Improv Nights Dance Troupes Art Galleries Be sure to obtain the appropriate music licenses before hosting live performances in your establishment. Bar Activities Make your bar the go-to stop for group hangouts by hosting a variety of different activities. These are a few popular ideas for bars that can help attract customers to your location: Trivia Nights Hosting a trivia night is a fantastic way to attract new customers and create an interactive experience. Teams will compete against each other for prizes, creating a fun environment that all can enjoy. Trivia nights are extremely popular and don’t require a ton of effort to set up, making them an effective way to bring in new customers. Bar Olympics If you cater toward a predominately younger crowd, events like Bar Olympics could be a huge success. Bar Olympics contain many well-known drinking games such as flip cup, cornhole, and beer pong. These games don’t cost a lot to organize, and young patrons will surely have a blast. Classes Hosting a variety of classes is a great way to establish a connection with your patrons while providing something of value to them. Bartending classes teach young adults a valuable skill, and might even allow you to find your next great bartender. Alternatively, fun events like art and dance classes are a great way to try something unique at your bar and attract new customers. Audience Specific Events If you notice your bar hosts a specific type of crowd or caters to a target market, you may want to consider utilizing specific events targeted towards your audience. For example, if your bar frequently hosts college students, then you may want to consider hosting events for young singles or graduation parties for graduating seniors. Alternatively, if you want to position your bar as a family location, you can host several family-friendly days, offering special discounts for children’s meals. Themed Events Themed events are a fantastic way to draw a crowd to your bar and create a wonderful atmosphere. Events like Big Game celebrations and watch parties for local sports teams can bring massive crowds to your bar. Other events like decade parties create a unique and memorable atmosphere that customers will enjoy and want to come back for more. 4. Seasonal Bar Promotions and Calendar Events Along with themed events, you can use the calendar and food holidays to come up with some clever bar promotions and marketing plan ideas. Large, traditional holidays can be hectic and your patrons most likely already have plans. Instead, pick holidays that relate specifically to your customers and business. Consider these unique occasions for your bar: Beer Can Appreciation Day (Jan. 24) - Continue celebrating the new year by offering discounts on canned beers. Try serving uncommon and locally-brewed beers for beer can-collecting enthusiasts. National Irish Coffee Day (Jan. 25) - Bring Irish-themed celebrations to your bar by offering special Bailey's drinks in festive Irish coffee mugs. National Drink Wine Day (Feb. 18) - This day provides the perfect excuse to showcase your wine list for customers who may not be into beers or cocktails. World Cocktail Day (May 13) - Try out new drink special ideas on World Cocktail Day to test run recipes you’re considering adding to your menu. St. Patrick's Day (Mar. 17) - Deck out your bar with leprechaun green decorations for St. Patrick's Day parties. You can run Guinness specials, serve specific St. Patrick's Day foods, and add green coloring to specialty drinks. Cinco de Mayo (May 5) - Take advantage of drinking-related holidays. For Cinco de Mayo, try offering tequila and margarita drink specials, along with deals on guacamole, tacos, and burritos. National Chocolate Day (Oct. 28) - Offer delicious and unique mixed drinks like chocolate-rimmed cocktails, chocolate martinis, beers, and wines to celebrate this flavorful day. Oktoberfest (Early Oct.) - This may be a two-week festival occurring in Germany, but that doesn't mean you can't recognize the merriment of beer, food, music, and dancing by hosting an Oktoberfest celebration at your bar. First Day of the Season - Ring in each new season with a specialty drink and food menu. You can serve refreshing and floral cocktails for spring, add hotdogs and hamburgers to your summer menu, break out pumpkin and apple flavors for the fall, and switch up your bar list to winter beers when the colder months roll around. Your Bar’s Anniversary - Provide an opportunity for your customers to connect with your business by celebrating the anniversary of your opening and other milestones along the way with discounts and giveaways. 5. Bar Publicity and Partnerships Hosting a fundraiser or forming a partnership with a local company is an excellent way to give back to your community and increase your visibility. You may choose to: Host a Charity Night - Offer to give a portion of a specific night’s proceeds to a charity you have chosen. You can even have members of the charity act as waitstaff and bartenders for the evening to further enhance the partnership. Work with an Animal Shelter - Publicize pets available for adoption outside of your location. You could also work with the shelter to set up a stand and playpen with available animals right outside of your bar doors. The idea can be a win-win situation, attracting customers to your business while providing homes for pets in need. Host a Business Mixer - Invite local businesses to your bar for a business mixer. This event establishes important connections with other local businesses, creating important network connections. The companies and employees you host can also network with the other businesses present, creating a great situation for all. Partner with Local Breweries and Wineries - Working with local breweries and wineries in your area allows you to establish valuable connections in the industry. For example, you could run special deals on a brewery's products, giving them a lot of promotion. In the future, you'll likely be rewarded with discounts on that location's supplies or special treatment in the form of early access to new beverages. For these bar events, consider contacting the local media via press releases or radio advertisements. It may be helpful to even designate one staff member to serve as your public relations coordinator to ensure effective organization and promotion. Try out a few of these bar promotion ideas that best suit your customer base and see how they end up impacting your bottom line. Simply showing patrons you care about their safety is a great way to build loyalty and can help promote your bar. With a bit of advertising and creativity, your bar will get noticed by new patrons.
Does Alcohol Expire?
While unopened alcohol has an almost-indefinite shelf life, opened liquor does, in fact, expire. They won’t spoil in the same way that milk does, but liquors lose their flavor, coloring, and potency over time, leading to undesirable drinks for your customers. The lifespan of your alcohol bottles is going to depend on the type of liquor, its storage temperature, and light exposure. Most bottles are best if used within 6 months to 2 years after opening. As part of running a successful bar, it’s important to keep track of when liquor bottles are open so you are serving the highest quality drinks on your menu. Click below to learn more about the shelf life of a specific type of alcohol: 1. Vodka 2. Whiskey 3. Rum 4. Tequila 5. Bourbon 6. Gin 7. Brandy 8. Liqueurs 9. Wine 10. Beer Does Vodka Go Bad? Unopened vodka does not expire. Most vodkas have hardly any additives, so they can be stored almost indefinitely in a cool, dark place. Vodka producers will usually recommend using an unopened bottle within 30 to 50 years to experience its ideal potency and flavor. An opened unflavored bottle of vodka is shelf stable for about 10 to 20 years before the potency starts to break down with oxidation. This makes vodka a great option for well drinks. Flavored vodka has a shorter shelf life of around 3 months because the sugars in the liquid cause it to oxidize faster. Instead of using flavored vodka, pair your straight vodka with delicious flavoring syrups to customize your drink menu. Unopened Vodka Shelf Life: Indefinite Opened Vodka Shelf Life: 10 - 20 years; 3 months (if flavored) Does Whiskey Go Bad? Regardless of the type of whiskey, an unopened bottle will not expire. After barrel-aging, whiskey is securely bottled to keep air from altering the liquid. Its high alcohol by volume (ABV) protects it from bacteria and flavor depletion if stored in a cool, dry place. Although it is a durable spirit, an opened bottle of whiskey will start to expire within 6 months to 2 years after it is opened. The rate at which the flavors break down will depend on how much air is in the bottle. If the bottle is only half full, you can expect it to remain rather unchanged for 1 to 2 years. If it is only a quarter full or less, the flavors will break down within 6 months. Unopened Whiskey Shelf Life: Indefinite Opened Whiskey Shelf Life: 6 months (when 1/4 full) - 2 years (when 1/2 full) Does Rum Go Bad? If kept out of direct sunlight and in a cool setting, unopened rum can be stored almost indefinitely. It is considered a stable liquor with a high ABV to preserve its integrity while in storage. Once opened, a bottle of rum should be used within 6 months to 2 years, depending on the additional flavors in the liquor. While straight rum will typically retain its flavor profile for about 2 years, the sugars and spices in a flavored rum will interact with oxygen once the bottle is opened. You may notice the color, flavor, and potency shifts within 6 months of breaking the seal on your rum bottle. Rum can even develop a vinegary smell and slightly sour taste if used too long after opening. Unopened Rum Shelf Life: Indefinite Opened Rum Shelf Life: 6 months - 2 years Does Tequila Go Bad? Made from the agave plant, tequila is a stable alcohol that won’t go bad if left unopened. When stored in a cool, dark place, this Mexican liquor can maintain its flavor and strength for decades. If you’re running a tequila tasting, it is very important to know when your bottle was opened. Opened tequila should be used within a year of opening or else the flavor profile will be altered, creating an undesirable tasting experience. Tequila that has been open for too long will develop a sour taste and smell, so it is best to check the quality before serving it to your customer. Unopened Tequila Shelf Life: Indefinite Opened Tequila Shelf Life: 6 months - 1 year Does Bourbon Go Bad? Bourbon is a type of whiskey made from corn. It is shelf-stable indefinitely as long as it remains unopened. Once opened, the speed at which bourbon breaks down will depend on the amount of liquid in the bottle. The more air in the bottle, the shorter the shelf life. Use your open bottles of bourbon within 6 months to 2 years after breaking the seal. To help preserve its integrity, you can transfer some of the bourbon into smaller bottles to reduce its contact with oxygen and help stretch its shelf life after opening. Unopened Bourbon Shelf Life: Indefinite Opened Bourbon Shelf Life: 6 months - 2 years Does Gin Go Bad? Gin is made from botanicals like juniper, coriander, and angelica. Left unopened, gin can be stored for decades without change to its complex flavor profile or ABV. Because the flavor of gin relies heavily on its botanicals, you’ll want to use a bottle of gin within 6 months to a year after opening. Despite both being clear liquors, gin will lose its flavor more noticeably than vodka. Opened gin will lose its bold aroma and flavor profile as it oxidizes, leading to subpar martinis and tonic cocktails. Unopened Gin Shelf Life: Indefinite Opened Gin Shelf Life: 6 months - 1 year Does Brandy Go Bad? With an ABV of 35-60%, brandy remains shelf-stable for decades. Its high alcohol level keeps bacteria from growing in the liquor and protects its integrity when stored in a cool and dark environment. Open brandy won't go bad but it will lose its potency and flavor complexity within 6 months to 2 years of the seal being broken. Because brandy aficionados look to experience the full spectrum of the liquor's aroma and flavor, you’ll want to serve newly opened brandy bottles when performing a brandy tasting. Though brandy doesn’t really expire, it can be described as “going flat” if served too long after opening. Unopened Brandy Shelf Life: Indefinite Opened Brandy Shelf Life: 6 months - 2 years Do Liqueurs Go Bad? Liqueurs and cordials are usually strong and flavorful, featuring an array of ingredients. Their 40% or higher ABV keeps them from expiring as long as they remain unopened. Once exposed to air, the additional ingredients expedite the oxidation process, limiting their shelf life. Each liqueur is different, so adhere to the instructions on the bottle when looking for an expiration date and storage instructions. Most liqueur should be used within 6 months to a year after opening. While stable liquors mainly lose their potency and flavor after their seal is broken, liqueurs can spoil and grow bacteria over time. The more sugar in the beverage, the faster it will spoil. Keep your liqueur bottles out of direct sunlight and away from heat to preserve those bold flavors. Cream liqueurs should be stored in the refrigerator after opening to extend their shelf life. This also ensures that the cream liqueur is chilled and ready to serve. Always check your open liqueurs for discoloration, sediments, and any odd smells before serving to guests or you’ll risk an unpleasant after-dinner drink experience. Unopened Liqueurs Shelf Life: Indefinite Opened Liqueurs Shelf Life: 6 months - 1 year Does Wine Go Bad? We’ve all heard the expression, “aged like a fine wine,” but that doesn't mean that all wines have an indefinite shelf life. A wine that is pressed and prepared with the intent of being stored for decades undergoes a specific bottling process that helps preserve it for 20 to 50 years to come. Fine wines need to be stored in temperature-controlled dark cellars to maintain their peak flavor and aroma before being opened. This is why fine wines come with a high price tag. The average bottle of wine that is purchased at a distributor or grocery store will only retain its integrity for approximately 2 to 5 years because of its sugar content and lower ABV. Fortified wines will act more like liqueurs, having nearly indefinite shelf lives because of their high alcohol content. Once a bottle of wine is opened, it is a race against the clock before its flavor starts to turn. Oxygen opens up the tannins in wine, releasing a bacteria called acetobacter, which leads to the vinegar flavor. The darker and more full-bodied the wine, the longer it will last. You’ll still only get approximately 5 days out of an opened bottle of full-bodied red wine before it turns. To preserve the flavor of your open wine bottles for as long as possible, reseal the bottle after each pour and store it in a cool, dark place. Unopened Wine Shelf Life: 2-5 years (for standard wines); 20-50 years (for fine wines) Opened Wine Shelf Life: 1-5 days (depending on the color and body); 20-30 days (if fortified) Does Beer Go Bad? The shelf life of unopened beer will depend on whether it is pasteurized and how it is stored. If a beer was pasteurized before bottling, the flavor will keep for approximately 6 months to 1 year past its use-by date. Unpasteurized beer will only have a 3-month shelf life, making it essential not to overstock on craft beer. To make the most of its shelf life, beer should be kept in refrigerated storage. An open bottle or can of beer will go flat within a day of being opened. However, most beer connoisseurs don’t have any trouble finishing a glass of beer to be worried about the deterioration of a beverage. Knowing the freshness of a beer keg would be more of a concern in a bar setting. Unpasteurized kegs that are appropriately chilled and pressurized retain their freshness for only 6 to 8 weeks, while pasteurized kegs can last 3 to 4 months. Keep your keg lines clean to preserve the flavor quality of the beers you have on tap in your bar with every pour. Unopened Beer Shelf Life: 3 months (if unpasteurized); 6 months - 1 year (if pasteurized) Opened Beer Shelf Life: 1 day (for bottles and cans); 6-8 weeks (for unpasteurized kegs); 3-4 months (for pasteurized kegs) Back to Top How To Store Alcohol Properly To make sure you get the most time out of your alcohol, follow these alcohol storage tips: Control light and temperature: Keep bottles of alcohol in temperature-controlled storage areas away from sunlight. Heat and light cause the liquid in the bottle to evaporate, creating more room for oxygen to come in contact with the beverage. Oxygen breaks down an alcohol’s flavor and aroma. Don’t open a bottle until you’re ready to use it: Alcohol will start to deteriorate when it comes into contact with oxygen, so avoid opening the bottle before you need it. Reduce exposure to oxygen once opened: Once a seal is broken, don’t leave the bottle open. Remove liquor pourers from their bottles when you put them in storage to keep air from flowing into the bottle. Refer to the bottle or manufacturer: When in doubt, follow the instructions provided by the producer. Some liqueurs are best if refrigerated after opening, which should be specified on the bottle. Alcohol Expiration FAQs We answered some of the most common questions surrounding liquor expiration to help you manage your inventory. Does Unopened Liquor Go Bad? Most unopened bottles of liquor can remain in storage indefinitely without impact on their flavor and potency if stored in the proper condition. Base liquors like whiskey, vodka, rum, brandy, gin, and tequila usually don’t have a high enough sugar content in them to kickstart oxidation. Their high-alcohol levels keep bacteria from growing in the unopened bottles. If stored in a cool and dark place, sealed base liquors will be good for years to come. Once opened, base liquors will lose their integrity after about 6 months to 2 years. Consider using your older open liquor bottles for happy hour specials. What Happens If You Drink Expired Alcohol? Drinking expired alcohol won’t necessarily make you sick but it will lead to weak or oddly flavored drinks. There are some instances, like with liqueurs, where bacteria or mold may grow in the bottle which can lead to an upset stomach. Spoiled liquor may develop a vinegary smell and sour flavor. Always inspect the contents of a bottle before serving it to make sure the color looks correct and that there are no sediments in the liquid. If it looks or smells off, dump it. If you’re looking to open a bar, understanding the shelf life of the alcohol in your inventory is vital to the success of your business. Use our alcohol expiration guide to ensure that you’re serving top-quality drinks to turn your customers into regulars.