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Creating a Cocktail Menu: Your Guide


Did you know that the humble cocktail first got its start right here in America? Cocktail culture didn’t take root until the 19th century, thanks to the birth of Sazerac as the world’s very first cocktail.

Since there are few things as American as fun foods and drinks, it should come as no surprise that our national cocktail menu grew fast—or that there’s no way to know how many cocktail variations currently exist!

If you’re ready to jump into the world of cocktail design, or if you simply want to figure out which tried-and-true choices should be on your menu, you’ve come to the right place. Here are the five key steps you’ll need to take if you want to put together a killer cocktail menu.

1. Consider Your Clients

Before you dive too deep into your cocktail drinks menu, think about your clients. Your drinks should cater to the tastes of your current or ideal patrons, so consider their tastes in your design.

Do you see a lot of college students from the nearby university, or do you get more office workers coming in after their 9-to-5? Is your venue packed with financial analysts and lawyers coming during lunch breaks, or are you busier with the late-club nightclub crowd? Figure out your audience and try to get hard data about their preferences.

2. Decide How Many Cocktails to Offer

Depending on the size of your venue and what you’ve learned in step one, you’ll want to decide how many cocktails to offer. As a general rule of thumb, six to twelve can be a good range for the average establishment, but again—this depends on your usual customers.

You’ll also want to keep this number in mind if you’re going for labor-intensive drinks that require a great deal of mise en place and prep work. If you’re getting fancy, fewer is better!

3. Play With Your Recipes

The fun part comes when you get to play with ingredients to make up your cocktails! From the best flavoured gin to the perfect liqueurs, make sure to have quality ingredients on hand as you design your menu.

As you get to work, make sure you do your research on the ins and outs of cocktail recipes. You may find it helpful, for example, to start from a standard cocktail family or formula and go from there.

4. Go Wild With Your Names

Everyone loves a custom cocktail name, and the right name can get your customers tempted before they see the drink itself. Brainstorm with your staff to find the right names for your venue’s energy and atmosphere. If you’re stuck, follow some tried-and-true naming tips to get started.

Don’t forget, of course, to add a text description to your menu to allow guests to understand what they’re getting into!

5. Find the Right Design

It all comes together with the right cocktail menu template! You’ll need to consider the placement of your drinks on the page, the spacing, and how the design fits in with your venue’s overall theme. Take time to consider the design basics before you get too far in.

Design the Perfect Cocktail Menu

Though it may seem intimidating at first, finding the perfect drinks and the right cocktail menu design isn’t an impossible task. With a little forethought and consideration—and plenty of taste testing—you’ll be able to land on a finished menu that works for your restaurant or bar.

Want more of the helpful guides you need in life? Check out our other posts for more insightful tips!

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