How to create a professional-looking drinks menu for your bar or restaurant

Want to create a professional-looking drinks menu for your bar or restaurant, and attract more customers? Here are eight tips you can’t ignore.

No restaurant or bar is complete without a drinks menu filled with unique and delicious drinks. It’s one of the first things customers see when they visit your website or when seated at your establishment, making it an essential tool for running your business.

But how should you present your drinks menu? And what should you include in it (and leave out…) to make it as tempting as possible for customers to order?

Eight tips for creating an outstanding drink menu

To help you put together the perfect drinks menu for your restaurant or bar, here are eight tips.

1) Consider your clientele

Your drink menu should cater to your customer base. Ask yourself what type of crowd funnels into your establishment at lunch, dinner, and after-hours. Are they college students, stockbrokers, or sports fans? Does the crowd change depending on the date or time? It’s important to think about the reasons why people are drinking at your business as well as the who and when.

2) Create a QR code menu

For most establishments, it’s best to offer a separate drink menu that stands out from the food menu. Having a smaller, compact menu just for alcoholic beverages will be easier to navigate and can be left on the table after ordering.

QR code menus, or ‘digital beer menus’ in this context, offer an exciting interactive way for guests to choose their drinks, and to interact with your bar. You can even create a special QR code for a special event or promotional item.

With a service like Untappd for Business, you can even link up your QR code menu with a robust beer database, which will offer recommendations to your customers as they scroll down your menu.

3) Don’t go overboard

Unless your restaurant gimmick revolves around the large number of cocktails you offer, it’s better to put a limit on your options. You don’t want to overwhelm your customers, but at the same time, there should be enough variety to keep things interesting. Most drink menus will keep ten to twelve popular beer, wine, and cocktail options on a rotating basis.

4) Add non-alcoholic drinks

Designated drivers and alcohol abstainers can still feel included in your establishment if you offer non-alcoholic drinks. These drinks can either be virgin variants of cocktails you already have on the menu or different options entirely. You could also add low-alcohol drinks that are mixed with sparkling wine or beer. Ensure they’re clearly labeled to avoid consumer confusion.

5) Include drink descriptions

Aside from presenting your customers with irresistible cocktails like these recipes from Liquor Laboratory, it is important that you elaborate on what each one is comprised of in order for your patrons to know exactly what they are ordering.

At the same time, many restaurants will use different brands of alcohol or touches to a drink that makes the concoction their own. When writing your cocktail menu, don’t forget about individual flourishes and vivid descriptors that make the drink sound irresistible.

6) Strategically format your prices

Have you ever wondered why you see $9.99 more often than $10.00? Although both prices are logically the same, our brains pick up the $9.99 price as being much cheaper than ten dollars. Be sure to apply this strategy to the menu, but don’t forget to drop the dollar sign (puts focus off of the price) and place your most costly drinks at the top to encourage a pricer purchase.

7) Never list calories

The last thing anyone wants to think about on a fun night out is how many calories they’re consuming. While there’s nothing wrong with staying fit and healthy, listing calories on drink items can dampen our spirits. If you still want to offer lower-calorie options, create a section in your menu that includes slimmer drinks or beers, like gluten-free drinks or ones with less sugar.

8) Emphasize your best sellers

To make high-profit items more noticeable, create negative space around them by separating them in a box. You can also make use of larger text, a picture/graphic, or colorful illustrations that instantly draw the eye. Only use this method with a couple of items, or you’ll lessen the impact. Feel free to choose a few drinks per category or page to ensure this method stays effective.

Photo by Ash Edmonds