Many of the guests that you will welcome at your B&B will be on holiday, so it’s likely that they will expect to be able to wind down with an alcoholic drink. If you’re going to be serving evening meals, offering alcoholic drinks is particularly important – although you’ll need a license in order to serve alcohol. With cocktails being the fashionable beverages of the moment, we take a look at how you can use these popular tipples in this guide, as well as other classic alcoholic drinks, to leave a lasting impression on your visitors.
1. Quality over quantity
Cocktail-making is an art that can be particularly difficult to master. With this in mind, it might be worth attending a course, if you want to brush up on your skills and successfully imitate Tom Cruise in Cocktail. Doing so will enable you to serve a large variety of fancy drinks and prepare them to a consistently high standard. Alternatively, you could make use of the many resources out there on the internet and teach yourself how to make a small, select number of crowd-pleasing cocktails. If you’re inexperienced, it’s better to start small and practice making a few, instead of offering every cocktail under the sun and winging it.
2. The first sip is with the eye
Presentation is undoubtedly one of the most important factors when it comes to preparing and serving cocktails. The garnish you choose to give your cocktails – that all-important finishing touch – plays a large part in this. Some of the most popular garnishes include edible flowers, a sprig of herb or a wedge of fruit. However, the one you choose is largely dependent upon the type of cocktail you’re making.
Another possibly more important element of style and practicality is the type of glassware you choose to serve your drinks in. Most cocktails have a specific glass they are served in, for example, a bellini is usually served in a champagne flute, and an espresso martini sits in a cocktail glass. If you don’t want to invest in lots of different types of glass, maybe stick to a couple of types of cocktail and serve them properly. You could always experiment later with different twists on the classics you do serve to keep things interesting.
3. Make it your own!
To set your guesthouse apart from the competition, why not experiment and create your own signature cocktail? A unique cocktail may not only earn you a reputation, but it could also become the next big thing. Think of what flavours or spirits you’d like to include on your menu and how you can incorporate these into classic cocktails. Is there a local gin or sparkling wine you could use in your drinks? Or perhaps you could give your menu a theme – a guesthouse by the sea could serve marine-themed cocktails! Feel free to get creative and try out a number of mixes to see what tickles your guests’ fancy. You could even host a cocktail making evening for inspiration!
That said, you’d also be wise to include a handful of classic cocktails that are instantly recognisable. These could include firm favourites, such as Tequila Sunrise, Pina Colada and Manhattan.
4. Festive treats
At certain periods throughout the year, you could also consider adding an extra dimension to your menu by offering seasonal drinks. Come Christmas time, beverages such as mulled wine, mulled cider and Winter Pimms will add a festive feel to your menu. Christmas-themed cocktails will go down a treat for guests who are in the festive mood, while light and summery drinks will suit guests who’d like to soak up some rays while sipping on a cocktail in summer.
5. High-quality ingredients
While it may be tempting to keep costs as low as possible, it’s worthwhile using branded spirits as opposed to supermarket own brand varieties. Guests will probably be able to taste the difference, and it would be a waste to spend money on mixers and bitters if their main purpose is to cover the acidic taste of cheap spirits! When you’re looking at mixers and fruit, quality always has to be paramount! This may seem like this is costing you more in the short-term, but it is little touches like these that can have a positive impact upon your reputation, and ultimately persuade more customers to come through the door.
6. Wine makes guests feel fine
It goes without saying that wine is one of the most popular alcoholic drinks, so you should invest some time into choosing a white, red and rosé wine for your guesthouse. If you’re planning on serving evening meals, stocking a selection of white, red and rosé wines of varying qualities and prices that complement the dishes you offer is highly recommended. A good house wine will be popular by the glass, whereas more expensive wines can be sold by the bottle to increase your margins.
If you’re planning on serving cuisine from a particular country or area of the world, we’d recommend stocking at least one type of wine from that very same place. It’s also a good idea to have some wine pairings up your sleeve for when guests ask you for recommendations. If you build a reputation for wine you could even host a wine tasting event and hire a sommelier for the evening to teach your guests.
Depending on the size of your guesthouse, you might want to consider offering beer and lager either on draught or in bottles. If you’re a small establishment, opt for one or two beers by popular brands, while larger guesthouses could benefit from offering a more varied selection. This could include both light and dark beers from different countries, as well as ales from the local area.
If beer is more your thing than wine, really go to town on it – offer guest ales and a changing beer menu to keep things interesting. You could use the opportunity to showcase local craft beers and maybe even strike up a relationship with a brewery to get discounted ale in exchange for promoting their brand. You could even invite them to host a beer tasting one evening for lucky guests.
8. Surprise and delight
One of the best ways to ensure that your guests have a great stay and are eager to book again is by treating them to a complimentary drink. This could be a pre-dinner aperitif, a glass of sparkly on arrival, or even a whole bottle of fizz in the room if they’re celebrating a special occasion, such as an anniversary or birthday.
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