Updated: May 20, 2020
In this age of COVID-19 (and I promise not to use the word "unprecedented" or "pivot"), it's important to be able to maintain what makes your brand so special and give guests the same "at home" experience for beverages for the on-premise. While some may think this is an obstacle, this could actually be a wonderful opportunity to "delight & surprise" potential customers and guests at restaurants and bars. They may expect the traditional obligatory beverage to-go with their meal (equivalent of what they may get going through a drive-through) ... but what if the experience was more than that? What if they were cocktails or drinks that they could ONLY get and experience in this way? Much like they experience at your bar or in the dining room.
The consumers's mind-set may be changing and evolving; they may be more hesitant and/or not have the same kind of in-dining spending habits they once had, but that doesn't mean they won't crave those unique dining and beverage experiences that they are not able to get anywhere else.
Packaging is an important part of the experience. As curb-side and "to-go" are ramping up, one approach is to look at this in the same way as the off-premise folks do - standing out. I would recommend thinking beyond the standard clear plastic or wax lined paper cups and look towards containers that are unique, possibly reusable and will maintain its integrity for a few days vs a few hours.
These are beverages and cocktails that are ready to drink right out of the container. These can come in a wide variety of cost-effective and re-usable packaging from 187ml champagne bottles to sleek, bullet-style bottles to disposable pouches.
* Tropical Mai Tai
* Sparkling Espresso
* Carbonated Paloma
Creative labeling and packaging can really make the drinks and beverages stand out. (We can create customizable peel-off labels so you could potentially offer a discount to guests that bring them back in to be re-filled; something off-premise wouldn't be able to manage.) Below are some great examples of ready-to-drink packaging and labeling.
Cocktail & Drink Kits
These entail the ingredients to make a cocktail or drink at home in just a few steps. These can include a bottle of alcohol, proprietary or pre-bottled mixes, garnishes, etc.
So much room for creativity and point of differences here. Below are few fun kits ideas:
* Garden Fresh Mojito
* Pineapple Infusion Kit
* DIY Boba Tea Kit
* Lava Colada Kit
* DIY Flavortime Lemonade Kit (for kids)
* DIY Barrel-aged Manhattan Kit
* Sangria Kit
Kits are a little more DIY. They can be a little more experiential -- loads of opportunities for fresh and creative ideas. One thing to be mindful of ... it requires some operational know-how on the employee side (building the kits) and some visual instructions for the at-home consumer.
Below is a recent example of the collateral for a Garden Fresh Mojito Kit. This is an illustrative step-by-step guide for the at-home consumer.
Making "To-Go" Cool
You know how you have that great cocktail that goes across the room – you know the one, the head-turner, that makes people want one just seeing it being delivered? Take that same attitude towards your to-go packaging and carriers. It’s not just a means to an end, but it can also be a selling point.
There are a variety of carriers and packages out there. With some creative prints and labeling, this can be a unique Point-of-Sale.
One can also explore some customized and logo'd re-usable carriers - perhaps sell them or offer them as incentives for guests when they reach a sales milestone. It encourages them to keep coming back with all kinds of other perks.
One of the challenges of current carriers and totes is that most are intended for wine and beer, limiting options to those packages that have wine and beer bottle dimensions. NOTE: We've created a custom carrier, specifically for cocktail and beverage kits that could incorporate a wide variety of bottle shapes, sizes and weights.
There is a lot to consider when actually creating the recipes that go in the bottle, pouch, etc. For many restaurants, making a cocktail behind the bar requires shaking, stirring, or poured over ice as well as in your glassware which is of a specific size and shape. You can't guarantee that your guest at home will be using the same techniques and glassware. It's important to take all of those elements into consideration.
Tip! When planning your batching and recipes … plan to sell out, especially in the beginning. Plan for 30% less than what you think you might sell, and then sell-out. This will give you some good runway in being able to scale without taking the chance of waste and additional labor that you may not need. Plus, it creates demand. Your margins need to be razor sharp, especially in the beginning when ramping this relatively new concept up – there are so many unknowns, so start small and plan to sell out. If you sell out, great! Continue to scale up slowly until you get a good handle on what your volume will be.
Tip! Clarified Cocktails … this is a technique that has usually been reserved for craft cocktails bars.The technique uses a protein, like agar or milk to clarify
(make clear) the contents. This was a common practice a few hundred years ago in making the famous “milk punches”. It has a ”cool” factor in that the final product is translucent and clear, but it also softens the harder alcohol elements and tannins. The real added benefit here for restaurants is that once clarified, they are shelf stable! So, this can be managed effectively with little to no waste. It also extends the shelf life for the end-consumer. A Crystal Clear Margarita, anyone?
The Evolution of the At-Home Experience
More and more restaurants & bars have been hosting virtual happy hours, tastings with distillers and beyond. This could also be a great opportunity to expand and evolve the “at-home” experience with your guests.
Perhaps, schedule and program a weekly series of virtual tastings and events with your guests that includes a “tasting kit” they can only purchase at your store for a limited time. OR, perhaps there is a “VR” experience of a wine or spirit tasting and being able to actually walk through a vineyard or distillery drinking the glass of what they actually produced. Or, there is a "celebration champagne kit" complete with bubbles and cupcakes.
The possibilities are limitless, but these are creative ways to engage your guests from home in unique ways.
We're launching a new initiative, Good 2-Go Bev. It's a one-stop shop for to-go beverage needs, from bottles to pouches to carriers to recipes and instructions and all the details in between including ideas for LTO's and other "at-home" experiences you can provide.
Part of the challenge of doing to-go beverages (particularly for those restaurants that haven't really done it before) is getting the right balance of labor, waste management and profit margin. Now more than ever, you need those margins to be sharp. We're here to help.