Are your bartenders going rogue with recipes?
Platform features
By Dan Bignold
Jan 24th, 2020
Staff not following a venue’s cocktail specs, every night, for months, will do serious damage to your bottom line. Train them to stop now.

Weeks spent finalising a pouring contract with your supplier. Their dry gin is – now – perfectly priced, thanks to agreed discounts based on target purchase volumes. Your new cost of goods sold on the gin’s signature cocktail is going to leave you with a healthy margin, so with menus updated and printed, and staff briefed to sell the sh** out of the drink, you look forward to checking the numbers at the end of the week.

That time comes, and – hell, yeah – the drink has been absolutely flying. But, wait, what’s this? When you come to stock take, you’ve only shifted about half the expected volume of the spirit. Meanwhile, a gin flavoured with juniper from Canada’s boreal forests and elk velvet from Alaska – interesting, somewhat unbalanced, eye-wateringly expensive – is all but gone. Wtf?

At next staff meeting, all is very quickly revealed. You ask each bartender how they like to make the drink, and new recruit Jim enthusiastically jumps in with his own take. He reckons the savoury notes pop much better if you swap out the London dry and pour the elk gin, whose competition (you now learn) he won at his last job. “That wet-nose animal scent, almost musty backbone… I don’t know, some people find it challenging but I really like it. Anyway, guests love the label.”

Your target volume for the week is shot. Your price discount increasingly unlikely. And your profit taken another dent. “Oh, and I like to bump the gin up to 60mls,” adds Jim, cheerfully. “You know, to give it a bit more kick.”

At this point, you’d probably like to give Jim a bit of a kick. But a more constructive response might be to look again at your training, and in particular what tools you’ve got in place to help bar staff make house cocktails correctly, and to the right specs. Once a week, face-to-face training would be a great start. But can you guarantee the whole team can be in the same place at the same time? And can you get through the entire new menu in one session? Even if you do, how can you cement the training through regular reviews?

Your target volume for the week is shot. Your price discount increasingly unlikely. And your profit taken another dent

And it’s not just new signatures that need to be taught and carefully controlled. Making sure all bartenders precisely follow specific venue specs for classic cocktails is the fastest way to protect profit. These high-frequency drinks are your bread and butter, the most common vehicles for the contract spirits in your speed well. A staff member who is properly trained won’t waste booze by over-pouring in a Margarita, or blow out your COGS by grabbing a top-shelf tequila. Your outlet makes the most out of its agreed purchase prices, and stays compliant with any pouring contract.

This is where Small Batch Learning’s Virtual Menu tool can help. This feature (freely available to all users) allows managers to create an online breakdown of their real-life menu or stocklist – called a Virtual Menu – to which they can add all the products and recipes sold in their outlet, and then assign staff to train on it. With signature recipes, managers can author their own specs, including precise ingredient amounts and correct brands. For classics, a manager can customize a recipe from Small Batch’s own training library, adjusting the specs and brands to match their venue.

A staff member who is properly trained won’t waste booze by over-pouring, or blow out your COGS by grabbing a top-shelf tequila 

And since an outlet’s Virtual Menu can be accessed by staff anywhere and at any time, on our mobile-friendly eLearning platform, you don’t have to worry about the logistics of getting all staff together for a group training session. (Although of course, we always recommend backing up online training with face-to-face sessions too.)

Here’s a walk-through for adding or customising a classic from Small Batch Learning’s ready-written library of classic cocktails.

And here’s a quick demo of how it works for adding your own signature recipe that you've already:

Looks easy right? If you’re interested in testing Small Batch Learning’s free online training for beverage service yourself, send us an enquiry here. And once you’ve tested and are happy with the platform, you can invite Jim to the platform to start getting those specs right.

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