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Frozen Cocktails Translate to Cold Hard Cash!
By Todd M. Griffith

Machine As restaurateurs, we all strive to create a unique dining experience for our guests which boasts quality food and beverage products for a fair and reasonable price, and quality service which encourages our guests to visit us again. Behind the scenes, there are many issues and responsibilities which we deal with on a daily basis in order to provide this service to our customers. At the same time, we must be profitable so that we may continue to provide these goods and services on a long term basis.

One of the keys to remaining successful is to strive to develop our menu offering, not only for food but for beverage as well. But this is only the first step. In addition to deciding what to offer, we must creatively yet subtly promote those items in order to achieve their maximum potential. Frozen cocktails are just one of many items which should be considered when analyzing beverage category participation in our bottom line profits. And when considered on an ounce per ounce basis, frozen cocktails are the highest profit beverage that we can offer. Who would have ever known that you could sell a twelve ounce frozen cocktail costing only forty cents for five-dollars a glass! Is it the quality of the product, or is it really the image that the product portrays? A strange thing happens when you freeze a cocktail - you can charge more. The value perception of the drink increases dramatically.

Many restaurant operations, chain and independent alike, are most successful in cross promoting frozen cocktail products within their own unique operations and theme environments. Although the traditional categories of Daiquiris, Margaritas, and Pina Colada’s still comprise approximately 70% of category sales, creativity behind the bar now allows customers to enjoy a full array of frozen cocktails in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic form. Not only have the products changed, but the delivery systems have also been subject to evolution and technology. Blenders have begun to make way to more sophisticated equipment which now has operators in a position of deciding whether or not to make the investment in frozen cocktail equipment.

Most frozen cocktail machines may range in price from $3000 to $5000 depending upon the specific features and production capacity of the equipment. This can be a substantial investment, but really very minimal when we analyze the daily Break-Even of an average figure of $3.50 to $5.00 per day, (the margin made with one or two servings).

Bar and service staff are predominately tip compensated employees, and if given a choice of two options, they will most likely gravitate toward the easiest route. Let's be serious -- when was the last time you witnessed your bartender suggestively selling a frozen cocktail? Bartenders can serve ten beers in the time that it takes to make one frozen cocktail with the traditional blender. Technology now makes the job easier by allowing them to simply pull a handle and have a frozen cocktail as quickly as they can serve other products. They make more money in gratuities, and they sell and promote these products which offer so much profit potential to our operations.

Promotion of frozen cocktails is also necessary in order to fully capitalize on this product category. Many product manufacturers provide materials at no cost to the operator in order to assist in the advertising and promotion of their products. Some may even support menu development with financial support provided they are able to display their brand on the menu. Creativity in merchandising and suggestive selling will surely impact your bottom line in a positive manner, and remember, there are merchandising methods that will fit into any dining establishment, from white table cloth to mid-scale and theme restaurants.

Savvy restaurateurs need to also consider frozen cocktails in a non-alcoholic format. This allows us to expand our beverage menu, and potentially increase guest participation while increasing our check averages by selling a high margin item in lieu of an alternative beverage with a significantly lower margin.

Frozen cocktails certainly offers our operations a significant and profitable category in our beverage presentation. To our customers, they offer a unique product with an extremely high value perception. If promoted and merchandised properly, frozen cocktails can help to put us a step closer to our goals and objectives of achieving a successful blend of product, service, and success.

Todd Griffith is a Manufacturers' Representative for SaniServ Manufacturing Corporation, and a Consultant to the Foodservice Industry.

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