The Guide to Cocktail Menus



So, you’re putting the finishing touches on a new menu for your bar, after weeks or even months of exhaustive and costly research and development, and are bursting with excitement to share your vision with the world. “This menu is going to fucking annihilate the universe," you think. “It will place us atop the mountain of the world’s greatest bars and we will rain clarified, lactofermented everything down upon humanity while doing our part to save the planet and foster peace on earth….what could go wrong?” Well, as it turns out, quite a lot. After over a dozen years of working with cocktails and bartenders around the world, and making a ridiculous amount of mistakes in the process, I have identified, at least I think, some general do’s and don’ts for cocktail menus. Do heed my advice and consider these factors when creating your next menu, or don’t, and risk being sucked into the menu abyss.


Audience The first (and most important) factor to consider when creating a menu should always be the audience. In order to determine exactly who your audience is, ask yourself a couple of questions: Where is my bar located in the world? and Who is my clientele? Are you working in a city with a rich and storied cocktail history such as New York, London or San Francisco, where the general drinking public is well versed or are you working in a newer market, where cocktails have only recently become relevant? In historically strong cocktail cities almost anything is fair game, so long as it’s well executed, and competition is intense, so bars must stay one step ahead by being innovative and original. A men