Running a bar business is not a walk in the park. In addition to congested markets and high opening costs, it’s no wonder bar owners are always looking for ways to increase restaurant sales and maximize their profit margin.
One of the most popular restaurant marketing strategies is happy hour. If you’ve never heard of this before, and you’re asking yourself, “What is happy hour?” Start with the basics, like “What time is happy hour?” and work your way up from there.
But, happy hours are nothing without drink specials. So, keep reading to discover some of the best happy hour drink specials you can make for every night of the week using all types of alcohol.
Sunday Drink Specials
Sunday is one of the most interesting days of the week for liquor sales. Since many people will be going back to work the next day, sales tend to taper off by the end of the night. This means focusing on selling more drinks earlier is key.
With that in mind, these are two Sunday drink specials:
First, you can craft football and other sports-themed drinks. As every sports bar can attest to, Sunday is game day in America. If you have televisions and are open for lunch, try to put on the biggest game in your region and use a Sunday-only drink menu. Just remember that you'll likely sell far more beer during this time than crafted drinks. So make sure your bartenders are well-versed in pouring beer.
Second, offering wine specials is a great way to keep margins higher when sales begin to slow down. After the sports crowd has left, many people are looking for a final, quiet night before the workweek begins. Wine is the perfect choice of drink to target since the wine alcohol content is much lower and it's great for relaxing. Put together the best wine list you have with a range of offerings to keep sales flowing.
Saturday Drink Specials
Like Sunday, Saturday is another big sports day in the U.S. Unlike Sunday, Saturday also has very strong sales going late into the night. This makes it the perfect day for increasing sales and targeting multiple demographics through drink specials.
First, you can target the late-night crowd with whiskey cocktails and beer. After a long day of college football games, these are the perfect drinks to get social with and many are already on the list of drinks every bartender should know. And, most people don't have to go to work the next day, so they're less concerned about the alcohol content.
Second, you should also put together a morning or early afternoon drink special list. Think mimosas or bloody Mary's. These are classic brunch drinks and a good way to start a fun weekend. This is especially true if your bar is in a city that regularly has tourists, where these drinks have even more appeal.
Friday Drink Specials
Friday marks the end of the average workweek and a great night for selling alcohol. Even better, it's good for selling higher-margin drinks and getting rid of inventory that's close to becoming dead stock. Here's how:
First, you should definitely be offering call drinks. Call drinks are cocktails crafted using high-end, name-brand liquor as opposed to the bottom-of-shelf stuff. These drinks are more expensive for the customer but offer a very high profit margin. Since Friday nights are usually one of the busiest nights of the week, this is the best time to make sure your bartenders know how to upsell.
You can also sell mystery drinks. Before we go into this, make sure you list any allergens in the alcohol being used. Nobody wants to cause an issue with a wine allergy in the bar. With proper allergy warnings in place, selling someone something mysterious to consume doesn’t have to be a disaster. It can be fun! Have a bartender whip up something delicious … and mysterious. Sell it as a mystery drink. If someone can guess the 2 or 3 main ingredients in it, they get a free well cocktail, domestic draft, or house wine as an effective LTO.
Thursday Drink Specials
Thursday is the first night of the week where bars and restaurants usually begin to see an uptick in sales. However, it's not always as profitable as Friday and the weekend.
With that in mind, here are two Thursday drink specials:
First, you should focus on well drinks. These are cocktails made using lower-cost well liquor stored out of sight in the bar. These are usually the most popular cocktails because they're priced lower than top-shelf options. They're a good choice for Thursdays because college-aged drinkers are often the most populous group on Thursdays. You can sell more drinks to this demographic if they're lower-priced and increase overall sales.
Second, you can create batch drinks. This drink special idea is fun for guests and easy for bartenders. It can give them more time to tackle other bartender duties. It's also got a low liquor cost and uses up your dead stock inventory. If you have a case of red wine you can’t sell, make a batch of sangria. This will make up for any losses from your wine bottle price. On the nights you make your batch cocktail, set the alcohol price right around your normal beer pricing and watch it sell.
Wednesday Drink Specials
Wednesdays can be hit or miss, so it's safer to err on the side of low-cost drink specials. In bulk, you'll still have a good profit margin and you won't waste any ingredients if you don't sell a ton.
For that purpose, we recommend “ready-to-drink” (RTD) cocktails. The RTD cocktail is now a serious phenomenon. Especially among the younger crowd. Cucumber gin fizzes, rosé spritzers, you name it. You can find a canned cocktail version of any classic cocktail and virtually all their delicious permutations. And it's a heck of a lot faster for your bartenders to make—no mixing, no free pouring, no nothing.
Put some on your regular drink menu using menu engineering and offer them at a discount on a canned cocktail night. It's a drink special sure to speak to the millennial crowd and the margin is great. Just make sure to use our pour cost calculator to maximize your return.
Tuesday Drink Specials
Tuesdays can be a difficult day to bring traffic into your bar, so it's a good day for testing out different drink specials and offerings. One of the more unique happy hour ideas is using bar tokens.
Bar tokens are essentially a fake currency you can sell any night of the week but only accept as payment for drinks during certain periods. These tokens have been around for centuries, but aren't very common anymore. Have a night when you offer a free or half-price drink when you buy one. Then, when someone buys a drink, they get a token for immediate or later use. They can even save their tokens to use during the next token night.
Monday Drink Specials
Monday is one of the best days to offer happy hour drinks. That's because Monday is generally the slowest sales day for bars. This means it's a great day to push lower-cost options.
The main drink special you should run on Mondays is a discounted happy hour special. Specifically, you should target well drinks and offer a discount for a longer period of time than you would on another night. Monday Margaritas is a great choice. You can make them in bulk using low-cost tequila and keep prices low for three to four hours to bring in the after-work crowd.
Isn't That Special?
Creating a series of rotating drink specials is a great way to keep demand high and maximize your inventory usage. You can also increase the price of non-happy hour best-sellers to further increase your revenue.
In addition to these cocktail offerings, you can also maximize your margins by using bar inventory software like BinWise Pro. Book a demo and let us walk you through exactly how BinWise turns liquor and bar inventory from a chore into a blessing.