The most important factor in getting a Michelin Star is the top-quality cuisine. Different types of chefs can help you earn it, but you should know there's no such thing as Michelin Star chefs. Although they are a big factor, your restaurant can stay in the Michelin Star Guide even if your head chef leaves the restaurant.
The type of food is not as important as the quality of the ingredients and the way flavors complement each other. That’s why beverages can be overlooked when striving to get a Star (see: what is a Michelin Star).
However, beverage management is incredibly important. Although beverages won’t be judged by the anonymous reviewers, they can improve their overall customer experience. Beer, cocktail, wine, and tea pairing options can make a difference. People consume with all their senses and although not listed as a deciding factor, a beverage can help you make a better impression on the reviewers.
After we’ve covered alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in previous articles, it’s time to talk about creating a signature cocktail. While it’s not a necessity, it would be a competitive advantage to have a signature drink, created specifically for your restaurant. Having something special made for your menu will also help with inventory organization. In addition, it could be a plus if you are asking yourself "how to earn a Michelin Star?" (see also: "how do you lose a Michelin Star" for more useful info)
Let’s dive deeper into the world of signature cocktails for Michelin restaurants!
Why a Signature Cocktail Will Make a Difference
As already mentioned, a signature cocktail can set you apart from the competition. As a restaurant owner, you should always find ways to be different from the rest, and having your own drink is one way to do it.
A signature drink should match the concept of the restaurant and tie together your menu, and the restaurant branding. Every bartender can mix a classic drink and they should do that too. However, creating something unique to your restaurant can bring in more customers. It can be seasonal for an added sense of exclusivity.
One important thing to keep in mind as a business owner is that more and more people choose experience over convenience or the well-known. Take full advantage of this to make dining at your restaurant even more memorable! Don’t only make your seafood dishes unique, for example, but also invest in your beverage program and cocktail menu.
Key Takeaway: Creating a signature cocktail is time-consuming and challenging, but it’s worth it. Serving a unique drink that matches the food and concept of the place can be a true game changer.
Where to Start When Creating a Signature Drink
A signature cocktail is one of the best ways to present your style and the concept of the restaurant (whether a Michelin Star restaurant or not). But starting from scratch can be overwhelming, even when you work with a professional mixologist. That’s why you should start thinking about it from the perspective of the clients you have and the food you serve. Even if you use different types of menu for every season, you probably have a signature dish. What would go well with that dish? Or maybe with all of the most commonly ordered dishes you serve?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you when looking for a starting point. In addition to that, of course, consult with a cocktail expert. Try different combinations and see how they look, how they pair with your Michelin-star cuisine, and whether or not they go with the branding of your restaurant.
How to Create a Signature Cocktail
When creating a signature cocktail, you can follow a few steps. There’s a formula for making a drink taste good to follow even when you are coming up with something unique. Here’s how to approach it!
1. Choose Spirits Guests Would Like
In general, when creating a menu, planning a beverage program, and even sourcing ingredients, you have to think about the customer first. It’s not about what you like most. It’s about what the people visiting your restaurant would love!
Gather some information with the help of your bar staff. Do your customers like brown spirits like bourbon or rum, or do they prefer white spirits like vodka? Think about the color of the alcohol as well, as it may be important to stay on brand.
2. Pair the Spirit with a Special/Seasonal Ingredient
You can take two routes. Selecting a seasonal ingredient would mean that you will either have to serve the signature drink only at certain times of the year, or you should source the ingredients from other locations.
Try adding one or two special ingredients to the spirit you want to work with. Using different amounts would give you different results as well. Don’t be afraid to try different combinations to narrow down your options.
3. Add More Ingredients
Once you have the special or seasonal ingredients selected, try adding another one or two ingredients to the mix. Experiment with alcohol-based ingredients like vermouth and liqueurs. When a balanced flavor is achieved, you can add the drink to your prospects list.
4. Glassware and Garnish
Proper glassware and garnish that will complement the look of the drink are very important. After all, people care about the look of things too. And when it comes to your signature cocktail, you have to make sure it’s truly unique.
Experiment with different glasses and garnish until you find the preferred look. A good-looking, delicious cocktail will make a difference for your guests, so all the time spent making it will be worth it!
5. Try It Out
If you are unsure which of the great cocktails you created to make your special offer, and a signature drink to your restaurant, have a trial period. Serve a few of the options you like best and see how customers react. Which one is liked the most by customers? Gather as much feedback as you can before making a permanent decision for your custom drinks!
Frequently Asked Questions about Signature Drinks in Restaurants
Whether you already have become a Michelin Star restaurant or you aspire to get one, drinks should not be overlooked. Yes, you should focus on perfecting the cuisine that’s being served at your restaurant but drinks can be game changers, too.
If you want to improve the customer experience in your restaurant, and you have some questions regarding signature cocktails, we are here to help!
Do I Need a Signature Cocktail for My Restaurant?
You should add a signature cocktail to your restaurant’s menu to set your business apart from the competition. Don’t overlook the importance of a well-planned beverage program!
The delicious food served at your restaurant needs to be served with drinks that complement it. Food and beverage pairings can make or break the experience of customers, so investing time and money into creating a signature drink that goes well with the signature dishes will be to your advantage.
Does Glassware Matter When Serving a Signature Drink?
Yes, stylish glassware is important when serving a signature cocktail. Don’t forget that people choose things based on looks most of the time. When you are picking glassware for your restaurant, you should look into stylish and even more unique options.
In addition to that, the garnish of the signature drink is something to think about as well. In the end, you should have a beautiful cocktail that people will want to try and even take a picture of!
Can I Change the Signature Drink of My Restaurant?
It’s not recommended to change the signature drink often unless you have seasonal signature options on the menu. If you are not following seasonality, it’s not recommended to change the signature drink all that often as it would be confusing for customers.
Also, a signature drink is supposed to match your restaurant’s branding, to go well with the dishes you offer, and to be memorable and unique. Once you choose a cocktail to be your signature one, stick to it unless you are changing the concept of your restaurant.