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To promote and serve: memorable beverage promotions attract guests and keep them coming back.

At some chains, the reigning beverage philosophy is "if you serve it, they will come." But rows of bottles on the back bar, stacked wine on a shelf and a long line-up of taps aren't always enough to stay in the black. Operators with an eye on a sustainable, healthy bottom line consistently roll out creative beverage promotions ranging from educational beer classes, to wine dinners and regionally themed cocktails. Many operators could easily get inspired by these success stories designed to maintain guests' interest and pump up drink sales.


"Beverage promotions increase guest excitement because they are a way to engage them and get them involved more closely with the product," declares Jason Asher, general manager of Rustico Restaurant and Bar, a duo of neighborhood restaurants featuring approachable, American cuisine and a large beer selection. The venues in Alexandria and Ballston, Virginia, with two hundred and three hundred seats, respectively, are owned and operated by the eleven-unit Neighborhood Restaurant Group.

"We do a combination of beverage programming that includes ongoing series as well as one-off events that tie to holidays and happenings," explains Asher. The restaurants' proximity to Washington, D.C. made an election-timed beer promotion a no-brainer: a glassware giveaway featured beers from the candidates' home states and a select number of American craft brews were available. The event was heavily promoted for a month prior, through staff training and printed materials including menu stuffers and posters. "The result was a fun promotion that helped the bottom line and increased sales significantly for a slow Tuesday evening in January."


Rustico's current promotion spans the entire calendar year and appeals to budding students of suds. The Beer Academy (also referred to as "Brew U") features twelve unique themed classes, led by Neighborhood Restaurant Group beer director Greg Engert. Classes are held once a month for two hours on a Saturday afternoon at a cost of $24. Students who sign up for a full year of classes receive a discount of $6 per class, which has helped the restaurant sell classes well in advance, The Beer Academy was promoted with a press release a month before its inception and management has made good use of Facebook, Twitter A Web site and service that lets users send short text messages from their cellphones to a group of friends. Launched in 2006, Twitter ( was designed for people to broadcast their current activities and thoughts.  and their website to push the message out to its guests.



Parr and parcel of a solid promotion is attracting guests on oft nights. Erik Bergman “Erik Bergman” redirects here. For the Swedish priest, see Erik Bergman (Lutheran minister).

Erik Valdemar Bergman (November 24, 1911-April 24, 2006) was an influential composer of classical music from Finland.
 also concurs with Rusticos philosophy with regards to timing events, a tip he says is often overlooked by operators: focus on oft nights. The general manager of Washington, D.C.s Birch and Barley and Church Key, two bars under the same roof also run by the Neighborhood Restaurant Group (with 84 and 140 seats, respectively), has an award-winning beer program that makes empty seats hard to come by--except at the beginning of the week. To boost business on less busy nights, management holds "beer features" and "tap takeovers." The former is a group of eight or so similar styles of beer or offerings from a single brewery; the latter involves at least twenty of the bars' fifty taps being used for beers from a specific brewery. "We try to hold them on slower nights like Mondays and Tuesdays explains Bergman. "This gives the guest the best opportunity for one-on-one attention from our staff, and the opportunity to chat with representatives from the brewery."

During every beer event, Birch and Barley and ChurchKey print special casting cards listing the featured beers, with a space to rake notes. Even if guests never pick up a pencil, Bergman notes, highlighting these special beers sets them apart from regular offerings. Not surprisingly, the features and tap-takeovers that have been the most popular and spotlight well-known breweries like Stone and Rogue, as well as crowd-pleasing, intriguing styles of beer including such beers as IPAs and sour beers. ChurchKey has seen revenue increase twenty-five to thirty-five percent during Monday and Tuesday evening events; features with highly sought after breweries can result: in a fifty per cent increase, 'ihe bars' Twitter feed serves as the main marketing tool, and journalists covering the beverage scene also receive alerts when special events are planned.

Speaking of social media, these tools are an easy, inexpensive way to broadcast promotions to a large number of fans and potential patrons. The web in general is an indispensable advertising method for tech savvy operators. This is perhaps no more apparent than in the Las Vegas Las Vegas (läs vā`gəs), city (1990 pop. 258,295), seat of Clark co., S Nev.; inc. 1911. It is the largest city in Nevada and the center of one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States.  market. Peter Brattander points out that eighty per cent of guests research., plan itineraries and make reservations online before even coming to town. The director of beverage for the 2,763-room Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, which features fifteen restaurants and quick service outlets and eleven bars and lounges, employs the hotel website, Facebook, Twitter and even You Tube videos to reach out to euests.

The Mirage's new cocktail program features interesting spins on thirty classic cocktails, with a particular focus on inventive garnishes. The Samba samba

Ballroom dance of Brazilian origin, popularized in the U.S. and Europe in the 1940s. Danced to music in ⁴⁄₄ time with a syncopated rhythm, the dance is characterized by simple forward and backward steps and tilting, rocking body movements.
 (Si 2), their take on the cachatja-based Batida, is adorned with a slender cucumber dill fruit chip; the High Roller high roller
n. Slang
1. One who spends freely and extravagantly, as for luxuries or entertainment.

2. One who gambles rashly or for high stakes.

 Cosmo ($12) is rimmed with fragrant hibiscus and lavender petals. Brattanders beverage program is designed to keep guests in their seats. "Ihe most expensive item in a bar or restaurant is an empty chair and a crowded venue will always be more attractive to visit than an empty one," he points out. 'As an operator your goal must be to create programs that will make the guest stay longer. Along with Happy Hour specials and cocktail promotions for a special event or holiday, i want guests to have an overall great experience at our venue, from service to atmosphere to drink selection, so they will continue to return."

A recent drinks feature at The Mirage combined Chinese New Year Chinese New Year (Simplified Chinese: ; Traditional Chinese: ; Pinyin: Chūnjié), or Spring Festival  and gaming. For each purchase of an Eastern-inspired cocktail like the Zen Mojito ($10)--made with Bacardi Dragon Berry Rum--guests received a Golden Good Luck Dragon Coin. Most were made of chocolate, though a few lucky patrons received a S100 or $500 casino chip. With this promotion, Brattander wished to create a buzz outside the hotel and cross promote. "Las Vegas is a gaming town, so why not combine the two?"

Happy Hours have been a beverage promotion staple but operators have been upgrading the available options by getting the kitchen involved. At Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, a 64-unit, Tampa, Florida-headquartered upscale steakhouse, the popular "5 for 6 ' til 7" promotion keeps guests returning. Five cocktails, five wines and five appetizers are all priced at $6 each until 7pm and bringing both new customers and return-visit patrons.



Cocktail lovers may be attracted to glasses with striking presentations, but operators may need to rely on other methods to entice wine drinkers. Oenophiles flock to promotions like flights and tastings, hut perhaps nothing is more enticing to a wine lover Noun 1. wine lover - a connoisseur of fine wines; a grape nut
cognoscente, connoisseur - an expert able to appreciate a field; especially in the fine arts
 than the chance to taste specially chosen wines alongside perfectly matched dishes. In 2011, Helen Mackey, the national director of beverage strategy for the Winter Park, Florida-headquartered steakhouse chain Ruth's Chris, helped to launch the "National Wine Dinner Series" for the 134-unit restaurant chain. The promotion runs on the same evening at all participating locations, with the identical four-course meal, plus dessert, paired with the same wines. It was inspired by the release parties; harvest celebrations and VIP style VIP Style or Bippu refers to the modification of Japanese luxury automobiles to make them more fashionable and even more luxurious. VIP Style are typically large, expensive, rear-wheel drive sedans, though automotive enthusiasts use other cars like minivans and Kei cars.  wine parties Mackey encountered during her ten years living in Napa Valley. Tickets for each dinner cost $95 to $120 per person and include a surprise giveaway including wine, esrace-produced olive oil olive oil, pale yellow to greenish oil obtained from the pulp of olives by separating the liquids from solids. Olive oil was used in the ancient world for lighting, in the preparation of food, and as an anointing oil for both ritual and cosmetic purposes. , books and corkscrews.

"We have had an incredible response--we have even heard of mini-spontaneous wine clubs popping up in cities," notes Mackey. "Building these bridges between our wine loving guests has been a wonderful part of doing these dinners." Specially printed menus, check stufifers, E-blasts, a dedicated section on their website and winemaker videos have been used to market the dinners, which were rolled out through close communication with the field, winery win·er·y  
n. pl. win·er·ies
An establishment at which wine is made.

Noun 1. winery - distillery where wine is made
wine maker
 representatives and distributors. The promotion was so successful last year that five more events are planned for 2012: with dinners featuring Duckhorn Vineyards, Penfolds Grange Penfolds Grange (until the 1989 vintage labelled Penfolds Grange Hermitage) is an Australian wine, made predominantly from the Shiraz grape and usually a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon. The term "Hermitage" was commonly used in Australia as a synonym for Shiraz. , Taylor Fladgate Port and a Glenmorangie Scotch dinner. "Each of these national dinners has been successful because each is genuine in its pursuit of putting great company together with great food and wine," muses Mackey.

To appeal to spirits' lovers and to keep current with the trend of classically inspired, well-executed cocktails, Ruth's Chris also rolled out their "Vintage Cocktail Program" last December. Fifteen new sips priced at $12 are based on classic libations and the menu gives the story behind their creation. The French Quarter 75 adds St. Germain Elderflower liqueur liqueur (lĭkûr`), strong alcoholic beverage made of almost neutral spirits, flavored with herb mixtures, fruits, or other materials, and usually sweetened. The name derives from the Latin word to melt.  to the traditional sparkling wine cocktail
See also: , , and

A wine cocktail is a mixed drink similar to a true cocktail. It is made predominantly with wine (including Champagne and Prosecco), into which distilled alcohol or other drink mixer
, while the 50/50 Vesper stirs Grey Goose Vodka, Tanqueray Gin and Lillet Blanc.


When a venue is marking a milestone anniversary, beverage features serve to attract guests by providing an atmosphere of celebration--not to mention nostalgia. Hard Rock Cafe Hard Rock Cafe is a chain of casual dining restaurants. It was founded in 1971 by Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton, and their first Hard Rock Cafe opened near Hyde Park Corner in London, in a former Rolls Royce car dealerships showroom close to Hyde Park, where in 1979 they began to  opened its first location in London in 1971, and today boasts 173 venues in 53 countries, each displaying an impressive collection of rock and roll memorabilia. The casual restaurant chain marked its fortieth anniversary last year with a worldwide beverage promotion called Summer Hits. Cocktails including the "Rum Rocker," made with Bacardi Select Rum and Bacardi Torched Cherry Rum rum in which cherries have been steeped.

See also: Cherry
, DeKuyper Peachtree Schnapps schnapps  
n. pl. schnapps
Any of various strong dry liquors, such as a strong Dutch gin.

[German Schnaps, mouthful, schnapps, from Low German snaps, from
 and juices, were sold for $12.99 to $14.99, and served in a take-home, 20-ounce souvenir pint glass

A pint glass is a drinking vessel holding an imperial pint (568 ml/19.2 US fl oz) of liquid that is usually used for beer or cider. Common shapes
The common shapes of pint glass are:
 listing every Hard Rock Cafe location. "The program celebrated forty years of the Hard Rock brand and culture, spreading the universal language of rock as well as driving traffic and building global beverage brand awareness," says Cindy Busi, worldwide director of beverage for the Orlando, Florida-based Hard Rock International.

Management rolled out the promotion through the company's internal portal, thorough training materials sent to each location, and by conducting on-site training. Busi notes that guests loved taking home a piece of forty years' of the brand s history, with some even traveling to different countries to collect the unique glassware. As a result of the three-month promotion, Hard Rock Cafe saw a 30 percent increase in beverage sales from the prior year.

No matter the theme, size or scope, Busi offers a sound piece of advice for operators adding promotions to their beverage program. "Stay true to your brand. If you are an Italian-themed concept, don't do a feature around sporting events. Pretty simple, but I see many concepts trying to be something they are not. Listen to whar your guests want and deliver."

Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website,, or on
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Author:Magyarics, Kelly
Date:Mar 1, 2012
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