Sangria might seem like a no-brainer at a Spanish or Mexican restaurant. But Tavistock Restaurants owns and manages a diverse portfolio of 32 restaurants across the U.S., including Abe & Louie's, Atlantic Fish, Blackhawk Grille, Cafe del Rey, Joe's American Bar & Grill, Napa Valley Grille, and Zed451--very few of those with Spanish or Mexican cuisines.
But thanks to an emphasis on seasonal ingredients and customized recipes to fit the individual concepts and markets, Signature Sangrias represent nearly 21% of all liquor sales at Tavistock's 12 Joe's American outlets; 19% of wine sales at Zed45I in Chicago; and nearly 21% of all cocktails sold at Cafe del Rey in Los Angeles.
"Sangria is the most profitable item we have," says Mike Hanley, beverage operations and training director. The estimated 8.5% to 11% cost per item, "brings affordability to our entire drink line," he says. "It allows us to charge $8 to $9 for other drinks instead of $15 to $16."
While consistency is prized and core ingredients remain the same across the various outlets, regional and seasonal ingredients are rotated in each season. That might mean sangrias with apples and spice in the northern states, and drinks featuring peaches in southern regional restaurants--when those fruits are in season.
Training for both core drink offerings and seasonal additions is accomplished via laminated recipe cards, which include a photo to show how the finished drink should appear. To supplement in-person training, Tavistock tapes brief online videos that Hanley emails to bar managers.
Staffers are encouraged to collect input from guests about what they would like to see in their glass. "We have 1,000 people on the front lines that listen to 10,000 people every month on what their desires and tastes are," Hanley notes. As a result, many new recipes and ideas for flavors are inspired by guests.