What does the future look like for bars in Australia? This is a question that business owners and bartenders have been forced to ask themselves throughout 2020. Industry leaders continue to ponder best practices for food businesses in the hospitality sector, but bars and nightclubs face some unique challenges of their own.
No challenge has been more difficult than what to do in the event of a temporary closure. Restaurants, cafes and pubs have the added bonus of serving takeaway food, but if your venue relies on the serving of drinks for much of its intake, then sales can be hard to come by. With most states luckily enjoying an easing of restrictions, this concern is less present. But a quick look at the situation in Victoria and other parts of the world shows that the threat of the virus is still evident.
During lockdowns bars have found clever ways to work within government guidelines, whilst still reaching the needs of their customers. Some of these ideas borne out of a crisis could easily have worked in a pre-COVID world, so what’s to say they won’t last once we’ve beaten the virus? Here are some ideas that we see sticking around to shape the future of bar service:
1) Cocktails On-The-Go
We’re sure that when bars began to close, many consumers decided the extra downtime would make for a great opportunity to learn how to re-create their favourite cocktails. What they likely learned is that it’s never quite as easy as it looks. Plus, the list of essential bar equipment is expensive and whipping up a couple of quick mojitos can be a messy for the kitchen countertop. All of this for what is never as good as the real deal.
Now, bars and cocktail joints are putting serious time and effort into cocktail delivery, and it’s becoming a legitimate earner. If you’re a Melbourne-based bar (or general cocktail enthusiast) here’s 7 bars delivering cocktails for some added inspiration.
2) DIY Cocktail Packs
Much like the DIY meal packs that many restaurants have created, some bars are introducing an drinks equivalent. If you’ve worked behind a bar before, you’ve maybe witnessed patrons watching with wonder as their cocktail is shaken and strained. Now they’re getting the opportunity to give it a go from the comfort of their kitchen, without the pressure of anyone watching.
Some bars are offering simple two-step pour and shake bottles, while others are sending branded equipment along with the order. This is a great way to offer something experiential.
3) It’s a Cocktail Masterclass
Some local legends have used the video chat boom as an opportunity to teach and educate others in their craft. Actors even got in on the action, with Hunger Games and BoJack Horseman star Stanley Tucci delivering a famously debonair Negroni lesson online. While 2019 ALIA Bartender of the Year Millie Tang of The Gresham has been getting creative online for brands such as Hennessy, Belvedere and Starward.
In a time where people are coming together (even if not physically) look for more of this industry learning to be offered by bars aiming to add extra value.
4) Hospo Becomes Retail
What do you do when you can’t allow customers inside? Send the booze out! We’ve seen a bunch of venues take the route of selling their stock like that of an bottle shop. With piles of beer in the back and exclusive bottles of wine in the cellar, for some it’s been a great way to keep the income flowing and customers happy.
We can certainly see the lines between retail and foodservice beginning to blur, with consumers happily paying a little extra to get something unique whilst #supportinglocal.
Although 2020 has been a bit of a drag, it’s amazing to see bars making the most of the situation and helping those around them while they’re at it. We hope that 2021 brings about a strong recovery, and the ideas above continue evolve to bring a new, fresh and stronger nightlife. If your venue is doing something special to tackle the pandemic, we want to hear about it. Flick us a message on our Facebook page with your story so we keep the conversation going!
If you’re still finding ways to serve cocktails, we’ve got a refreshing pressed pear on the market, and have just launched a cloudy apple as well! Speak with your local foodservice distributor for all of the details or visit our website for a full list of products.