Reposted from our friends at Toast. If you need bar equipment - shop here first! So you want to open a bar? You love talking to new people, you’re a pro at mixing drinks, and you just don’t feel cut out for the 9-to-5 life. Well, a bar isn’t a hobby. It’s a business. That said, it’s important to keep this in mind, because many bars lose money at a rapid pace before going out of business entirely, leaving the bar owner in a tough financial situation. To give you the best chance of success when opening a bar, here are some things to prepare for. 1. Write Your Bar's Business Plan A failure to plan is a plan to fail. Bar ownership is a type of business where a lack of initial planning can be expensive - if not impossible - to fix. This is why it’s important to have a business plan in place. The minor details aren’t extremely important, since they’re likely to change over time. For example, don't plan on your break even point to be exactly two years from yesterday, rather 20-25 months pending on three or four key facrtors. Instead, remember that writing out a business plan can help you identify holes in your business model that can be fixed before opening and reduce your risk of failure. They also help you get your big goals in writing, like your mission statement and competitive advantage. To get started on your restaurant or bar business plan, check out this guide on how to write one. 2. Set Up Your Business Structure When starting any business or new company, one of the first choices pertains to business structure. Specifically, do you plan to be a sole-proprietorship, a partnership, an LLC, or a corporation? It's arguably easier to become a sole proprtietorship or a partnership, but one problem with this structure is that you’re personally liable for lawsuits and debt incurred by your bar. In other words, if something goes wrong, there are no limits to your liability, so you may need to forfeit personal assets to cover a loss should one occur. To avoid personal liability, the best option is for you to set up as an LLC or a corporation. These business structures act as an entity of their own, and take on the businesses liabilities, which limit your liability. So if someone slips and falls in your bar and wants to sue, they sue the business instead of you as an individual. The benefits of each of these are beyond the scope of this article, but you can learn more about them here. 3. Trademark Your Name and Logo While simply using a trademark grants you protection of your bar’s name or logo within a certain geographic area, it’s difficult to enforce protection without registering your trademarks with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). To trademark your name and logo, I’d recommend hiring an intellectual property attorney instead of trying to go at it alone, as the trademark process is quite complicated. Before you trademark a logo, be sure to have the logo designer grant you the copyright as well, or at least the rights to use the logo for your business. 4. Get the Proper Licenses It’s important that your bar is properly licensed before you open for business to avoid legal trouble. Licenses are required in order to serve alcohol, food, and even to play music in your bar. Some of these are easy to get, others more complicated. Not acquiring the proper license is a silly mistake that can cause your bar to close down, so don’t skip this step. 5. Choose a Location Location is everything, and there are a few things to consider before choosing the right location for your bar. Your Style – Are you formal? Elegant? Casual? This can determine the type of customers you’re likely to appeal to. Demographics – Different areas of your city appeal to different demographics. If you’re looking to appeal to college students, opening near a university makes sense. If you’re looking to attract higher-class customers, set up shop in the more affluent part of town. Accessibility and Parking – If you’re attracting tourists, parking is less of an issue since they’re likely to call a cab or use Lyft or Uber. However, tourists are less likely to be repeat customers. Keep this in mind when choosing your location. Zoning Restrictions – Can you open a bar here? Rent and Utilities Costs – Will you be able to make this up in sales with the type of customers you’re going to draw in? Read More - Restaurant Real Estate: Finding Sites for Restaurant Concepts 6. Designing Your Bar Your style is everything. People go out for atmosphere and to socialize, so selecting the right music, décor, and furniture is important. When choosing these things with your bar, make sure they’re all complimentary to each other. Don’t open an Irish pub and play top-40 music - everything should be in sync. You can check out Pinterest for some unique ideas, or if you have the budget, hire an interior designer. Whatever you decide, make sure you get this right so that you can create a memorable experience for your customers to keep them coming back. 7. Accounting and Inventory Bar inventory is an important aspect of keeping track of your cost of sales, so before you open, make sure you set up a process for this, or make proper use of bar inventory software. Proper inventory tracking can help you set prices and figure out which items are most profitable in your bar. You can use this information to help bartenders make more effective drink recommendations. In addition to properly tracking inventory, you want to make sure you have a good accounting system in place. Whether you use Quickbooks or hire a bookkeeper, it’s important to keep track of how your business is doing, and where you need to make improvements. 8. Bar Marketing Bar marketing consists of two main activities – customer attraction and customer retention. Customer attraction is theoretically simple – put out an ad and watch the customers flow in. However, paid advertising can become expensive quickly unless you’re able to keep these customers coming back repeatedly. Additionally, you may want to find ways to bring people into your bar through word of mouth. Marketing is essential in the world of bars and restaurants. Don't expect to open shop and see an influx of customers! Utilize social media, encourage word of mouth marketing, and consider putting some money behind your brand.
TGIF! As part of our Friday Cocktail series, we are taking a look at bitters. Bitters are, simply, a liquid extraction of various elements, such as barks, spices, and fruit peels. "Bitters are like the spice rack of the cocktail world," says Ira Koplowitz of Bittercube. They can be used to tone down the sweetness of simple syrups, juices and sweet liqueurs, as well as adding depth, aroma, and flavor to a variety of cocktails. A touch of bitters is the perfect way to finish off a Manhattan, and chocolate bitters can be used to create a chocolate manhattan. Orange peel bitters can add a slightly fruity and complex element to bourbon cocktails. Classic barrel bitters contain smokey elements which can create an extra element of whiskey type flavors.
But don't stop at brown liquor - bitters play well with virtually every alcohol in your liquor cabinet. Gin is another classic pairing. Use Gin, Lillet Blanc, and touch of violet bitters to create a light and classic cocktail - garnish with a Luxardo cherry for an old school and sophisticated twist. A classic Bloody Mary for brunch can be punched up with a touch of barrel bitters and Worcestershire Sauce. Make a champagne cocktail using a sugar cube soaked in bitters for the base on top of bubbly for a lighter, lower alcohol bitter cocktail. Chocolate and spicy bitters are also a great finish for a classic margarita recipe, and smoky Mezcal will benefit greatly from bitters also.
Sourcing bitters for your bar is also fun, but consider making your own. If you have a decent mixologist on your staff, he or she can easily whip up house creations which will save you money and give you clout for your own 'house made' recipes. Bitters made in house can also be customized to the exact recipes and bar menu that you've created also. Get creative with this and up your cocktail game - sophisticated palates will thank you!
TGIF! As part of our weekly cocktail series, we bring you some handy tips on mixed drink prep. James Bond famously asked for a martini, 'shaken, not stirred,' but - we hate to report: 007 was incorrect.
A classic martini contains dry elements which do not need to be shaken to be combined. In fact, a shaken martini (or manhattan) may end up with ice chips as it's a very delicate mix of similarly weighted liquors which requires only a couple brisk stirs and a strain in order to mix effectively.
So what's the point of a shaken cocktail? Anything with heavier elements, such as fruit (or a flip egg white cocktail) requires a vigorous shaking in order to combine the elements in the drink properly. So shake up your daiquiri, your margarita, your cosmo, or any other cocktail which has thick, heavy ingredients which will require vigorous movement in order to meld them properly.
Delicately stir your full liquor cocktails - particularly those with gin or whiskey, as it is said that shaking can 'bruise' the liquor. Below is a recipe for a classic stirred and a classic shaken cocktail to get you started. Happy bartending!
1.5 oz sweet vermouth | 1.5 oz Campari | 1.5 oz gin | Orange twist to garnish
Combine all ingredients, minus the garnish over ice in a cocktail shaker, stir several times, strain into a chilled highball, garnish and serve.
1 oz light rum | 1 oz dark rum | 1 oz fresh lime juice | .5 oz Orange Curacao | .5 oz Orgeat syrup | .25 oz simple syrup | mint sprig garnish
Pour all ingredients, except for the garnish, into a large cocktail shaker filled with two cups of crushed ice. Shake vigorously to combine, pour without straining into a highball glass, garnish and serve.
Pictured: brunch at Avert Brasserie
It's Mother's Day - the perfect day for brunch. Fun, relaxed, and usually involving an adult beverage (or two!) brunch is a Sunday favorite. Here are some tips on creating the perfect spread:
For a buffet style brunch: fresh and simple is best! A raw bar, like the one pictured above, is a really lovely touch, but make sure you have the proper ice and refresh the spread often to keep things fresh and cold. Including an assortment of jams, jellies, and spreads to go with your pastries is also a nice touch. Another buffet tip - a Bloody Mary bar is a fun and interactive talking point to anchor your brunch spread!
For a full menu brunch: a variety of choices is best to please your guests. Choose some sweet, some savory, and some traditional lunch items (sandwiches, cheeseburgers, etc) to make sure everyone can get what they want! Eggs benedict is an easy favorite and can be dressed up with a variety of proteins from ham to duck breast. Don't forget to keep some items vegetarian/gluten free as brunch can be heavy on the carbs and bacon for those with dietary restrictions. And finally, add sides! Fun to share (and an easy upset for the servers) some small, shareable plates such as a grapefruit brûlée or fried brussels sprouts will elevate your brunch game.
For the drinks: Mimosas are classic, but why stop there? Classic champagne cocktails can be fun and innovative. Bloody marys can be extreme when they are loaded with different ingredients. Particularly for Italian restaurants, don't forget a selection of classic, seasonal bellinis utilizing different fruit purees. Finally, offer some non-alcoholic beverage options: classic cappucinos and fresh pressed juices are easy, classic crowd pleasers.