Low Cost, High-Profit Drinks Serves

Finding the balance between low cost and high-profit drinks serves.

Reading time 8 minutes

It can be a fine balance for pubs, bars and restaurants between offering high quality drinks and generating a profit. When it comes to soft drinks, cheap doesn’t always mean cheerful, but with some smart choices you can tread the line between delivering value for customers and ensuring you’re putting money in the till.

We explore a few considerations for when you’re putting together a drinks menu so that your serves put a smile on everyone’s face.


Make the most of your ingredients

To minimise waste and slimdown your shopping list, ensure you are efficiently using different ingredients throughout your outlet’s offering. Are there herbs you’re using for food that could be utilised to garnish cocktails as well? This could not only reduce the chance of waste but also give your drinks a visual advantage.

The use of local, seasonal ingredients is another way to keep costs down and naturally gives you a reason to evolve and freshen your menu as the months go by. Locally sourced products may also have less of an environmental impact than those that have travelled from overseas, supporting the sustainability credentials of your business.

Where possible, utilise popular soft drink and mixer brands, such as Pepsi Max or London Essence Co., within other serves on your menu as well, to free up space behind the bar and cut back on your outgoings.

Strip back your recipes

Less can be more when it comes to soft drinks and cocktails. Fewer, higher quality ingredients can elevate a drink and provide a more balanced flavour profile. A refined recipe can not only cut down on costs per serve, but also potentially save your staff time, allowing them to help more customers throughout the evening.

If you’re finding your cocktail menu has become a long list of classics, oddities and variations on a theme, consider refining your list. This can allow you to focus on perfecting a smaller batch of options and limits what ingredients and products you may need to stock at one time.

It’s important to remember that post-lockdown, consumers increasingly look to pubs and bars for flavours that can’t be recreated in the home, so if you do slimdown your menu, make sure it’s offering something distinctive to tantalise the tastebuds of customers.

Get creative with your stock

Unused stock is a gripe for any hospitality business. If you have any drinks or ingredients that are running out of date, why not consider adding some specials to the menu to incorporate them. Creating limited-edition long drinks, cocktails or mocktails with surplus stock gives you the opportunity to sell at a higher price, as well as reducing waste and providing a clear marketing hook.

It's all in the look

The small additional effort of producing a visually appealing drink is far outweighed by the trade up opportunities it presents and is more likely to lead to repeat purchases down the line. Mocktails are a great example of non-alcoholic serves that can be lifted to another level, especially when you use garnishes, which are a cheap but effective way to give a premium feel to your drinks. We have a number of recipes available for you to explore here. And don’t forget, glassware is key – it can be expensive, but people are prepared to pay for presentation.

Healthy drinks, healthy profit

Healthier eating and sustainability were two major trends identified by Lumina Intelligence’s Menu & Food Trends Report 2022, whilst recent research has found that more than a quarter of customers would be happy to pay premium prices for healthier products in restaurants[1]. We have noted that people of all ages are willing to spend more when certain criteria has been met, including quality, health credentials, added benefits, sustainability and convenience. So, creating healthier serves can open up the door to premium pricing, especially when tactically promoted at key points in the year, such as January. We’re seeing a lot of innovation in soft drinks incorporating lower sugar and low calories, without compromising on taste, which is also providing more choice in this segment. 

[1] University of South Australia, Flinders University and the University of Otago, 2022

Be mindful of overpouring

Overpouring may not seem like a big deal per serve, but it can really add up over a number of weeks. Implement clear guidelines for your staff to follow on volumes per glass and encourage the use of jiggers so that you can minimise overpouring. Small actions like this can have a positive impact on profits. Making sure that staff are clear on the correct sized glass to use for different serves is also recommended to avoid too many top-ups. Postmix offers high margins for most pub operations, so cutting back on unnecessary top-ups can go a long way to improving your bottom line.

Tightening budgets are having a major impact on the hospitality sector, so more than ever it’s about finding a balance between quality and cost that works for your business and your customers. We hope the above talking points can help you to review your menu, find efficiencies and increase profitability in the months ahead.  Don’t forget that we offer a free menu builder tool which can help you keep your menus fresh.