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Batched Cocktails Gaining Traction On-Premise

December 29, 2022

Hand-crafted, pre-made cocktails—served from bottles and kegs—are gaining ground in all types of venues, helping busy bartenders execute top-quality drinks fast. In particular, fast-paced venues rely on batched drinks all the time. “We want to offer our customers quality craft cocktails at a fast pace, which is the beauty of pre-batched draft cocktails,” says Steve Funkhouser, regional general manager for Emporium Arcade Bar’s Las Vegas; San Francisco; and Oakland, California locations.

Emporium Arcade Bar debuted in San Francisco five years ago, and its owners knew it would be high-volume from the start, so they created the concept with a draft cocktail program from day one. Emporium Arcade Bar has since expanded into several cities nationwide, and batched drinks are present in most locations. The bars in California and Nevada generally offer four draft cocktails at a time, rotating them seasonally.

“After the craft cocktail revolution, customers demand high-quality, craft drinks, especially in a city like San Francisco, which is known for its amazing cocktail scene,” says Funkhouser. “However, at a large interactive venue like Emporium, with an extremely high volume of customers, people also don’t want to wait 15 minutes for a drink.”

Following the success of draft cocktails at Emporium’s San Francisco unit, the company added mixed drink draft lines in Las Vegas; Chicago; and Oakland, California. “They’re very well received and people appreciate being able to have craft-level quality drinks in a fraction of the time,” Funkhouser says.

Matty Carroll took a deep dive into kegged cocktails earlier this year, and he hasn’t looked back since. The beverage director for Colorado-based The Kitchen Restaurant Group began experimenting with batching drinks at his ND StreetBar concept this spring and transitioned to serving all eight of the concept’s signature drinks from kegs in May. ND StreetBar has four locations in Colorado, and Carroll says the new batched and kegged cocktail offerings are well received at each one.

“The cocktail category was strong here, but with labor constraints we needed to find a way to add more variety to our cocktail lineup without adding more labor, and a kegged cocktail program was the answer,” says Carroll. “We made the change to get drinks to our guests faster and to maintain as consistent a product as possible. The reception of the new program has been very positive.”

Speed is also key for Nathaniel Hedlund, beverage director at the Sahara Las Vegas resort. The property’s Magic Mike Live show highlights three curated cocktails on its menu that are batched and kegged, and Hedlund says batching is a necessity so that guests can order and get their drinks before the show starts.

The drinks are each stored in 5-gallon kegs, which are kept in a cooler at the bar. “We batch them every day so our guests get them fresh,” Hedlund says. “Guests appreciate the speed of service and the consistency of the beverage. We don’t promote that they’re kegged drinks on the menu, but we do offer them in carafes, as well as glasses.” Market Watch has the full story.

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