How to Execute Cocktails on Tap

If you can keg it, we can pour it! That’s our go-to slogan, but many people don’t realize just how many types of drinks can be kegged. We do plenty of beer, wine, cider, cold brew, kombucha, and more, but cocktails are often overlooked. Cocktails are traditionally prepared one at a time but can be kegged with surprising ease, and the benefits of self-pour will apply just as strongly.

Getting cocktails set up on self-pour taps involves most of the same steps and similar equipment to a beer or wine setup, but there are a few nuances to keep in mind. Keep reading to see some of the awesome benefits you’ll get when serving your cocktails on tap, as well as some details about the process and the equipment you’ll need.

If you’re interested in learning more about executing various beverages on tap, check out our webinar on How to Execute Different Drinks on Tap. We spoke with industry experts who shared tips on how to profitably and efficiently execute kegged cocktails, wine, cold brew, and more on tap.

Access the recording of the webinar below!

alcohol that can be used in self pour taps

Everything you need to know about cocktails on tap

Why Should Bar Owners Care?

  • Cost Reduction – No more heavy, inconsistent pours. Each cocktail will cost you the same amount every time.
  • Increased Efficiency – Rather than having to mix a single cocktail every time it’s ordered, you can mix an entire batch at once. This allows for massively reduced labor costs.
  • Very Little Waste – Every tenth of an ounce is accounted for using PourMyBeer. No free shots can be given away, and drink tabs can’t be “forgotten” or incorrectly entered into the POS.
  • Product Quality & Consistency – Tapped cocktails deliver consistent taste, unlike cocktails mixed individually by different bartenders. Cocktails from self-pour taps will have the same taste every time the guest refills their glass. 
  • Easier Inventory – Say goodbye to the days of dealing with hundreds of bottles everywhere. Simply keep track of a few kegs at a time and only bottles for liquor.

Hear right from an experienced self-pour operator who has seen great success serving cocktails on tap below! 

"We just opened our third PourMyBeer location a month ago. We have three cocktails on tap - Moscow Mule, Bourbon Ginger Cider, and, of course, a Margarita. In that month, we have sold 27,553 ounces of self-pour cocktails. That is over 9,000 ounces per tap or approximately 500 ounces a day per cocktail tap. Not sure more justification is needed. While cocktails are on a limited number of taps in our locations, they are a powerful revenue driver in many ways. The cocktail options give friends of beer enthusiasts (who may not feel like a beer) other options. This mitigates the 'I want something besides beer' friend from convincing the group to go somewhere else. Therefore driving (or saving) revenue."

- Jim Wright, Operates 4 PourMyBeer Venues: Stanley Beer Hall, The Golden Mill, Malcolm Yards, and Broadway Market

Why do your patrons care?

  • Convenience – Customers can now buy any cocktail by the ounce, whenever they want, and without having to wait for a bartender or waiter.
  • Cost – Customers aren’t constrained to ordering a whole glass of a cocktail they might not like.
  • Consistent Taste – Bartenders make drinks the way they like them, which is fair, but this doesn’t provide consistency. With self-pour technology, customers receive the same tasty cocktail every time they pour.
  • Easy Sampling – Customers can conveniently sample small amounts of various cocktails on tap without the fear of wasting $12 on a drink they didn’t like. This provides customers with an amazing amount of freedom to find the beverages they enjoy without paying too much.
  • Fun – Customers now become their own bartenders. They engage with each other, discussing which beverages taste the best and why. And the best part is that their happy faces end up on their social media feeds, showcasing your establishment, providing you with free and valuable exposure to that customer’s social media network.

Equipment Needed

KEGS

5-gallon Cornelius kegs with ball locks. They are $97 on Amazon.

COUPLERS

You’ll also need the couplers that push the gas in and the cocktails out. You can find them here for $9.89.

SCALE

We suggest a scale to weigh everything before you put it in the container, $11.99.

Measuring cup

You should also have a large measuring container $11.99.

The Process

A 5-gallon keg holds 640 ounces of liquid. When creating batch recipes, you’ll want to leave a little room to shake the keg regularly to ensure all of the ingredients remain mixed.

The cocktails you keg are up to you. Be creative! As a general note, try to avoid frozen ingredients or those with a lot of pulp/sediment as this will clog the lines. 

Once you’ve selected which cocktails you want, and you have the recipe for a single drink, you’ll want to convert the recipe to a batch size (example below):

Moscow Mule: 1 Drink

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz Lime Juice
  • 3.5 oz Ginger Beer

Converted to a Batch of 600 Ounces

  • 2 oz x 100 = 200 oz Vodka
  • 0.5 oz x 100 = 50 oz Lime Juice
  • 3.5 oz x 100 = 350 oz Ginger Beer

Every recipe should be tweaked to your liking but also carefully recorded for future batches, as this will ensure that you maintain consistency.

Now that your cocktail is kegged, you’ll need Nitrogen/Carbon Dioxide tanks and regulators. These tanks will give you the option to serve both still and carbonated cocktails on tap. Depending on the cocktail ingredients, you’ll want to pressurize the keg with either CO2 or N2.

Popular cocktails on self-pour taps

PourMyBeer self-pour cocktails

Before a kegged cocktail is set up for a busy night, you’ll want to make sure it is shaken up to ensure all ingredients are mixed. Another option is buying a keg agitator that does this automatically.

Keep in mind that most cocktails are served cold. Still, cocktails will give you room to play with storage temperature, but carbonated ones should remain in a storage location of about 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can stabilize drinks with acid blends and removing all O2 from the keg as well.

Once the keg is empty, we recommend using Star-San, the industry standard, to clean the keg before refilling. You can find one here for $16.

Tips and Tricks

Kegged Cocktails Do’s

Kegged Cocktails Don'ts

Finally, keep in mind that state standards can differ. Each state has different standards for batch drinks, so make sure to do your diligent research. If you’re looking for more specific do’s and don’ts when it comes to kegging cocktails (i.e. how to handle garnishes), check out this page with a list of questions and answers from our webinar, How to Execute Different Drinks on Tap. 

Learn more on How to Keg Drinks here, or watch the video of our PourMyBeer family member utilizing cocktails on self-pour taps in his 3 self-serve taprooms. 

As a smart operator, you now see how cocktails on tap will reduce costs, increase efficiency, decrease waste, have consistent quality, and leave you with an easier inventory to handle. Hop on the self-pour revolution and start pouring!

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