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, which are traditionally prepared one at a time 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 keep in mind. Keep reading to see some of the awesome benefits you’ll get from serving your cocktails on tap, as well as some details about the process and the equipment you’ll need.
Everything you need to know about on taps
Why Should Bar Owners Care?
- Cost Reduction – No more heavy, inconsistent pours. Every cocktail will cost you the exact same amount each time, every time.
- Increased Efficiency – Rather than having to mix a single cocktail every time it’s ordered, you mix a whole 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; 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 exact same taste every time the guest refills their glass.
- Easier Inventory – The days of dealing with hundreds of bottles, all over the place, are over. Simply keep track of a few kegs at a time and only bottles for liquor.
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 on a daily basis. With self-pour technology, customers receive the same tasty cocktail each and 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.
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 make sure all of the ingredients remain mixed.
Which cocktails you keg is up to you. Be creative! As a general note, try to avoid frozen ingredients or those with a lot of pulp/sediment.
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 you have your keg of cocktail, 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.
cocktails on self-pour taps:
- Pineapple Mojito
- Gin and Tonic
- Old fashioned
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
- Do have an ice machine nearby, preferably at counter height.
- Do try to have some standard favorites and some signature cocktails.
- Do try to have your staff shake the kegs a few times throughout the day/night to ensure ingredients are mixed. Alternatively, use a keg agitator.
- Do clean the lines with a professional draft cleaning service and at least once a month.
Kegged Cocktails Don'ts
- Don’t use ingredients that perish quickly, unless you plan to stay on top of it.
- Don’t use ingredients that contain pulps or solids, as these will clog up the draft lines.
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.
“Do’s” and “Do Not’s”
If you are curious about general “Do’s” and “Do Not’s” when opening up a self-pour taproom, download our guide below!
Learn more on How to Keg Drinks here or watch the video of our PourMyBeer family member that is utilizing cocktails on self-pour taps in his 3 self-serve taprooms.