What Drinks can be Served on Draft?
There’s been a huge demand for casual drinks and being able to consistently offer different alcoholic-beverages for your patrons. Crafting cocktails, pouring glasses of wine, and serving different drinks coming from the kitchen or bar can be time-consuming for your bartenders, or wait staff.
By kegging all different kinds of drinks, restaurants and other businesses are able to save time and money, without giving up quality.
Although there are some who prefer the theatricality and performance art of the bartender making a cocktail — think Tom Cruise in the 1988 movie “Cocktail” — there are many others who cite the time saved, the way drawing draft drinks can help bartenders during busy times, the money saved and the quality of using kegs to store any manner of beverage.
Drinks that can be served on draft
- Wine, which offers numerous benefits that you might not think about when kegged.
- Cocktails, especially popular ones that your establishment serves on a regular basis.
- Kombucha, a drink that started off as a novelty and now has become a standard for health food devotees.
- Cold brew, which creates a coffee that is more flavorful and less acidic than hot brewed coffee.
- Iced tea and soft drinks, which have been served from kegs for a long time.
Providing draft drinks is not quite as easy as finding a cocktail recipe. You have to multiply all the ingredients and make tweaks to the recipe itself to serve 100 people. There are important rules that need to be followed if you want your business to serve draft drinks, which we will explore below. If you own a restaurant, bar or café, now is the time to start thinking about moving toward draft drinks.
Wine on Tap
For many people who have never had wine on tap, their first thought is usually, “Is this anything like boxed wine?” Boxed wine, a staple of college parties and office celebrations particularly during the ’80s and ’90s, has left many people with unpleasant memories. It was often bad wine served in a bad way.
We are happy to tell you that wine on draft is a completely different experience. Restaurants that serve wine on tap will receive deliveries of kegs filled with wine instead of dozens, maybe even hundreds, of bottles of wine. Wine kegs contain 26.6 bottles of wine, or about 120 glasses. This is the same wine used for bottled products, only stored in a keg instead of a bottle. Once the keg reaches the restaurant, it is stored in a cool environment until it is needed. It is then tapped similarly to the keg of beer.
Benefits of Kegged Wine
- Taste: Good wine is good wine regardless of how you store it. You can’t make bad wine taste better by storing it in a bottle. Quality wineries are increasingly storing as much of their wine in kegs as they can. Storing wine in a keg avoids overheating and oxidization, it also helps the wine to keep its proper flavor. That’s because the wine never touches air until it is served. It is also less affected by variations in temperatures. When you serve wine on tap, you won’t serve your customers wine from half-empty bottles or bottles that have been stored improperly.
- Efficiency & Environmental Impact: There are two ways in which using draft wine is more efficient and environmentally friendly. Let’s say a restaurant serves 100 wine kegs in a year. A keg contains about 26 bottles. Those 26 bottles include 39 pounds of packaging waste, including the boxes they came in, corks and foil wrapping, not to mention the bottles themselves. Using kegs means less cleanup, less mess and more benefit for the environment. It is also efficient because you only serve the wine when needed. When a customer wants to have just a small taste of the wine to see if they want more, it is much easier to serve.
- Cost: In most cases, you can recover the costs of installing a wine on tap system within six months. It can cost significantly less to serve a quality glass of wine on tap than from a bottle. Not only are you saving money, which means you can also buy a better quality of wine, but you can also pass some of the savings on to your customers, which helps ensure repeat business.
Currently, draft cocktails are found most often in cities where customers prefer craft cocktails. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t put some cocktails on draft in your establishment regardless of where you are located. For instance, if you are known for one particular cocktail, and your bartenders serve that multiple times during a busy night, preparing a batch of pre-made cocktails can make your bartenders more efficient, keep your customers waiting less time for their drink, save you money, and ultimately lead to you serving more of the cocktail.
Common cocktails that can be served on draft
- Mules, such as the Moscow Mule
- Collins, like a Tom Collins
- Fizzes, such as a Gin Fizz
- Old Fashioneds
- Tonics, such as a Gin and Tonic
You can put any cocktail you can think of on tap, but the drinks with pieces of fruit or pulp in it need to be strained, otherwise, it will get clogged in the flow meter and the draft line.
Why serve cocktails on Tap?
Some of the benefits of serving cocktails on tap include:
- More consistency to the cocktails.
- Bartenders can serve many drinks faster than making each one individually.
- Cost savings on packaging and storage.
- Easier for a customer to try a sample of a cocktail.
Other Things to Keep in Mind When Serving Draft Cocktails
If you want to serve fresh, enticing draft cocktails, rather than ones that come out slushy and bad tasting, follow these guidelines:
- Strain the juices: This may be the most important factor in making sure that the cocktails you serve on draft remain in great condition. If you serve a cocktail that contains fruit juices, strain the mixtures before you store them in a keg. A daiquiri, for instance, may include lime juice or grapefruit juice, so you’ll need to remove the pulp. If you do not, the pulp will settle at the bottom of the keg and the drinks poured when the keg is first opened will taste different than those poured toward the end of the keg.
- Shake the keg: This goes along with the previous step. Mixed cocktails can separate, so it’s important to shake the keg every day before you begin serving drinks. That way, if anything has settled toward the bottom, it will be redistributed more evenly.
- Perfect the recipe for a cocktail before you put it in the keg: Take your time and make sure you get the recipe correct. You’re not serving one drink at a time, but instead preparing a recipe for a large number of people. Remember that about 1/5 of every cocktail is actually water that comes from the ice or the way the cocktail is prepared. So if you’ve created a cocktail and want to keg it, you’ll need to measure it and then add about 1/5 of water to it in order to achieve the proper taste and consistency. It may take you three or four times to get this correct, but you and your customers will both benefit in the long run.
- Keep the lines clean: It’s very important to use the proper equipment when serving cocktails on draft. You want to use lines that don’t add taste to the drink and won’t corrode over time because of the sugar or fruit that may be in the drink. It’s extremely important to keep your lines as clean as possible, so regular maintenance is a necessity.
- Pay attention to temperature and ingredients: Most drinks on draft are stored and served at a temperature of 34°F. This is why a drink like a martini, which is typically served at 29°F, does not do well on draft. It’s also why a Negroni is perfect to put on draft because it is made from fridge-temperature vermouth and room temperature spirits.
Kombucha on Draft
For a long time, you could only find kombucha in hipster cafés in places like Brooklyn. But now you’re just as likely to see it on your supermarket shelf. Kombucha sales are estimated to reach $1.8 billion by 2020. Cafés, grocery stores, bars, health and fitness gyms, and even restaurants are eager to offer their customers kombucha.
Kombucha relies very much on the same kind of draft technology you can use for wine, as we noted above, or for beer. When you keep your kombucha in a keg, you receive similar benefits as you do with things like wine or cocktails. There is much less packaging than you get with bottles, and it takes much less time to serve.
It’s also easier for you to offer small samples to customers who have never tried kombucha before, but have heard about it and want to give it a taste.
If you want to serve kombucha on tap, you have a couple of options. Folks who work in smaller facilities like grocery stores or health and fitness studios can use a straightforward kegerator, which is a simple and affordable option.
If you do a high-volume of business in beverage sales of kombucha or you need to store your kegs in coolers not connected to taps, you’ll want to get a more complex system. With a long draw system, you’ll need cooling lines to ensure kombucha temperature is properly maintained until it is served. You’ll also want to use a kind of tubing that is made of a harder plastic and is more resistant to flavor stain.
Kombucha also needs to be stored at a different temperature than cocktails on draft. You want to keep those kegs at 38°F. If the temperature gets above 40°, you will have problems with foaming when you serve it from the tap.
Coffee on Tap
Kegged cold brew coffee can save so much time and hassle. When you brew yourself a pot of coffee in the morning, it’s pretty simple. You set the coffee machine to “on,” and you make only what you need. That may work at home, but if you run a restaurant or a café, having your staff constantly stop to brew a new pot of coffee is time-consuming and keeps customers waiting.
A much better idea is to cold brew your coffee and then keep that on tap. Cold brew coffee takes a little longer to prepare — 12 to 24 hours — than hot brewed coffee, but offers numerous benefits. First of all, cold brew coffee is almost 70% less acidic than brewed coffee. If you find it hard to drink hot brewed coffee in the morning because it upsets your stomach, cold brewed coffee is the answer.
Cold brew coffee also maintains its taste and flavor over a longer period of time, sometimes as long as three weeks. We all know what happens to brewed coffee if it’s left to sit in the cup. It gets stale after a day. However, the chemistry of cold brew coffee doesn’t change as it cools. It’s prepared at room temperature, so the flavor profile you get with cold brew coffee when you’re prepping it doesn’t change since the temperature doesn’t change.
Benefits of Cold Brew Coffee on Draft
- Freshness. Once you’ve prepared the cold brew coffee and put it into a keg, its contact with air is restricted. This slows the oxygenation process that changes the flavor of the coffee. This is part of the reason draft cold brew coffee can last up to three weeks.
- Efficiency. By now it’s obvious that regardless of the kind of drink served on tap, you’re able to do it more efficiently than the traditional method. When you put cold brew in a keg, it allows you to serve large numbers of people more quickly and with less hassle.
- Nitro Cold Brew. This may not be for everybody, but if you want to, you can nitro cold brew draft coffee. You need the right kind of pressure and a faucet. If you decide to do it, the process gives the coffee a velvety, rich texture and a creamy head.