To my parents, cocktail consulting is a particular niche but to a cocktail consultant, that moniker is overly broad. When I stop to think about all the different services I perform as a professional, it makes my head spin like a three-martini lunch. From creative cocktail development to styling, to training, to marketing and operations management, cocktail consultant have a lot on their plates.
Cocktail Consulting Scopes of Work
Every job is a multi-faceted snowflake and entirely unique. Sometimes we are hired for a complete concept, design, and implementation of a bar concept. This project scope is extremely comprehensive consulting and comes with a lot of responsibility. Our responsibilities range from creative cocktail development, bar layout, and design, to staff recruiting and training, to operations management including POS programming, and inventory control. Sometimes we’re hired to save you from yourselves!
Other consulting jobs only require small, a la carte services like writing cocktail menus, or performing staff training and tastings. Jobs can range from just a few hours to several months, and in some cases, several years. The best cocktail consultant can give actionable advice on any element of beverage service from creative menu design, to operations and marketing.
Creative Cocktail Design
When picking out who you’re going to work with, it’s important that you get along with your consultant both personally, and stylistically. The first one is obvious; you don’t want to spend a lot of time with someone you can’t stand. Cocktail styles are incredibly diverse, and some questions you should ask a consultant before you hire them to have a lot to do with their opinions and personal preferences. For me, if I were hiring someone like me, I’d ask the following:
- What are some of your favorite bars, and why do you like them?
- How would you characterize your style?
- If you could build whatever bar you wanted, how would the bar feel?
Cocktail Consultants should be versatile, and knowledgeable.
What you’re looking for is someone who is well versed in a variety of styles ESPECIALLY THE CLASSICS. If a bartender doesn’t have at least a cursory grasp on the top cocktails every bartender should know how to make, I’m not sure I would trust them with a house specialty. Additionally, it’s essential that this person is pleasant, reliable, and inspiring to your staff. Ask around; reputation is a significant indicator — the cocktail consultant world is microscopic.
Get a proposal
It’s vital that all expectations, capabilities, milestones, and costs are laid out up front, with complete payment terms and deliverables. When everyone is clear who is responsible for what, the teamwork can begin, and we can get the job done. I like to plan out phases based on unknowables like construction and permitting delays. These kinds of slowdowns move the goal post, so it is essential to be flexible and prepared to bide your time a little bit if necessary. You should expect to pay more for more experience; the ability to quickly solve problems only comes with experience which will ultimately save you time and money. You ALWAYS get what you paid for. The way I work is to provide a proposal, and a sign proposal typically comes with an invoice for a deposit.
Engaging a Cocktail Consultant
You’ve done the work, and you’ve picked out your cocktail consultant. Now comeds the onboarding. I’m a huge fan of project management software like Trello and communication platforms like Slack. These keep everyone accountable. Having a system ensures no tasks fall through the cracks, without being buried in unnecessary paperwork. As an experienced consultant and general dweeb when it comes to organizational methodology, I’m well versed in most major platforms.
You’ve done the research, and you’ve vetted your candidates. Now it’s time to get to work building your bar and seeing your vision take shape!