Tag Archives: Gavin MacMillan

Regulars – The Life Blood of your Business!

Cheers is a fairly good example of keeping your regulars. Everyone knew everyones name - It was almost a family!

Cheers is a fairly good example of keeping your regulars. Everyone knew everyones name - It was almost a family!

Most bars have a small group of regular clientele that frequent their establishment. They are the loyal clients who, more often than not, tip well and don’t ask for any special kind of service. In many cases they are the types who spend thousands a year in your bar or restaurant. They are the cornerstones of your business, you certainly can’t afford to lose them, so the question clearly is how do you keep them and how do you get more of them?

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Where has all Your Profit Gone?

Your money is flying away; you'd better catch it!

Your money is flying away; you'd better catch it!

2011 is going to be an amazing year. The economy is coming out of a recession, people are opening their wallets again, and sales outlooks are all positive for the next 12 months. 2011 will also be a banner year in terms of opportunities to invest in your business. At times like these, traditional service industry staff turnover rates of 50%-65% plummet; and the employees in your bar are more loyal than ever before.

This column will be a four part directive for making your bar more profitable through systems and training. I’ll give you techniques and numbers that will make your bar more profitable… Guaranteed. In this issue, I’ll be discussing commonly overlooked areas where your bar is bleeding money. In the next issue I’ll tackle the importance of training your staff to stay ahead of industry trends so you’re offering beverage products and service that will make your guests come back for more with cash in hand… read on!

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Social Networking for Bars… Are Facebook and Twitter right for your bar?

Social networking is full of endless opportunities for your establishment

Social networking is full of endless opportunities for your establishment

Social Networking has a lot in common with the operation of restaurants and bars every day. In fact, before Facebook and Twitter came along, most social networking happened in bars… but it was done verbally instead of through text comments and posts. Everywhere you look, you see Facebook and Twitter. Have you dismissed it as “something that the young people do?” Running a successful social networking campaign is tricky, there are lots of ways to waste your time and money, but if you work it properly it can add value to your business and bring people through your doors. I hope this piece will provide some clarity and direction for what you and your staff should and shouldn’t be doing with social networks like Facebook, Twitter and youTube.

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Moving up to Cocktails!

Would you rather receive the tip from a Rum & Coke ($4) or a $10 Cocktail? Be the difference between an 'Order taker' and a 'Mixologist'.

Would you rather receive the tip from a Rum & Coke ($4) or a $10 Cocktail? Be the difference between an 'Order taker' and a 'Mixologist'.

Vodka sodas and Gin and tonics are fine, but as Canada starts making a move to catch up with the cocktail epicentres of the world, it’s time to take a serious look at your cocktail offering. Many restaurants are still stuck in the late 1990’s Martini cocktail phase, where drinks full of liqueurs and postmix juices, served in oversized martini glasses. Those days are gone, and the cocktails that are replacing those juicy martinis are elegant, sophisticated drinks, full of flavour and ripe with profitability.

We have all heard of suggestive selling, but few servers practice, many simply fall into the rut of being an order taker. It’s worth noting over 50% of drinkers are unaware of price at the time that they place the order, and that over 60% of guests will take the advice or recommendation of a server or bartender. so taking your guests from a Vodka and Cranberry to a Cosmopolitan should really be a piece of cake. The ingredients hardly differ at all, simply decrease the amount of Cranberry and add a splash of orange liqueur. The cost differential is minimal but your opportunity to sell the end product for a premium is tremendous.

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TFL 4…Flair in the City

photo.jpgThe Toronto Flair League’s biggest competition to date was clearly TFL#3 as competitors from across the world got together to take part in the event.

Following TFL#3, the promoters got together and decided that there needed to be some changes to the direction that the league was headed in.

There have been many different up-start flair bartending groups or organizations over the years, and they all had one thing in common. The FBA, or Flair Bartending Association, which is the governing body in the world of flair bartending. This meant that each organization could host competitions, and could ask the FBA to judge, as they are currently the standard for how all of the major flair bartending competitions are judged.

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Flair and the City… of Toronto!

Toronto Flair League #2 August 31st 2010

Toronto Flair League #2 August 31st 2010

On the heels of a very successful first competition, the Toronto Flair League was thinking bigger and better for TFL#2 which was to take place on August 31st 2010.

The roster for the second flair bartending competition had grown from 22, to 29 bartenders.  Much like TFL#1, there were two divisions; amateur, and advanced.  Amateur competitors would receive three minutes of show time, and the advanced competitors would perform for four. Both amateur and advanced competitors were required to create two cocktails; one with working flair, and one with exhibition flair.

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The Tipping Point.

Great service is so hard to come by; If only we could all have giant forks.

Great service is so hard to come by; If only we could all have giant forks.

I’m ticked off. You might even say I’m at the tipping point. I’m fed up with receiving mediocre drinks and dealing with snotty bartenders who think they deserve to get tipped for service that is average at best.

Each year, I’m lucky to be able to go some place warm for the first week of January to unwind, recharge and set goals for the year. I usually look for a destination that has a namesake cocktail; last year I got to work with some amazing bartenders in Fiji. While I taught them a little bit about mixology, they schooled me how to make the perfect blue lagoon while standing in the Blue Lagoon in the Yasawa Islands.

Shortly thereafter I travelled to Miami in search of the best made mojito outside of Havana, Cuba. The offering up and down the Miami Beach strip was, quite frankly, pathetic. Most bartenders used mint syrup instead of fresh mint, lime and sugar. They also treated our party like an interruption rather than the reason for their employment. In Miami, I was told to “wait a moment” because the bartender was watching television. Then he not only charged me an 18 per cent automatic gratuity on the single mojito I purchased but had the gall to ask for an additional tip.

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The Classics Reborn – Have you noticed a trend forming in the ever-changing world of cocktails?

Yes, being innovative in the cocktail world is great, but you must know how to make a quality classic!

Yes, being innovative in the cocktail world is great, but you must know how to make a quality classic!

The last couple of years have seen countless changes behind the bar. In fact, if you can dream it, you’ll probably see it at a bar near you, where bar chefs continually redefine “thinking outside the box.” Flavoured spirits, infusions, dry ice, flamed garnishes, muddled drinks and the inclusion of herbs and fresh fruit are all testament to this. With the world now at our fingertips, it isn’t hard for your establishment be on the forefront of the next big thing, the next beverage revolution.

Here’s the kicker. Refined versions (or re-defined versions) of old school cocktails are in. Signature drinks such as Cosmopolitans and Sidecars are back with a vengeance, revamped for a taste that is familiar, yet new. Ingredients like pomegranate and green tea, for example, are adding a whole new level of flavour and sophistication to the traditional martini.

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Molecular Mixology

There are so many possibilities within Mixology; Incorporating one or more than one element of molecular can blow your guests' minds!

There are so many possibilities within Mixology; Incorporating one or more than one element of molecular can blow your guests' minds!

There has been tremendous buzz in the bartending world for the past few years regarding the term “molecular mixology.” While the name itself can be a little intimidating, molecular mixology can be distilled down into one fundamental distinction. It is simply the process of changing the state of a liquid into a solid or gas.

While the bar and kitchen working together is certainly nothing new, the bar has begun taking cues from culinary predecessors; bartending is making a shift towards incorporating science into cocktails. The latest trend is something being referred to as ‘molecular mixology,’ the bar equivalent of a molecular approach to gastronomy, which has made leaps and bounds in the kitchen in the past few years.

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The Bitter Truth – Elevating Customers’ Taste Experiences.

Bitters; the salt and pepper of the drink world!

Bitters; the salt and pepper of the drink world!

I’ve been bartending for longer than I can remember and, to be honest, it was years before I ever opened a bottle of bitters.

While working in Australia I was introduced to bitters as one of the ingredients in the hangover cure trifecta — lemon, lime and bitters. Made with lemonade (or 7Up to those of us who live in North America), lime cordial and the magic “bitters,” this elixir is used to settle the stomach.

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