Kegged premium cocktails on draft (or draught) seems to be picking up once again in the On Trade, as per the recent announcement in the UK from Funkin. They have announced the release of their new range of premium batched draught cocktails including: the Pornstar Martini, Piña Colada, Pink Grapefruit Gin Collins, and the Mojito. But will it catch on?
“Having worked in a variety of outlets throughout my career, the draught cocktail concept is one that allows bartenders to serve quality cocktails in a flash, giving them time to engage with the customer and enhance their overall experience.” said Funkin innovation champion Aiste Valiukaite
This is very true and to be fair, cocktails on tap are nothing new for the obvious reasons and benefits: faster service, especially relevant at peak hours; increased profits due to less time spent by staff per drink made and sold; consistency of product regardless of bartending staff experience; opportunity for product sampling to consumers and driving trial as product is pre-made; opportunity also to push flights of cocktails more easily and quickly; and finally it opens up the option of carbonated cocktails.
“When well done, to me they’re indistinguishable from regular ones. I do miss the whole ritual of mixing the drink, though (I’m a strong believer that psychological factors affect our palates). When poorly done, they’re indistinguishable from Snapple.”
The trend of cocktails on tap has been around for a while, whether through simple cocktail mixes (such as the whisky highball in Asia) or more complex cocktails. It uses technology originally developed to dispense beer and wine. They can be batched at the bar using fresh ingredients or bought in as a ready-to-serve solution.
However, cocktails on tap also carry a certain amount of risk. Some of the challenges to be overcome include kegging. If kegging the cocktail, you will need some way for it to be agitated in order to avoid the cocktail from separating. Darren Grenia from Yours Sincerely bar in Brooklyn USA (as per a Tales of the Cocktails article on the topic) invested in special cocktail kegs that stir the drinks, as he says
“It injects the gas in a different way and it’s ideal for carbonation and good for the nitrogen pour, because it keeps the cocktail in constant motion”
If the cocktail is batched by the bar and uses fresh ingredients such as citrus juices, these tend to degrade quickly and could result in wastage. Plus batching the cocktail may be more difficult to ensure consistency of serve than for a single serve cocktail a the bar.
Esquire magazine predicted 2013 to be “the year of the kegged cocktail”. Perhaps it was too soon given the quality available at the time but maybe now it is the time to reconsider cocktails on tap as another positive option available for the On Trade. For bartenders this would not replace the craft of cocktail making, but rather would be used as another tool to work in tandem with their skills in creating craft cocktails and bringing it to a wider audience.
Below is also a video from Pernod Ricard outlining how they pushed Cocktails on Tap in Australia to meet examples of large demand on an initiative led by Jamie Terrell:
Some interesting links for those interested on the topic include: