A quality hot beverage menu can fire up your business into the colder months.


The changing seasons mean the days are shorter and the air is crisp, and customers are soon to be clamoring for festive fall and winter additions to your menu. Give them what they want with an upgraded hot beverage program.


Start with Coffee

You probably already have coffee on your menu, but how much care does your coffee program really get? It’s time to take a look at ways to make coffee more exciting. Reach out to local roasters or brands you love from around the country to see if you can offer their selections on your menu, giving you additional talking points for coffee-conscious consumers. Or, take it a step further and find a roaster who is willing to create a custom blend for your brand.

Flavored coffees are also especially popular this time of year. You don’t have to go full-on barista to include a few flavored selections on your menu. Using extracts, homemade syrups, or even spices thrown right in with the coffee grounds are all easy ways to add flavor without needing to purchase extra inventory.

Call out the fine points of your coffee program on your menu, including where your coffee is from and the process you use to make it (for example, if you use a French Press or pour-over), and train your waitstaff to be well-versed in any potential questions guests may have about your brews.


Get Boozy with ItThe Heat Is On

Hot cocktails are an excellent way to add excitement to your fall/winter beverage menu. Look to the classics, like hot buttered rum, mulled cider, Irish coffee, and hot toddies, and find ways to make them your own. The hot tea-based cocktail is a category that’s worth exploring as well. And a good eggnog has been known to inspire a cult following. Work with your beverage team to create cocktails that will have guests whipping out their phones to snap a pic, with festive garnishes and extra special touches.


Dress It Up

Ask your pastry staff if they can develop little treats (mignardises) to accompany coffee and other hot beverages. Biscotti, for example, is a low-cost add-on that can make a guest’s coffee experience feel more special. If you offer hot chocolate, see if your pastry staff can create fluffy flavored marshmallows to stack on top. A fancy marshmallow can justify spending more on a drink than a guest might normally be willing to spend because the overall experience is fun and whimsical. Truffles and shortbread cookies can also make great additions that are inexpensive to create.


Try the Trends

Your beverage program can be a good low-risk place to follow the trends. Pay attention to trending ingredients in cooking magazines and on social media and look for ways to include those ingredients in your hot drinks. Adaptogens (herbs and mushrooms that supposedly support the body's natural ability to deal with stress), more exotic ingredients such as dragonfruit and prickly pear, and low-abv and alcohol-free beverages are all trending right now.


Train Waitstaff to Sell

When you complete your fall/winter beverage menu, it’s important to make sure your waitstaff has a chance to sample the new selections so that they can properly advise guests about each drink. Go over the menu with them, educating as necessary on any ingredients or techniques that might be new or unusual. Train servers to include the new offerings in their spiel and to suggest pairings that work well with specific desserts.

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