Beverage Functions Chapter Five
Beverage functions almost always include food today • It is unusual for a beverage function to offer only alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks • At the very least, clients want to include a few hors d' oeuvres or dry snacks. • In view of increasing host and host-property liability, the wise catering executive will not book events that offer only alcoholic beverages.
Purpose of the Beverage Function • Gives the catering sales representative an insight into the client's wishes • Invaluable when working with the client to create an exciting, memorable event • There are many reasons why clients schedule beverage functions • However, unlike meal functions, there tends to be at least one common thread appearing in all of them: the events usually serve as a way for guests to socialize and practice networking.
Beverage functions offer guests a chance to visit with other guests in a relaxed, leisurely setting • New acquaintances are made and old ones rekindled • Job openings are circulated • Hot tips are exchanged • And the seeds of many successful business dealings are planted.
Timing • Usually they are scheduled after 5:00 p m • Occasionally, you may be asked to offer poured-wine service, and/or specialty drinks such as mimosas or Bloody Marys, at a brunch or luncheon meal function • However, it is less common today for a client to request liquor service before the end of the normal business day.
Pre-meal Functions • Many beverage receptions are scheduled before a meal • Pre-meal receptions, allow strangers the opportunity to get acquainted • If a guest is invited to a meal function where he or she knows very few of the other guests, it is much easier to meet them while strolling through a reception area than it is by sitting at one dining table for the whole evening.
In Place of a Meal • Some receptions are scheduled in lieu of a meal • A cocktail reception scheduled from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm usually should offer a reasonable variety of foods so that guests can select enough of them to satisfy the appetite and create a meal • Even if these guests expect to go out to dinner later, the host usually must see to it that sufficient foods are offered to suit those guests who will not make alternate dining plans.
By knowing as much as possible about clients' needs, desires, and objectives, the catering executive can suggest the types of functions that will satisfy them adequately.
Menu Planning • It is relatively easy to develop a drink menu • If the client wants a particular type of drink, you can provide it • If you do not have the necessary ingredients in stock, you usually can get them before the date booked for the function • If you have sufficient production and service equipment to handle a standard drink menu, you essentially have enough equipment to prepare and serve just about any type of drink clients and guests might request.
Beverage Trends • Declining hard liquor sales • Flat wine sales • Increase in light beer, imports and micro-brews • Increase in specialty drinks • Quality vs Quantity (i.e., consuming finer vintages) • More neutral beverages (non-alcoholic)
Spirits • Another term for "hard liquor.” • Includes distilled beverages, such as Bourbon, Scotch, Gin, Vodka, Brandy, Rum, and a variety of blends. • The most popular spirit for females is Vodka and the most popular spirit for males is Scotch, followed by Vodka. • Spirits can be taken straight, on the rocks, or as highballs or cocktails, mixed with a variety of ingredients.
Consumption • Trends suggest that overall consumption will average 3 drinks per person during a normal reception period • Assuming that 50% of the people will order spirits, you should order the quantities on the next slide for every 100 guests:
Demographics and History • Take demographics and the group's history into account as well • Remember that the figures on the previous slide are averages and will not apply to every group • Whenever possible, try to obtain the history of the group for a more accurate estimate • A group of mainly women would tend to drink more wine than spirits.
Wine • Wine consumption trends show that overall consumption will average 3 glasses per person during a normal reception period • Assuming that 50% of the people will order wine, you should order thirty 750 ml bottles for every 100 guests. • Wine consumption trends also suggest 30 to 40 percent of people will drink red wine.
Beer • Beer is classed by domestic or imported • Domestic beers would include Budweiser, Coors and Michelob • Don't forget to add light beers, such as Bud Light, Miller's Lite or Coors Light • Imported beers would include Heineken, Molson and Corona • There are also specialty beers from microbreweries
Beer • Beer is no longer considered low-class and more and more women are drinking this beverage • The varieties and subtleties of beer can be as complex as wine • It can be pale and sparkly or dark and coppery. • Kegs of beer would be appropriate for an outdoor barbecue or picnic, or where a low price is a key factor.
Neutral Beverages • Neutral beverages are non-alcoholic beverages • This includes effervescent or still water; citrus-flavored, carbonated, sugar-free beverages; coffee; herbal and decaffeinated teas; non-alcoholic wines or beers; juices, sodas, etc.
Labor Charges • Sometimes labor charges are waived • A very large party that generates considerable food, beverage, and in the case of a hotel, sleeping-room revenues, may receive complimentary bartenders and cocktail servers • Labor charges may also be waived if the beverage function generates a specified amount of business • The caterer may charge the client for three bartenders to staff a cash bar, but note in the catering contract that half of the charge will be rebated if 300 drinks are consumed, and all of the charge will be rebated if 500 drinks are consumed.
Bartenders • One bar/bartender per every 85 - 100 guests is standard • If all guests are arriving at once, or the host doesn't want the guests standing in long lines, you can provide one bar/bartender for every 50 or 75 guests • Unless this is a very lucrative group, you would pass these labor charges to the client.
Charge for Bartenders • Usually clients must hire a minimum number of bartenders for a minimum number of hours • A hotel may have a policy that all beverage functions must have at least one bartender working a 4-hour shift • Usually the labor charge for bartenders is based on a sliding scale • For instance, if two bartenders are scheduled, the client may have to pay $125.00 for the first hour, $75.00 for the second hour, and $50.00 for every hour thereafter.
Bar Backs • Generally speaking, there is no separate charge for bar backs • Their cost is normally included in the charge assessed for bartenders • If two bartenders are purchased by a client, their cost will normally include the cost of one bar back needed to assist them replenish ice, stock, glasses, etc.
Cocktail Servers • Cocktail servers can cost almost as much as bartenders • If a client wants a few cocktail servers this little touch of luxury will add significantly to the final bill. • Some clients view cocktail servers as an unnecessary cost • If a beverage function has two or three portable bars set up throughout the room, it may be more convenient to let guests give their orders directly to bartenders instead of to cocktail servers.
Cashiers • Some facilities will not allow clients to schedule cash bars unless they employ at least one cashier • They do not let bartenders handle cash since the extra work of making change will slow down service significantly • Bartenders handling cash also creates additional security problems • Separate cashiers are an excellent form of financial checks and balances and must be used if tight cost control is desired • Furthermore, money is dirty and can create a sanitation problem with bartenders handling money and beverages simultaneously.
Corkage • Some clients may want to bring in their own liquor and have it served at their beverage functions • Some clients think they will save money by avoiding the higher prices charged by the facility • In other cases, though, clients are not concerned about cost, but are motivated strictly by the desire to serve something special that only they are able to obtain.
Corkage • The corkage fee charged is typically based on the facility's estimated labor cost needed to handle the products • You may need labor to receive a special delivery, store it, possibly refrigerate it, and deliver it to the portable bar • You also may need labor to set up a clean drink area, keep it clean, maintain clean glassware and sufficient ice, and so forth • The more expense involved, the higher the corkage fee must be.
Package Plans • Most facilities offer a package plan for groups of 50 or more attendees • Packages generally include portable bars, bartenders and full set-ups • Can be Call or Premium brand liquors • Includes wines, beers, mixers, juices, garnishes, etc. • Usually charged per person based on guarantee or actual attendance, whichever is higher.
Hospitality Suites • Usually held in a hotel suite • In some cases, a hospitality suite is held in a public area, such as a small meeting room converted to a hospitality suite, or a restaurant banquet room which may be less expensive than a hotel suite • It may be more convenient for guests to locate • Other benefits include room for a band or disc jockey, room for a dance floor, and room for a buffet.
Hospitality Suites • Hospitality suites are normally open only in the evening, after the regular convention business day is over • Attendees who wish to expand their social horizons like to make the rounds of these hospitality suites in order to meet friends, acquaintances, and business associates, and to cast their networking web as wide as possible.
Hospitality Suites • Some hospitality suites offer a full bar, others are beer and wine only • Some offer a wide range of food, others provide only dry snacks. • If convention attendees have an open evening, you can promote more food • If they are coming directly from a dinner, you can suggest desserts, flavored coffees and cappuccinos.
Poured Wine Service • Part of a meal function • Many dinner events include one or two wines • Sometimes the wines are opened and preset on the dining tables and guests serve themselves • Or the food servers may be responsible for serving the wine. • At more elaborate meals, cocktail servers, supervised by a sommelier, may be in charge of wine service • This is especially true if guests are offered a choice of wines • It is also more common when a rare and/or expensive wine is served with each course.
Wines • It is important to be familiar with your wine list • You should be prepared to offer wine recommendations that would complement your client's menu choices • You should match the body of the wine with the body of the dish • The body and acidity of wine are as important as its flavors, when matching it with food • A high acid food, such as tomato sauce, would be best suited to a high acid wine, such as Chianti.
Wines • White wines and blush wines are served chilled and best served with light dishes and delicately flavored foods • Red wines are served at room (cellar) temperature, and are best served with medium to hearty foods. • Varietal wines are named for the grape variety that is used to make the wine • US regulations require that at least 75 percent of the grape variety must be used in making the wine • Examples of white varietal wine would be Chardonnay or Reisling • Red varietal wines include Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon • Blush wines would include White Zinfandel and Rosé.
Liquor Laws • While there is some similarity in liquor laws throughout the nation, usually each state, and particularly each local municipality, have unique liquor codes • Catering salespersons must know these rules.
Illegal Liquor Sales • No matter where the facility is located in the U.S., there are at least four types of illegal liquor sales that must be avoided by a catering facility: • Sales to Minors • Sales to Intoxicated Persons • Hours of Operation • Liquor License
Potential Liquor Code Violations • Depending on location: • Not serving food with alcoholic beverages • BYOB • Providing free liquor • Self-service • Alcoholic content of liquor • Amount of alcohol per drink • Disposition of leftover liquor
Alcohol Awareness Training • Some local municipalities require anyone who sells, serves, distributes, or gives away alcoholic beverages to take an approved server-awareness training course before they are allowed to work in a licensed alcohol beverage establishment.
Third Party Liability • If you serve an intoxicated guest, or a minor, and he or she goes out and hurts an innocent third party, the facility, server, and host may be liable for damages to the injured person • Some states have passed dram-shop laws that specify exactly your liability in these instances • Under dram-shop legislation, if it is proved that you served a minor or legally intoxicated person who causes damage to a third party, you usually will be held at least partially responsible.