THE perfect gin and tonic, clinking with ice in a sparkling clean hi-ball glass; or a cold lager, the pint glass beading with condensation – one way in which the licensed trade can combat the trend towards at-home drinking is by giving customers an experience that they can’t replicate at home.
And as well as the atmosphere and ambience of a bar or restaurant, that means serving drinks at the optimum temperature in the correct glassware.
Getting the serving vessel right can have a major impact on customers’ perceptions of a venue, glassware firms told SLTN last week.
“Using the correct glassware can make a huge difference,” said Kevin Thomson, tabletop sales manager at Instock Group.
“The lasting impression of a customer ordering a brandy after an expensive meal will not be good if it comes in a scratched 10oz slim jim hi-ball. Similarly, a customer buying a £40, £50 or £100 bottle of Champagne will not be impressed to have it served in 50p mismatched flutes.
“So often you see glassware put to the back of the priority list; venues spend a vast amount on fixtures and fittings and then fall flat as the glassware – the product the customer interacts with most – is an afterthought.”
Thomson advised operators to consider their clientele when choosing glassware, highlighting stemmed beer glasses as being more ‘female-friendly’. And he said carrying ‘spares’ is “essential”.
“A restaurant should look to have one and a half times the number of glasses compared to the number of table settings they have; this allows time for cleaning and turning tables,” added Thomson.
“Similarly, a bar needs enough operating stock that at the busiest periods glasses have time to be cleaned and allowed to cool. A customer who gets a second round in completely different, mismatched glasses is unlikely to be impressed.”
The importance of using the correct glassware was underlined by the Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands’ (BBFB) Training Team, which said it can boost the bottom line and “enhance the overall drinking experience”.
“Glassware has become more and more important in customers’ buying decisions and can either reinforce or totally undermine a sense of quality,” said a BBFB spokeswoman.
“The size of the glass is also just as important as the quality of the glass.
“The kind of glass picked can give you the right proportions for a drink; too big and the spirit is drowned with the mixer, too small and the drink is too strong.”
And it’s not just a case of buying in the right glassware.
Proper maintenance and cleaning are just as important, according to Craig Straton, accounts manager at glasswasher supplier Sims Automatics.
Highlighting the importance of the ‘widget’ in a pint glass – the laser-etched pattern which helps maintain carbonation and the head on the beer – Straton said properly-cleaned glassware is key to delivering the ‘perfect serve’.
“These days with many of our pint glasses containing the ‘magic widget’, it is crucial that glasses are cleaned to perfection to enable this glass technology to work at its optimum,” he said.
“If a glass is just hand-cleaned in solution or by using hedgehogs the clean is not deep enough; a film slowly appears over the widget making it ineffective. This leads to customers complaining about flat beer, publicans contacting brewers about dodgy gas, lines or kegs; and, more often than not, this is simply down to a glass not being clean.
“We look to provide our customers old and new with glasswashers from the Hobart range with the hot/cold rinse option, which provides the facility to rinse cold, enabling the site to use the glass straight from the washer. A hot glass will lead to a flat beer.”
Other features operators should consider when choosing a glasswasher include fast wash cycles and adjustable water pressure.
“This feature is especially important if you have delicate glasses or serve drinks, such as premium lagers, in branded glassware,” said Paul Crowley of Winterhalter UK.
“Lowering the water pressure protects the glasses and the decoration. On the other hand, if the glasses are tough and heavily soiled, adjusting to a higher water pressure will ensure they get thoroughly cleaned.”
Adam Krause, operations manager at Sammic UK, also advised operators to carefully consider where the glasswasher will be located.
“Prior to committing to purchase any equipment requiring drainage, take the time to check exactly where the unit will be installed and where the drain (stand pipe) is positioned in relation to it,” said Krause.
“If you buy a unit without a drain pump and your drains are higher than the outlet of the machine (normally located at the base) you will not be able to drain the unit. This will result in a costly resolution and potentially a return of the unit.”
And the checks and balances don’t end once the glasswasher is in situ behind the bar.
A regular cleaning and maintenance regime is essential for the glasswasher to deliver optimum results.
“Once your machine is installed, make sure it is regularly cleaned, filters are checked and unblocked, and that the correct detergents and chemicals are used,” said Nick Oryino, chair of the Catering Equipment Suppliers’ Association.
“This will help ensure the machine is working at optimum performance and, thus, minimise energy, chemical and water consumption.
“Longer term, the best way to look after equipment is to have it regularly serviced. Cost-wise it’s a win-win: efficient operation minimises running costs and regular servicing will maximise the life of the equipment.”