Should cocktails be served on tap?

6th April, 2018 by admin

Rich Woods, head of spirit and cocktail development at Duck & Waffle, London

We opened Duck & Waffle Local in London’s Haymarket in May. The entire bar offering has been built around a cellar-­management system and is designed to deliver keg cocktails. The concept of the site was to offer a fast­-paced, casual style of service, so the drinks had to hit the table before the food. In any restaurant, this is always the aim but in this environment the serve time has to be sped up.

I approach anything I do with drinks with a bartender’s heart and a businessman’s mind. Creatively, it had to make enough noise to encourage people in but it also had to make sense from a business perspective. I didn’t expect everyone to get it straight away, and there are still some sceptics. My aim wasn’t to gain appreciation, it was to offer an exceptional product at an equally exceptional pace. Having cocktails on keg fits with our motto, ‘Consistency, Efficiency and Speed’.

For those who have protested and vented that the ‘craft’ has been taken away, it’s all rubbish. Our industry is about hospitality first. Delivering drinks at a quicker pace allows us to give customers a greater service. The so­-called ‘craft’ with kegs is all back of house. Drinks taste different in varying conditions; acidity, sweetness, carbonation, stability and dilution are all contributing factors that we need to consider.

A Negroni is one of my favourite classics, but the standard of equal parts will change massively in a keg. Within the keg you have to account for dilution, which must come from water, as you can’t put any ice in a keg. Then there are the sweetness and bitterness levels, which will increase as you leave the ingredients to marry.

One of the biggest advantages to this system is the amount of time spent on a stock take has been reduced as all products are counted by weight rather than volume.

Because of our use of kegs, at the back end of Duck & Waffle Local our beverage wastage was reduced to under 0.5% of net, I reduced my payroll by 2% month on month and added a minimum of one point to my profit and loss. From a business perspective, these are rewarding figures. I think keg cocktails are a part of the future – maybe not the be-­all and end-­all but for the right environment and conditions they are perfect.

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