Your menus are set, your reservations book is filling fast and the stage is set for maximising the business opportunity that Valentine’s Day presents. So, what drinks to serve? Here are Take […]
Get the candles out. Turn up the romantic (but not too cheesy) music. Separate the tables into twos. It’s time to spread the love!
In 2021, Valentine’s Day got lost in lockdown so couldn’t be celebrated in normal style, although many venues made the best of it and provided customers with food and drink takeaways and meal kits. All being well, come February, you’ll be able to welcome loved-up couples back into your venue.
Widen the celebration
As Valentine’s 2022 falls on a Monday, there is a great opportunity to stretch the occasion over the previous weekend to create additional sales and profit. For example, on the Saturday and Monday evenings, you could host the traditional Valentine’s meal; Sunday brunch or lunch could be transformed into a romantic meal for two; and Monday lunchtime you could sell takeaway treats as gifts for partners. Capitalise on this by putting on a mocktail masterclass. Get customers behind the bar having a go themselves. To make it more personal, when they book ask them their drink preferences (sweet, sour, bitter) and tailor the session to that. To encourage more spend, offer 20% off lunch or dinner on the day.
Valentine’s Day is traditionally a time when people want to eat out, however, for those who might not be comfortable with that or would prefer a meal and drinks at home, consider providing beautifully presented meal kits and takeaway options, particularly if you have reached capacity in your outlet. If you’re offering take-home drinks, make sure you have the right licences. It’s a special occasion when customers like to spend more on those extra special touches – passion fruit cocktail kit, anyone?
“58% of consumers say they will treat themselves to more expensive food at Valentine’s than they usually have at home, and 44% will buy more expensive drinks and drinks brands than usual.”
Steak and chips
It’s a must on any Valentine’s menu, but you can elevate yours to stand out. First up, consider the chips. You can go for quality ready-made fries to pop in the oven or fryer, or push the boat out with hand-cut, triple-cooked, super-crisp-but-fluffy-in-the-middle chips, fried in beef dripping. Yum.
Offer sauce options to give customers the opportunity to upgrade. The simple steak could come with garlic butter, while the add-ons include chimichurri, blue cheese or peppercorn sauce. Create a customised menu, giving your customers the choice to pick a side or two of their choosing – beer-battered onion rings, roasted vine tomatoes and garlic and thyme Portobello mushrooms all make tempting additions.
Fizz and flowers
To create an easy, all-in Valentine’s experience, include flowers and fizz as part of your eat-in deal. Flowers are one of the most popular gifts for Valentine’s Day. Go classic with a single red rose, or think seasonal, teaming up with a local florist who could provide colourful, simple bouquets as a lovely surprise for the recipient.
For the fizz element, provide the option of having a bottle to take home or customers can indulge in a couple of glasses on the night.
Pasta and cheese
It might not sound like the most romantic of combinations but it’s actually a match made in heaven, especially when you add some Valentine’s sparkle and luxury.
Menu options could be butternut squash, spinach and gruyère lasagne, macaroni cheese with truffle oil, crab or lobster, or off er the on-trend and indulgent cacio e pepe. This is a simple dish from Rome which translates as ‘cheese and pepper’. It’s essentially spaghetti (or pici, a fat spaghetti) tossed with plenty of black pepper, pecorino cheese and the water from the cooked pasta, which magically emulsifies to create a wonderfully rich and tasty dish.
Cocktails and canapés
A simple way to upgrade your Valentine’s and whet customers’ appetite is with a prestarter course of small bites and a cocktail.
Canapés have the reputation of being fancy but there are many easy versions that are quick to make, yet look premium. Try blinis (small pancakes) or mini toasts with toppings – you can buy both readymade. Thick slices of cucumber also make great value vessels for tasty additions. Toppings could include smoked salmon and dill cream cheese, guacamole with a sliver of roasted pepper or mozzarella with pesto and a sundried tomato.
For the cocktails, go for fruity gins or liqueurs such as Raspberry Whitley Neill Gin or Chambord. Pair the gin with sparkling wine, and Chambord with dry white wine and soda for a refreshing spritz.
Chocolate and coffee
These two are up there as one of the top matches in the culinary world, beautifully complementing and bringing out the best flavours in each other. They’re versatile, too, working across drinks and desserts.
Incorporate them into your menu with a chocolate espresso martini to end the meal or an espresso with chocolate truffle. Alternatively, combine them in a delicious pud – mousses, cheesecakes, chocolate tiramisu and panna cotta all work well. A roulade is gluten-free and makes a special dessert too.
“Cocktail sales were up 96% on Valentine’s Day and champagne saw a 50% uplift”