Bars, Bartending, Management

How to Build a Cocktail Bible

By Reggie Woo


Reggie Woo

July 18, 2016

Posted in Restaurant Management, Industry & Culture

Here’s everything you need for an effective house cocktail bible.

So, you’ve decided to sit down and chronicle all of your bar’s cocktails, so that they may stand the test of time and your rookie bartender’s brain. But, where to begin? And what exactly do you need to include to make your establishment’s cocktail bible truly useful for you and your staff?

Let’s run down everything a great cocktail bible should feature.

Organized and Standardized Recipes

This will seem like a no-brainer for some, but the more unorganized the cocktail recipes in your bible are, the more likely errors will occur in your bartender’s memory. Following the same patterns throughout your cocktail bible, whether it be measuring formats, the order of spirits and even the order of cocktails, will go leaps and bounds into creating lasting mental impressions for your bartenders.

If you’re struggling to generate a format for your recipes, it can go something like this:

Old Fashioned

  • 1.5 oz Bulleit Rye
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 dashes plain water

Muddle sugar, bitters, water in Old Fashioned glass. Fill with ice cubes. Add whiskey. Garnish with orange peel.

Measuring everything in a specific number of ounces and dashes and organizing cocktails around base spirits are great standard practices to optimize your bible.

Includes Cocktails That Aren’t On Your Menu

It can be really easy to only cover the cocktails featured on your menu and be done with it. We understand that hammering out recipes for all of the classic cocktails might seem like a towering task when you have a million other things on your plate. But, not every person will stick to the confines of your menu. There will be people asking for cocktails they will expect your bar staff to know.

If you don’t want your less-experienced bartenders to pull random recipes from their smartphones, having off-menu cocktails in your bible is the only way to reasonably guarantee the same cocktail every time. We recommend the IBA (International Bartenders Association)’s Unforgettables and Contemporary Classics lists as great launching points.

Easily Accessible To Your Staff At All Times

We’re all human. There are going to be those moments when you just can’t for the life of you remember the exact ingredients of a Toronto. (Rye, Fernet, simple, bitters, orange peel garnish, FYI.)

Instead of forcing you and your bartenders to struggle to recall on the fly, it can be life-saving to have a dedicated printed copy of your bible tucked away in a discreet corner of the bar for those brain fart emergencies. Hosting your cocktail bible on a cloud-based digital system like Google Drive can also make you and your bartender’s lives that much easier, especially if you’re already using an iPad to host your POS system and bar management technology.

If you thought this was helpful in better managing your cocktail program, feel free to check out our free resources like the Drink Price Calculator. Also, let us know which essential cocktails you think need to be covered in a cocktail bible in the comments section below.

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