How To Start A Healthy Cocktail Bar In The US

start healthy cocktail bar US

It is no secret that Americans like drinking, whether it is beer, wine, vodka, whiskey, or any other hard drink. According to a survey conducted by NSDUH in 2018, around 140 million Americans (~51% of the population) aged 12 or more were current consumers of alcohol. However, another survey conducted by IWSR in 2019 states that some of the current alcoholics in the US are seeking low sugar and low-to-no alcohol drinks, which indicates a shift in demand towards relatively healthier beverages.

According to a survey by Bacardi Global Brand Ambassador in 2020, around 63% of US consumers prefer to drink low-to-no alcohol options to cut back on calories. However, you don’t need to cut out alcohol entirely to cut down on the calories. There are ways to achieve the target while enjoying a cocktail with friends at the bar. One way is incorporating healthy choices in the cocktail menu, such as soda water mixers, clear and high proof spirits, fresh fruits, etc.

Given the growing interest in the healthy cocktail bar space, it is an excellent time for starting a healthy cocktail bar in the US. However, if you are confused about how to start the business, you are at the right place. This blog post will help you understand the steps you need to follow to venture into the US healthy cocktail bar space.

Factors Worth Remembering To Start A Healthy Cocktail Bar In The US

Opening a healthy cocktail bar is challenging as it requires a lot of market research and a robust business plan. The following list will help you cover all the bases for your healthy cocktail bar in the US.

1. Choose The Concept

The concept reflects the idea about what kind of bar you want to operate (a healthy cocktail bar in this case). So, ensure that every detail of the bar is aligned with the concept, right from the style of service to decor & ambience. Also, the concept must take cognizance of the demographics of the location, and this can be accomplished through comprehensive market research to understand the consumption needs of the locality.

2. Obtain Permits And Licenses

It is crucial to have all the appropriate permits and licenses in place, for which you may also take the help of legal counsel. The number and cost of permits and licenses needed for a bar will vary across states. Some of the common permits required are:

Employee Identification Number (EIN)

You need to apply for EIN, a prerequisite for many other permits mentioned below. Only after the EIN registration can you officially hire staff for the bar. You can visit the IRS website and fill out the EIN application online.

Liquor License

You need to contact the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control agency to get the liquor license. It allows you to sell alcoholic beverages and governs the type of alcohol you can sell and how long during the day. It is a time-consuming process and should be initiated at the earliest possible time.

Food Service License

You need to get a food service license if you plan to serve food at the bar. It ensures that the business meets the food safety regulations set by its food safety authority. You can visit the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) and apply online for the food service license.

Some of the other permits that might be required to start a cocktail bar in the US are:

  • Certificate of Occupancy
  • Music Permit
  • Dumpster Placement Permit
  • Pool Table Permit

3. Find The Ideal Location To Start A Healthy Cocktail Bar In The US

It is best to perform a location analysis before starting the bar. Some of the most critical factors that you should consider during the selection process are:

  • It should have a significant number of alcohol consumers who are also health-conscious.
  • It should be easily visible to people while driving or walking by.
  • Try to ensure that there is minimal competition nearby and the bar stands out as a unique concept.

4. Create An Appropriate Menu

The options in the menu card must align with the concept of a healthy cocktail while ensuring that it still tickles an average alcohol lover’s fancy. For instance, Avo-Keto Margarita is an example of a healthy cocktail that perfectly blends tequila with the goodness of avocado and lime. There are many such options available from which you can create the menu based on your customer preference.

start a cocktail bar in the US

5. Find Liquor Suppliers

It is crucial as you need to make a wish list of the spirits, wine, or beer that fits into the theme of healthy cocktails. The liquor suppliers should be able to replenish the stocks cost-effectively while ensuring that supply never gets disrupted.

6. Design The Kitchen Layout

You can create the draft version of the bar layout on paper, or a virtual blueprint can be made using design software. A good kitchen layout must have adequate space for the staff to move freely around tables, there must be enough space behind the bar for displays, bottle coolers, and speed rails. You can use the blueprint to choose the equipment and fixtures to fit within the space.

7. Hire Staff

You need to hire staff that is creative, motivated, and excited about their job, especially the bartenders. They should be well-aligned with the objective of the business as they are the face of the bar. Further, the bar staff should be trained well to delight the customers.

8. Promote The Bar

The potential customers and the community as a whole must know about the novel concept of the bar, and this is where advertising and marketing of the bar come into play. Some of the promotional activities that should be considered are:

  • Build a website that provides key information about the bar.
  • Share high-quality photos of your signature cocktails on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • Create a loyalty program and reward the regular customers for their support.
  • Host “Happy Hours” to entice customers through value-priced drinks.

9. Invest In A Robust POS system

Typically, the customers expect short waiting times and tend to avoid places with lousy payment systems. So, it is advisable to invest in a robust POS system that can be easily integrated with the payment processor and bar operations. Some of the significant benefits of a POS system are:

  • Facilitates tracking of orders, consumption, and storage of alcohol.
  • Uses dynamic pricing to attract more customers and boost bar sales.
  • Creates customized SMS, emails, and loyalty programs for maximum customer engagement.

By now, you are familiar with the steps to be followed to start a healthy cocktail bar in the US. You just need to plan every aspect of the bar operation ahead of time so that you can realize your dream of owning a healthy cocktail bar in the US.

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Daniel McCarthy is a seasoned restaurant consultant and serves as the Communication Manager at Restroworks, a prominent F&B SaaS company. Drawing from his vast knowledge of leveraging innovative technological solutions, Daniel excels at enhancing restaurant operations and revenue, thereby contributing to the ongoing transformation of the industry.


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