Ask any seasoned restaurant professional and they will tell you Valentine’s Day is one of the busiest restaurant nights of the year (with Mother’s Day, New Year’s Eve and the day before Thanksgiving rounding out the contenders). Valentine’s Day (February 14th) is right around the corner, and you can expect to see bars, restaurants and hotels looking to capitalize on the holiday by stretching the festivities out through the weekend and through the holiday.
If you’re planning to work on this most important date-night, it presents a great opportunity to make a king’s ransom in tip money, and wow your guests at the same time. Your guests are already guaranteed to be in a happy, celebratory mood as soon as they sit down, you can help elevate their night-out even further with some extra attention and a few simple suggestions to make it extra special.
First, why not suggest a romantic or Valentine’s-Day themed cocktail to start out with? For a classy, traditional drink to celebrate the occasion, you can always recommend a good bottle of champagne or a classic martini. Make sure to be knowledgeable about different champagnes you have on hand, this is one of the most popular celebratory drinks, and knowing the nuances of which bottles you have available demonstrates your knowledge and capability as a bartender or server. If you’d like to recommend a fun, fruity cocktail, here are a few suggestions:
The Bitter Crush (Epicurious.com).
- Crushed ice
- 2 ounces (1/4 cup) Aperol (bitter orange aperitif)
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) white rum
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 dashes orange bitters
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar
- Garnish: 1 (1 1/2-inch-long) lemon twist
Fill an 8- to 10-ounce highball glass with crushed ice. Stir together Aperol, rum, lemon juice, and bitters in a small glass measuring cup. Add sugar to taste, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then pour over ice.
The Be Mine Mojito (Recipe by Bridget Albert for Oprah.com).
- 1 1/2 ounces Bacardi Razz (white rum optional)
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1/2 lime , freshly squeezed
- 12 to 14 fresh mint leaves
- 4 raspberries
- 4 blackberries
- Sprig of mint
In a tall glass, lightly muddle the lime juice, 3 raspberries, 3 blackberries, simple syrup and mint leaves. The trick is to muddle just enough to release the oils from the mint leaves while leaving them intact. Add crushed ice and rum, and top with soda. Stir until the outside of the glass begins to frost. Garnish with the leftover berries speared with a mint sprig.
For even more love-themed cocktail recipes, check out Alissa Ponchione’s article, “Elixirs of Love“.
Next, go out of your way to make the evening extra special for your patrons. Find out if your establishment is doing anything special for guests (prix-fixe celebratory menus, live music, floral arrangements waiting for each guest, etc.) and let your guests know about these extras. Some establishments make special arrangements with visitors when they call to make reservations, such as having a special table reserved or having a bottle of champagne on ice waiting for them. Before greeting your table, check with the hostess or whoever seats guests to find out if there are any special arrangements you should be aware of.
You can also make someone’s evening with just a little extra kindness – why not offer to take your guests’ picture or bring a rose to each of the ladies you wait on? A little extra effort can go a long way.
Finally, be knowledgeable about several of the parties and events going on around town this weekend; your guests will certainly appreciate your ability to make recommendations on after-parties, places to go to after dinner, or any hotel/spa packages being offered around the casinos. For more information on Valentine’s-themed spa treatments available around the city, check out Jeannie Borbe’s article for Lights Vegas Action. Vegas.com has released a comprehensive list of Valentine’s Day-themed special events around the city; you can find that article here.
As a service professional, one should recognize a holiday like Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to provide superior service and make a lasting impression on guests and diners. Is your establishment doing anything special to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year? Are you planning to work this weekend?
© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada