Zagat Mixology Survey Reveals Industry Trends and What’s Popular in Cocktail Culture

Bartenders and establishment owners sometimes wish they had a window into the minds of their patrons. What do customers really want? How can we best serve our bar patrons while increasing profits? Well now you may just be able to find the answers.

Zagat, a leading guide for restaurants, service professionals and diners alike, has just released their first Mixology Survey Results after polling 1,000 imbibers about everything from their favorite spirits to pricing, wait times, and consumption habits. What better way to get a look at just what potential customers are buzzing about!

Survey results revealed several interesting points including:

  • 54% of survey respondents indicated that $15 is the most they will pay for a drink. Another 20% listed anything over $20 per cocktail as too expensive.
  • Good news for bartenders, the majority of customers are generous with their tipping habits. The average tip amount on bar tabs works out to be about 18.9%.
  • Regarding favorite spirits, answers are different among men and women. 46% of males said that whiskey is their favorite spirit compared to 22% of females. When it comes to vodka though, 36% of women say that’s their beverage of choice, compared with 17% of males.
  • The battle for the most popular cocktail was neck and neck. The martini and the Manhattan tied for first place with 12% each. In a close third place was the old fashioned, with 11% of the vote, and the gin and tonic and margarita were number four and number five, respectively.

Industry professionals can use the survey results to generate ideas on how cater to their patrons. And remember, responsible beverage service is a necessary component to an excellent dining experience. TAM of Nevada’s knowledgeable instructors can teach your employees how to serve responsibly, and offer real-world insight into providing all-around excellent customer service. To review the full survey results, visit the Zagat blog. What do you think of survey results, do they mirror trends that you see in your own establishment?


Mixology Survey Results Are Live! – Zagat

© 2012 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

Bon Appetit! Food and Wine Pairings 101

There are only 174 Master Sommeliers in the world, and 16 of those call Las Vegas home, more than any other U.S. city ( Not everyone can be a polished wine aficionado, but a server can demonstrate their skill and competence to their guests with some basic knowledge about food and wine pairings. An understanding of what basic combinations go together best, and the skill to recommend a bottle you have on hand to pair with a meal will impress your guests and demonstrate your knowledge. Here are some tips every service professional should know:

  1. Match the texture of the food with the texture of the wine. If you’re going for a hearty or rich meal, make sure to pick a robust wine that will hold up to the textures and the flavors, and vice versa (Real Simple).
  2. When choosing a wine, take the sauce and preparation into consideration, not just the meat. Many people rely only on the meat when choosing the wine and stick with the old standby that white wine goes with white meat and red wine with red meat. However, the sauce is often the dominant flavor in a dish, and a buttery, smooth chardonnay can pair beautifully with pork or steak, when it’s finished in a cream sauce (Wine Country Network).
  3. Always follow personal preferences! Ask your guests what their favorite wines are: some people just don’t like red wines, wines from a particular region, etc. Spices, aromas and flavors appeal to people in different ways, so help your guests to follow their taste buds’ preferences to find something they will like.

Another suggestion for some wine education, and a helpful tool to boot, is Natalie MacLean’s Wine & Food Matcher. Pop in any combination of dishes and/or wines (or cocktails!), and the tool will make suggestions for pairings.

A little help goes a long way, and now you’re well on your way to feeling confident in making suggestions for tasty and memorable combinations. What are your favorite food and wine pairings?


The Court of Master Sommeliers – Membership

5 Keys to Pairing Food and Wine – Real Simple

Food & Wine Pairing Tips – Wine Country Network

Nat Decants – Wine & Food Matcher

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada

Love Is in the Air! Are You Ready for Your Valentine’s Day Guests?

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 (

  • 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

  • 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. 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?


Lights Vegas Action – Fall in Love with These Valentine’s Day Spa Treatments – Valentine’s Day in Vegas!

Epicurious – Bitter Crush – Be Mine Mojito

Nightclub & Bar – Elixirs of Love

© 2011 National Hospitality Institute®, TAM® of Nevada