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5 Drink Menu Design Tips for Bars & Restaurants


Nick RubrightAuthor

Whether you own a restaurant or bar, or are planning to open a bar or restaurant, the design of your bar's drink menu can have a heavy impact on sales. Everything from the colors you select, the placement of your drink options, and how you display pricing can influence purchase decisions.

It should come as no surprise that drinks are often the most profitable items for restaurants, and certain drinks are more profitable than others; you can view your most profitable bar menu items in your bar POS system sales reports. It’s important to pay extreme attention to detail when designing your drink menu so you can maximize sales.

Check out these five drink menu hacks to make your bar's menu design more appealing and likely to generate revenue.


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1. Give Your Drink Menu Some Space

drink menu design

When designing your drink menu, don’t tuck it away behind the food – give drinks their own menu.

Drinks are often the highest margin item in a bar, so keeping them separate from the food draws attention to them. For example, using table tents to promote high margin drinks can draw interest to these before the waitress brings menus to your customers.

In addition to separating your drink menu from your food menu, give some space to each item on your drink menu. Make sure it’s easy for your customers to read, and put your highest margin items first.

Finally, keep your drinks organized in a way that makes sense. Something as self-explanatory as separating your alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can make it easier for your customers to find what they’re looking for.

2. Use Images - Lots of Images

drink menu design

Pictures are worth a thousand words. Featuring full-color images of your highest margin drinks can increase sales of these items. Your customers should have to look, but might have to read.

With a picture, your customers will assume the value of a drink based on how it looks. If a drink looks high-end, the image itself may justify the higher price.

Understandably, images aren’t a good fit for some menu designs. If you can’t fit images into your menu, use them on table tents or other marketing material to sell your drinks.

3. Display Items & Pricing Properly

drink menu design

If your menu is simpler and has drink names, descriptions, and pricing, consider placing more expensive items at the top of the menu. Not only are the first few items on a menu often the most ordered, but placing expensive items early reduces the perceived price of later items on the menu.

Additionally, don’t display prices in a column. This encourages price shopping. By simply adding your price to the end of a description without a dash, colon, or any other punctuation, the price becomes less visible, and customers look for it after reading the description.

When adding prices to your menu items, also consider removing currency. This takes away the emphasis from the cost of the item your customer is ordering.

4. Use the Right Colors

drink menu design

Colors can be an effective way to encourage purchases. You can use effective colors in images, text, or the background of the menu to encourage your customers to make decisions in your favor.

Here’s a quick guide into how colors effect our perception of food items:

  • Red and Yellow – These colors evoke taste buds and stimulate appetite. The fast food industry uses these colors often because of their effectiveness, so they might not always be a fit for a gourmet style restaurant. However, these colors can still be effectively used depending on what they’re pared with.
  • White – Clean and pure, but can look plain. This is most effective when added to a mix of other colors with care.
  • Black and Brown – Elegant, sleek, high end. For food, brown is often used in the place of black, as it is a more appetizing color with the same descriptors as black.
  • Orange – Another appetizing color. When using orange, be aware that it can work for or against you depending on the context.
drink menu design
  • Green – Representative of eco-friendliness and healthy foods, but can be unappetizing.
  • Blue and Purple – Cool tones, but can be unappetizing if used incorrectly. Cooler tones don’t stimulate the appetite as much, but may be effective for selling drinks depending on the tone and what they’re pared with.
  • Bright colors – Signify pops in flavor. These colors may be effective when selling fruity or sweet drinks.
  • Subdued, muted colors – Connote rich, deep, complex flavors.

With a customizable bar POS system, you could correspond drink colors on the physical menu to drink colors on the POS menu for consistency.

5. Write Effective Descriptions

When writing your descriptions, let flavors and ingredients be your guide, and be descriptive enough to draw your customers’ interest.

The purpose of a menu item description is to get your customers to salivate over the item before looking at the price. This is your chance to display the value of the product, so take the time to get it right.

On higher margin items, write longer descriptions. Not only does this help sell them more effectively by including more reasons to buy, but in terms of design, longer descriptions stand out against smaller ones, drawing attention to these items.

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