What You Need to Know About Serving Cocktails On Tap

The trend of serving cocktails through a draft system is one that doesn’t seem to be tapping out anytime soon. Still undecided about changing the site shaking and stirring Behind your bar? The pros and cons of serving cocktails with a top are shared by two professionals in the industry.

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Benefits of having cocktails available on tap 

Serving draft cocktails has four main benefits that are applicable to all establishments.  

  1. Qualitative
  2. Consistency 
  3. Speed
  4. Cleaning 

The Polite Pig, a restaurant opened in Orlando, Florida’s Disney Springs earlier this year by four-time James Beard Award nominees James and Julie Petrakis, includes a draft system that includes six custom cocktails, plus 10 beers, three wines and one nitro cold brew coffee.

Patrick McKinney from Polite Pig is the director of operations. This could be due to the many advantages of using a tap system.

“Drinks on tap allow for quality, consistency and speed, all three of which are essential in a fast casual environment,” McKinney says. “The benefit to offering cocktails on tap definitely lies in both the speed and consistency. This allows our bartenders to spend more time with each guest while providing a quality product with each pour.”  



Jeremy Rader is the general manager at Krause’s Biergarten + CafeNew Baunfels in Texas credits their draft system for dispensed two cocktails, 73 beer and five wine, creating perfect pours every time.

“Cocktails on tap provide a perfectly mixed drink in seconds as opposed to risking a cocktail with a messy liquor-to-mixer ratio,” Rader says.

He is also a promoter hygienic benefits: “Logistically, drink dispensing systems are a one-stop shop for cleaning as opposed to staying on top of the build-up of used shakers and stirrers.” 


What are the downsides to draft cocktails? 

“Guest perception has been our only challenge to date,” McKinney says. “Many guests are not familiar with the concept of draft cocktails and wines, so we always offer guests a sample before they make their final decision.”

He says that the sample pays off in the long-term for both employees and customers.

“This gives our staff the opportunity to really exceed expectations while also educating guests,” McKinney says, noting that staff has also received education from the Cask and Larder Brewery on best practices for cleaning lines.

Rader mentioned education as another challenge in any tap program.

“Challenges include the assumption by customers that cocktails on tap aren’t as fresh,” he says. “They are!” 


Enjoy the finest cocktails from tap 

McKinney says the Polite Pig’s six housemade cocktails all sell well with guests, thanks, in part, to the carbonation they are able to infuse, “which improves the overall quality and flavor even more.”

The Polite Pig’s top sellers—vodka lemonade, Old Fashioned, and a tequila and grapefruit liqueur mix—prove that all spirits have a chance to get in on the action.

While he says they haven’t found any ingredients that aren’t tap-friendly, Rader advises against creating cocktails that contain a lot of pulp.

Instead, he says, Krause’s has found success with a margarita made with cane sugar and Z Pepe Blanco tequila. Unexpectedly, the top performer was also a red sangria that was served straight from the tap and topped with fruit slices.

“It’s one of our most popular drinks,” Rader says. “It was really surprising how much sangria we sold last winter for being a biergarten.” 


Bartender processing a transaction


Before you make a purchase of a draft cocktail, here are some things to consider

Where there’s a tap, there’s a keg. McKinney suggests that any restaurateur who is interested in creating a program of tapped cocktails should first consider these things. Logistik around square footage.

“What we needed to know and be prepared for ahead of time was simply having the space to hold and refrigerate all of the kegs. Plus, we met with our architect to plan for how many lines needed to be run,” he says. “Pre-planning was key for all parties. There are no special taps, we just had our designer create our tap handles with our product names.”

Rader says for Krause’s, stainless steel taps and connections have worked best, and last longest. 


Future craft cocktails will be on tap 

Though the majority of their business focuses on beer, Rader says that the popularity of the cocktails on tap is influencing menu planning: “Krause’s will be trying more cocktails on tap soon.”

Refresh your business with cocktails on tap. Are you looking for more ways to refresh your business? Get in touch with our hospitality staffLearn how Small Biz Sense Restaurant could make your company feel new. 

Cyndy Lane

Cyndy is business journalist with a focus on entrepreneurship and small business. With over a decade of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Cyndy has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, insightful and approachable journalist. She has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners and is able to explain them in a way that is relatable and actionable for her readers.