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Cocktail Bar

Johan's bar

When Johan Svensson moved to London from his native Sweden he was immediately captivated by the excitement of the local bar scene. With over 13 years of experience in the hospitality industry, Johan now provides consultancy services through his company, Drinksfusion, where he has worked with clients ranging from Diageo UK and Africa to the Royal Academy of Arts and the Wellcome Trust. An expert in cocktails and branding, Johan gave us his tips for starting a successful cocktail bar.

For many people in the hospitality industry, managing a cocktail bar in a prestigious location is their ultimate aspiration. In addition to the images of glamorous, celebrity-filled nights that these businesses summon up in our minds, cocktail bars have several advantages over other types of establishments. At the high-end of the market – a target for many cocktail bars – people are willing to pay more for a premium experience. This means that a successful cocktail bar is potentially more profitable than other establishments.

Of course, creating a premium experience comes with its own challenges. First, service in premium environments is more difficult – product offerings tend to be more bespoke, requiring a deeper product knowledge and demanding a high degree of professionalism from staff. Second, the costs of offering a high-end product tend to be higher, so planning becomes critically important.

Address:1 Caldwell Street,
London, SW9 0HD
Phone: 079 5158 09 76
Web: http://drinksfusion.com/


Some of Johan's Favourite Cocktail Recipes:


Black Moth Summer Cobbler

Black Moth Summer Cobbler

A blend of fresh summer fruits, Black Moth Truffle Vodka and dry sherry shaken with a squeeze of orange and lime, served over cracked ice.


The hospitality industry offers endless opportunities – everyone has an idea, and everyone is looking for the resources to make their idea come to life. That is where proper planning comes in. The most important thing you can do when planning your cocktail bar involves defining and understanding your target market. This can be challenging, and it is one of the areas that we often help our clients with. You should try and be as specific as you can. Not only will this focus your efforts, but it will also help you avoid the common mistake of investing far too much in product that doesn't sell. We have all seen the huge number of bottles on display behind the bar – but how many of those are actually of interest to your target market?

johan's tip

The best times to open are during “buzzing seasons”, or in the Autumn when you can build bookings for Christmas. Try to avoid opening your bar during holidays or the summer months – of course, not everyone has that choice!

Black Truffle and Olive Sangrita

Black Truffle and Olive Sangrita

Black Moth Truffle Vodka lightly shaken with freshly chopped tomatoes, Kalamata olive tapenade and aged balsamic vinegar, seasoned with sea salt, black pepper, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of celery salt.


When coming up with a cocktail menu, resist the temptation to list every cocktail you can think of. Having too many items can overwhelm customers, sometimes leading them to order something else. In addition, a large menu will require staff to have greater product knowledge and additional training. Think carefully about you target market and which drinks are likely to interest them. Remember that for your bar to be successful, you need to create a product for your market, not for yourself!

johan's tip

Use Pricing to Generate Interest
Offering a selection of beers in addition to cocktails will help you appeal to a wider audience. A range of beers at different price points will help generate additional interest and the potential to up sell - a key ingredient in generating higher profit margins.

cherries in a jar

Essential cocktail ingredients include cherries, onions, and of course, olives!

lemon yellow juicer

Seasonal cocktails can make great use of specialised equipment like this juicer





Properly stocking a cocktail bar isn't just about drinks, its also about bar supplies and equipment. In general, you will need to have a sufficient number of glasses to make service flow properly - this will depend on the size of the venue, your equipment, and your staff. You shouldn't overbuy, but you need to have a backup percentage. For example, a bar with a 100 person capacity will need to have close to 300 glasses – roughly 100 high-balls, 70 wine glasses, 40 shot glasses, 40 rocks glasses, and 50 Martini glasses.

Virtuoso Flute

This Virtuoso Champagne Flute is a great alternative for champagne based cocktails

Gamma Martini Glass

A classic Martini glass is essential for any cocktail bar


Service is part of branding. Unprofessional, discourteous staff can have a negative impact on your brand, particularly in an industry that relies on word of mouth. Unfortunately, the experience of a top nightclub with rude staff is all too common.

staff training

You can make sure that your customers give you good reviews through proper staff management, and by bringing the right people on board. We are often asked to help our clients with both training and hiring new staff. Some of the things I look for in potential staff include professionalism, a positive attitude, and the ability to work in a team, but by far the most important is personality. Your staff should be open and responsive to customers, so avoid hiring anyone with an inflated ego. Remember, you are never going to be worse off for having good service!

johan's tip

Manage Service Properly
A more elaborate or specialised venue will require investing much more effort in training to make sure that staff have the right knowledge and the ability to deliver a high level of service. Don't make the too common mistake of de-emphasising service.

In London's hospitality scene, opening a cocktail bar can be rewarding both professionally and financially. For more guidance and information on this type of venue, be sure to contact Johan and his team at Drinksfusion!

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Boston Can shaker

Make sure staff are properly trained and knowledgable about cocktail equipment

Don't use a standard pint glass in place of a mixing glass as it can break. Use a toughened mixing glass instead