If your bar or restaurant regularly hosts events, having a go-to menu for various occasions is a great way to streamline your service. Not only does it help with costing, but it also ensures that your customers know what the guests at their event will enjoy.
Here’s everything you need to know about creating food and beverage pairings that will add the "wow" factor without causing chaos behind the bar and pass.
Sticking To A Theme
A theme can help you create a harmonious and coherent experience for your guests, as well as showcase your creativity and knowledge.
There are different ways to choose a theme for your food and beverage pairings. Here are some of the best combinations:
When you combine food and beverages from the same region or country, like Italian or French, it allows you to highlight exciting local flavors and traditions of that area. Your guests get to enjoy a real sense of authenticity and familiarity.
A regional pairing is a superb choice for restaurants that want to host special occasions and themed events. You can celebrate a French-themed birthday with local French beverages, such as:
- Bordeaux: A complex wine that goes well with rich and hearty foods, like roast lamb or stews.
- Champagne: A choice like Canard-Duchêne (Brut Non-Vintage) is versatile and pairs well with everything from fried chicken to desserts, cheese, pastries, and seafood.
- Burgundy La Tâche (Grand Cru): An elegant wine, it is ideal for refined foods like mushroom risotto, roast turkey, or grilled salmon.
Spring, summer, autumn, and winter offer exciting food and beverage pairings because you can use seasonal ingredients that match the mood and atmosphere. If you only use local produce, these pairings are even easier.
Seasonal pairings are an excellent choice for bistro-style restaurants, outdoor events, and farmer’s markets. What’s more refreshing than serving a crisp summer salad on a hot day, paired with grilled meats, fruits, and ice-cold drinks, or a lovely rosé wine?
- Spring: A time to enjoy fresh and light dishes! When you combine asparagus and a poached egg with béarnaise sauce and throw in an exquisite glass of Chablis or other unoaked Chardonnay, you’re good to go.
- Summer: Summer is perfect for juicy and colorful dishes. A quenching watermelon cocktail with cherry tomato and watermelon gazpacho really highlights the summer vibe and energizes the atmosphere.
- Fall: The ideal season for warmer dishes. Chili and malbec, spag bol and pinot noir, risotto and an autumnal brown ale - the options are endless.
- Winter: Time for warming up! A tasty soup with fresh, crusty bread and a glass of wine is a great option, especially if you’re hosting a more informal event.
Choose Your Base Flavors
Base flavors come from potent ingredients like onions, ginger, herbs, and garlic and are pivotal in creating your main flavor profile.
Start by thinking about the cuisine you want to serve because that will give you a good indication of the flavors you’ll focus on. A French dish might need mirepoix, which combines carrots, onions, and celery. If you aim to create a Chinese dish, garlic, ginger, and green onions are a traditional Chinese staple.
Your base flavors will guide your menu and the theme and tone of the event. They’re what you’ll build on.
Use Color Carefully
You've heard the expression "eat with your eyes," and that’s what everyone at your event will do.
A study by Flavourjournal shows that color influences the perceived flavor of food, and it can also set the tone for your theme.
Don’t just select your food and drink pairings for their flavors; remember their aesthetics too, especially if you’re serving from a buffet or canape trays.
Deciding On Courses
The number of courses you serve will depend on the formality of your establishment, the time you have available, and the event you’re hosting. A full-course meal has five to seven courses, but three to four can work, too.
If you plan to host regular events, it’s an excellent idea to create a few different set menus that you can give to potential customers upfront. These menus can be tailored to suit different events and occasions and make choosing courses easier. If you plan to serve buffet-style food or finger foods, menus that cost these for different size groups are an excellent idea, too.
Ease Of Eating And Environment
Food quality is important, but the restaurant environment, such as seating areas, layout, and decor, is equally imperative. You need to ensure that your guests have space to eat and drink in comfort and that the food you serve can be enjoyed with ease.
If you’re serving soup, your patrons will need a table to sit at as the bowl will be hot. But if you’re serving spring rolls or sliders, this suits a more bar-style arrangement, as these finger foods can comfortably be eaten standing up. Seating, crockery, cutlery, napkins, and condiments all contribute to the success of an event and must be carefully considered during the planning phases.
Your decor is important, too, as it enhances the environment and your guest's enjoyment. If your venue needs a celebratory touch, a flower club can ensure you always have fresh flowers for your events, or you can use candles or fairy lights to enhance the atmosphere.
Picking Your Service Style
Picking a service style—plated, family-style, buffet, or canape trays—is key, as it impacts guest comfort, event quality, efficiency, and cost.
Consider the type of event you want to host because it will give you insight into the level of formality, the duration, and the event's purpose. A plated service is the superior choice for just about every type of themed wedding because it makes managing portion sizes and the timing of each course easier. If your event is more informal, like a book launch, birthday, or anniversary, you can choose one of the more casual options.
Your service style will also affect your staffing and seating capacity and the overall costing of the event. This can also be communicated to guests when they’re considering their options and the style of their event.
Knowing how to pair foods and beverages for events is a valuable skill that every restaurant and bar owner or manager can use. Start with the theme and type of cuisine and work your way outward to the flavors and service.
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