Q&A: Are Batched Cocktails the Future of the Bar Program?

Craft cocktail brand Wandering Barman is looking to disrupt and innovate the service industry with products that focus on serving quality cocktails with speed and consistency. The brand's founders—Roxane Mollicchi, Darren Grenia, and Julian Mohamed— are industry veterans with a hyper-focus on bringing transparency, simplicity, precision, craft, and democratization to cocktails.

The women- and minority-owned company sold its first bottle in 2018 and then opened a tasting room, "brew pub" in Brooklyn's Bushwick neighborhood in 2021.The Bushwick-based venue serves over 20 pre-made cocktails – and has created a brand new model in their speed of service, sustainability and decreased waste, easier inventory management, reduced training processes for staff, and overall increase in sales.

Wandering Barman's products come in seven flavors, and they can be found in restaurants, bars, hotels, museums, and grocery stores around the country. 

We recently spoke with Co-Owner Roxane Mollicchi about the brand's products and how bars/restaurants can learn from its brewpub's model.

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Wandering Barman Co-Founders (Photo courtesy of Wandering Barman)

1. What led you to create Wandering Barman?

We’ve worked in the industry for years as bar and restaurant owners and managers, and one of the sticking points was always the cocktail program. It’s a nightmare. You need to hire a bar program manager to oversee the program—if you’re lucky you’ve hired someone that can create great cocktails, but if not, you’re screwed.

Once the menu is decided, you have to train the staff to create the drinks as well, and you pray that you don’t have turnover because if you do, you’re forever training.

Staff also needed to come in an hour or two before their shift even started just to prep the ingredients for the cocktails. Even so, by the time service starts, the bartender still would need two to four minutes to make each five-plus ingredient drink—meaning they’re in the weeds immediately.

This didn’t create an experience for customers that was optimal, and it meant the bar was missing out on potential sales. Multiply this by the number of times you wanted to update the cocktail menu each year as well, and you have the epitome of inefficiency.

The Wandering Barman was born of these frustrations.


2.  Tell us more about the business model at your Bushwick “brew pub,” which serves over 20 pre-made cocktails. 

For maximum efficiency, an establishment has to be able to serve cocktails the way you serve beer and wine. That was the approach we took. We wanted to put our entire cocktail program on tap.

So we spent 1.5 years researching and developing in a basement before we even had a bar. The thinking was, if we can’t make batch cocktails as good as those made to order, then this is a non-starter. But we figured it out, and we were ready to prove our concept.

In 2015, we opened the world’s first, all-draft cocktail bar, Yours Sincerely, located in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The industry pushed back at first. But we continued to focus on making cocktails accessible to everyone. Our initial menu was $8 for a cocktail that didn’t sacrifice quality, creation, or taste. That’s really competitive compared to other craft cocktail bars where drinks typically run between $15-20.

But taking the concept to the next stage meant opening a production space, where we could batch cocktails for wholesale, and a tasting room. That’s when the Wandering Barman Cocktail Lab & Brasserie was born. By day, we batch and bottle cocktails, and at night we serve cocktails by the keg load.

Our bartenders can clear a bar, two to three deep, within minutes—pouring up to 20 drinks per minute. We sell way more, with less staff, and customers get their cocktails considerably faster without sacrificing on taste, experience, quality, or ingredients.

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Wandering Barman's tap wall. (Photo courtesy of Wandering Barman)

Our staff requires limited training (primarily drink descriptions only, no prep or service craft training is needed). We use a quarter of the ice a typical cocktail bar uses, our inventory is simplified since there is no need for tracking prepped ingredients or the volume of booze in countless bottles, and we’re able to incorporate more sustainable practices as we use less paper products, straws, and otherwise.

Everyone wins.

We’re moving the industry forward by eliminating pretension and developing batching techniques that are slowly becoming the norm across the board.

3.On your site, you say, “We believe that batching is the future of bar and service management.” Why?

The need for batching was proven invaluable during COVID. Restaurants had to make cocktails to-go if they wanted to survive. And since then, the labor market for bars and restaurants was decimated, making it even harder to run craft cocktail programs.

Restaurants and bars operate on the slimmest of profit margins to begin with, so cutting costs and increasing revenues wherever is essential. In that respect, the craft cocktail program is one of the last frontiers, and now that the mainstream is fully embracing batched cocktails and RTDs (partly because of COVID, partly because the quality of RTDs has improved so much), there is absolutely no reason for restaurant and bar management to stress about creating and maintaining craft cocktail programs.

4. How can bringing in a product like Wandering Barman’s bottled cocktails help bars/restaurants?

Innumerable ways, including but not limited to, increasing the speed of service, cutting training costs, simplifying inventory management (1 drink = 1 bottle), the convenience factor and ease of taking drinks to go, and better customer service.

Today’s consumers are experience driven. Being served a well branded cocktail bottle with a glass and ice is an experience, and the consumer feels they have more control when they’re the ones pouring it.

5.  How can bars/restaurants best add a product like Wandering Barman to their menus? How do you recommend they market it to customers?

If you’re supplementing an existing craft cocktail program, simply add it to the menu like any other cocktail. You can include "cocktail by Wandering Barman" if you wish, but that’s not something we push. We just recommend you serve the bottle next to a glass with ice in it as we’ve found customers enjoy that experience.

If you are using the Wandering Barman lineup as the entire craft cocktail program, then we recommend listing it on your beverage menu as you would for any other drink, with its name and ingredients. We are happy to help create the menus as well, and provide additional consultancy as needed.


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