Create a bar menu with one click beer and wine descriptions

Last updated February 11, 2020 · By Dylan Blake

It's Friday night and your bar has been busy all evening long. So far you've kicked 3 kegs and you know a 4th could blow any second.

It's been a solid sales night, especially for the bar. And you've worked hard, so you really feel like you can hang your hat on the day.

But nestling right up next to your "job well done" satisfaction is another, worse feeling: dread. You're feeling it because you have to update your bar menu tonight.

If you make your bar menu manually with a tool like Microsoft Word, Photoshop, or Adobe Illustrator, that means you've got a lot of work to do:

You have to track down beer information for the 3 (or maybe 4) new beers. That means you run a bunch of Google searches then sift through the results to find good descriptions. When you find it, you copy it and then paste it into your menu document. You fix the formatting that got screwed up, and then, finally, you push print and can go home. Exhale.

But you know that exhale doesn't last long; you've already had to update the bar menu 3 times this week.

Here's the good news—updating your bar menu doesn't have to take that long. Read on to learn how to update your bar menu template—complete with drink descriptions—in just a couple clicks.

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Create your full bar menu in under 5 minutes.


What makes a great bar menu template?

A menu’s job is essentially the same whether you’re designing a bar menu template, restaurant menu template, cocktail menu template, or beer menu template.

Your menu’s job is to help sell your offerings.

In this way, your menu is almost another employee.

And just like you wouldn’t put a disheveled bartender behind the bar who couldn’t make a Manhattan, you shouldn’t present guests with a bar menu that’s incomplete or unprofessional.

While most of that is fairly obvious and well practiced on food menus (or the food portion of many bar menus), many bar menus don’t effectively list their beers, wines, cocktails, and spirits.

But in order to get the most out of your bar menu, you really do need to apply the same care to your drink selection as you would if you were creating a food menu in a fine dining restaurant.

It’s helpful to keep this three-item checklist front-of-mind when creating your bar menu:

  • Your menu should list all the menu items that are currently available.
    • This seems obvious, but take a common example: “ask your server about our rotating drafts.” The items that aren’t on the list simply won’t sell as well as they would if they were on the menu.
  • Your menu should look good.
    • Your menu shouldn’t suffer from formatting errors, which make it difficult or annoying to read.
  • Your menu should include descriptions
    • You wouldn’t leave off a description of one of your entrees. Why do so with your beers, wines, or cocktails?

If your bar menu doesn’t do those three things, you’re leaving sales on the table (or bar).

Of these three items, the third is by far the most challenging. Before we go into why it’s so challenging, we’ll dive deeper on why drink descriptions are so important to a great bar menu (hint: $$$).

Why it’s so important to include drink descriptions on your bar menu template (hint: $$$)

In a tiny nutshell, including drink descriptions on your bar menu will help you increase your beverage sales.

Our customers have found that including drink descriptions on their menu raises average check size by as much as $12.

Imagine that—an additional $12 on every single tab.

Our customers aren’t the only ones hip to this—it applies to all bars and restaurants. Check out this article from the Association for Consumer Research, which found that including descriptions on menus can increase check size by 27%.

There are two reasons for this.

Reason 1: drink descriptions make the ordering process easier and faster, which increases bar sales

Imagine you’re a bar or restaurant with a big beer selection. If your bar menu isn’t up to date or doesn’t include descriptions, you’re putting a lot of pressure on your bartenders and servers to provide your guests a great beer ordering experience.

They have to remember what kegs kicked, which bottles recently came in, how to describe all your beers in a compelling way, and so on. While a lot of bartenders do have encyclopedic beer knowledge and are very articulate, that’s certainly not the case for all of them.

As a result, your bartender might have to run over to see if something’s still available, they might scramble and search for that scrap of scratch paper so they can read off the rotating beer selection, or they may have to grab a sample of the beer (possibly more than once).

Ordering a drink this way is a production. It takes a long time. And all that time spent deciding, waiting, and finally, eventually ordering is time not spent spending and drinking.

This is exactly how you lose out on sales: a subpar bar menu leads to a sluggish ordering process that prevents people from drinking as much as they otherwise would.

On the other hand, if your bar menu is up-to-date and includes descriptions for all your drinks, your customers will be able to educate themselves on your selection and be able to make an informed decision all on their own, often before their bartender comes over to take their order.

BeerMenus - print menu with descriptions
BeerMenus bar menu with one click descriptions.

The customers who interact with an awesome bar menu are cheers-ing before the customers with the subpar bar menu even decide on a beer.

Reason 2: a bar menu with descriptions can help educate your staff, which increases sales

Of course, not every single customer will be able to choose the right drink by just using a menu. There are folks who need to talk to their bartender or server before making a decision.

A great drink menu can help streamline this process as well. Many of our customers report that a bar menu with drink descriptions helps educate servers and bartenders, so that when customers ask about a drink, they're more familiar with it and can do a better job selling it.

Instead of just saying "Oh, the IPA? It's good. Kind of hoppy," or "the Peterson Red Zinfandel? Yeah, I think it's a California wine..." they're able to actually talk about the item in a compelling way.

Here's what a few of our partners say when asked about the importance of drink descriptions:

  • “The menus act as a vehicle for disseminating information to our customers. Our bar/serving staff couldn't keep up with having 30 rotating draft lines.”
  • “The menus help our staff to be more knowledgeable about the items we are selling and keeps the menu updates at their fingertips.”
  • “The menus teach staff and guests about our menu items.”

The testimonials go on, but the takehome is this: a bar menu with descriptions means a more educated staff, and a more educated staff can help customers find the right drink for them faster.

By speeding up the ordering process, you provide your guests a better ordering experience and more time to drink.

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Why including drink descriptions on your bar menu template is challenging

That argument is extremely logical, so why do many businesses not include drink descriptions on their bar menus?

Because if you’re making your menu manually with software like Microsoft Word, Photoshop, or InDesign, including descriptions on your drink menu takes a ton of time.

You have to go to Google, search for a good description for the beer, wine, or spirit you’re adding to your menu, copy the description, find the ABV and where the producer is from, and then you paste all that into your bar menu template before finally making sure your menu formatting is still ok, which you might then have to reformat if something looks off...

Yikes. That process sounds miserable enough to do once in a lifetime. But if you run a rotational beverage program and you make your menu manually, you have to do that process at least a few times a week.

Add that up and you could be looking at hours each month.

That’s why a lot of bar menus don’t include product descriptions: small business owners and managers don’t have time for that time-consuming manual process and they assume there’s no way to automatically include product descriptions on their menu. If there was, they’d surely be using it.

Here’s the good news: there’s a tool that can help you include your drink descriptions on your bar menu with one easy click.

That product is the BeerMenus menu maker.

How to include beer, wine, and spirit descriptions on your bar menu with one click

The BeerMenus menu maker includes a huge database of over 240,000 beers, wines, and spirits.

This database means that you can add descriptions, producer location, and ABV to your bar menu with a single click.

Just start typing the name of the item you want to add, select that item from the dropdown menu, and click “Add to menu.”

Just like that, your drink menu (or your wine menu, beer menu, cocktails menu, or spirits menu) is up-to-date.

Here's a 20-second video showing how to update a BeerMenus Print Menu:

That video walks through how the process works for beers; it’s the same exact process for adding a wine or spirit to your menu. Just select the correct tab for the beverage type you want to add and do the same process. Your wines and spirits—descriptions included—will similarly appear on your printable drink menu template.

With BeerMenus you can have your cake and eat it, too: you can provide your customers a bar menu with full descriptions and thus drive up your beverage sales, all while making your menu in a snap.

Easily manage cocktails

So we’ve now walked through how to take advantage of the BeerMenus database to add beers, wines, and spirits to your bar menu.

There’s one obvious player missing from that list: cocktails. A bar menu wouldn’t be complete without its cocktail section.

Unlike beers, wines, and spirits, cocktails are typically unique to your bar—you likely even have customized spins on classic cocktails.

Because of this, BeerMenus allows you to add those unique cocktails to your bar menu and in so doing add them to your personal BeerMenus cocktail database.

The beauty of this database is that once you’ve added a cocktail to it, you’re able to remove and re-add any of your cocktails very easily—just start typing the name of the cocktail you’d like to add and select it from the dropdown.

BeerMenus - add cocktail to menu

The description and price are saved from the original entry, so all you need to do is click “Add item to menu.”

BeerMenus - add cocktail to with description to menu

Just like that, your cocktail menu template (or the cocktail portion of your bar menu) is complete.

Create your cocktail menu with the BeerMenus menu maker

Create your cocktail menu in under 5 minutes

Easily manage food

Many bar menus include food items. Sometimes it’s a limited “bar only” menu, sometimes it’s snacks and appetizers, and sometimes it's a full food menu.

Regardless of your needs, the BeerMenus menu maker has you covered.

As with adding cocktails to your menu (discussed above), when you add a food item to your menu you automatically create an entry for that item in your personal BeerMenus database.

This way, if that menu item ever leaves your menu and then comes back—think a seasonal appetizer or burger—you’re able re-add it just by selecting it from the dropdown.

add food to menu

The food item’s description and price are saved from the original entry, so all you need to do is click “Add item to menu.”

add food to menu 2

Just like that, your food menu (or the food portion of your bar menu) is complete.

BeerMenus design templates: typography, design, images, etc.

Whether you run a cocktail bar, a beer bar, a sports bar, or even a sushi bar, your bar or restaurant has branding, and it’s important your bar menu template matches that branding.

The BeerMenus menu maker lets you completely capture that branding in your bar menu template design—we can even precisely match your other menus, like your dinner menu template.

And you can do it without the help of a graphic designer.

Restaurant menu design examples
Food and drink menus from BeerMenus.

Layout/Format

Every BeerMenus menu can be configured to fit what you need at your bar. When you create a menu you can adjust:

  • Number of columns
  • Orientation: landscape vs. portrait
  • Spacing (e.g. compact, cozy, etc.)
  • Color scheme
  • Etc.

Menu headers and footers

You can completely customize your menu header to your business. Your header is an image file, so the world's your oyster—use the header space to message specials, happy hours, your social media, or something else entirely.

Basically, if you’ve got an idea, it can become reality.

Here are a few menu header examples:

drink menu template header 3
drink menu template header 3
drink menu template header 3

Menu footers are editable as well.

Menu sections

Within the BeerMenus menu maker, you’re free to create the precise menu sections you want. This ensures that your menus are laid out the way you want them to be. Since there are often many different kinds of items included within a bar menu, this is extremely important.

If you were making a food menu template and/or want to include your NA beverages on your bar menu, you could create menu sections like Appetizers, Starters, Entrees, Desserts, Coffee Menu, etc.

And for your drinks, you can create distinct menu sections like taps, cocktails, white wines, red wines, or anything else you’d like.

You can also create menu sections that are a little more “out there,” like “Dylan’s Famous Cocktails,” “Addicting Munchables” etc.

Fonts

All fonts on the menu can be adjusted according to your bar’s needs.

The BeerMenus menu maker includes access to more than 30 fonts, but we can track down and add any font your business needs.

Custom menu design

BeerMenus has an in-house design team that can make you a completely custom design for your bar menu template.

Here’s the best part: you can get your custom design for no additional cost.

The BeerMenus design team is made up of professional designers who’ve designed thousands of high-quality, high resolution menus for restaurants and bars. Designs run the gamut from simple, elegant menus to retro menus to extremely stylized menus that are truly unique.

Want BeerMenus to take a pass at your custom menu design? Schedule a call with a BeerMenus design expert.

During the call we’ll discuss the menu you’re looking for and we’ll have your design back to you by the next business day.

Examples of great drink menu templates

Here are a few more examples we recently created:

And you can check out more example menus on this page.

What not to do: sub-par drink menu templates

These are menus that the BeerMenus team has experienced "out in the wild." Unfortunately, much of what's seen here is pretty common practice. Beneath each of the examples we'll outline the problems with each menu.

what not to do

This is just a tiny part of this menu, but there are a couple problems.

Most obvious is the "& Other Seasonal Selections" at the bottom of the photo. Like we talked about above, it's essential to include all your menu items on your menu—doing so speeds up the ordering process and thus increases sales.

Of course, it's also missing item descriptions.

what not to do 2

There are a two main issues here, both having to do with readability. The first is the plastic menu holder, which makes the menu hard to read, often has food crumbs on it, etc.

Second, the font size is extremely small, making it difficult to read the actual menu offerings.

what not to do 3

Nothing about this menu looks off. But on the day this particular bar was visited, no less than three of the beers were unavailable. There's no better way to bum out a customer than having three swings and misses.

Well, I guess four swings and misses would be worse.

what not to do 4

This menu is missing both beer and wine descriptions, and also uses that classic "Ask about our seasonal specialties" crutch.

what not to do 5

This a brewery's menu. But in order to know what seasonal beers are available, customers must ask a bartender. This shouldn't happen.

Frequently asked questions

I’m considering a digital menu board—does BeerMenus create digital menus for restaurants?

Yes, absolutely! You can create your own menu from scratch (which allows you to include your own branding, your own images, etc.) or rely on an existing menu theme (e.g. a “chalkboard” theme).

You can also add “Specials” slides to your digital menu. Many businesses include specials that message upcoming events, bands, or even food photos to entice guests to order more food.

You can check out examples of our digital menus here.

How many different menus can I create with BeerMenus?

As many as you’d like.

From standbys like food, drink, and cocktail menus to completely new menus designed specifically for special events, you’re free to create as many menus as your heart desires.

Best of all, we’re here to help you every step of the way.

Who is BeerMenus?

We're a group of beer loving folks who connect bars, restaurants, beer stores, and breweries with local customers from across the world, through customized Print Menus, TV Menus, and online marketing tools.

If you want to read more about how and why we got started, check out our founding story.

Cheers!

🚀 I'm ready to make my bar menu now!

Create your full bar menu in under 5 minutes.

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