Big bucks are bubbling up from cold beverages. Soft drinks served in QSRs are typically more profitable than the food offerings, and bar business provides a significant profit boost for casual and full-service restaurants. With customers paying top dollar for drinks, today’s beverage systems are all about delivering a satisfying, consistent pour.
Draft beer systems
Draft beer dispensing systems have evolved slowly to meet the tastes of today’s customers. While the pumps, gas propulsion and chilling systems have not undergone much change, there’s some exciting action at the delivery end.
Several manufacturers have introduced tap faucets to reduce draft beer pour times. These include Laminar Technologies’ TurboTap and Dispensing Systems’ Mega-Tap, both of which claim to cut 16-ounce fill times of 12 to 14 seconds down to just two seconds. With each, valve systems can be retrofitted on existing draft systems.
While speed is important, sometimes the perfect pour takes a bit more. Some brands, including Guinness and Killian’s, tout their stouts as having perfect foamy heads. Killian’s has come to the aid of stateside bartenders with its patented Perfectly PourRED or P2 tap valve technology. It precisely calibrates the flow of liquid, carbon dioxide and pressure to create a thick, creamy head on the beer.
Beer tap handles and dispensing towers pull double duty as logo-festooned merchandising aids, in addition to their role in dispensing cold brew. The Table Tapper, a division of Alberti Enterprises, Inc., offers a tabletop beer tower/dispenser that holds 116 ounces of beer, is 32 inches tall and is designed to replace a pitcher. The Tapper is topped off at the bar then presented at the table, where a tap allows patrons to fill their own mugs. A floating “chill wand” can be added to keep beer cold.
Soft drink systems
Free, lease or buy equipment? Most operators can get their dispensing equipment for free, if they contract with a beverage vendor to purchase syrup or pre-mix product for a set period. They can also lease equipment from a beverage distributor or an equipment dealer. Leasing typically includes ongoing maintenance. An operator can also purchase dispensing equipment outright from a dealer and avoid contractual ties to a single beverage vendor. Do the math to determine the best strategy and lowest cost-per-serving.
Pre- vs. post-mix soda systems. Carbonated beverage systems can be complex, depending on the number of drink options, serving stations and the location of the supporting hardware. There are a number of decisions to make, including whether to go pre-mix or post-mix. Pre-mix means your local bottler or distributor will deliver bulk containers of branded soft drinks already carbonated, mixed and ready to chill and serve. With post-mix systems you will be doing the bottler’s job, mixing syrup and carbonated water on-premise. Your syrup costs will be lower, but the hardware is more complex and you are responsible for quality control.
Energy at the pump. Cold, carbonated energy drinks are hot with the club and bar set, especially as mixers in trendy cocktails. Automatic Bar Controls, Inc. has designed a new Wunder-Bar post-mix flexhose dispenser specifically for these drinks. The one- or two-button dispensers come with barrier-type tubing to prevent migration of syrup flavors.