Ah, New Year’s Eve... For better or for worse, we meet again. For the laypeople, that may mean a time to toast to the year that once was, and also to the year that could be. It’s a time to aspire to borderline-irresponsible levels of drunkenness, a veritable ‘night off’ from the doldrums of adult life. For those of us in the industry, though -- it's not quite like that. No, in fact, the 31st signals very different things for the bartenders, servers, and hospitality professionals around the world. For these industry denizens, New Year’s Eve is some blended cocktail of stressful, lucrative, high-intensity, and entertaining. There’s plenty of opportunity (read: tips) to be gained from a well-done New Year’s Eve, but the evening takes some careful preparation and planning. With that in mind, we’ve put together some of our favorite pro-tips, life hacks, and strategies to make sure you rock out (to an appropriate degree) this New Year’s Eve. We can’t guarantee you’ll be prepared for everything, but with these tips, you can safely anticipate covering your bases.
Prepare, Prepare, and Prepare Some More
This could be said of any busy evening, in all honesty. But on a particularly high-volume night like New Year’s Eve, the real secret ingredient is preparation. That includes everything from ordering booze and glassware to being fully staffed up (and then some). The last thing you want to do is run out of ingredients or prepped pieces during service -- we’re sure you’ve been there, and it’s absolutely, unequivocally a recipe for disaster.
Give yourself months to plan and prepare for New Year’s Eve. Start stocking up on champagne. Develop some easily-batch-able and celebratory cocktails -- things that don’t cost much to make or prepare, but can be attached to a reasonably “special occasion” price tag. Also be sure to publish your New Year’s Eve schedule early...like, really early. Undoubtedly there will be an odd few staff members who find a way to not work New Year’s Eve, so be sure you schedule more people than you’ll need. As for the night of New Year’s Eve, a good pre-service pep talk is never out of line.
Don’t Let it Get to Ya
The more frazzled you get, the worse things will go for you. Yes, it’s busy. And yes, it’s often borderline-hellish around the 11:30 mark. But, don’t let the hustle and bustle get to you. While treating New Year’s Eve the exact same as any other night isn’t a great idea, don’t get caught up in the buzz. Execute your service just as well as you would any other evening. Despite its holiday status, the goal for New Year’s Eve is the same as every other night: customer satisfaction. The guests need to leave feeling happy they chose your bar for their evening.
Food and Bev (Not Just for the Customers, Either!)
Treat your staff right. Another tip that can comfortably be applied any day of the year, but this one should be considered doubly during these trying, New Year’s Eve Times. Chances are, your staff isn’t exactly ecstatic about coming into work on New Year’s Eve. With that in mind, it’s crucial to do what you can to make them somewhat happy to be at work.
For that, our first tip would be a no-holds-barred family meal. Consider ordering a dozen pizzas, or work with the kitchen to develop a particularly indulgent meal for the staff. This type of thing is going to bring people together, and encourage a sense of ‘New Year’s Eve camaraderie’. In addition, consider allowing for one or two shift beers. Obviously, you don’t want your staff getting hammered at work, but a couple 4-5% session ales are going to boost morale and, thus, increase employee performance.
Batch It Up
A little less ‘big picture’ then our other tips, sure, but equally helpful. Batched cocktails are a major brick on the road to New Year’s Eve success. Create a few festive drinks that you can make ‘all at once’ and serve over ice, with minimal garnishing. If you run them as an attractive-priced special, these are gonna be the drinks that bring home the bacon, while also keeping the flow of the evening rolling along smoothly. Entirely abandoning your standard menu is likely out of the question, but we suggest publishing a separate menu of these batched cocktails, which will encourage patrons to pick out a festive option.
Promo, Promo, Promo
According to Eventbrite, 46 percent of people decide which New Year’s party to attend at the last minute. This means that promoting the heck out of your New Year’s celebration is absolutely crucial in getting folks through the door. Particularly, the time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is a veritable ‘bullseye’ to really ramp up your promotions. Before Christmas, many people ‘wave away’ any thoughts of New Year’s Eve, being so focused on the Christmas holiday. But once that’s done and dusted, would-be guests are in a prime-time to consider New Year’s suggestions. We suggest strong social media work to create a buzz for your New Year’s party, including some savvy engagement with your followers. Although not an exact science, social media can be a key piece of building that New Year’s Eve crowd.
This should probably be higher on our list. Be sure to keep the ‘big picture’ in mind this New Year’s. It’s easy to get dragged down into a workhorse mentality, but that’s not going to do any favors for anyone (that means you or the guests). As bartenders, you’re the conductors of the party, you’re veritable head coaches of the New Year’s extravaganza, and you’re entertainers through-and-through. Keep all of that in mind to make sure your New Year’s Eve has good vibes, through and through. It’s important to make sure your guests are having fun on New Year’s, and to do that, their hosts need to be enjoying themselves all the same. And hey, if that means a glass of champagne in the walk-in...so be it.