Upselling regular and new guests to more expensive products is a delicate dance. First and foremost, your sales staff needs to be a knowledgeable partner who understands your clients’ needs. Bartenders and sales staff should have an extensive background in spirits brands, flavors, and cocktail components. This is particularly important as the guest experience may move from bar to table, and back, in the course of an evening. The same can be said for the retail sector. 


Guests’ preferences and how open they may be to experiment with a new drink or brand always need to be taken into consideration. Someone who orders a Manhattan with a specific bourbon brand may not be looking for other suggestions. The same is true with a retail customer who comes in looking for a specific Scotch.


Reading the Customers


Great bartenders and retailers are good listeners. Almost all of them know that pauses in a drinks order generally allow time to make suggestions. This might be the time to suggest that a tequila drinker try a mezcal. Another approach would be to upgrade them to a house-branded cocktail or one of the best-selling spirits brands in your store. Your staff can also share what they like about a specific brand and why it is unique. 



Upselling needs to be subtle and gracious at all times and enhance the guest experience. Patrons want bartenders and retailers that are looking after their interests and helping them to broaden their drinks experience. Sometimes down-selling can forge a relationship between staff and clients. Turning a regular guest onto a more affordable drink can be a sensational move. Great products can be found in any price category, so it is worth being sensible and creative about new spirits' suggestions. 


Another way to create a good connection is to offer customers a new twist on one of their favorite drinks. It could be a Negroni with a different gin, at a small upcharge, or a Bloody Mary not made with vodka. This approach is best with regular customers who have shown a willingness to experiment. 


Your regular clients may also be interested in unique promotions. Offering shots from rare bottles without the usual markup is a great one. Events like this can entice guests to come out on quiet nights when they might otherwise stay at home. Pouring tastes of new, and best-selling, spirits can also create an uptick at retail.