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3 cocktails every golf course MUST master, according to Jon Taffer

January 11, 2020

GOLF’s Dylan Dethier recently spoke with “Bar Rescue” host and hospitality expert Jon Taffer about changes he’d like to see in the golf industry. You can read that complete Q&A here.

GOLF: Give me three indispensable cocktails that every golf course needs to have at the ready.

Jon Taffer: First, I would do a very special old-fashioned. I would use things like orange bitters, maybe some flavored bitters; some old-fashioneds use some cherry juice, you could play around with that. Pre-Prohibition, old-fashioneds had an orange, because the whiskey sucked. Post-Prohibition they didn’t have an orange; you can play around with that. Old-fashioneds you can sell for 30 dollars if you do it right.

Next, give me a Bloody Mary. That’s a cocktail that’s extremely hot right now. What’s fun about Bloody Marys is that clubs could easily set up Bloody Mary bars. Something as simple as a little table with some horseradish, some spices on it, some shrimp you can drop on it, some celery in there, all the fixings. If you can make your own Bloody Mary, dress it up yourself, have a little fun, that’s a win to start the day. I’d also be looking at pitchers of Bloody Marys for golf carts to go.

Third, dare I say it, a mimosa, because golf is such a daytime activity. You can play around with the champagne, you can play around with the juices, apricot juices and cherry juices and things like that — it doesn’t just have to be orange juice.

Again, it’s not just the cocktails on the menu, too: it’s how you offer them. You go to Yankee Stadium, they have a plastic mixing cup with a Yankee helmet on top with a cocktail in it. It’s sort of like a cocktail plus a glass. So you get this little glass plastic mixing cup and you get it attached to your glass. Why couldn’t we do the same with a cocktail on a golf cart?

As an industry expert, what’re people drinking when they get to the course on a weekend? How are those patterns changing?

Well, beer is way down. Other than two Mexican brands, there is not one beer in America projecting an increase in sales this year. There are some small craft breweries in different cities that are doing well locally, but generally speaking the beer sector is in big trouble. Seltzers are very hot, particular with women and couples. Whiskey is on fire.

Whiskey is still the hottest growth product in America. When you take a look at the regions in which people play golf, obviously when you look at a region like Florida you can sell a lot more rum cocktails and tropical things that tie into the palm trees on the golf course. When you’re in the Midwest you’re selling whiskey drinks, vodka drinks, things that tie into an oak tree on a golf course, if that’s not a silly analogy. When you’re at a golf course that’s coastal, play into that coastal piece of it.

There are so many things we can market to. Whiskey is hot right now. Tequila is starting to get very hot right now. And seltzer. The other thing that you should find interesting is that traditional cocktails are doing very well right now.

You can read the complete Q&A with Taffer here.