Skip to main content

The Business of Bartending: Standardized Recipes with Anthony Caporale

Education and consults for some of the largest beverage companies in the world.

He also created “The Imbible” series of long-running musicals about the history of cocktails and spirits.

“You make all your money at the bar.”


I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard this old chestnut, though tellingly never once from a restaurateur. They know the truth: making any money from the bar can be challenging at best and feel like a crapshoot at worst. Managing liquids is difficult, and profits often feel like they’re running through your fingers.

While there’s a lot of fantastic information on products and recipes available, there seems to be much less on how to use them successfully in a beverage program. Even highly experienced bartenders have told me they don’t have a good understanding of bar management, and long-time bar managers have confided that they were never actually trained in the position. So that’s what I want to focus on in this column: the business of bartending. We’ll examine industry best practices, explore management systems, and talk with some of the most successful restaurant operators in the country, all with the goal of helping you make, if not all your money, at least a respectable profit at the bar.

Let’s kick off this column by looking at the backbone of any profitable bar program: Standardized Recipes. Contrary to what I often see, a Standardized Recipe Program is not just having a standard recipe for each of your house drinks, but rather having a standard format for all your recipes. And I don’t just mean your signature drinks, or even the classics (drinks from what I call the Bartenders’ Cannon) that you make most often. I mean every drink you are likely to serve, and then every drink you subsequently serve that didn’t have a Standardized Recipe when it was ordered.

So, if you have a house recipe for a Martini:


2 oz Gin
½ oz Dry Vermouth


Shake gin and vermouth over ice, strain, garnish with olives.

And you also have a house recipe for a Manhattan:

Stir 2 oz. Powers whiskey with 1/2 oz. Antica vermouth over ice. Strain into a Martini glass, add bitters and garnish with 1 Luxardo cherry on a pick.

But both of those recipes are in different formats, you don’t have a Standardized Recipe Program in place. Here’s an example of a Standardized Recipe:

House Martini

In a mixing tin half-filled with ice, add:

2 oz. St. George Gin
½ oz. Martini & Rossi Extra Dry Vermouth


Shake until the tin is frosted. Strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with 2 Royal Ann Pitted Manzanilla Cocktail Olives centered on a cocktail pick placed in the glass. Serve on a cocktail napkin.

And here’s how the Manhattan recipe looks in that template:

House Manhattan

In a mixing glass half-filled with ice, add:

2 oz. Powers Irish Rye Whiskey
½ oz. Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth


Stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a Martini glass, add dashes of Angostura Bitters. Garnish with 1 Luxardo Maraschino Cherry centered on a cocktail pick placed in the glass. Serve on a cocktail napkin.

The key to an effective Standardized Recipe Template is to be sure that any trained bartender, anywhere, can follow it and make the drink exactly as you intend, every time. That means specifying not only general methods and product categories, but also:

-All brands.
-Exact amounts, including ice.
-Detailed preparation technique.
-Glassware (and don’t tell me these should be chilled, that’s an upcoming article).
-Complete garnishing instructions.

So, Step 1 of implementing a Standardized Recipe Program is to create a clear but concise recipe for each of your drinks using your Recipe Template. Why is this also the first step to running a profitable bar? Find out in our next issue when we cover Step 2: costing out drinks.

Anthony’s Standardized Drink Recipe Template

I list ingredients from most to least alcoholic and from greatest to least quantity, but that’s my preference. I just recommend that you’re consistent to make training easier.

Drink Name

-In a mixing [tin/glass] half-filled with ice, add:

X oz. [MIXER 1]
X oz. [MIXER 2]

[Shake until the tin is frosted/Stir for 30 seconds].

Strain into a [GLASSWARE.] [, add:]

-Serve on a cocktail napkin [with a straw/cocktail stirrer].

The post The Business of Bartending: Standardized Recipes with Anthony Caporale appeared first on Chilled Magazine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.