Cooling off restaurant and bar menus this summer are cocktail popsicles—an innovative way to boost alcoholic beverage sales during the hot months and throughout the year.
For example, Conrad New York’s The Loopy Doopy Bar is selling prosecco popsicles. And the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas’ new bar, The Neapolitan—a concept devoted to only frozen drinks—features three flavors of alcoholic popsicles in addition to its sorbets, liquid nitrogen, and ice cream cocktails.
Cocktail popsicles are becoming more popular because of the childhood nostalgia of popsicles and because the offering is still fairly unusual and sets restaurants and bars apart from their competitors.
“The restaurant industry has to be innovative to move forward; we are seeing this in big cities in a very sophisticated way. Mother Nature is collaborating too [with high temperatures this summer],” says Tom Pirko, managing director of beverage consulting firm Bevmark in Buelton, California.
Conrad New York’s The Loopy Doopy Bar features five flavors of prosecco popsicles, including: watermelon, white peach, strawberry, blood orange and lychee, and mango and guava.
“Popsicles are something that you have when you are a kid. We wanted to take that and make it more adult,” says Gregory Polino, director of food and beverage for the Conrad New York.
Since debuting the popsicles when The Loopy Doopy Bar opened in mid-May, guests are coming to the bar from all over New York, just to see the unique frozen treats, says Polino.
“People are Tweeting about it and sharing it on other social media. We have gotten great PR with it,” he says.
In addition to providing something new for guests, the popsicles are profitable for The Loopy Doopy Bar. Each costs around $4 to make and retails for $17.
While the Loopy Doopy Bar plans to offer the prosecco popsicles through October 15, Hussong’s Cantina in Las Vegas offers cocktail popsicles year-round. The popular Mexican bar and restaurant sells margarita popsicles made by SnoBar in Santa Monica, California
“Being such a huge margarita bar, we decided to pick them up as soon as we heard about them three months ago,” says general manager Susan Perkins.
The first day Hussong’s began selling the popsicles, Perkins issued a challenge to the bar’s servers and bartenders, asking who could sell the most.
“Within 10 minutes we sold the first one and they sell like crazy here. Especially with it being so hot in Vegas, customers can go outside with a popsicle in one hand and a margarita in the other,” she says.
Retailing for $10 each, Hussong’s sells the popsicles inside and outside the restaurant using shot carts, via a freezer on its bartop, and by placing them on its dessert menu.
“We sell a lot of them this way. A lot of people like to do dessert drinks, but they are too full,” Perkins says.
However, most bars and lounges prefer to concoct signature popsicles. At The Neapolitan, alcoholic sorbets and popsicles retail for between $12 and $15 each. The bar’s current cocktail pop flavors include: Lovely Bunch of Coconuts, a piña colada beverage with pineapple segments rolled in toasted coconut; Watermelon Patch, a watermelon margarita with pineapple and cucumber segments, dipped in chili salt and rolled in watermelon pop rocks; and Pour Some Sugar on Me, which includes bourbon, peaches and peach tea, rolled in pie crumble.
Pirko believes the cocktail popsicle movement is not just a passing fad.
“The whole science of cocktails is really catching on. You really have to find something that is startling new and something that looks fun and interesting.”
By Christine Blank