Academy of the Diageo Bar

It is essential to maintain open lines of communication with your customers and to probe their minds with pertinent inquiries if you wish to deliver an exceptional level of service. Rob Poulter focuses on the appropriate strategy and the essential knowledge you need to have in order to ensure that your clients will continue to do business with you over and over again.

When it comes to working behind the bar, having strong communication skills is one of the most crucial qualifications. These abilities allow bar teams to work more efficiently and provide customers with a more satisfying experience overall. Not only bartenders but also waiters should be equipped with the valuable communication skill of being able to offer a suitable recommendation when a customer doesn't know what they want to order.

A guest's entire evening can be improved, as can their overall impression of your establishment, with a well-placed recommendation. Equally, a poor recommendation can completely ruin a guest's evening and leave them feeling cheated after they have spent their own hard-earned money on an experience that they did not enjoy.

An excess of options

Even the most basic bars typically have quite a few different serving options available to their customers. When we add cocktails to the mix, there will be a selection of alcoholic beverages, including a number of different wines and beers, as well as a large number of different spirit combinations and mixers. When it comes to selecting the beverage that they would like to order, your guests are faced with a decision that could potentially be one of literally hundreds of different alternatives. This statement is not an exaggeration in any way.

Behavioral economists contend that the more options that are presented to consumers, the less motivated they are to choose, and the less likely they are to be satisfied with their choice. This predicament is referred to as "choice overload," and it occurs when consumers have an excessive number of options to select from.

Because of this, it is essential for you to ask a series of well-structured questions to a guest who is undecided so that you can narrow down the number of available beverages and help the guest select the ideal beverage for their needs.

Learn your food options.

The more questions you ask, the fewer potential choices there will be, but you need to be careful because asking an excessive amount of questions will not only slow down service but also run the risk of making the experience for the guests tedious. As a result of this, every question needs to be pertinent and work toward narrowing down the available options.

When making recommendations regarding brands of spirits, it is essential to have a solid understanding of the variety of products carried by each category of spirits as well as the similarities and differences between them. It is also beneficial to develop a good understanding of the brands that your bar does not stock. This will allow you to provide a suitable alternative to a customer who requests a brand that is not stocked at your establishment in the event that they make such a request. The website of the Diageo Bar Academy is one of the most beneficial places for you to begin expanding your knowledge.

It comes down to a process of elimination followed by a recommendation.

When giving recommendations for cocktails, the first question that should be asked is whether the recipient prefers something long or something short. This will immediately eliminate either one or the other, thereby narrowing the range of cocktail options from which you can choose to recommend.


If at all possible, you should steer clear of asking open-ended questions and instead direct your inquiries toward eliciting answers that can be classified as either yes or no. Take, for instance, the question, "What's your favorite spirit?" as an example. instead of, do you have a preferred type of alcoholic beverage? These two questions can significantly narrow down the pool of libations that are appropriate to recommend. After you have determined whether you want a long or short serve and the category of spirit you are selecting from, you can then concentrate your questions on the flavor profile of the spirit.


Your next question will be influenced, at least in part, by the selections that are available on your cocktail menu; therefore, there is no point in suggesting a lengthy answer. gin-based creamy cocktail if an option that incorporates those characteristics does not already exist, so ensure that the questions you ask start referencing the characteristics of the various options that are still available to you.

Therefore, in addition to being able to handle the flow of questions, you will also need to be able to formulate an effective recommendation. Not only in terms of how to make them, but also in terms of the key characteristics that define their taste and appeal, you need to have an in-depth knowledge of your cocktail menu and the drinks it contains. This is an additional requirement for you.

When giving recommendations, some excellent qualities to take into consideration are as follows:

  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Intense
  • Mellow
  • Smoky
  • Rich
  • Creamy
  • Delicate
  • Bold
  • Fresh
  • Light
  • Fruity
  • Complex

When you are able to dissect your cocktail menu into a series of descriptors that are specific to each drink, you will be well on your way to becoming an expert at knowing what questions to ask a customer who is undecided about what to order. If you have a solid understanding of the entire menu, you will be able to make well-informed recommendations to the customer and even upsell from their typical order.

Best practices for advising clients on the beverage that best suits their tastes

  • Gather as much information as possible about the various brands of each type of spirit that you sell, and then use this knowledge to direct your customers toward the brands that they will appreciate the most.
  • Find out more about the well-known brands that you don't carry and the alternatives that are comparable to those that you do carry in each spirit category.
  • You should be familiar with both your cocktail menu and the primary qualities of each drink listed on the menu. When making a recommendation, make use of this information to structure the questions you ask your guest.
  • Avoid open ended questions and focus your questions to elicit definitive answers
  • As the owner of a bar, you are responsible for ensuring that your staff is properly trained on various recommendation techniques. To get started, you should finish our e-learning module and learn more about Diageo's product portfolio on our website. This is a good place to begin.

Participate in the discussion by tweeting us at @diageobarac, uploading photos to Instagram with the hashtag #diageobarac, or making a post on our Facebook page. We hope that you will get in touch with us.

Sign up now to become a member of the Diageo Bar Academy and choose to receive our monthly newsletter in order to keep your bar knowledge current with the most recent industry news, trends, and tips.


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