Draft Cocktails Catch on with Bars, Patrons

Staff Writer
Bartenders are dispensing mixed drinks from taps, and customers approve

Customers thirsting for the flavor and flair of craft cocktails have an appealing new service option in some bars and restaurants — pre-batched signature drinks on draft that spare them the usual wait for muddling, shaking and stirring.

Although the craft cocktail on draft is a new phenomenon in the bar scene, bulk beverages, of course, are not. Beer and soda have flowed through faucets for ages. In the past several years, a growing number of wineries have packaged premium wine in kegs for easy tap service. Similarly, some watering holes dispense shots of Irish whiskey, bourbon and liqueurs from taps. Little wonder that the turnkey cocktail should dawn as well. Customers seem fascinated by the novelty, and perhaps the quick gratification, too, of a mixed drink served with just a flick of the bartender’s wrist.

At Jasper’s Corner Tap & Kitchen, a new Kimpton restaurant in San Francisco, the Negroni cocktail on draft has become a cult item, reported bar manager Kevin Diedrich.

The formula is equal parts Plymouth gin, Campari and house vermouth, the latter a blend of Punt e Mes and Cinzano, mixed in soft-drink kegs in house. It is served on the rocks from a draft system that also pours keg wine at the bar.

“The idea is neat and kind of geeky, but fun as well,” Diedrich said. Area restaurant employees were the first fans of the drink at Jasper’s, but it soon caught on with guests in general. In fact, the first keg sold out in a day and a half. “Consumers love trends and little quirky things,” Diedrich said.

The fact that it takes just five seconds to serve a draft Negroni is a bonus for Jasper’s bartenders, who handle 300 orders on the busiest nights, not to mention impatient patrons.

“You don’t have to jigger it or stir it in a mixing glass,” Diedrich said. “It gets you out of the weeds pretty quickly.”