How to Design and Print Your Bar's Menus

As with choosing your bar’s menu items, simple is best when it comes to laying out (designing what the physical menu is going to look like) the menu. Make it easy for your customers to decide what they want to order by following these basic guidelines:

  • Choose formatting carefully. Use options like italics, bold, CAPITALIZATION, and underlining sparingly and only for emphasis. Remember: You’re creating a menu, not a ransom note.

  • Separate your food menu from your drink menu. You can choose to place one menu on each side of the same piece of paper so patrons can just flip the sheet over. Or you can have a separate sheet for each menu.

  • Group like items together. Place beers together, cordials together, martinis together, shooters together, and so on. This format makes it easy for patrons to find what they’re thirsty for.

  • Create clear headings that tell patrons what they can find in each section. This also helps people find what they want. You can even use descriptors as headings, rather than traditional beverage categories.

    For example, instead of just “Draft Beer,” you can have subcategories that describe the different styles of beer and their tastes. So if a patron’s in the mood for something “crisp and light,” she can look for that description and select a beer to match.

Menu engineering basics for your bar

Menu engineering is the strategy of laying out your menu to encourage your patrons to order the items you want them to buy, often the items with the highest profit margins. Choose where you want to place the items on the menu and what fonts, graphics, and formatting you want to use to highlight various items.

The first place patrons look is the middle of the upper half of your menu. Place your high-profit items here to increase your sales. You can also use graphic icons to highlight signature dishes or other specialty items on your menu. And research shows that in a long list of menu items, the first, second, and last items are typically the most often chosen.

How to write the bar’s menu text

Writing menu text is similar to writing a commercial for your menu items. Think about selling the cocktail to your patrons. Tell them what’s in it (our house-infused, lime-coconut vodka), how it’s prepared (shaken with crushed ice and cream of coconut), what it tastes like (crisp and refreshing), and so on. Consider telling them how they’ll feel when they’re drinking it (refreshed after a hot day).

Descriptive text is always better than a boring listing of drinks. The menu description is your chance to show patrons why your cocktails (and other menu items) are special and something they can’t get just anywhere.

How to pass along the costs to your bar’s vendors

Some liquor vendors may be willing to print your menus for you. In return, they will, of course, want their products featured prominently. They may also place their logo or spirit brand’s logo on the menu prominently. If you’re looking to save some money and don’t mind this product placement, it can be a win-win for you.

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