Making Coasters Complement Cocktails: A Blend of Aesthetics and Strategy

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6th February 2024
This post was written in collaboration with VistaCreate

As a bartender or bar owner, you know very well that every detail counts in mixology. While cocktails can make or break it when it comes to consumer experience, many drinking establishments forget one thing equally important in the place’s brand image – coasters. Inherently powerful, these things are much more than a barrier between a drink and a table. They offer a unique opportunity to marry form with function. You can subtly elevate your brand and dazzle your patrons with a well-designed coaster. 

Your coasters don’t have to be just moisture absorbents. After all, why make them be just that if they can tell a story, spark conversation, and perfectly complement your crafted beverages? The best thing is that you don’t have to be a design guru to create top-notch coasters. Let’s explore how to do that all by yourself.

Colors & Flavors

Colors wield a powerful psychological impact that prompts an emotional response and behavior without a whisper. Assess your color choice based on your place’s lights, essence, identity, design, and drinks. For example, a coaster in calming shades of green might suggest a refreshing, herb-infused cocktail, setting a serene mood before the first sip. Conversely, a fiery red coaster could prime guests for a spicy concoction, igniting anticipation.

This goes beyond simple associations, though. A soft and inviting pastel yellow coaster could hint at the mellow sweetness of a cocktail with vanilla or citrus undertones, enticing the palate before the drink is even tasted. This sensory bridge between color and flavor enhances the anticipation and enjoyment of the cocktail, turning each sip into a multi-sensory experience. And it’s not only with drinks that colors shape reception. Food and desserts also rely heavily on colors. Whether running a pub, brasserie, pizza parlor, or a high-end restaurant, making your menu visually appealing and mindful in terms of colors can give your place a leg up on the competition. You can freely choose and customize any menu template on Vista and craft branded advertising collateral that reinforces identity, shines a unique style, and makes a statement. 

Take it Further & Tell a Story

Consider colors a powerful backdrop that must set the tone, build anticipation, and be a perfect icebreaker, pushing visitors to order a drink. Utilize designs that echo the essence of the beverage. For a cocktail inspired by an old sailor’s tale, a coaster adorned with nautical maps and aged edges can transport your guest to the high seas with every sip. This level of thematic integration will enrich the drink and turn each cocktail into a narrative journey.

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to craft a unique coaster for each cocktail (unless you want to and have enough resources). Create unique coasters for the most popular cocktails while using a set of relatively neutral coasters with other beverages of matching colors. But don’t hesitate to go the extra mile and craft pieces tailored to different drinks for more effective advertising.

Much like a menu that evolves with the seasons, your coasters can, too. Those awash with vibrant tones and floral motifs might complement a summer cocktail. A winter drink, in turn, can find its match in coasters adorned with icy blues or snowy landscapes. These timely changes will keep your aesthetic fresh and align with the seasonal moods of your clients. No matter how many coasters you create, ensure these elements remain consistent and tied to your brand across each design: logotype, typography, and color schemes. Doing so will make your brand more recognizable and build a visual language that your regulars will associate with quality and comfort. 

Also, pay attention to the material before getting tangible coasters. A sleek, minimalist bar might use polished metal coasters that speak of its modernity. At the same time, a cozy, rustic pub could favor cork or wood for its natural warmth and inviting ambiance. Take a gander at these coasters to get an idea of what yours could look like.

Advanced Design Techniques

Colors and graphic motifs are just half the battle; it doesn’t mean they are not enough to make your coaster complement your drinks. However, you can take it further by utilizing other methods, like adding texture. Embossing or debossing creates a tactile experience that invites guests to take a closer look and engage more deeply with the coaster—and, by extension, the cocktail. Likewise, the finish depends on your brand and vision. For instance, a velvet-like finish could complement a velvety smooth cocktail, while a coaster with a rough, gritty texture might pair well with a bold, robust drink.

You can also transform your coasters into interactive experiences that extend beyond aesthetics. QR codes can lead people to an online menu of seasonal cocktails or exclusive social media promotions. Coasters can act as powerful tools for cross-promotion, seamlessly linking with other marketing efforts. For example, they can tease upcoming events at your bar or introduce a new loyalty program, ensuring customers are always in the loop and engaged with your brand. 

Ensure your coasters are share-worthy by encouraging people to snap photos of their beverages, completing with the artistic coasters underneath, and posting them across social platforms. You could start a hashtag contest that rewards the best coaster-and-cocktail photo with a prize. This strategy would improve the real estate of every table, amplify your online reach, grow your digital footprint, and boost foot traffic to your place. 

Before rolling out a whole stack of coasters, test a few first. Gather feedback from guests and online followers regarding the design, material, and general appeal. When using social media and hashtags, you can also learn which cocktails and coasters are doing better so you can double down on refining and iterating them over time. 

It’s okay if you can’t invest many resources into coasters at first; opt for cheaper materials and refrain from texture techniques, and instead, laser-focus on simpler but still visually vibrant coasters. Keep tabs on trends, customer preferences, and the evolving identity of your establishment. This will help you adjust to the market dynamics while remaining original, eye-catching, and innovative.

Conclusion

A good coaster can add to a cocktail and elevate the customer experience. With colors, graphic design elements, and texture in mind, you can craft a stunning coaster that tells a story, boosts the drink, and enhances your brand identity. Make coasters part of your storytelling and marketing, and reap the benefits of their power as they turn each beverage into a terrific drink that is impossible to get anywhere else. Here’s to game-changing coasters, cheers!

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Bartender's top tip

Balancing flavors is key in mixology. A dash of bitters or a hint of citrus can elevate a cocktail, turning a good drink into an exceptional one. Always experiment and refine.

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