Case Study: Prime Meats Cocktail Menu

Last week, I derided Cash Bar for having an ambiguous menu that didn’t appear to offer much value. This week, I’d like to do the reverse: showcase a successful-looking menu for a place I’ve yet to go to, Prime Meats in Brooklyn.

If you’ve seen my Yelp review of PDT, you might recall that I mentioned having an off-the-menu Friend of the Devil, which was perhaps my favorite drink of the night. After our bartender, Karen, told us the recipe was from Prime Meats, I had to go check out the rest of the menu.

What I love about the Prime Meats menu is that the concept in each cocktail is accessible, yet no execution seems overly complex. Some drinks are clearly variations on old favorites, such as the Prime Manhattan, Applejack Sazerac and Old Fashioned, but even the new creations give you a good idea of what to expect while introducing less traditional ingredients such as Fernet, Chamomile, Mezcal and, uh, Branca Menta (the “uh” because Branca Menta is Fernet’s hyper-minty cousin).

What’s more, this menu isn’t playing the “This is our gin drink and this is our bourbon drink” game that some menus play. If I want rum, I don’t want to have to settle for the one rum drink on your menu that just so happens to have, oh my, lime and sugar, how original. I’d much rather scope out the menu ahead of time and say: “Terrific, lots of bourbon, brandy, rum and other dark spirits.” Or whatever. The point is, you can try to be a jack of all trades but more often than not you’ll wind up as a master of none.

It must be the yield manager in me speaking, but I also love the varied prices. When a bar sets all of their drinks at $X, I know they’re simply hedging their bets against the loss leaders. When the prices are varied, it at least allows me to consider why a bar has put a premium on a given cocktail and then decide if it’s worth it, rather than have all the magic happen behind the scenes. But, like I said, that one might just be me.

However, if there’s one thing I could improve it would be this: flavor text. I love to read a bit of copy writing about each cocktail, particularly writing that includes flavor descriptors and other hints on which drink to choose. My guess is the Prime Meats menu isn’t all that large which makes it hard to spare the real estate but, well, hell. Copy is cheap to produce and it goes a long way towards drawing in customers. And Prime Meats, if you’re in need of a copywriter don’t be bashful: just ask.

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