The team at Manchester bar Science + Industry have introduced Prototype Drinks, a new concept aiming to facilitate menu development and gain customer feedback.
Each Monday from 11pm-2am, the bar will feature a different ‘Prototype Drink’, a cocktail still in development. Along with the drink, guests will receive a comment card where they can choose what to pay – between £3 and £9 – and leave constructive criticism.
According to Science + Industry’s bar manager Karl Stanley, the idea was inspired by London bar Coupette, which features £5 development drinks on Mondays.
‘We wanted to take the idea a step further, so we decided on doing a payment system,’ Stanley told Imbibe. ‘The only way we can tell how much a person likes the drink is how much they’re willing to pay for it. Then we can cross-reference what they’ve said about the drink and what they’ve paid to understand their judgment.’
The first cocktail of the programme premiered last Monday – a sesame-washed bourbon highball with coconut syrup, coconut water and soda, developed by bartender Sam Page.
‘A lot of the feedback [on the comment cards] was that it was a little over the top with the sesame and that the coconut might not be coming through,’ said Stanley. ‘People were paying £6 on average, which is really good. Our bespoke house cocktails are £9.50-£10. So for something in development that we've just had a week to work on, £6 is, I think, a fair assessment. We're off to a good start.’
The goal of the Prototype Drinks programme is, in part, to shape future cocktail menus. ‘This is a way to get three, four, five menus done without actually spending time getting stressed or sitting down writing menus together, pulling our hair out working on drinks and costings, because we’ll already have done it and been through that process.’
But Stanley also sees it as a way of fostering a creative work environment. ‘It’s difficult working somewhere where your ambition is to get a drink on the menu and the menu isn’t coming out for seven months,’ he said. ‘[The Prototype Drinks idea] is good for the bar team, it’s good for morale and for our guests it’s the perfect opportunity to try something new.’
Science + Industry’s Prototype Drink of the week is available every Monday from 11pm-2am