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Beverage Consulting 101: Everything You Need to Know

Beverage Consulting 101: Everything You Need to Know

Imagine a job that allows you bounce from bar to bar advising on everything from cocktails to budgets to operational processes that make the place run? Sound too good to be true? Well, it isn’t. This is beverage consulting. 

Whether you started as a bar back, worked your way to bartender and are looking for your next adventure, or you’re considering which field to enter after graduating, here’s everything you need to know about beverage consulting, from what the job entails to how much they get paid and what goes into a beverage consultant’s resume

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What is beverage consulting?

“Historically, a consultant has been someone who was hired to basically take care of all the subtle minutia required behind a bar and do it in the most cost-effective fashion possible,” Brian Van Flandern, a beverage consultant who has worked for Michelin-starred restaurants around the world, tells Tales of the Cocktail. “Beverage consultants were brought in to put in the soda guns, find sour mix, get grenadine and Rose’s Lime Cordial—to stock the bar with all those things mixologists like to avoid.”

Today, though, the job looks entirely different. “Today’s clients have tuned in to the craft cocktail movement. They’ve tuned into the fact that people want fresh ingredients and original, innovative recipes, so they’re hiring mixologists to be their beverage consultants,” Van Flandern says. 

From there, “It’s a very easy sell to transition them into [realizing that] we need to do some spirits education. Bartenders should know not only about every single spirit behind their bar, but also how to balance them, how to use spirits properly, how to use their tools properly.”

As Van Flandern explains, there are a number of different shades to the beverage consulting role. Just because the gig has evolved doesn’t mean that certain places aren’t still in need of someone to set up the basics before opening. It’s also important to stay up-to-date on current and seasonal trends, from summer cocktails to non-alcoholic beer. Beverage consulting looks different depending on the needs of individual bars and restaurants.  


Making drinks


What is included in beverage consulting job descriptions?

Beverage consultant job descriptions differ depending on the needs of the bar that’s doing the hiring. Sometimes a job will be almost entirely wine-focused, while others will be more spirit-oriented and require craft cocktail expertise. While the specifics will vary, in general, beverage consultant job descriptions will include the following:

  • Education: A list of the type of educational requirements necessary to do the job. This can range from four-year degrees through advanced master’s degrees, and even some special certificates as well.
  • Experience: Most bars and restaurants will ask for something like two to five years of experience. Sometimes that experience can include time spent working in a restaurant in a different capacity, like as a bartender or server.
  • Specifications: From the ability to train a bar staff to having the availability to work nights and weekends, the skills required to carry out a beverage consultant role closely mirror other restaurant management roles.
  • Responsibilities: The responsibilities for beverage consultants vary depending on the specific role, but often include the ability to create, manage and maintain bar processes, as well as manage an ongoing inventory. Soft skills are often included, like the ability to keep a positive attitude even during stressful situations. 


How much do beverage consultants make?

According to PayScale.com, the average food service consultant makes $49,435 per year. However, there’s quite the gap between the extremes. The lowest listed salary is $36,000 and the highest reaches over $83,000. When factoring in annual bonuses that can total up to $8,000, salaries can top out at just over $89,000 per year.  


Mixing a drink


What does a strong beverage consultant resume look like?

While the specifics of a beverage consultant resume will look different depending on the requirements of the role, there are a few central elements that should be covered by all applicants.

Work experience

The years and specific type of work experience should be highlighted on any beverage consultant’s resume, especially if you started at the bottom and worked your way up. It’ll show that you really understand how every little element works.

“In order to give advice to restaurant owners and produce concrete results within a short period of time, restaurant consultants must have deep familiarity with the restaurant industry, preferably having previous experience with the client’s niche,” explains Job Hero. Overall, most restaurants will be looking to hire a consultant with at least five years of experience in a restaurant setting.

Relevant skills

The skills that go into a successful beverage consultant resume generally fall into four categories according to Job Hero:

  • Problem-solving skills. Not only should beverage consultants be able to spot inefficiencies and problems, but they should be able to propose effective solutions to them as well including plans that minimize costs.
  • Strategic planning skills. Because beverage consultants make major decisions that affect the bottom line and overall success of the bars and restaurants they consult for, it’s important that they’re able to make smart, long-term decisions that are informed by how the business works as a whole.
  • Observation skills. Supported by a knack for detail, beverage consultants should be able to gather information about a restaurant or bar just by observing how things work, everything from how bartenders interact with their customers to how food comes out of the kitchen window before making its way to the bar.
  • Collaboration skills. From working with various restaurant owners to training new crops of staff and interacting with suppliers and partners, there’s no getting around the fact that beverage consulting is a collaborative job. Therefore, it’s important for beverage consultants to have excellent people skills including clear written and verbal communication skills.
  • Education: Most consultants have at least a four-year college degree in a relevant field like hospitality, restaurant management, or a related culinary field, but there’s always the option to stand out from the crowd by getting another layer of education under your belt, like an MBA. Be sure to list any special or relevant certifications you have as well, like food safety certifications.  


An alternative choice

While hiring a beverage or restaurant consultant can be a key way to improve your restaurant operations, it isn’t the only way. A commerce platform like Lightspeed gives you powerful tools and data to help you streamline operations, add new revenue streams and make smarter decisions. Talk to one of our restaurant experts to learn more about how Lightspeed can help. 

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