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Mix It Up - November 2016

FECs can add a splash with alcohol

by Mike Bederka

Do your research, experiment with the latest drink crazes, and give guests a diverse alcohol selection, advises Jeff Swanlund, owner of King Putt in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Red Sangria

1 1.5L Bottle of Merlot

6 Cups Grapefruit Juice

3 Cups Sprite or Club Soda

4 Cups Margarita Mix

1 Orange

1 Red Apple

½ Pound Strawberries

1.5 Cups Simple Syrup or ¼ Cup Raw Sugar

White Sangria

1 1.5L Bottle of Moscato

6 Cups Pineapple Juice

3 Cups Sprite or Club Soda

4 Cups Margarita Mix

1 Orange

1 Green Apple

½ Pound Strawberries

1.5 Cups Simple Syrup or ¼ Cup Raw Sugar

For one of his successful specials, he features $4 red or white sangrias made in-house every Saturday (see recipe). The family entertainment center (FEC) usually sells out at least one batch every weekend—the only time it’s available.

Swanlund also finds microbrews and premium beer do well, and he always has high-end IPAs and flavored or barrel-aged stouts in stock.

The FEC jumped on the root beer-flavored beer train early, but he already sees that trend starting to go flat. Swanlund believes the next big fad might be the radler or shandy (a mix of beer and soda or fruit juice).

The indoor FEC a few miles away from the Las Vegas Strip used to sell beer on draft, but frequent problems with the kegerator, pressures, and temperature was wasting too much product, he says. Now he sticks with bottles in a cooler to make everything easier.

“It turns out our beer sales went up when we started selling a wide variety of obscure beers that offer a high mark-up,” says Swanlund, who doesn’t have a full-service alcohol license. “In our jurisdiction, that permit costs $75,000 just to apply for. My beer/wine permit was $1,200.”

To make the most of the permit, King Putt actively promotes the beer and wine selection, showing the offerings on the counter. Staff also upsell the drinks by telling customers there are cup holders on all the blacklight mini-golf holes.

“In general, I think many FECs are too hesitant or risk averse when it comes to alcohol,” he says. “In four years of beer and wine service, we had to stop service on exactly one guest we thought was too intoxicated. In an FEC setting, I think people practice better judgment and keep the drinking responsible.”

Contact Funworld Contributing Editor Mike Bederka at michaelbederka@gmail.com.