This Inventive Cocktail Menu Asks Guests to Roll the Dice

Morioka Martini and Hanamaki Fizz cocktails at Zuma. Images courtesy of Zuma

Award-winning, upscale contemporary Japanese restaurant Zuma is tempting guests to tempt fate with their new cocktail menu.

The spring menu is the creation of Lorenzo Coppolz, a bartender from Rome who has spent two months at the Las Vegas location inside the Cosmopolitan fine-tuning these delicious drinks.

Each cocktail complements Zuma Las Vegas' culinary offerings, is well balanced, makes use of intriguing ingredients (some of which are cross utilized), and is characterized by a presentation that speaks to the adage that we eat (or drink, in this case) with our eyes first.

But Zuma’s new menu leverages something else to improve the guest experience by encouraging more engagement between guests and bar teams: Tokaido.

Elevated Guest Engagement & Experience

Tokaido is a unique and elegant board game. One of its expansions, Crossroads, uses a die to give players the opportunity to risk their in-game money: they may quadruple their coins, but they may also break even or lose everything.

Should guests find themselves at a decision-making crossroad, unable to choose which cocktail they want, Zuma’s new Coppolz-designed, Tokaido-inspired menu encourages them to “roll the dice and challenge fate.”

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Decision-challenged guests are given a Zuma-branded wooden bowl and handed a blue eight-sided. Seven sides are emblazoned with a symbol corresponding to one of the seven new Zuma specialty cocktails. The eight side reads “Zuma” and means bartender’s choice: the person behind the stick will choose which of the seven new drinks the guest will receive.

Social Media Marketing Presentations

Each drink, which range in price from $16 to $20, is unique, presented in a particular vessel with a specific presentation. The Kentucky Ninja, for example, features Horse Soldier Bourbon and is presented in a white ceramic mug that looks like a ninja, a callback to a vintage ceramic buddha mug. The Ichinoseki Colada, made with white rum, comes in a coconut resting on a shallow bowl of pebble ice.

Zuma Ichinoseki Colada Tokaido menu cocktail

For me, however, the showstopper presentation came from Hokkaido Smoke Show. The drink is made with Ketel One Vodka, beetroot cordial, yuzu and chocolate liqueur. Savory beetroot is balanced by the chocolate notes, making it an ideal après-dinner dessert drink.

Zuma Hokkaido Smoke Show Tokaido menu cocktail

The Hokkaido Smoke Show also kicks the interactive nature of the new menu up a notch. Using a Flavour Blaster gun (the kit retails for $405) and Bubble X Bubble Mixture (retails for $20), the cocktail is served in a wine glass with a burstable smoke bubble. Once the guest—and their friends, no doubt—have finished snapping their pictures and videos for social media (the food-safe mixture is formulated for bubbles to last up to three minutes), they pop the smoke-filled bubble. The drink’s interactive nature practically demands guests to film it. The drink makes excellent use of the marketing power of video-driven IG Stories and Tik-Tok, a brilliant move on Coppolz and Zuma’s parts.

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Hanamaki Fizz showcases Zuma’s signature cocktail ice program beautifully. The restaurant is known for their bar teams’ hand carving of huge, crystal-clear ice blocks for drinks. It’s another video- and IG-worthy element of the brand’s cocktail program. Guests can watch as a bar team member drills a rectangular ice cube and inserts an LED into the cavity, illuminating the mezcal-driven drink. It’s quite a spectacle.

Zuma Hanamaki Fizz Tokaido menu cocktail

The Takeaways

The biggest two takeaways are the interactive nature of rolling a die and attention-grabbing cocktail presentations. But let’s drill down deeper.

Enhancing the guest experience is smart business—that should be a given by now. Operators are competing for attention and dollars against guests opting for the comfort of home, on-demand delivery services, eatertainment venues, and more.

Bartenders can tell the story of each drink, of course. But they can also use the bartender’s choice option to really get to know their guests. What was there day like? How’s their evening going? What mood are they in? What do they normally drink? What spirit or flavors are they feeling this evening?

When it comes to the presentations, they’re going to wind up tagged—profile, geo and hash—all over social media. That’s highly visible marketing from excited guests with measurable reach and results.

Scaling that back to just the people in the bar area and restaurant—much of the dining room can see the bar and its dedicated seating space—the presentations of these specialty drinks are going to motivate others to make purchases. I can attest to the “viral” nature of the Hokkaido Smoke Show among guests when mine arrived. Just the smoke bubble resting atop the drink results in people pointing and asking about the drink. Phones come out, pics are snapped. But when the bubble bursts? Everybody wants to do it. Guest see, guest do, as it were.

Zuma Hokkaido Smoke Show cocktail's bubble bursting

On top of the other benefits, the drinks leverage the popularity of multiple spirits: bourbon, mezcal, Japanese whisky (Toki), gin (Suntory’s Roku), and vodka. There’s also a white rum cocktail, meaning there’s something that should speak to every guest’s tastes. Smartly, the Misawa Riptide and Hanamaki Fizz cross utilize yuzu cordial.

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Along with measuring and acting on KPIs, lowering costs whenever possible, and delivering the best products possible, operators must offer a guest experience that draws people through their doors. It’s amazing what a bowl and die can do to achieve that goal.

Want more? Nightclub & Bar Show 2020 attendees can check out and try new bar tools on the Expo Floor. Those who opt for VIP or Conference passes have access to the best Operations, F&B, Marketing, Guest Experience, People and Staffing, and Technology education in in the industry. Register now!


Zuma website

Flavour Blaster website

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