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Making Your Cocktails Instagrammable: The Complete Guide

September 6, 2019 by Jonathan Paxley

When it comes to the drinks industry, it’s no secret that if you’re not keeping on top of your Instagram, you could be waving goodbye to a huge number of potential clients.

As well as managing your own social media, you should be thinking about how to make your cocktails ‘Instagrammable’ so that your customers spread the word on their respective accounts.

Instgram users are forever scrolling past images of their friends posing in London’s coolest bars or promoting their lifestyle choices with images of vegan drinks and cocktails. These free word of mouth marketing opportunities are really valuable for business, but how can we utilise them?

We caught up with some of the biggest names on Drinkstagram to find out:

  • How you can make your cocktails irresistibly Instagrammable so that your customers want to shout about them on social
  • How you can get that Insta-worthy shot
  • And, how you can make your Instagram account stand out

Add Two Picture-Perfect Cocktails to Your Menu

People go crazy for a cocktail served in a teapot, drinks decorated with their favourite childhood sweets or (and perhaps the most Instagrammable of all) cocktails that are set alight in front of them.

If you have these ‘wow-factor’ cocktails on your menu, you could sufficiently increase the chances of making it onto the ‘gram and getting more people through your door.

We know what you’re thinking – you don’t have the time to change up your entire menu and you certainly don’t have the shelf-space for 50 teapots. Well, why not start with just two Instagram-worthy cocktails?

 If adding some candy floss to your Woo Woo gets your bar on to a customer’s Instagram story, that’s a pretty good return on investment!

Bright and Clear is Best

When photographing cocktails, the brighter the better. Morten from adds:

“Brown-coloured cocktails tend to get less attention than the colourful ones – regardless of what actually tastes better.

Think about contrasting colours. For example, a bright and intense red-coloured Cosmopolitan, with a bright green lime garnish will have a fantastic appeal to the viewer. Clear cocktails work better than cloudy ones. If you do want to serve and promote cloudy cocktails, try to garnish them with something that draws attention to them. An edible pretty flower or a dehydrated citrus garnish would work.”

Bright and clear cocktails are visually appealing for both your Instagram fans and your customers, so adding a brightly-coloured cocktail to both your menu and your Instagram feed is a worthwhile exercise.

Don’t Let the Taste Slip

While brightly-coloured cocktails, great garnish and fancy glassware will undeniably get people’s attention, Matthais from @servedbysoberon told The Cocktail Service that it’s unlikely a customer will post a cocktail picture to their Instagram grid unless the cocktail tastes delicious too.

“Customers will take pictures of their drinks before they’ve tasted them because this is when the drink looks the best – the ice is clear and the garnish still intact,” Matthias explained. “While you can be pretty safe to assume that this picture will make it to the Instagram story, in my own personal experience, customers will only make a ‘grid post’ when the drink is delicious as well.

Making an Instagram story is easy: you take your shot when the drink arrives, add a mention of the location or people you’re with and then you can start sipping.

 Grid posts, however, are harder. People aren’t likely to make a grid post while their drink is warming up or diluting as they take a little longer: you need time to write a caption, choose a filter or colour correct it. This means that they’re probably be doing this quite a while after drinking the cocktail.

Whenever they make that post, they’ll be thinking of the last impression the drink had on them, and this is not going to be what it looked like when it came to the table, but instead the taste of the drink

I know that when I’m underwhelmed by the final sip of a drink, I’m not likely to post a picture to my Instagram grid, except maybe in a carousel post (where it probably won’t be the first, second or third picture),” Matthias concluded.

So, if you want your cocktails to make it past the Instagram stories (which are deleted within 24 hours of being posted), make sure you don’t forget that all-important flavour!

Share your Instagram Handle

So, you’ve done all the leg work, and people are snapping away in your bar, and now you need to make sure your brand is being tagged in their uploads.

Try subtly popping your Instagram handle on your menus, WiFi card or any branded coasters. This will encourage people to follow your account and tag you in any Instagram posts they make.

Simplify Your Shot

The Cocktail Service’s Tom, who has grown @thecocktailservice exponentially since its establishment, says simple shots are best. “Make the drink the focus of the shot,” Tom explained. “Neutral backgrounds and environments allow the cocktail to come into its own. If the background or foreground is too busy it will upset the balance of the composition.”

there-is-always-hope-cocktail’s Morten agrees: “Close up shots often work best. When taking close pictures, you can blur the background which works well. You want the background to be there, but not take over the shot and confuse the viewer.

“If you like, you can place some props, such as bar stools, bottles or plants in the background, but don’t overdo it, you still want the focus to be on the cocktail,” Morten concluded.

Add Some Personality

While the sleek and simple look works well, Natalie from @beautifulbooze told The Cocktail Service that people love to see her personality come into in her photos too.

“Don’t be afraid to make the experience a drinkable moment by adding some personality to the photo,” Natalie explained. “For example, try taking a photo of you garnishing or making the cocktail.”

People often buy into brands when they feel they know the people behind them, so try giving your pictures a human element.

Cocktails Photograph Best in Natural Lighting

In Morten’s experience, he has found that “Natural lighting is key when taking gorgeous pictures that really grab people’s attention”, so position the cocktail by a window before you photograph it.

“For a bit of extra light, try taking your pictures on a table with a reflective surface,” Morten added. “Or use a light reflector, like a white piece of cardboard or a white shirt.”

Don’t Forget About Post-Production

Unfortunately, Instagram isn’t as simple as shooting and publishing. If you want your grid to really represent you what you stand for as a brand, you’re going to have to think about having a colour or theme throughout.

Consistency is Key

The Cocktail Service’s Tom tells us, “The best drink Instagram feeds have consistency in composition, filters and editing. They don’t all have to be the same, but creating parameters for your photo promotes consistency for your fans.”

Jean-Vital from @cocktail_circus agrees that a themed Instagram feed is necessary, telling us, “The most important thing when trying to grow your Instagram following is to have a theme running throughout your feed so that people recognise your brand in every post.

“I use the same camera and a dimmed lighting in every photo, which has resulted in a simple, clean and sleek look to my Instagram profile.”

If you want your photos to be easily-distinguishable, find your theme and be consistent with your posts, be it black and white images or pastel colours throughout.

Enhance Your Images

Our final piece of advice would be to enhance all images. Tom explains more: “There are great free apps such as Adobe Lightroom which you can use to professionally edit images taken on a mobile. You can get fantastic results and images that really pop.”

If you loved this guide to using Instagram, make sure you check out our complete guide to sustainable cocktails, our millennial’s guide to sparkling wine and our own style photoshoot for Botanic Lab for inspiration.


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