What To Expect From Tableside Cocktail Service

Once a defining element in upscale settings, table service can now be found in both fine dining restaurants and casual environments (per toast). Though table service began to disappear in the 1960s, Food & Wine notes a small group of hospitality enthusiasts embraced the tradition as a differentiating factor for more discerning guests.

Table service has evolved into a category that encompasses specialty service provided particularly in restaurants and nightclubs. And it isn't only meals and plates prepared within eyesight — it's cocktails, too.

In bars and nightclubs, table service and bottle service are presented for patrons seeking a more exclusive — and expensive — experience. Some venues have taken the offering a step further by making tableside cocktails. Manager Mariantonietta Varamo of Great British Restaurant explained to Liquor, "You must find the right bartenders who have the skills of a maître d' and the ability to move a trolley with grace." Sure, you can order a bottle of champagne for the table, but what if you can order unique cocktails to drink, too?

Skillful service at your table

Tableside cocktail service brings not only drinks but also the drink-making process to you. While standing at your table, a server will prepare and present your beverage as you watch. For Gunshow's Kevin Gillespie, the experience helps build relationships with patrons. As he explained to Vine Pair, "The idea behind the mobile bar cart was to make our cocktail program more approachable." Ordered drinks can be customized, and, of course, the process itself is a kind of entertainment. As Liquor describes, "It's a brilliant selling tool, a means of providing a one-on-one guest experience while turning guests' heads in the process."

You can imagine the confidence it takes to maintain composure mixing, stirring, and shaking drinks, then gracefully serve them, with all eyes on you. It's a difficult role to play, and one that requires finesse and skill. Leo Robitschek, bar director at Eleven Madison Park, explains a few of the tableside cocktail service challenges to Market Watch Magazine. He says that there is limited working space, reduced materials to use, pressure to perform perfectly, and the potential for unexpected interruptions.

If tableside cocktails appear the next time you're dining out, be confident knowing the server is an expert and will do their best to impress you.