Tips for Serving Alcohol at Your Salon

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As you may know, I am the founder of Be Inspired Salon in Madison, WI. Be Inspired Salon is an upscale boutique salon, so we decided to serve alcohol many years ago to really maximize our guests’ experience. When you put yourself in a client’s shoes, having a drink at the end of a busy day at work can help you relax and associate the salon with only positive vibes! Before you start serving drinks, there are a few factors to consider: the product, the execution, and the cost. 

The Product

When guests check-in for their appointment at our salon, we actually hand them a small beverage menu. That’s right; instead of rattling off our options, a little menu displays our professionalism and array of options which include: water, coffee, tea, wine, and bourbon. 

As a local boutique salon with many community partners, we pride ourselves on serving locally sourced beverages. For instance, our coffee is from the Johnson Brothers Coffee Roasters, and our tea is from a local provider as well. Even our water is top-notch because it has gone through the process of reverse osmosis. In other words, all the bad stuff has been taken out and the good minerals are added back. By explaining this option on the menu, we are communicating that we are an upscale salon and provide the very best to our clientele!

When we decided to serve alcohol, we continued with our local options by serving wine from Wollersheim Winery and bourbon from Yahara Bay Distillery, which are both local staples. On the beverage menu, we indicate that there is a white wine option in the Spring and Summer (Prairie Fume) and a red wine option in the Fall and Winter (Prairie Sunburst). 

We make sure to choose wines that are pleasing to the majority of our guests. Even though you might love dry red wines at all times of the year, choose an option that is friendly to everybody - and save the really good stuff for home! Finally, for our bridal parties, we serve mimosas. 

The Execution

Now that you’ve decided on your product, you have to think about the logistics. Since I live in Wisconsin, I’m going to share the rules for my state. These same rules might be applicable to your state, but you need to check the rules for yourself to make sure! In Wisconsin, if you do not charge for alcohol, you do not need a liquor license to serve it; so we don’t need to bother with that. Also, you have to make sure that your guests enjoying this amenity are 21 or older. Now, you don’t have to go around carding everyone who walks through the door, but if someone looks young, you should ask if they’re old enough in a fun and friendly way. Lastly, you have to make sure that the employee who is serving the alcohol is at least 18 years old. 

Beyond the rules for your state, you should establish your own salon policies surrounding alcoholic beverages. For example, we only serve one alcoholic beverage per guest, and we measure the amount. For bourbon, we pour one shot into a whiskey glass and for wine, we pour four ounces. If a guest drinks her glass of wine, our stylists simply offer one of our other options: coffee, water, or tea. We do not offer refills for wine or bourbon. Usually, our guests are so appreciative for just one drink that they aren’t upset at not being offered a refill. Your salon may choose to add additional policies, but these are a good start! 

The Cost

You don’t need to use a distributor unless you manage a huge salon! For our salon, we utilize a local grocery store, similar to Costco, where we know that we’re getting the best price possible. To ensure you always have enough beverages to offer your guests, you simply need to plan ahead. For instance, we look at our bridal schedule a month in advance and buy enough champagne for the month. For wine and bourbon, we utilize a similar strategy. At first, you might want to use a week-by-week approach until you know an average for your salon. Similarly, we know that we go through more wine in the warmer months than the colder months, so we adjust for the seasons as well. 

For some salons, the cost of this added amenity might be a concern. However, I assure you that this will not break the bank! If you increase your costs for a haircut and color by just two dollars, it will more than pay for itself. For my salon, I’ve done all the math, and it comes out to just about two dollars per beverage. 

Hopefully this outline encourages you to take the next step to set yourself apart from the competition! Serving wine, bourbon, or beer is a swanky little extra that is a fun addition to your salon environment. Give it a try and share your thoughts with our community on our private Facebook group!  

Emily Kelly