If you’ve ever wondered what happens behind the scenes to help create that beautiful beverage menu on your restaurant table, Ignite Creative Services partner, Celia Waddington, weighs in on a few tricks of the trade. After coming off the set of a recent shoot for the T.G.I. Friday’s new beverage menu, here’s what she had to say:

“No matter what, every photo shoot requires organization. We have to make sure we have the recipes organized in the way they’ll show up in the book. But we have to be willing to make changes on the fly as well, in case we need to tweak a recipe, such as adding a garnish because it will make the cocktail look better in the photo,” she says.

It can take two hours just to set up the drinks, and everyone (project coordinator, bartender, food stylist, photographer) is running around like crazy, getting things ready for the shoot. The bartender makes the cocktails, first, the actual cocktail as a model, then the duplicate for the shoot. He uses food coloring to mimic any color in the cocktail, fake ice because it won’t melt, and glycerine to give that sweaty, wet look on chilled drinks. If it’s a milkshake drink, they bring out the yogurt because it won’t melt under the heat of the hot lights on the set like ice ream will.

Meanwhile, the photographer is setting up the LED lighting and location, scouted out ahead of time. In the background, someone’s polishing glassware and vendor bottles to make sure water spots or dirt won’t  show up in print. The food stylist is checking on table placement and positioning. When the mocktails are ready, they’ll go there.

In between this flurry of activity, everyone continues to check emails, voice mails and texts, trying to keep up with normal day-to-day work back in the office.

The photographer will take photos from all angles to get the best shots for the menu. And since his camera is hooked up to a computer, the whole team can view the screen to see what his shots look like live, making adjustments as needed.

“For instance, we might have to move the garnish to see it better,” says Waddington.

In this last photo shoot, the team was working with hot coffee drinks and–Yikes!–noticed the whipped cream was melting too fast. All they could do was scoop it off, clean off the glass again, and spritz on the glycerine. “We all wondered, ‘Where is the whip cream mold? Why hasn’t anyone invented that yet?'”