Time to refresh the cocktail list
Light fruit flavours top summer drinks agenda, bartenders say
AS warmer weather turns consumers towards more refreshing drinks, the summer months could be an ideal time for operators to review their cocktail selection.
But what are the key ingredients to a successful summer cocktail list?
Matt Ronald, general manager at Blue Dog in Glasgow, said the trick is to create cocktails that are “balanced – not too sweet, not too sour, well made and chilled”.
“A lot of summer drinks are blended drinks and long drinks, just to cool people down, but I don’t think all summer drinks should be blended or long because you’re not always after that,” he said.
“As for flavours, I think people are looking for more interesting things. Summer fruits, like passion fruit, kiwi, mango, things that people are used to getting in the summer.”
In terms of spirits, however, Ronald said there are no hard and fast rules. Brighter, longer days don’t necessarily mean lighter spirits, he said.
“I think people will certainly drink a lot more white spirits in summer, but it’s not essential [to use them], because if you come up with something that people think is really nice, you can sell anything,” he added.
The newly re-developed cocktail list at Blue Dog includes the Southern Belle, which mixes Southern Comfort with pomegranate liqueur, Grand Marnier, fresh strawberries, fresh lemon juice and cranberry juice, and the Madam Mayfair, which combines Hoxton’s grapefruit and coconut gin with pink grapefruit liqueur, passion fruit liqueur, fresh passion fruit, fresh grapes, lemon juice and fresh apple juice.
Elsewhere in the city, operator G1 Group will be rolling out dedicated cocktail lists to 25 of its venues this summer.
Lisa Tracey, group drinks ambassador at G1, said summer cocktails are all about offering customers a point of difference. Tracey’s creations include the Fiorentina, which mixes Tanqueray gin with Parfait Amour liqueur, fresh lemon juice and sugar.
“We try to mix it up as much as possible,” said Tracey.
“We have our best sellers from last summer, but we work quite closely with our two partners (Diageo and Bacardi Brown Forman) to make sure that we implement some fresh new ideas. They come up with some really great drinks, and it’s great to have that brand tie-in as well.
“So usually there’s a cross of both old and new.”
Low calorie cocktails have also become a major focus for G1 recently and the company now has a dedicated ‘skinny’ section on some of its cocktail lists.
“With the skinny cocktails it’s just offering something different,” added Tracey.
“I was surprised by how much people are really counting their calories.
“We currently do skinny cocktails in Darcy’s and in the Vic in St Andrews and they sell incredibly well. So it’s something we are going to roll out further in the group.”
Meanwhile, Edinburgh visitor attraction The Scotch Whisky Experience is aiming to challenge traditional perceptions of cocktails this summer with the introduction of a new whisky-centric cocktail list.
The venue recently appointed Iain Meldrum as master mixologist who has created a cocktail list that’s designed to cater to whisky buffs and non-fans alike.
The new list includes Thyme Well Spent – a mixture of single malt whisky, thyme syrup and rhubarb bitters, and the Scottish Sling, which combines blended Scotch with pressed apple, ginger and rhubarb liqueurs and fresh lemon.
“As with food, you’ve got some quite robust flavours that won’t lend themselves well to delicate fish or chicken, and other flavours which will be too light to go with full-flavoured venison or beef; it’s the same with cocktails,” Meldrum told SLTN.
“Depending on what kind of flavours and styles you wanted to mix then the beauty of Scotch in particular is there’s such an array of flavours that you’ve got so many different ones to play with to find one that will work.
“Unlike, say, vodka, which is a spirit with very subtle flavours. You’ve got such mixtures of flavours in Scotch that you can pretty much do anything with them.”