Keep it simple this summer

Cocktails don’t have to be complicated for operators to reap the rewards

FRUITY cocktails and long drinks look set to dominate consumers’ summer drinks repertoires again this year.

And it seems it’s not just bars with a reputation for cocktails that stand to benefit.
In fact, spirits firms contacted by SLTN reckon operators who take a simple approach to mixed drinks can reap the rewards.
Maxxium UK is promoting a range of “quick and tasty” serves this summer, designed to help bar staff produce quality mixed drinks quickly and efficiently. The distributor is also training bartenders on the Mixxit swizzle – a simple cocktail method using premium spirits, fresh ingredients and crushed ice; the recipes are described as “easy and quick” to create yet the drinks give the impression of being “gourmet and highly technical”.
Eileen Livingston, Maxxium UK’s marketing controller for Courvoisier and imported whiskies, said promoting a selection of simple long mixed drinks can bring a number of positive spin-offs to an outlet.
“Consumers frequently default to wine or beer if they haven’t made their drinks decision by the time they arrive at the bar,” she said.
“Publicans can use this opportunity to encourage customers to choose a higher-margin summer drink, such as a premium spirit and a refreshing premium mixer.
“As well as boosting profits, this will ensure customers feel like they have received good service, increasing the likelihood of repeat visits.”
Offering alternative spirit mixer combinations during the summer months can also help broaden consumers’ drinks repertoires in the long-term.
Sue Beck, senior brand manager for Lamb’s rum at Halewood International, advised compiling a list of simple summer cocktails and mixed drinks for spirits categories where consumers tend to favour the same mixer.
“For more unexplored categories we need to help consumers into the category by suggesting really simple serves, such as Lamb’s Spiced rum and cloudy apple juice,” she said.
“This means less fuss and investment and means they are likely to come into the category if the brands and retailers make it easy for them.
“The Mojito cocktail is ever popular during the summer and in white rum, consumers may not want to pay for the brand leader but don’t want to be seen to purchase own-label.
“Lamb’s white rum offers a mainstream-branded alternative which sits between the two ends of the spectrum. Retailers can create a ladder of price points in this way in each spirit category to encourage consumers to trial and engage them with products which suit their needs.”
28-4-11_fourrosesThe team at Global Brands is also promoting the benefits of the ‘simple serve’ this summer.
But marketing director Simon Green said it’s important to serve straightforward spirit mixers with a bit of a twist.
“Simple yet eye-catching serves are always big winners with licensees and consumers so we’ve introduced Four Roses long drinks served in branded jam jars,” he said.
“In the summer months there is a natural shift to long refreshing drinks ideal for drinking outside with friends.
“Although summer is a key period for sales, people are going out less than in previous years. However, a new generation of aspirational consumers who are willing to pay for a quality experience has emerged, which is positive news for the premium spirits category – an area which Global Brands has invested heavily in.
“To maximise this opportunity, outlets need to premiumise their drinks offer. Delivering a ‘wow factor’ that their customers can’t get at home will give them a great reason to visit the pub.”
Staff training is key to boosting sales of long mixed drinks and cocktails, according to Maxxium UK’s on-trade sales director Jim Grierson. Through its Mixxit training initiative, the firm offers a comprehensive programme of training for bartenders at all levels.
“We want to help pubs drive their business forward by helping them to make and serve great drinks, which goes hand in hand with great customer service,” said Jim.
“Offering cocktails and premium spirits or even just simple mixed drinks is a great idea as customers are already pre-disposed to trade up and treat themselves during the holidays.
“It is, therefore, very important to ensure your staff are trained to prepare and serve quality mixed drinks to maximise customer satisfaction and repeat business. Making sure they have the confidence to up-sell your spirits range is equally important.”
Sue Beck said Halewood planned to ramp up its bartender training this summer.
“In order to maximise the opportunities for summer drinks it is important for publicans to train their bartenders to encourage people to try new drinks this summer,” she added.
“We are constantly working on ideal serve suggestions, cocktails and simple serves to help bartenders sell rum.”

Summer sales tips »

Global Brands offers the following advice:
• Host tasting sessions
• Promote special offers on spirits-based serves
• Enhance visibility of your drinks range on the back-bar
• Host cocktail nights
• Serve long drinks in unusually-shaped glasses or eye-catching vessels; add colourful decorations, swizzle sticks and coloured straws; and give glasses a frosted edge by dipping the rim into lemon juice and then into sugar.

(Top image: Courvoisier Punch combines the VS Cognac with Fever Tree lemonade, Angostura Bitters, orange and lemon. Consumers will get the chance to sample the punch at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Right: Global Brands is promoting Four Roses and Ginger Beer served in a branded jam jar.)