COOLER drinks like frozen cocktails could be just the ticket for bars this summer as drinkers seek refreshment in the warmer weather
Cocktails have increasingly become an important part of the sales mix for many bars over the past decade, as spirits firms have thrown their marketing weight behind the category. But operators contacted by SLTN last week are hoping demand will rise even further this summer, providing the recent spell of warm weather continues. They say higher temperatures can encourage drinkers to try something different, as well as give bartenders the chance to up-sell.
Donald Mavor, owner of Edinburgh restaurant Tex Mex, told SLTN frozen Margaritas sell particularly well in his restaurant.
“Some customers order them as pre-dinner drinks, others drink them with lunch or dinner and they also drop by just for a frozen Margarita,” Donald said. “They lend themselves well to Mexican food, so they are in great demand all year round, but they are a particular attraction when the weather is warmer.
“We buy in French fruit purees to make them with, so they are available in a variety of flavours.”
Louise McCabe, bar manager of Metropolitan in Glasgow, has also seen an increased demand for frozen cocktails as the weather has improved, though the bar also serves a wide range of other drinks.
Frozen Daiquiris and that old favourite, the Mojito, are the current, star performers.
Louise said refreshment is the hallmark of all great summer drinks.
“A great summer cocktail is something light, refreshing and with a lower alcohol content,” she said. “These can be enjoyed all day with friends without becoming too sickly or too heavy. We will continue to concentrate on long drinks with fresh fruits and crushed ice.”
The Mojito remains the most popular cocktail in Scottish bars, according to operators contacted by SLTN, followed by other established favourites like the French Martini and Cosmopolitan.
But these barely scratch the surface of the massive range of different cocktails now available in the on-trade.
Even the nation’s economic woes don’t seem to have dampened enthusiasm for cocktails too much.
“The average spend on cocktails has held consistently, although it does feel slightly under pressure,” Donald said.
“I’ve noticed that some people who might previously have had a pitcher of cocktails might limit themselves to buying one or two by the glass.
“The reason why sales have held steady though is that, in an age of austerity, people need a treat and a cocktail or two is a pleasurable, affordable luxury.”
Nor is there any sign of declining demand for cocktails at Metropolitan. “The craze for cocktails is going strong and is set to continue to grow,” Louise added. “This is due to the fact they are now more accessible, marketed more, pushed as part of promotions and are more affordable due to the range of establishments offering cocktails.” Making the most of cocktails this summer will involve more than a token effort, however.
Although the number of venues serving cocktails has increased, not all bars are experts in the field. And as consumers become increasingly well-educated on what makes a good cocktail, there is more pressure to deliver a quality mixed drink.
Andy Gemmell, Mixxit training manager at Maxxium UK, agreed that bartenders are under greater pressure as a result of the cocktail boom.
As spirits companies have promoted cocktail recipes and encouraged consumers to try mixing cocktails in their homes, he said it has helped to educate people on cocktail making, leading them to expect a higher level of service when they venture into a bar.
“I think more and more people will be creating drinks at home and taking a great interest in mixology, which in turn will make them more educated and this will up the game of the bartenders,” Andy told SLTN. “It will be similar to people cooking more at home these days.”
Andy, who works with bartenders across Scotland, said that Edinburgh is still home of cocktail-making north of the border, but that bartender groups in Glasgow and Aberdeen have “greatly upped” the standard of mixology in those cities.
Raspberry Frozen Margarita (provided by Tex Mex): 1 shot Triple Sec; 2 shots Don Julio tequila; 1 shot gomme; juice of half a freshly-squeezed lime; 8 raspberries.
Method: Shake all ingredients heavily over ice, pour and garnish with a sprig of mint.
Apples & spice (provided by Maxxium Uk): 1 shot Naked Grouse Scotch Whisky; 2 wedges fresh lime, squeezed; pressed apple juice; ginger beer.
Method: Pour ingredients over cubed ice in tall glass, starting with the lime. Stir lightly, and add more cubed ice if needed.
Black ‘n’ Black: 1 shot The Black Grouse; 1 wedge fresh orange, squeezed; cola.
Method: Fill glass with cubed ice, add all ingredients, starting with the citrus squeeze, and then swizzle.