Your guide to a simple cocktail summer


We can’t count on the weather, but plenty of Scots will be seeking a summer drinking vibe this summer

WE all accept that Scotland doesn’t have the best summers in the world – but the weather doesn’t dampen our enthusiasm for it. Sales of spirits and cocktails increase in the summer months regardless of the unreliable weather.
Sunshine or not, we want to imagine we are on a tropical beach somewhere sipping an ice cold cocktail. This, however, can present a problem for some bars because of the practicalities of creating cocktails. According to a recent survey only 30% of bartenders in the UK said they had received any sort of cocktail training. A lot of operators think it’s easy enough to go online or buy a book, pick out a few cocktails, put them on a list and away they go. The reality is it’s not that simple.
It’s this lack of bartender training, and the time it takes to make them, that puts people off ordering cocktails. If your bar and the staff are not set up and trained well enough, they will not be able to make cocktails at a high pace and to a decent standard. So to make the most of the summer season, my advice is to keep it simple and focus on the quality of your ingredients rather than how the drinks are made – you don’t always need a cocktail shaker to make a great drink.
People are generally more open to try new drinks during the summer, so simple things like the name of a drink can really make a difference when it comes to persuading customers to buy cocktails. Names like ‘coolers’ and ‘breezes’ make people think of summer, even if it is raining outside.
And when it comes to ingredients don’t always think you have to stick to white spirits and light flavours. Simple additions to a classic long serve can make a big difference – a splash of elderflower in a gin and tonic, a half shot of apricot liqueur to a rum and ginger, or a drizzle of crème de cassis to a vodka and lemonade.
These liqueurs and cordials can add a whole new dimension to the drink and don’t involve complicated cocktail equipment, just a bar spoon or swizzle stick. Punch is another style of drink that is great for the summer. It dates back to the 1600s and is how spirits were drunk until the rise of the cocktail in the 1800s.
I love the theatre of punch and the fact that it is shared is great among bigger groups, meaning it can take pressure off the bar at busy times. So keep it simple this summer and let’s hope the sun shines!