LOVE will be in the air next month when couples gather in bars and restaurants to celebrate Valentine’s Day.
And drinks suppliers are busy displaying their affection for operators by showering them with hints and tips to make the most of the big event.
Companies contacted by SLTN said creating a Valentine-themed cocktail list is a great way for the trade to drive footfall – and realise higher margins.
Patsy Christie, manager of Maxxium’s Mixxit bar training programme, reckons consumers can be open to trying new drinks on special occasions like February 14 – and that can bring a welcome boost to revenues.
“Cocktails are a lucrative alternative to beer, wine or long drinks at any time of the year, but it’s the relaxed and celebratory mood which motivates guests to try something new and sophisticated, and even dig deeper into their wallets for an experience to remember,” she told SLTN.
“A drinks menu featuring a handful of themed recipes is the obvious way to take advantage of the sentiment.”
When it comes to creating cocktails that tick the romance box, it’s best to keep things simple. Christie is convinced sparkling wine comes into its own on Valentine’s Day, which she said can form the basis of “easy and delicious cocktails such as [the] Bellini, French 75 or the more risqué Porn Star Martini”.
She also suggested that bartenders looking to add some romance to cocktails should consider flavours like “chocolate, vanilla, strawberries, raspberries and of course passion fruit”.
“Blossoms such as elderflower, rose or violet are the main trendy flavours,” she added. “Gin and vodka are the go-to spirits, but don’t disregard Cognac, which has had a new lease of life in cocktail culture.”
Simplicity is also the name of the game for Funkin, the cocktail mixer firm, which is providing its customers with bespoke Valentine’s menus with drinks it says are easy to make – and capable of generating high margins.
Suggesting that cocktails like the Daiquiri, Woo Woo or Bellini tie in nicely with Valentine’s Day, as well as the raspberry Mojito, it recommends that operators “follow the KIS principle – Keep It Simple”.
“There is no need to incorporate any exotic aphrodisiacs into your cocktail recipes, certainly if they are likely to detract from the enjoyment of the drink,” said CEO Andrew King.
“For many customers, this may be their first foray out since the Christmas bills have been paid, so t
hey want a great night. Simple twists on classics work fantastically well as they are simple, seasonal and recognisable to customers.”
Whyte & Mackay stressed the importance of marketing Valentine cocktail offers clearly in bars, while backing its own Pinky vodka as a basis for themed drinks, including the “aptly-named Pinky Sweetheart” and Pinky Cosmopolitan.
“It is important that the cocktail menu is readily available both on table and at bar, that any themed cocktails are clearly signposted on the bar or the A-board, and that POS is utilised so people can clearly see the promotions,” said on-trade sales director Fraser McGuire.
“A brand such as Pinky vodka is perfect for Valentine’s as it’s specifically targeted towards women, with its delicate pink colour and its perfume-esque bottle shape.
“Not only does it have these attributes but its unique mix of botanicals – including rose petals – gives the vodka an extra lift in terms of flavour.”
With consumers said to be visiting the on-trade less often due to cash concerns, Global Brands, which is promoting the Thorntons Chocolate Kiss liqueur cocktail ahead of Valentine’s Day (see page 14), urged operators to focus on service standards.
The firm reckons drinks which “look more indulgent and have more romantic or quirky names” will go down well as consumers “get into the spirit of things” on February 14.
But Funkin expressed some caution when it comes to naming drinks.
“Cocktail names can be a contentious subject, especially for Valentine’s,” Andrew King added.
“Always try and keep names relevant to the content or occasion when they will be drunk.
“Risqué names can undoubtedly work well, however they must fit with the style of bar within which they are sold. It is all too easy to appear tacky. Song lyrics or titles can work well for new creations.”