But regardless of our meteorological fate this summer, the trade looks poised to benefit from a host of major events in the coming months – from the Diamond Jubilee in June to the Olympics in August.
And according to drinks firms it’s outlets that focus on simple seasonal serves that will reap the rewards.
Ian Peart, on-trade channel director for spirits at Pernod Ricard, whose brands include Absolut, Beefeater and Havana Club, told SLTN that long drinks and cocktails will be key as consumers look for “long summery serves over ice”.
Peart also urged licensees to not lose sight of the value of premium spirits, claiming the category offers “significant profit potential” for those who ‘get it right’.
“Summer presents a seasonal opportunity as the warmer months see a shift in consumer purchasing – for the spirits market this means long mixable drinks, pitchers and summer cocktails,” he said.
Even a simple cocktail menu will encourage consumers to spend more on a great-tasting drink.
“Licensees should look to capitalise on this demand by stocking popular higher-margin brands that consumers know and trust, such as Absolut, Chivas Regal, Jameson and Havana Club – perfect for both simple serves and as authentic ingredients in popular summer cocktails such as Cosmopolitans, Brambles, Mojitos and Daiquiris. Premium spirits are not just for Christmas, they offer a year-round opportunity.
“With Absolut, we are continuing to invest in pioneering flavours: we launched Mango and Berri Acai last year and Absolut Wild Tea will be launched into top-end bars next month.
“The Absolut flavours can be used to make great-tasting simple long drinks and cocktails; Absolut Raspberri and lemonade, for example, tastes great and is very refreshing for summer.”
Andrew King, boss of cocktail mixer and puree brand Funkin, also stressed the importance for operators to offer refreshing, simple drinks this summer.
Claiming Funkin cocktail mixers take only ten seconds to serve, requiring just the addition of a spirit and ice, King expects drinks flavoured with tropical fruits, like mango, pineapple and passion fruit, to perform particularly well, adding that lychee and morello cherry will also be popular flavours.
“The summer season presents bars with a fantastic opportunity to offer their customers something fresh and a little different, encouraging them to make repeat visits,” he said.
“With good weather, menu changes should be made accordingly, allowing more time to capitalise on the profitability of al fresco drinking and increasing numbers of consumers going out post the winter lock-down.
“It often takes very little to adapt drinks menus to the changing seasons.
“When it comes to cocktail recipes, there is no need for a complete overhaul; simple tweaks to recipes incorporating summer fruits or seasonal favourites, such as ice cream or sorbets, are simple to make yet can make a huge difference to customer perceptions of your menu.
“We expect the dessert cocktail trend to grow in 2012.
“The best executions of this have a balance of rich cocktails, often using chocolate or coffee-based drinks, light summer fruit cocktails and ice cream, or sorbet recipes to suit all tastes.”
Jim Grierson, on-trade sales director at Maxxium UK, distributor of The Famous Grouse, Courvoisier and Brugal, said summer gives operators an opportunity to demonstrate the “mixability and versatility” of spirits.
“Serving cocktails and quality mixed drinks can help broaden a bar’s drinks offering and customer base, setting it apart from the pub down the road,” he said.
“Even a simple cocktail menu will encourage consumers to spend slightly more on a great-tasting drink.
“Consumers broaden their drinks repertoires during the summer.
“It is less about categories and more about the type of drinks being offered, with long drinks and pitchers offering the biggest opportunity.”
Diageo GB’s Andrew Leat said this summer offers a host of opportunities to grow spirits sales.
“Long mixed spirits drinks, such as Pimm’s and lemonade, are perfect for casual get-together occasions as they can be produced in sharing formats, such as jugs, and have a refreshing taste which is ideal for the summer months,” he said.