WHEN I’m training bartenders, I always advise them to consider all of the factors which can influence what consumers will order to drink when they visit a bar.
Gender, time of day and any specials running in the bar can all impact on drinking habits.
I think the biggest influence on what consumers want to drink is the time of year and, more importantly, the weather.
During the colder months there’s a definite “comfort factor” to what people order, swaying them towards warm drinks or flavours such as pressed apple and spices; there’s also a move towards darker spirits.
Then, towards Christmas, the ‘bling’ or celebration brands tend to be ordered more frequently as people want to splash out.
However, summer is without doubt the season when people tend to change their drinking habits most and spend more over a sustained period.
Even though we don’t get the best deal when it comes to the weather, summer remains a key opportunity for bar owners to offer their customers something special when it comes to drinks.
Obviously an outdoor space or beer garden helps with sales during sunny days, but once operators get customers into their outlet, it’s the drinks offer that will make the difference.
I think there’s a misconception that cocktails like the Mojito and Cosmopolitan are a ‘must’ in order to achieve those high sales – cider and refreshing long drinks and pitchers are the real winners when it comes to summer sales.
Flavour is key to getting consumers to try new drinks, with citrus, elderflower and mint all ticking the refreshment box for summer.
A drink’s name and the way it looks and is served are also important, so using seasonal names always helps people visualise what they are going to be tasting. A simple example of this would be an Elderflower Summer Fizz: 25ml of gin, three wedges of fresh lime and 12.5ml of elderflower cordial stirred together in a tall glass with ice and topped with tonic water – a great and simple up-sell to a classic G&T.
Tall and pitcher-style drinks also do well because they are seen as refreshing so operators should try and come up with a good range using simple ingredients which are easy for staff to make in high volumes – there is no point putting on fancy cocktails during busy summer days if you can’t meet that demand and make some money.
Summer drinks should be flagged up on menus and staff training is key– a staff member recommending and understanding how to guide someone to their perfect summer serve is priceless.