Though there is never a guarantee of good weather in Scotland, operators say the right offer will attract customers whether the sun shines or not.
Sharing food and drink becomes more common in the summer.
Promoting sharing serves like pitchers is one way to make the most of summer trade, according to Stephen Martin, category manager (drinks) at Punch Taverns.
“Sharing food and drink becomes more common in the summer as groups of friends enjoy beer gardens, so it makes sense to create pitchers for this season,” said Martin.
“As 25% of RTD (ready to drink) volume is now served via cocktails and pitchers, it is also a way for pubs to use RTDs more effectively.”
Lager is another important category for summer trade, according to Martin, who said it can be a “key sales driver due to the temperature it is served at”.
Chris Houlton, managing director of brewing and brands at pubco and brewer Greene King, also highlighted the importance of draught beer to on-trade summer sales, claiming it can help mitigate the effects of poor weather.
“There’s no doubt that fine weather often translates to a busy summer behind the bar, but customers still want to go out and enjoy themselves even if the sun isn’t shining,” he said.
“That’s why pubs need to make the most of their USP and serve top quality draught beers. We do everything we can to make sure that every pint is worth going out for but, ultimately, we rely on the passion and professionalism of the publicans we supply to make sure customers receive the quality pint they deserve.
“Only by getting quality right will licensees keep their customers coming back for more, whatever the weather.”
Scott Squires of Ardlui Hotel at Loch Lomond agreed that many beer drinkers will continue to order pints during the summer months, but he also noted the importance of drinks such as fruit ciders and lighter wines.
“I don’t really do Prosecco by the glass in the winter but in the summer I can afford to do it by the glass; it doesn’t sit long enough to go flat,” he said.
He said he also stocks up on extra cases of Swedish fruit ciders, even if there is no guarantee of sunny weather.
“The good thing is if you think it’s going to be good [weather] and you buy in a few extra cases, they’ve got a good shelf life so you will sell them, they’ll just take up a bit more space in your store,” he said. “But you’re better being prepared than not.”
Squires added that consumers are more likely to stick with their usual drinks repertoire if the weather is poor rather than switching to summer options.
Fruit cider is also a big seller at Edinburgh bar Cargo during the summer months, regardless of the weather.
Customers still want to go out and enjoy themselves even if the sun isn’t shining.
Deputy general manager Paul Grant said demand has grown so much in recent years that the bar now offers Rekorderlig Strawberry & Lime on draught, purely to free up space for more flavours in the fridge.
“I think people try, over the summer, to drink summery drinks,” he said.
“When it’s snowing outside you might not want to drink a Strawberry & Lime Rekorderlig. You’ll want something that’s going to warm you up.
“But in the summer even if it’s not as sunny as it could be, people still drink it. It’s just the summer culture.”