Drinks firms have told SLTN that the celebratory mood over Christmas can inspire consumers to broaden their drinks repertoires.
“An increased number of organised ‘nights out’ over the festive period means that establishments can expect to see a significant boom in business,” said Guy Cooper, managing director of back-bar equipment supplier Mitchell & Cooper.
“Whilst this is a given, operators need to look into expanding their offer around this time of year as buying habits shift significantly; those who would typically order their favourite alcoholic drink choose to experiment a little more.”
The best specific products to stock will vary depending on the outlet, but Leanne Davidson, product training and mixology manager at Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands, said customers will tend to look for “luxurious” drinks over Christmas.
“People like to celebrate and Christmas is the key time for this,” said Davidson.
“In terms of brands this will vary depending on your location and customer footprint. ‘Party drinks’ in general can help increase sales due to the fact that people want to treat themselves to something a little more luxurious.
“However, operators should remember not to overcomplicate things or get carried away with the Christmas theme – drinks that perform well are those that can be consumed throughout the night.”
Customers are looking for something different, something special or unusual.
Not everyone advises taking a cautious approach to compiling a Christmas drinks range, however.
Terry Barker, marketing director at Cellar Trends, UK distributor of the Luxardo and Pusser’s Rum brands, said the festive season can be the ideal time for licensees to try new brands.
“Customers are looking for something different, something special or unusual because it is Christmas,” said Barker.
“It is also an opportunity for bar owners to try out brands for potential future customer appeal.
“If you don’t try it how will you ever know whether customers will go for it?”
Despite the trend towards new products, there will always be room for traditional Christmas flavours, according to Halewood International, the company behind Crabbie’s ginger beer.
“Christmas is a key time of year for the Crabbie’s brand, as the taste profile of ginger beer is well suited to the festive period in the eyes of our consumers,” said Claire Kelly, senior brand manager for Crabbie’s alcoholic ginger beer at the firm.
“Sales of Crabbie’s mulled and ginger wines also peak over Christmas, with mulled wine being particularly popular with the consumer, given that it is warmed up and full of spices.”
Choosing the products is only part of the challenge of putting together a successful festive drinks list, however.
Diageo, the company behind the Smirnoff and Guinness brands, advised operators to ensure each drink on the list can be prepared quickly.
“Speed, convenience and good value are important to consumers, as well as a great experience, and this is even more important at Christmas,” said Andrew Leat, on-trade category manager at Diageo.
“Ensure that your seasonal drinks menu is quick and easy to make and perfectly and consistently served, to ensure that consumers are having a great experience and getting good value for money.”