That’s the message from the world’s largest spirits firm, which claims these serves will be central to luring customers away from their homes and into the trade during the summer months.
Speaking to SLTN, David McGowan, head of trade relations for Diageo in Scotland, said there is a “significant opportunity to grow the spirits category, and to do that by attracting people into the category from other drinks categories by giving them experiences they can’t replicate at home”.
“Cocktails are absolutely at the core of that, in terms of the theatre of preparing the cocktail and then actually drinking it and the fun people can have where there’s a number of them out in a social event,” said McGowan.
“Premium spirits are currently growing 11% [in the UK], and cocktails are a great way to get people into more premium brands.
“And there’s a huge opportunity, in that around 35% [of outlets] are not stocking a premium offer in terms of a spirits range.”
Quoting figures from CGA, McGowan said, on average, outlets selling cocktails sell 36% more spirits than outlets without a cocktail offer.
Providing a dedicated range of summer drinks is “absolutely crucial”, said McGowan, and Diageo is promoting a number of summer serves around its own brand ranges, including Smirnoff, Ketel One, Gordon’s and Johnnie Walker, through its Bar Academy training programme as well as on website thebar.com.
And while the summer is traditionally associated with lighter spirits, McGowan said the raft of events taking place in Scotland this year, including Homecoming Scotland, Whisky Month and the Ryder Cup, mean whisky could play a bigger role on summer drinks lists than might normally be the case.
There’s an opportunity to grow the spirits category from other drinks categories.
The company has been investing heavily in promoting its ‘Johnnie Red and ginger’ serve, and created several whisky cocktails to tie in to this summer’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
McGowan said the aim of the activity has been to encourage consumers “to reconsider the way they drink whisky, and by using it as a basis for a mixed drink you bring more people into the category”.
“It also brings bar staff the opportunity, where they’re trained in cocktails or have some cocktail skills, to add their own touch or their own flair,” he added.
Visibility in-outlet is also hugely important, and McGowan said licensees should take every opportunity to promote their summer drinks range to customers.
“Visibility is absolutely fundamental,” he said. “It’s important you make sure people visiting your bar are aware you have a cocktail list.
“Whether you do that via menus, your LCD screens or whether you use digital media and put it on Facebook and Twitter, there’s a great opportunity to promote cocktails to consumers.”
The use of fresh garnishes, such as lemon, lime or cucumber, can also help to promote long serves and cocktails to customers once they are in an outlet.
“All of these things can be used to drive visibility towards cocktails and make them more appealing to consumers,” said McGowan.