Play the long game this summer

Pubs stand to benefit from strong range of mixed drinks, firms say


WITH the number of spirit and mixer combinations seemingly endless, long drinks enable operators to offer their customers something new.

And whether they’re presented as sharing pitchers or single serves, it seems long drinks have the capacity to boost sales this summer.
Ian Peart, on-trade channel director for spirits at Pernod Ricard, whose brands include Malibu and Absolut, said long mixed drinks have a place in all styles of outlet.
“All on-trade establishments can benefit from the opportunity for long mixed drinks, from gastropubs that can craft special menus matching drinks with food, to country pubs that can impress guests with simple, yet effective cocktails,” said Peart.
“Even specialised pubs, like craft beer pubs, can benefit by offering a small range of long mixed drinks to supplement their main ranges. Publicans not offering cocktails are in danger of missing out on a significant channel for revenue generation.”
And it seems now is a good time for licensees to take advantage of this particular style of drink.
“Summer provides an opportunity for licensees to trade customers up to spirits and increase margins with long alcoholic drinks or an exciting cocktail menu,” said Faith Holland, head of on-trade category development GB at Diageo.

Pitchers are great for trying new combinations and sharing with friends.

The drinks giant’s own research claims “casual get-togethers” account for 34% of on-trade visits, a number which Holland suggests makes summer “the biggest on-trade drinking occasion”.
One way to cash in on the ‘casual get-together’ may be to offer groups something to share.
Graham Coull, director at VC2 Brands – the firm behind Boe gin and vodka liqueur Stivy’s, said sharing pitchers present one opportunity for operators to encourage their customers to experiment with new or different long drink serves.
“Pitchers are great for trying new combinations and sharing with friends,” said Coull.
“Consumers are likely to be more adventurous with their choice if the pitcher is presented attractively and offers good value for money.”
Gabriela Moncada, brand ambassador for tequila brand Jose Cuervo, agreed that sharing serves are an important part of the offer for some outlets.
“I think they are hugely important in high volume cocktail bars, in nightclubs and in student bars where people visit in big groups of friends,” she said.
“In larger scale bars with outdoor areas pitchers are perfect.”
And sharing pitchers offer more than just different tastes and flavours, according to Graham Carr-Smith of soft drinks brand Qcumber.
“Sharing serves are about much more than the physical drink: they are as much about shared enjoyment and sharing the moment with friends,” he said.
“To boost sales, the key thing is to offer pitchers with broad appeal.”
However, it’s not just on so-called ‘sharing occasions’ that customers are looking to experiment with new drinks and flavours.
According to Graham Coull at VC2, people are “always looking for something new to try”.
“Creating your own take on a classic with different products or recreating classic flavour combinations in a long drink can give outlets a real point of difference,” said Coull.
And catering to new tastes shouldn’t be hit or miss.
Ian Peart suggested operators keep up to date with drinks trends in order to capitalise on the popularity of certain serves.
“On-trade retailers should be aware of spirits trends in order to ensure they offer popular long mixed drinks,” he said.

Operators should use menus, POS, back-bar displays and staff recommendation.

“For example, consumers are realising that gin is a very versatile spirit that combines well with a variety of mixers such as cranberry, bitter lemon and grapefruit; not just tonic.
“These refreshing serves are perfect for consuming in the warmer months; therefore ensuring they have strong visibility on menus can help provide on-trade retailers with an opportunity to grow their gin sales during the summer.”
When it comes to trends, Andrew King, chief executive of pre-mix cocktail firm Funkin, said the wine spritzer is currently enjoying particularly strong growth.
“These cocktails are appropriate for any time of year, but the summer months in particular are the perfect time for bars to introduce their customers to this new serve,” he said.
“Wine spritzers have lower ABV than cocktails, creating social additional drinking occasions such as lunchtime, after work or a gathering with friends.”
Whatever the long drinks offer, Ian Peart at Pernod Ricard said customers can be “inspired” by what they see and hear at the point of sale.
“Licensees who display compelling and visually stimulating materials encourage consumers to branch out into trying new long mixed drinks,” said Peart.
“Furthermore, our research also found that 30% of purchasing decisions are influenced by a recommendation and 50% of consumers who accepted an up-sell claimed it was because staff appeared knowledgeable on that spirit, demonstrating the opportunity for on-trade retailers to boost sales by including premium spirits that staff are knowledgeable about within long mixed drinks.”