Operators across the trade can gain from resurgent spirit, say firms
GIN serves have long been a menu staple at high-end cocktail bars, but as the category continues to show growth, there’s an opportunity for a variety of outlets to cash in on the spirit’s popularity.
Drinks firms say the spirit’s growing popularity isn’t confined to style bars.
Graham Coull of VC2 Brands, the firm behind Boe Superior Gin, said there has been an increase in demand for gin “across all outlets, from mainstream to specialist gin bars”.
“Customers are more aware of the choice they have available, from flavoured gins to premium craft products,” he said.
Bob Fowkes, founder of Brockmans Gin, agreed the category is in growth in mainstream pubs and bars. And he said there are several steps operators can take to capitalise on this popularity.
“Bars all over the world are looking to have a range of different types of gins and not have too many of one type,” he said.
“American gins, western style and aromatic gins are bringing innovation and difference to the category.
“A mixed range of five or six gins should be a minimum and where the clientele are more inclined to gin you may want to take that to eight or so.”
Once a range is in place, it has to be communicated to customers.
David Lang, director of Strathearn Distillery, the firm behind the Homecoming Scotland 2014 gin, advised operators to ensure their staff have good product knowledge.
“It can really make a difference as each gin has its own story to tell; it’s best that staff stay on message with this to be true to the customer’s gin experience,” said Lang.
When customers approach the bar use the opportunity to talk about gin.
Emma Taylor of Wemyss Malts, the firm behind Darnley’s View Gin, said the more knowledgeable the staff, the more likely a sale.
“It’s key that staff working with our gin know the brand as this will empower them to talk about it to customers and hopefully that passion will inspire a purchase,” said Taylor.
But having the knowledge isn’t enough, said Taylor. It’s vital bar staff put that knowledge into action.
“When customers approach the bar take the opportunity to speak to them about the gins on offer,” she said.
“They may still want the house pour, which is absolutely fine, but at least they walk away hearing of a different brand or recommended alternative serve and may order it next time.”
Encouraging staff to experiment with different serves can also help them test their product knowledge.
“Bartenders should be encouraged to try creating new gin serves, as this will encourage upselling, as well as perceiving gin as a premium option,” said James Wright of Halewood International, the firm behind Whitley Neill Gin.
Being able to offer a point of difference is essential, according to Jon Sampson, brand director at Bacardi Martini.
He said even simple changes to serves can “produce a compelling and delicious prospect for customers who are enjoying seeing a twist on the gin and tonic”.
And when it comes to differentiating gin serves, the devil is in the detail, said Frazer McGlinchey, on-trade brand consultant for Caorunn Gin.
“Perfect serves for brands, such as Caorunn Gin and tonic with red apple, will differentiate your G&T offer,” said McGlinchey.
“Use high quality mixers, load glasses with ice for gin and tonics and fresh garnishes; making the drinks look and taste as amazing as you can doesn’t take long and leaves an impression.”
Making drinks look amazing leaves an impression
Publicans don’t need to act alone when trying to boost gin sales.
Liam Murphy, UK brand manager for Martin Miller’s Gin, suggested operators take advantage of their suppliers’ expertise.
“Operators should try and call on the services of passionate brand owners to inspire their staff and ensure they buy into the concept of providing a better standard of drink,” said Murphy.
“There needs to be a serious level of interaction and conversation.”
Drinks firms can also help operators promote their gin range in-outlet.
Faith Holland, head of on-trade development at Diageo, the firm behind Gordon’s gin, said point of sale materials that display price points are “a great way to entice customers”.
She added that attractive price points are “a great way to attract customers away from beer into the margin-enhancing spirits category”.