Lighter drinks for lighter days

Cider, wine and soft drinks quench summer thirsts, say producers

Light and refreshing serves can be crucial to sales during summer as publicans find themselves on the front lines in the fight against thirst.

Fortunately for licensees, thirst quenchers can be found across multiple drinks categories, according to drinks firms, who said that wine, cider and soft drinks serves all come into their own as things heat up in the on-trade.

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Firms said wine-based cocktails and soft drink- based mocktails could both shine this summer.

Rob Calder, head of marketing at Kopparberg UK, said sales of the Swedish cider directly correspond with the rise in mercury.

“Cider is thought of as seasonal but recent analysis proves what we’ve long suspected – for every single degree rise in temperature over the summer, there is a direct increase in the number of people ordering a Kopparberg,” said Calder.

He said sales of the cider’s Elderflower & Lime variant had risen partly because of a signature serve which features a garnish created by mixologist Susie Wong.

Wong’s method involves using a peeler to cut three thin strips of cucumber, which are then put on cocktail sticks and placed in a glass that is half full of ice, before pouring in the cider.

Calder said it is important that operators offer unusual serves to create a point of difference over the summer period.

“In some forward-thinking bars we have seen bar staff dabble with chopped chilli in Kopparberg Strawberry & Lime served over chunks of ice,” said Calder.

Warmer weather can also correspond to an uplift in wine sales, say firms.

Amy Ledger, marketing manager of Continental Wine & Food (CWF), said  the company expects European wines to perform well, particularly varieties such as Soave, Lugana, Fiano, Gavi and Grillo.

And properly chilling white, rosé and sparkling wines will be vital (as well as chilling lighter reds).

“If using ice buckets or other containers mix the ice with cold water this will make it go further and speed up the cooling process,” said Ledger.

“Remember to have a clean cloth or towel handy to wrap round the bottle whilst pouring to avoid dripping on your customers.

“Always put the bottles back in the ice bucket after pouring but don’t let them get too cold as this will hide the taste and bouquet of the wine.”

Ledger also predicted an increased demand for Prosecco during the summer.

“We anticipate key trends for this summer will include unusual blends and upmarket Proseccos with sparkling wines as a category continuing to grow at a remarkable pace,” she said.

“There will be an increase in the spend per bottle as spending power increases due to wages going up and the cost of living decreasing.”

As well as a popular serve in its own right, wine can also be an effective ingredient for cocktails, said Ledger.

“While many licensees focus on spirit-based long mixed drinks there is a growing interest among consumers in wine-based cocktails, which can be utilised to add interest to a drinks offer while boosting profits,” she said.

Alcoholic drinks may not be the only ones to see a spike in popularity in the coming months, however.

Richard Clark, director of marketing at Halewood International, the firm behind the John Crabbie’s soft drink range, said Scotland’s lower drink drive limit has created an opportunity for firms to offer premium soft drinks and non-alcoholic cocktails for non-drinkers.

He said: “The recent decrease in the drink drive limit has meant that there is a huge scope for mocktails, especially with the use of premium soft drinks like John Crabbie’s.

“The John Crabbie’s liquids are of premium quality and these types of crafted soft drinks allow retailers to offer consumers the chance to trade up from the standard can of pop.

“Outlets should be aware of the growing market for adult soft drinks.

“Consumers who either cannot or do not wish to drink alcohol still want to treat themselves when engaging in social events and quality crafted soft drinks allow retailers to offer consumers the chance to do this in a superior way.”