Summer in Scotland may be as reliable as a roulette wheel, but when the sun does shine on beer gardens it’s up to publicans to ensure they have everything in place to make the most of it.
Drinks firms contacted by SLTN were sympathetic to the plight of Scottish licensees and the difficulties they face in planning too far ahead for summer, but they said the right drinks offer can tempt consumers into the trade whatever the weather.
Ashley Moore, category development manager at Diageo, said cocktail serves prove particularly popular in the summer months, and that there are steps publicans can take to boost sales.
“Cocktails are all about the experience and new cocktails and flavours are always being created – that’s what is exciting about cocktails,” said Moore.
“Different textures can be created, like using bubbles to change the flavour profile of a cocktail, or egg white to change the density of a cocktail.
“Spirits help you offer something unique and different from your competitors, allowing you to create many different combinations of flavours, colours and textures.”
Gareth Franklin, brand ambassador for Italian liqueur Luxardo at drinks firm Cellar Trends, agreed that cocktails continue to deliver strong sales in the on-trade.
“One of the biggest trends on the cocktail scene this summer is aperitivo-style drinks,” he said.
“This style of drink is usually refreshing and bitter sweet; it is a great match for venues that serve food.”
Spirits may take the spotlight on most cocktail menus, but Amy Ledger of wine supplier CWF suggested publicans consider wine as an alternative cocktail base this summer.
“While many licensees focus on spirit-based long mixed drinks there is a growing interest among consumers in wine-based cocktails, pitchers or long drinks made up of wine, ice, fruit slices and topped with a soft mixer such as soda or lemonade,” she said.
“[They offer] a refreshing alternative to the common range of cocktails we are all familiar with.”
Not everyone visiting the on-trade this summer will be drinking alcohol, but that doesn’t need to mean a missed opportunity for publicans.
Caroline Cater, operational marketing director for Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), highlighted mocktails as an increasingly popular alternative to an alcohol serve in the on-trade.
“For example, across Europe there is a trend which sees consumers personalising Coca-Cola by adding other ingredients, such as fresh mint, ginger slices or elderflower, to create a unique new drink,” said Cater.
“This may be something that bar staff could explore to inject additional excitement and ‘drama’ into their soft drinks range.”
Jim Grierson of Maxxium UK, the firm behind brands such as The Famous Grouse, agreed that cocktails are a popular option for summer and suggested publicans would do well to make their offer as visible as possible.
“Visibility is key, so it is essential that pubs and bars ensure they display their offer prominently,” said Grierson.
“Outside menu boards highlighting summer specials are a good way to catch customer’s attention.
“Ensuring seasonal drinks and cocktail menus are visible throughout the premises will also encourage customers to try drinks for the first time as the range of choice open to them will be more apparent.”
Jägermeister customer marketing and insight manager Jonathan Dennys agreed that the right display can improve sales, and suggested operators pay attention to their back-bar to encourage sales.
“Creating a ‘party spirits area’ by grouping shot brands together on the back-bar can attract consumers and increase profits,” he said.