Wining and dining is a major part of both Valentine’s and Mothers’ Day for many, which is good news for the on-trade.
And it seems those who tailor their drinks range to up the focus on female-friendly serves stand to benefit on February 14 and March 6.
Wine suppliers told SLTN there are some simple steps licensees can take to ensure their drinks offer meets the needs of both occasions.
Amy Ledger of Continental Wine & Food said Valentine’s and Mothers’ Day offer on-trade operators “the chance to give customers a reason to celebrate” as well as generating some “much needed additional revenue” in the wake of quieter January trading.
“To make the most of these occasions, it would make sense to tap into the latest trends and the increased consumer demand for long drinks and cocktails,” said Ledger.
While spirit-based cocktails and long mixed drinks may be the norm in the on-trade, Ledger suggested that there is growing interest in wine cocktails among on-trade customers, which she said could help give bars and restaurants a point of difference.
“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,” said Ledger.
Graeme Sutherland of wine supplier Enotria agreed there is an opportunity to generate sales with wine cocktails, however he warned that operators should not approach these serves in the same way they might create a more traditional mixed drink.
“The future for still wine cocktails depends on using a number of things,” said Sutherland.
“Firstly, using a wine as a base ingredient and not a supplement.
“Secondly, use a wine with weight and power. Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminers are beautifully aromatic wines but quite often the flavours are lost as they do not have the weight of character to power through in the end product, thus use oaked Chardonnays and Viogniers.
“Thirdly, do not over dilute. Wine should be chilled by mixing in a steel tin that is resting in ice, thus not getting the dilution effect.
“Fourthly, always use an accompanying product to enhance the flavour or delicately add to it.”
Still wines may be the new kid on the block as far as cocktails go, but sparkling serves have long been a staple of the on-trade and Sutherland said there are a few ways to get the most from this style of cocktail.
“Obviously sparkling wines have evolved into cocktails in the form of the classic Champagne cocktail, the French 76, 77, 78 and variations,” he said.
“How these have worked are by using delicately flavoured liquors and fresh fruit instead of adding a rich, heavy spirit, to bring out and emphasise the natural flavours of the wines.”
Ledger, at CWF, also stressed the importance of adding some sparkle to Valentine’s and Mothers’ Day drinks, adding that operators could cater to those “looking for something a little more special” by tapping into the ongoing Prosecco trend.
“Prosecco really is a must whether being served by the glass or as a bottle to share and it is definitely worth capitalising on customers’ sense of occasion by promoting the rosé Prosecco as a Valentine’s special,” said Ledger.
Prosecco was also highlighted as a sales booster by Andrew King, chief executive at Funkin, who said that the increased popularity being enjoyed by sparkling wine at the moment has led to “a strong trend towards spritzer cocktails”.
“Operators can create a range of delicious, lightly fizzy, low ABV cocktails suitable for many occasions,” said King.
“These sparkling wine cocktails or spritzers are simple to prepare, quickly served and make a perfect addition to any cocktail list.”
While some operators may choose to go sparkling heavy with their wine offers this Valentine’s and Mothers’ Day and others may adopt some new still wine serves, Charlotte Kingsley of wine suppler Boutinot suggested that the key thing for publicans is ensuring they have something to up-sell to during both occasions.
“Other than sparkling and rosé wines that are standard offerings around Valentine’s Day, people seem happy just to trade up, spending more than they would typically on a bottle of wine,” said Kingsley.