Long drinks over ice have been associated with warm weather for decades, but that doesn’t mean getting the offer right is easy.
While simple serves such as gin and tonic or vodka and cola will likely remain popular this summer, drinks firms have stressed the importance of offering customers a broader choice of drinks over the coming months.
And they insisted that, even with proven classics, there is room to experiment.
Ashley Moore, category development manager at Diageo, said pub and bar customers “feel more comfortable exploring a new drink when it is based on something they already know and love”.
She added that even simple tweaks to long serves, such as offering different mixers and garnishes for a gin and tonic, can “make it a unique and memorable experience”.
“Presenting your consumer with new and exciting serves is a great way of really differentiating your outlet in the marketplace,” said Moore.
This was echoed by Donna Pisani, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola Enterprises, the firm behind the Schweppes range of mixers, who said finding the right gin and tonic serve “should be a focus for licensees”.
Customers in general are branching out and trying a wider variety of drinks and flavours, and this should be reflected in an outlet’s summer drinks list, according to Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, the firm behind Buffalo Trace bourbon, Antica sambuca and Fireball cinnamon liqueur in the UK.
“Long drinks are a big driver of ‘big night out’ customer traffic and so it’s essential for on-trade operators to vary their offer regularly, and so encourage customers to go out and meet friends,” said Bolton.
Certain flavours will be more popular in warmer weather, of course, and Emma Hunt, head of marketing for Vimto, said that in summer “consumers have a genuine appetite for drinks that offer exotic tastes”.
Changing up the mixers and syrups used in long drinks and cocktails can be an effective way to breathe new life into a drinks list, according to Simon Green of Global Brands.
He said the biggest trend of the summer will be cocktails with “the most interesting ingredients and quirky garnishes”.
And the way summer drinks are presented is crucial to driving sales, said Russell Kirkham at Britvic.
“Appropriate glassware and garnishes are small investments in time and money which can really help to enhance the drinker’s experience and inspire repeat purchase,” he said.
Kirkham was supported by a spokesman at Halewood International, the company behind Crabbie’s, who said presentation is “essential, as customers tend to go for what they find most instinctively appealing”.
A well-constructed drinks list will also include options that can be easily prepared in the event of some sunshine. Amy Ledger, marketing manager at Continental Wine and Food (CWF), the company behind Di Capri Limoncello and Aperol, said: “Making sure that you have the right range of mixers, liqueurs and cocktail recipes to hand is a key part of the preparation of those all important summer drinks.”
25ml Di Capri Limoncello
75ml orange juice
Splash of grenadine
Fill a tall glass with ice and add Di Capri Limoncello and orange juice. Stir to combine the liquids. Add a splash of grenadine but do not stir. Allow to settle at the bottom. Serve with an orange slice.
– Supplied by CWF
Fireball Apple Pie
50ml Fireball cinnamon liqueur
Slice of apple
Pour Fireball liqueur into a glass, top up with apple juice and garnish with a slice of apple.
– Supplied by Hi-Spirits