WITH summer in full swing, many pub customers will be looking for lighter, more refreshing drinks – putting gin at the forefront of many minds.
But if bars and pubs are going to meet the demands of an increasingly knowledgeable customer base, their range has to be up to scratch, say drinks firms.
Tony Reeman-Clark, founder of Strathearn Distillery, said gin has “more to offer” consumers, as the choice available continues to grow.
And despite the number of gins now on the market, Nick Williamson of Campari UK believes that consumers are a long way off becoming “gin fatigued”.
“The eyes of the consumer have been well and truly opened to the sheer variety of flavours from gins out there and we are still seeing a lot of excitement around gin,” said Williamson, who added that gin is continuing to appeal more to “the mainstream”.
The wonderful thing about gin is that each brand has its own unique flavours.
Taking a similar stance, Glasgow Distillery Company’s co-founder, Mike Hayward, said that as interest in gin continues to grow and develop, gin drinkers continue to “explore new and interesting brands alongside their old favourites”.
And bars have an important role to play in growing the category, according to Sian Buchan of Caorunn.
“Customers are very keen to try new things at the moment,” said Buchan.
“I think that consumers are much more aware of their options now, thanks in part to the variety of gin bars across the country.
“I think that it is important for bars to stock a good range of high quality gins; if they have new products that consumers haven’t seen before, they’ll be more tempted to try something new and interesting.”
Luckily consumers do not have to look far for new and unusual products and flavour profiles.
Mike Whatmough of Brockmans Gin said that when it comes to new gin products, “the sky is the limit”.
“Traditional well established brands are being complemented by a wealth of newer craft gins from Scotland and further afield,” said Whatmough.
He added that while juniper is the “cornerstone of all gins”, the “creativity of distillers knows no bounds”.
And yet, despite the range of gin styles and flavours available, firms said that when it comes to summer serves the classic G&T remains the top performer.
Consumers are more willing than ever to try new and interesting gin serves.
Mike Hayward of the Glasgow Distillery Company said that the G&T “remains the firm favourite, with many gin brands focusing on their perfect serve”.
It’s a view that was echoed by Ally Martin, the UK ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin, who said that the G&T “will always be the drink designed for a warm summer day”.
“At Hendrick’s Gin we recommend serving our gin and tonic with a slice of cucumber to fully appreciate the rose petals and cucumber we use in our most unusual gin,” said Martin.
Hayward, of Glasgow Distillery Company, said the firm’s variation of the ‘classic’ G&T is its signature ‘Makar Glasgow Gin & Tonic’, which is garnished with a slice of green chilli pepper to add a “subtle hint of spice that enhances the overall taste experience”.
Having a range of tonics on offer is also important, according to Simon Green of Global Brands.
He said one of the current trends within the on-trade is consumers looking for a more premium offer; a desire operators can tap into by offering “a better range of soft drinks to meet these demands”.
Ultimately, getting to know your own customer base and their tastes is paramount in order to capitalise on the gin resurgence, according to Whatmough of Brockmans Gin.
He said that by “getting to know your customers’ tastes, bartenders can encourage them to try other cocktails”.
Publicans should get to know their customers, but interaction doesn’t need to stop there as a spokesman for Halewood International, the firm behind Whitley Neill Gin, suggested operators should take it upon themselves to improve knowledge of the category.
“Publicans should educate and inform customers of their spirits selection, in order to drive sales,” he said.
“Tasting notes and menus pose as an effective method of communicating their offering or promoting a ‘Spirit of the Month’ – as customers are always willing to trade-up and try something new and on-trend.”
As well as catering to a demand for new and classic gin serves, operators should ensure that the “over-riding demand” for a “premium quality product that tastes great” is met, according to Hayward of Glasgow Distillery Company.
Hayward also had advice for operators who are looking for opportunities to upsell their gin serves.
“Food pairing is an exciting way of enhancing the consumer experience and an upsell opportunity,” he said.
This view was echoed by several firms, with Buchan of Caorunn commenting that the firm’s pairing dinners have “all done very well”.
She added that “giving chefs the challenge to work alongside bartenders and talk about flavour pairings is a great idea”.
Martin, of Hendrick’s Gin, took a similar view on food pairing, adding that when food and gin are put together well, it “can heighten the customer’s enjoyment of both the drink and the food – and as food plays a key role within many venues it is important”.