Diversification is the name of the game

There has arguably never been a broader choice of new and interesting flavours for bar and pub operators to stock.

• Customers now expect a wealth of choice in the on-trade, especially in terms of cocktails.

And as the breadth of different products on the market continues to expand, customers have come to expect more options from their favourite venues.

That was the view shared by various liqueurs and speciality spirits firms, which told SLTN that the on-trade is ideally positioned to capitalise on this growing demand.

Justin Horsman of Global Brands, the firm behind the Teichenné and Corky’s brands, said the growing number of outlets offering more diverse flavours “has triggered a corresponding increase in expectations from consumers”.

Sharing this view was Dan Bolton, managing director of drinks distributor Hi-Spirits, which counts Southern Comfort and Tuaca within its drinks stable. He said “spirit drinkers have more diverse tastes than ever, and switch between brands and styles according to the occasion”.

Younger consumers are more likely to include liqueurs in their drinking repertoire.

“In particular, flavour innovation means younger consumers are now far more likely to include liqueurs and speciality spirits in their drinking repertoire, whether that’s as shots, or in long drinks and cocktails,” he said.

Horsman of Global Brands agreed, and said cocktails therefore continue to play a key role in liqueur sales.
“Having a range of cocktails, mocktails and mixers with a point of difference in the summer is crucial to create the most premium bar experience,” he said.

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Top tips

  • A simple menu
Create a simple long drinks menu that all bar staff can make quickly and simply, by topping up liqueurs and speciality spirits with carbonated soft drinks and juices.

• Presentation
Focus on presentation, using long glasses, lots of ice, garnish, straws and stirrers to create a visual impact and a premium feel.

Supplied by Hi-Spirits


But while cocktails continue to prove popular, Bolton of Hi-Spirits reckons there are other, quicker serves that licensees can consider.

“In a busy bar, simple mixed drinks with liqueurs definitely have an important role – they are quicker to make and serve than cocktails but have a similar appeal,” he said.

Another important consideration to keep in mind is staying on top of the latest trends, according to a spokesman for Stirling-based VC2 Brands, the firm behind Stivy’s and Boe gin.

He reckons that, with gin remaining “the category of the moment”, licensees would do well to consider stocking both gin liqueurs and flavoured gins.

He said that while these new gin variants have aided the category’s growth, they have also been brought about “by consumer demand for greater choice and diversity in the category”.

But ultimately, when it comes to any major change in an outlet’s drinks range, it’s vital staff are kept in the loop, said the VC2 spokesman.

“Bartenders know their clientele better than anyone so they are best placed to choose which products work best in their establishment,” he said.

This was reinforced by Bolton of Hi-Spirits, who said “staff knowledge is key” to making the most of liqueurs in an outlet.

“Liqueurs are a different challenge than categories such as gin or bourbon, simply because each flavour is unique,” he said.

“Staff need to understand the correct serve for each, and operators should make the most of support from brand owners to ensure that consumers have a quality experience.”