THE Scottish trade will likely already have experienced spikes in trade after some great weather in May.
However, as we enter the traditionally warmer months keeping up momentum, and sales, will be crucial for licensees across Scotland.
In order to make the most of the season licensees will need to be light on their feet, able to tweak their drinks offer according to the climate and the occasion, said drinks firms.
The significance of a dedicated drinks list for sunnier days was highlighted by Charlie Maas of RumChata, who said: “It’s definitely worthwhile having a drinks list for sunny days – the appearance of the sunshine traditionally sees beer gardens filled to capacity, and it’s not unusual that people would want a refreshing cocktail to match their mood. Twenty per cent more outlets are selling cocktails year on year, so their popularity isn’t going away.”
Customers say they appreciate the chance to try new drinks, so versatility is key.
Dan Bolton, managing director at Hi-Spirits, said making the most of the season will depend on tailoring drinks lists to the various occasions that draw customers into the on-trade.
“Every pub and bar should review their drinks offer to match the season,” said Bolton.
“Cocktails are an essential part of going out in the on-trade for many consumers. Serves should be tailored to a range of different occasions, such as a night out with friends, pre-dinner cocktails, or a cool, refreshing drink in a pub garden.”
There is an inclination towards lighter, more refreshing drinks served with ice throughout the summer and this should be represented on any summer drinks lists, said firms.
“It is therefore essential to have a good variety of spirits suitable for making a range of drinks,” said Nick Williamson, marketing director at Campari UK.
“We anticipate that rum will be popular as it provides a good base for light and refreshing cocktails, perfect for sharing pitchers with friends.”
Williamson also alluded to a rising demand for Italian-style drinks during the summer months, something that was echoed by Amy Giacobbi of Continental Wine and Food (CWF).
She said: “Consumer interest in all things Italian – be it wines or speciality liqueurs – continues to gather speed, particularly with younger consumers and we anticipate that this trend is set to continue throughout the summer.”
While everyone is hoping for as much good weather as possible, it’s only prudent to recognise the unpredictability of the Scottish summer.
And so licensees are advised to stock up on adaptable spirits, such as gin and rum, that are suited to a variety of different styles of drink.
Maas of RumChata said operators should “invest in spirits that have the versatility to work across all seasons – especially when we can sometimes see all four seasons in one day”.
“A third of drinkers say they appreciate the chance to try new alcoholic drinks – so versatility is key when introducing new spirits,” he said.
And the general trend of customers going out less but spending more when they do could lead to a thirst for premium spirits in summer cocktails, according to Diageo.
Ali Reynolds of Diageo Reserve said he agreed with the creation of a “bespoke summer cocktail menu” but said the next step for operators should be “upselling premium spirits that deliver on consumer desire for quality”.
There is a myriad of opportunities for new summer drinks and flavours.
A spokesperson for Halewood Wine & Spirits echoed this, saying: “The continued growth and demand for premium spirits across a number of categories, driven primarily by gin, has created a myriad of opportunities for new summer drinks and flavours.”
Licensees should also strive to make the atmosphere in their outlets as ‘summer-friendly’ as possible, according to Bolton, of Hi-Spirits.
He said licensees should “use posters, bar runners, chalkboards and other point of sale items to promote summer serves”.
“Interesting summer serves are also likely to be shared on social media, promoting your summer drinks offer beyond the venue,” said Bolton.