Don’t forget tonic twists this Christmas

The right range of tonic waters and mixers is crucial to any festive offer

Operators looking to boost gin sales must ensure their tonic/mixer range is also up to date

FOR many gin drinkers, no gin is ever complete without the right mixer.

And so it makes sense that, with just a few weeks until Christmas, operators give serious consideration to their tonic water and mixer ranges.

That was the message from gin producers and soft drinks firms alike, who advised licensees to make sure they are well stocked for the closing weeks of the year.

Jennifer Draper of soft drinks firm Franklin & Sons said with sales of premium gins growing, consumer demand for high end mixers is following suit – especially at Christmas time.

“With Christmas being such a celebratory time of year as well as a time often seen to indulge, we forecast premium drinks – both soft and alcoholic – will continue to be a firm fixture throughout the season,” she said.

“The popularity of premium spirits has also transcended into the mixer category.

“Craft, heritage and provenance are three things at the top of consumers’ wish lists when looking for mixers.”

Referring to research commissioned by Franklin & Sons earlier this year, which found that one in three drinkers exclusively purchase premium mixers to pair with their gin, Draper said it’s evident that the standard gin and tonic “is no longer enough to satisfy the ever-discerning consumer”.

Therefore, to meet the ever more sophisticated tastes of the average consumer, Draper suggested operators should stock “a range of high quality tonics and mixers that pair well with more than one type of gin”.

Ruaridh Aitken, assistant brand manager at soft drinks firm Fentimans, also foresees consumer demand for high end mixers increasing.

He said: “To satisfy this growing need, pub and bar operators are well advised to ensure they have a good variety of refreshing craft mixers on offer.

The standard G&T is no longer enough to satisfy the ever-discerning customer.

“It is important that operators have a large variety of craft mixers and encourage their customers to try them through pairing or cocktail menus.”

And while the trend towards premium products is apparent throughout the year, it will be particularly prevalent during the festive season, according to Ian Baines of William Grant & Sons, the firm behind Hendrick’s, who said that Christmas is typically a time when customers “are willing to spend a little bit extra for a better quality drink than what they would usually choose”.

Echoing this view, Amy Burgess of Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP), the firm behind Schweppes, which recently launched a new range of naturally-flavoured premium mixers – Schweppes 1783 – said that with the ‘ginaissance’ “showing little sign of slowing down anytime soon…premiumisation is likely to continue driving growth” throughout Christmas.

And as the holiday ebbs ever closer, Burgess reckons serves which include tonic can be easily switched up to offer customers something fresh and exciting at the bar.

“To add a bit of a sparkle to a Christmas G&T, simply add 35ml London dry gin, Schweppes Classic or Slimline Tonic, a splash of Champagne, 10ml vanilla syrup and orange bitters to create this ideal mix,” she said.

Aitken of Fentimans reinforced this view, suggesting that Fentimans Pink Grapefruit Tonic Water, served with a garnish of pink grapefruit, paired with gin “makes for a lovely winter cocktail”.

Particular attention should also be paid to flavoured tonic water variants, according to Draper of Franklin & Sons.

“Flavoured tonics have grown in popularity, adding depth to standard G&Ts, while ginger-based mixers – which have been one of the success stories of the year – are also perfect for pairing with flavoured spirits, such as rhubarb gin,” she said.

But operators should avoid aimlessly stocking their fridges with swathes of tonic/mixer brands, according to Jill Brown of Moray Distillery.

Explaining that “not every tonic works with [every] gin” due to different flavour profiles, Brown reckons licensees should treat their tonic and mixer range the way they treat their wine or spirits ranges – trying before they buy – in order to curate a decent range that matches their range of gins.