COCKTAIL menus are steadily becoming ubiquitous in the Scottish on-trade, popping up in venues that may once have shied away from the idea.
And yet, some operators are still to have a stab at creating their own cocktail list.
The message from drinks firms is that even if a licensee hasn’t already taken advantage of the sales opportunity that cocktails offer, there’s still time to profit by grasping the nettle of mixology.
Faith Holland, head of category development at Smirnoff vodka and Gordon’s gin owner Diageo GB, said a strong cocktail offer can help grow an outlet’s profits by encouraging consumers to increase their spend on nights out.
“Today, restaurants and cocktail bars are looking to extend the time that people spend in their establishments,” she said. “Restaurants are turning to cocktails to enable people to start their evening earlier and to encourage them to stay after dinner.”
Far from being the preserve of high-end bars, Holland believes there is a chance for outlets of all types to benefit from the growing demand for cocktails.
She said: “Research shows that over two thirds of cocktails are enjoyed in a pub, highlighting the increasing opportunity for all licensees to profit from the cocktail trend.”
For those just starting to put a cocktail list together, industry advice is clear: preparation pays off.
“Ensure you invest the time it takes to research your cocktail offering properly,” said Amit Sood, senior Mixxit ambassador at Maxxium UK.
“Seek out support and advice from spirits specialists and suppliers, as they can ensure you put together a menu which reflects what your customers are looking for.”
Yet earning a reputation as a purveyor of fine mixed drinks is unlikely to happen without some moderate investment in the right tools for the job.
Rob Blunderfield, marketing manager at catering equipment supplier Parsley in Time, said: “For cocktails, having the right equipment, such as shakers, glasses or mugs, strainers, jiggers, spoons and utensils, not only adds to the theatre of the cocktail making, but can also enhance the flavours of the drinks [bartenders] produce.
“Just as important as the drink itself is what the cocktail is served in. Like the Martini, it’s essential that the cocktail is served in its own specific vessel.”
And when creating a cocktail list it’s important to remember that not everyone will be drinking alcohol on a night out.
Drinks firms said that cocktails offer the ideal platform for bartenders to get creative with alcohol-free drinks – creating serves that are still interesting and great tasting, but without the ABV.
Andrew Turner, director of wine for Halewood Wines & Spirits, said: “Talk of moderation around alcohol consumption isn’t going away, with a significant 21% of people in the UK opting to go alcohol-free.
“Now is the time to cater to this market, by offering customers grown up and creative alternatives to the classic Virgin Mary.
“A well-crafted virgin cocktail, comprised of vibrant flavours, has the power to elevate the ordinary to the unexpected, all the while helping non-drinkers feel like they’re still part of the ‘gang’ and the occasion.”
Choose a cocktail list that suits your style of outlet and the customers you want to attract.
Outlets offering cocktails for the first time should choose a short, well thought-out list with five to eight cocktails.
Choose quality ingredients that justify the price you are charging and present them in quality glassware appropriate to the drink.
Don’t forget to shout about your cocktail offer – using chalkboards and eye-catching menus can inspire undecided customers to choose a profitable cocktail.