Switch up to scoop sales this season

A summer-inspired drinks list can generate profits in the coming months

Bartender adding garnish to a cocktail.

THERE’S no denying that cocktails and sunshine go hand in hand. But in order to fully capitalise on any weather-related rush to the bar, operators should craft a drinks list which reflects the summer season, spirits firms told SLTN.

Dan Bolton, managing director of drinks distributor Hi-Spirits, said: “Seasonal drinks are a great way to keep consumers engaged and interested, and simple long spirits drinks – made quickly and simply by adding carbonates or fruit juice to back-bar spirits – and adding plenty of ice or garnish, can be the basis of a profitable summer drinks menu.”

Lindsay Blair, global brand ambassador for Daffy’s Gin, said: “It is very important to understand how consumers’ tastes change with the season and adapt menus to suit this.”

Vicky McQueen, co-founder of Callander-based McQueen Gin, said “people are always looking for a nice drink in the sunshine and cocktails are more often than not in high demand in beer gardens up and down the country”.

Cocktails are more often than not in high demand in beer gardens across the country.

“If you can do something a bit different, then even better,” she said.

“Having a signature selection of cocktails available in the summer months that are a bit different from the everyday offerings will get people talking and have a knock-on effect, bringing more people into the pub to try them.”

Echoing this view, Paul Miller, co-founder of St Andrews-based Eden Mill, said it’s “very important” to provide a selection of seasonal cocktails.

“Consumers are always looking for the next best thing and they want to be surprised,” he said.

“Pubs, bars and restaurants should take advantage of the season and offer cocktails with a distinctive summer theme; think fruity, fresh and zesty.”

When it comes to crafting a seasonally-appropriate drinks list, the ingredients going into the cocktails should also be considered, reckons Kate Harrison of Black Cow Vodka, who said it “is a growing and topical consumer trend, with consumers preferring to buy ingredients that are both in season and local”.

“Seasonal cocktails offer bars and restaurants the opportunity to capitalise on exploring and developing cocktail menus that offer consumers what they want, when they want it,” she said.

Harrison added that operators should aim to offer customers a “succinct selection” of cocktails, which make use of a handful of spirits categories, and differentiate the serves “using seasonal flavours to attract interest”.

Vodka is a spirit which tends to be in high demand during the summer months due to its versatility, according to Scott Dickson of Glen’s vodka owner, Loch Lomond Group.

Summer sees a general increase in vodka sales as it continues to prove popular in cocktails.

“Summer sees a general increase in vodka sales as the liquid continues to be one of the most popular ingredients across cocktails, including Cosmopolitans and Martinis,” he said.

Gin is another spirit which, in cocktails, long drinks or a simple serve, is expected to prove popular.

Miller of Eden Mill said “flavoured gins and gin liqueurs do particularly well across the summer season and seasonal fruity flavours will always be popular options at this time of year”.

Bolton of Hi-Spirits agreed that gin will be in demand in the coming months as it “is the big driver of spirits sales”, adding that “it’s important not to neglect the G&T on summer drinks menus”.

McQueen of McQueen Gin reckons that, ultimately, consumers “are becoming more and more sophisticated and demanding”, which means it can be a good idea to create unique serves.

However, she warned that a balance must be achieved when adding new cocktails to a drinks menu.

Liqueur-based cocktails are another important consideration, according to Amy Giacobbi of CWF.

She explained that as consumers “are increasingly willing to try liqueur cocktails as an aperitif, for example the Aperol Spritz, made with Aperol, Prosecco and soda”, this means bars can introduce liqueurs “in a new and exciting format”.

Gemma Monaghan of coffee liqueur brand Tia Maria said there is a growing trend towards coffee cocktails, which presents venues with “a huge opportunity to drive incremental sales and cash margin”.

Presentation is also important. Miller of Eden Mill said “it does matter” and, when executed correctly – with the right presentation and garnishes – “can make a real difference” to sales.