IT is hard to believe Christmas is little over a month away, meaning time is running out for any last minute alterations to a festive drinks offer before the party season kicks off in earnest.
But operators yet to adjust their drinks list can still bolster their selection by offering a choice of serves with some festive flair.
As consumers demand more from outlets, premium brands should feature prominently, drinks firms told SLTN.
Bob Fowkes, co-founder and marketing director of Brockmans Gin, expects the demand for gin to continue.
He said: “The festive season is a time to extend what’s already proving popular and as the gin craze continues – especially for premium and super-premium gins – this is the time to extend gin consumption into the colder months.
“Many new consumers are entering the category and we expect that to continue through the winter with perfectly served G&Ts, twists on other classics and some seasonal cocktails.”
Peter Powell, area sales director of Caorunn Gin, reinforced that view.
He said: “Trends, like the current gin craze, should be monitored and prepared for accordingly as there is likely to be a broader range of customers who normally might not frequent a venue at other times of the year.
“To maximise how successful the business will be depends on evaluation of your clientele and offering a special Christmas activation, such as specially designed Christmas drinks lists.”
It’s a time of indulgence: the mood is high and we all feel like we deserve a treat.
Whilst also advocating quality, Moira Swan, drinks buyer at Inverarity Morton, reckons licensees should be looking to feature more serves with darker spirits.
She said: “It’s a time of indulgence: everyone’s in the party spirit, the mood is high and we all feel like we deserve a treat.
“Operators don’t need to review their entire drinks range but should consider adding some seasonal specials, such as festive-themed cocktails, and shift the focus more towards dark spirits in line with the change in seasons.”
Within the market for darker spirits, Kate Alexander, director of marketing and operations at rum brand Red Leg, said tapping into the rising thirst for spiced rum could give bars an advantage with younger patrons.
She said: “As the spiced rum market continues to thrive, it’s increasingly competing with the classic go-to spirits like vodka and gin.
“The category is usually associated with a younger, sociable target audience and using rum in a festive cocktail menu allows venues and bars to introduce the spirit in an accessible way.
“As it grows in popularity, spiced rum should be a focus for operators looking to offer something a little bit different over the festive season.”
Jen Draper, head of marketing at soft drinks firm Franklin & Sons, concluded that the run up to Christmas is a “great time to focus on the creativity of drinks, and the theatre of the serve”.
And with the drive towards better quality products tangible, Amy Burns, marketing manager at Distell, owner of cider brand Savanna, advised operators to seize the season and upsell premium alternatives.
“This is the busiest time of the year, for operators and suppliers alike with parties and get-togethers,” she said.
“It creates a great opportunity to upsell, with a range of products. In the cider market, at this time of year premium products are more in demand, while there is also a trend of consumers looking to try something different and experiment with flavour profiles and serves. Offering consumers a quality product at an accessible price is essential.”
1. Suggest world beers and premium ciders to match seasonal dishes and drive extra spend.
2. Get the ambiance right, competition is tight and customers expect a quality experience across the board, so make your Christmas decor really stand out.
3. Promote deals and special events in advance using social media.
4. Book extra bar staff to reduce queuing when it comes to your busiest times. Offering table service can reduce queuing time at the bar.