Spring simple but significant serves

Time to embrace the season with a selection of cocktails that embody it

A SPATE of unseasonably mild days last month heralded a glimpse of spring in Scotland and an ideal time for venues to refresh their drinks lists.

Seasonality has long been a trend in cocktails, and operators and drinks firms told SLTN that embracing spring in their drinks menus can prove uplifting for customers and  profits alike.

“Offering a seasonal cocktail menu not only enables bartenders to play with different flavour profiles, it encourages consumers to try new and interesting serves too,” said Teddy Joseph, whisky specialist at Edrington-Beam Suntory, which counts Cognac brand Courvoisier and Brugal rum within its portfolio.

“This spring I’d suggest keeping serves simple with fresh flavours and locally-sourced ingredients.”

General manager of Signature Pubs-owned Edinburgh bar Badger & Co, Alec Duncan, agreed.

He said: “Cocktails, like food, are at their best when you use fresh, premium ingredients.

“Seasonality dictates what will taste best and when, giving you an organic direction on seasonal flavour profiles.”

Alex Kammerling, founder of spirits firm Kamm & Sons, suggested that spring is the “perfect time for aperitif cocktails”.

He added: “They’re a great way of enticing people back after a dark winter and while it has taken a while for the UK palate to become adjusted to the bitter flavours of aperitifs, there is more interest than ever as consumers lean towards more powerful, herbal flavours.

“With the gin explosion and plant-based living raising the profile of a diverse array of botanicals, I expect a surge in aperitif interest this year.”

The move towards healthier choices tends to be more prevalent in the early half of the year and Ellie Jones, marketing manager at Love Drinks, distributor of El Banderra vermouth, said she expects this to be reflected in cocktail lists along with an increased drive toward ‘mixology minimalism’ this spring.

“The health trend will ensure fruit and vegetables will continue to be used to great effect in drinks,” she said.

“I think we will see a less flamboyant side to serves with more time being spent on the quality of the liquid, the flavour and the balance.

“I think it will be a good thing as a more minimalist approach will mean less waste plus a greater focus on the quality of the liquor and the skill of the mixologist, which I think makes for interesting drinking.”

With gin still proving popular in pubs and bars across Scotland, serves which utilise the spirit and flavoured variants of it can be expected to do well throughout the season, according to Carlo Valente, director of Boë Gin parent firm VC2 Brands, who encouraged operators to stimulate serve innovation amongst their staff by introducing “competitions to create serves”.

When it comes to cocktails, particularly seasonal ones, garnishes play an important part in signposting and augmenting the flavour and theme of the drink.

Callum Fraser, rum development specialist at William Grant & Sons, owner of rum brand Sailor Jerry, encouraged licensees to bring truly seasonal produce to this aspect of cocktails too.

“Seasonality really makes a difference to the quality of your produce,” he said.

“In the spring months, berries have still to make an appearance so look towards grapefruit, rhubarb, or maybe thyme and rosemary to brighten your drinks.

“The real star around this time of year though is blood oranges. They tend to only be picked between February and April and the flavour is phenomenal.”

Another trend that outlets should be looking to incorporate into their garnishes is sustainability, said Jen Draper, marketing director at Global Brands, owner of soft drink brand Franklin & Sons, who said using dehydrated seasonal produce is as frugal as it is fashionable.

She said: “Dehydrating fruit is a great way to increase the shelf life of your cocktail garnishes.

“Many venues cut their fruit in preparation of a busy night, usually preparing more than needed in order to ensure they are stocked for the evening ahead, which usually creates waste as it can’t be used the following day.

“Using dehydrated seasonal fruit is the perfect way to minimise the waste, and by doing so they last an extended amount of time.”

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Raspberry Ripple Love Delight

• 25ml Eden Mill Love Gin Liqueur
• 25ml Chambord
• 50ml cranberry juice
• 20ml egg white

Method: add all ingredients into a shaker. Shake well. Strain over ice. Garnish with a sprinkle of crushed dried raspberry.

– Eden Mill.

Brit Spritz

• 35ml Kamm & Sons
• 15ml Bottlegreen Elderflower Cordial
• 50ml sparkling wine
• 50ml soda water
• Wedge of grapefruit

Method: pour all ingredients over cubed ice and stir well. Squeeze a wedge of grapefruit into the drink and garnish with a cucumber slice.

– Kamm & Sons.