Curating a class list of cocktails

Shake up your offer to boost next season’s takings

MUCH like the weather in Scotland, consumer taste can change very quickly. And while drinks firms are in agreement that cocktails will once more come to the fore this summer, they said that operators need to be aware of the latest trends if they are to fully capitalise on the category.

Joanne Motion, UK customer marketing manager at Edinburgh Gin, said: “Bearing in mind the gloriously unpredictable Scottish weather, we recommend serves that evoke flavours of summer time; meaning there’s still something to enjoy even if the rain has made that rooftop bar or pub patio a no-go!”

Tine Van Nevel, brand director for Bacardi Rum Europe, said: “Consumers look to see what’s in season for optimal flavour and are willing to pay more for the quality of their drinks.

“As such, they want more from their cocktails and are becoming more adventurous in what they drink, rather than a simple spirit and mixer, as we enter the summer months.”

Kate Alexander, operations manager and marketing director at RedLeg Rum, reckons a varied range of cocktails “will be key for operators to attract millenials diversifying from gin and vodka”.

“A summer time cocktail menu that is unique to the venue or barman is a great way to increase revenue,” she said.

“Offering a creative cocktail selection themed around the season also allows operators to introduce different spirits in an accessible way and encourage consumers to experiment with spirits challenging the norm, such as spiced rum.”

Matthew Sykes of Patrón Spirits International agreed that bartenders should be creative, but added that “it’s important to showcase versatility through a variety of cocktails”.

“You want to be offering both classic tequila cocktails alongside something unexpected, such as an Old Fashioned created with Patrón Anejo tequila, for example,” he said.

Adaptability to sudden changes in weather and, in turn, a potential rush of customers through the door, will also be vital and should be a primary consideration of any summer cocktail menu, according to Amanda McLeod, marketing director at Hi-Spirits.

She said: “Flexibility is key to summer drinks menus because the way the weather behaves is the biggest factor in consumer choices.

“Simple long spirits drinks, made quickly and simply by adding carbonates or fruit juice to back-bar spirits such as gin, whisky and rum, and adding plenty of ice and garnish, can be the basis of a profitable summer drinks menu – and can be quickly promoted on chalkboards when the sun shines.”

This was echoed by James Mowbray-Pratt, Fever-Tree channels manager for restaurants and bars, who said speed of service is vital to a successful summer cocktails list.

He said: “During the summer months, the creation of complicated cocktails can have an impact on service speed and this can consequently impact sales.

“At Fever-Tree we are advocates for simple mixability – simple, delicious, long mixed drinks that are just two to three ingredients and steps in their creation.”

Adopting this approach will allow bar staff to “create simple, speedy yet delicious drinks during the busy summer months”, added Mowbray-Pratt.

Alongside summer cocktails, events is another important consideration, according to Carlo Valente of Boë Gin parent firm VC2 Brands, who urged licensees to “tell your followers what’s on next” via their social media channels.

Katie Macleod, operations director at The Orkney Distillery – producer of Kirkjuvagr Gin – agreed that operators would be wise to consider hosting events this summer.

“Take time to put on and promote events that will help customers to choose you over your competitors,” she said.

Another way to build sales, according to Thomas Bennett, trade marketing controller at Global Brands, is through food pairing, which he said “is a way for venues to attract customers as well as maximise on sales”.