Behind bars: summer drinks

Two bartenders share their insights on drinks for the summer months

Ian Plenderleith, The West House, Dundee

the-west-house-dundee

What are the main changes you notice when it comes to drinks orders in the summer months?

I think the main changes from customer orders we see in the summer is that customers are more likely to have a drink a little bit earlier in the day and drink a bit slower.

I think there is more of an emphasis on enjoying the drink with friends, enjoying the weather and enjoying being off work as opposed to slamming back vodka and colas before going to the club.

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Another thing about the summer, which I think of as positive for the drinks industry as a whole, is that the stigma of girly or manly drinks seems to go out the window.

People are drinking what they like to drink and there’s less judgement from their peers.

I think it opens people up a lot more to recommendations and trying new and different flavours, so that is very refreshing.

Which types of drinks find greater favour as the heat rises?

I think the kind of drinks that are enjoyed in the summer sun are sweet and fruity cocktails filled with ice. Fruit-flavoured ciders go down a treat too in the summer and there’s so much versatility in the market that you can have quite an extensive summer range.

This summer we’re seeing a big shift towards spritz drinks and blended frozen cocktails.

It’s really great for us as those are the kind of drinks we love to make at The West House; we all have a bit of a sweet tooth!

How tricky is it to get staffing levels right during the summer?

We do keep an eye out for local events and the weather but I think, thankfully, we’re quite fortunate in regards to staffing the venue adequately.

We have a great core team who work really hard and are great dealing with the busy periods that summer brings. They are also eager to come in on their days off to lend a hand when you get one of those unexpected rushes and exceptionally busy days, so we’re very fortunate in that regard.

How do you prepare for busy summer days?

I think it’s all about utilising the small bar we have effectively.

We try and do as much bar preparation as possible and make sure that all the stations are stocked as well as they can be.

On top of that, having our staff well-trained and efficient on the bar is essential for dealing with the busy periods.

Do you see a growth in packaged beer sales over the summer and what can staff do to help their beer offer stand out this summer?

Yes, packaged beers, in particular South American-style lagers, go down well in the summer.

I think that in terms of packaged beers it’s vital that it is kept as cold as possible; nothing will stop a repeat sale of a bottle of beer quicker than it being warm.

I also think getting in touch with brand ambassadors and having the appropriate point of sale on show can really push packaged beer sales, along with having a diverse range catering from craft styles to the more popular staple brands.


Ross Fraser, Siberia, Aberdeen

What are the main changes you notice when it comes to drinks orders in the summer months?

This year especially, I have noticed a much larger demand for bottled beers and ciders such as Corona and Kopparberg.

Strongbow Dark Fruits is a huge seller for us on draught, while a lot more people seem to be opting for fruit and tropical-flavoured cocktails.

Which types of drinks find greater favour as the heat rises?

I find that men generally tend to favour cider, such as Dark Fruits or the original Strongbow.

Women are more varied, opting for cocktails, ciders, or white and rosé wine.

How tricky is it to get staffing levels right during the summer?

For our venue, there have been times where it seemed quite tricky; you would sometimes have too many staff on or not enough, as it can be quite difficult to tell.

My manager will always check the weather the week before doing the rota and factor in any sporting events as well.

Weather is a bigger factor for us as we have a large terrace.

How do you prepare for busy summer days?

I find with us it’s easier to have even one extra member of staff on in the morning to give us more of a chance to prepare for the day ahead and get the bar prepared, get extra fruit cut, extra stock, extra cutlery for the floor.

During the evening we sometimes have two people chosen by our manager to look after each side of the bar looking after optics, fruit, speed rails and fridges, which all generally seems to work really well.

Do you see a growth in packaged beer sales over the summer and what can staff do to help their beer offer stand out this summer?

There has definitely been a growth in packaged and bottled beers this summer, with Corona and Peroni amongst the biggest brands in my opinion.

When we get certain bottled beers in that we wouldn’t usually, we have run deals on them and advertised them on our socials.