Let the sun shine on sales

Operators’ seasonal drinks range must be adaptable

Cocktails are an important consideration for any bar’s summer drinks menu, say drinks firms

THE Scottish summer is here, with its usual mix of rain, wind and even a sunny day here and there. While the weather is unpredictable, the demand for great drinks is not. And so, there are various steps operators can take to ensure their range is adaptable to the season, drinks firms told SLTN.

Ellie Jones, marketing manager at distributor Love Drinks, said when it comes to an effective summer drinks range, creativity is key.

“Consumers are looking to celebrate occasions so it’s important to keep things fresh, mix things up, offer something new and help [customers] have a special experience,” she said.

“I think creative twists with gin, rum and vermouth in particular will be key this summer.”

Gin was also highlighted as an important consideration by Carlo Valente, director of VC2 Brands, which counts Boë Gin within its drinks stable.

He said: “Gin remains popular year-round, but a perfect serve in the summer sunshine can be just the tonic for many.

“The interest in gin is far from over as innovations in the category, like flavoured gin, begin to do increasingly well, becoming market drivers.”

And, regardless of the spirit in the drink, bars need to be able to adapt when the sun does decide to shine, reckons Poppy Croft, marketing manager at Hi-Spirits.

She said: “As the early summer heatwave showed, as the sun comes out, bars need to be ready with appealing serves for customers. Operators can’t always change their whole cocktail menu to cope with a warm spell, but along with making sure there’s plenty of ice on tap, they can have quick and simple mixed drinks made with popular brands ready to go.”

The importance of ice was also underlined by Roz Scourfield, national manager at commercial ice maker Hoshizaki UK.

“One of the biggest trends set to shape the beverage sector this summer is the trend for different drinks textures,” she explained.

“From thick to smooth, creamy to frothy, the variety of drinks textures is plentiful, particularly when ice is used in the drinks preparation process. As well as being used to chill the beverage or the glass itself, ice can be used within the drink mix – being shaken, stirred or crushed in order to create various textures.”

This is especially pertinent when it comes to cocktails during summer, according to Lee Hyde, beverage innovation manager at syrup producer Monin.

“Cocktails become increasingly popular during the summer months as consumers look for refreshing, longer drinks,” he said.

“Establishments must create a point of difference to stand out from the crowds, whether this is a theatrical way of serving or a new concept to excite drinkers.”

Garnishes are another important consideration when making sure summer cocktails have just the right look.

Alisha Goodwin, brand manager for Loch Lomond Group, said during the summer months operators should always “look to offer fresh fruit and quality garnishes such as mint, grapefruit and lime to encourage sales”.

Peter Spanton, founder of Peter Spanton Drinks, said outlets “need to deliver the same excitement with their choice of non-alcoholic mixed drinks as they do with their core cocktail list”.

“Increasingly, there are some customers who drink less alcohol when the weather heats up,” he said.

“Even so, the boom in cocktail sales shows how much people love the theatre of having a great drink mixed for them by a skilled bartender – and it’s essential that those who choose not to drink [alcohol] don’t feel that they’re getting second best.

“Consumers expect to be offered premium, genuinely grown up non-alcoholic serves on many more occasions, and especially in warm weather. The market for mocktails is only going to increase and pubs and bars that aren’t meeting that demand will simply see customers vote with their feet.”

The demand for premium products extends to beer and cider too, according to Claire Arnott, director of marketing services at Tennent’s and Magners cider parent firm C&C Group. And she advised operators with outdoor areas to be prepared to take advantage of the season.

“When the sun is shining and you have an outdoor space, make sure you’re ready to bring in customers,” she said.

“Keep it clean and inviting, bring in as many tables as you can comfortably fit and have umbrellas for any sudden rain or in case the sun gets too hot. This will enhance the overall consumer experience, and if drinkers have a good experience then your outlet will be top of their mind the next time the sun comes out.”

Serves for summer

• RedLeg Caramelised Daiquiri

50ml RedLeg Caramelised Pineapple

35ml fresh lime juice

20ml sugar syrup

Method: pour the RedLeg Caramelised Pineapple, fresh lime juice and sugar syrup into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a coupe glass. Serve.      

• Southern Comfort Lemonade & Fresh Lime

50ml Southern Comfort Original

150ml lemonade

2 squeezed lime wedges

Method: in a Mason jar or Collins glass, pour 50ml Southern Comfort Original over ice. Squeeze in two lime wedges and place in glass. Top with lemonade, stir gently and garnish with a lime wedge.

• Buffalo & Coke

50ml Buffalo Trace


Method: pour the Buffalo Trace into a glass filled with ice and top with cola. Garnish with a lemon wedge.