Distilling serves for the season

Licensees can tap into local producers’ drinks knowledge this winter

Boë Spiced Orange Gin Liqueur can be paired with ginger ale this festive season

ACROSS the on-trade, operators are gearing up for the most lucrative time of year. Central to much of this preparation is the creation of Christmas drinks lists.

And it’s here that Scottish spirits producers can help – offering licensees guidance on the latest trends and the ways in which to capitalise on them, as well as suggested serves for the festive season.

That was the message from spirits firms across Scotland, who told SLTN that working closely with local distilleries can bolster sales.

Joanne Motion, UK marketing manager at Edinburgh Gin parent firm Ian Macleod Distillers, said today’s customers are “taking pride in their choice and knowledge of their favoured brand”.

“Consumers are continuing to champion local brands that offer the premium produce they want, partnered with the desired story that comes with it,” she said.

“We all know Christmas is the busiest season in the on-trade.

“Increased footfall and dwell time presents bar staff with an engaged audience to showcase their knowledge of local distillers too, which often presents ample up-sell opportunities.”

Victoria Miller, head of on-trade UK at Eden Mill, agreed. She said: “For bars, being able to serve products that are made in the local area is not just an opportunity to drive footfall and revenue – but also a great way to create a genuine customer connection with the spirit in question and the local area.”

Consumers are continuing to champion local brands that offer the premium drinks they want.

Miller added that Eden Mill “will happily work with bars and restaurants to prepare exciting new ways to serve our products, that emphasise the uniqueness of our spirits, but also help celebrate the Christmas season”.

Similarly, Carlo Valente, director of Boë Gin parent firm VC2 Brands, encouraged publicans to reach out to Scottish distilleries. For instance, he said that the Stirling-based firm has created a raft of festive serves to promote Boë Spiced Orange Gin Liqueur, which operators can tap into.

Eden Mill has created a range of serves based on its Candy Cane-flavoured gin

“We’ve got serves for that – there’s lots of different things you can do with it,” he said.

“So, for example, simple serves would be a Spiced Orange Gin Liqueur with ginger ale.

“You can go to our website too and see other serves we’re doing, which are bespoke to Christmas.”

Valente added that by working with local distilleries to create premium festive serves, operators “can up-sell drinks and make that wee bit of magic at Christmas time that they won’t get the chance to do throughout the rest of the year”.

Christmas is a time when people want to celebrate with delicious, well-presented drinks.

Garnishes are also an important consideration, according to Motion of Ian Macleod Distillers.

She said: “A striking or unexpected garnish can be a real crowd pleaser and Christmas is that one time of year when this kicks up a notch.

“Whether a flammable garnish that adds theatre, a mini rubber duck for a quirky twist or just a twist of lemon, garnishes can give festive drinks an extra serving of social media appeal in the eyes of your customers.

“Fundamentally, a good garnish should always act as a companion; complementing or enhancing the flavour profile of the finished drink. Our Candied Bramble is a play on the classic cocktail, using season blackberry and candied rhubarb as a garnish.”

This view was echoed by Miller of Eden Mill, who said customers “now expect to receive a perfectly served premium drink with a carefully picked garnish”.

“Christmas is a time when people want to celebrate with delicious, well-presented drinks and it is vital more now than ever, in such a crowded marketplace, to ensure drinks are served and executed perfectly,” she said.