Unwrapping festive drinks

Alex McTurk of Duke’s Corner in Dundee tells SLTN about the bar’s Christmas concoctions

Dundonian bar, Duke’s Corner, is gearing up for the festive season with a focus on Scotland’s water of life

Q: How much preparation has gone into creating your Christmas drinks menu?

A: This year we are doing a focus on our malt whiskies, revolving around Glenfiddich, The Balvenie, Bowmore, Laphroaig and Suntory. We will be bringing in a few special ones that you wouldn’t get in the majority of places outside a specialist whisky bar. Whisky flights will be available too, giving the customer an introduction to the distilleries featured on the menu.

Q: What drinks do you expect to sell well in your bar this festive season?

A: As a predominately late night venue, spirits and mixers make up a big percentage of our sales. That won’t change much, although wine sales generally increase as more groups come in and share bottles. Seasonal variants of gin will increase as people look to try something new. Warmer flavours will also feature in serves and cocktails – so sales of whisky, bourbon and dark fruited liqueurs, etc. will increase for us.

Q: What, if any, changes have you made to your drinks line-up ahead of Christmas and new year?

A: We are in touch with breweries to see what specials they have in the pipeline. We have five lines out of 24 which we change on a regular basis, so seasonal beers will be on offer. Obviously the seasonal variants of spirits are beginning to appear, so we will be looking at them to create serves and cocktails.

Q: What are you doing to market your Christmas drinks offer?

A: For our whisky focus, we will have menus designed with accompanying tasting notes. Any special serves and cocktails will generally be highlighted in an area on our back-bar, which is designated to promote seasonal products. And there will be the odd Instagram post of particular cocktails.

Q: What other steps are you taking to make the most of the extra custom sure to come through the door during the festive period?

A: Generally for us it is just making sure we have enough stock in. I like to order things in earlier rather than later in case suppliers run out when you really need it. Obviously we’ll increase staffing levels for busier shifts; we do tend to add an extra couple to the team ahead of the festive period.

Q: How important is it that staff take care of themselves during the more challenging festive shifts?

A: It’s important for sure. The majority of our team is made up of students, so not only will it be a busy time at work, they generally have deadlines before the festive break. This can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, so making it clear to staff that they can come and speak to us about it is important.

I have advised the staff it may be worth investing in the flu jab – it might be the best £20 they spend! On top of that, with us being a late night venue, coupled with the winter months, I’ve suggested multi-vitamins; in particular, vitamin D, due to the lack of sunshine we get.