Select serves: Gin

Give the gift of great gin drinks as customers celebrate


WITH customers starting to file through the doors of Scotland’s pubs and bars in greater numbers, the busy festive trading period is getting underway.

And a range of gin serves that incorporate the spirit of the moment can work well for licensees all winter, firms told SLTN.

“Highlighting the opportunity for alcoholic beverages to add value to celebratory occasions is good business – new consumers are brought into the category, and existing consumers are encouraged to try something new – and trade up at the same time,” said a spokeswoman for Diageo.

“Innovative operators are capturing the opportunity to drive trade up through eye-catching serves designed to aid celebration.”


Neil Everitt, chief executive at Brockmans Gin, seconded that view.

He said: “People are prepared to treat themselves and so cocktails can play a useful role on the menu – but those cocktails must be quick and easy for the bar team to concoct.”

Before employing a range of gin serves for Christmas, Vicky McQueen, co-founder of McQueen Gin, reckons operators should take into account what’s been selling throughout the year.

“Our top tip would be to give yourself the best chance of customers loving what you serve, whilst also offering something different and in line with the festive season/build up,” she said.

“The equation to achieve that is quite simple – take the options that you already know are very popular, and give them a festive update.”

Ben Stewart, director of UK sales for Wemyss Family Spirits, counselled licensees to consider offering heated gin drinks.

He said: “A list of seasonal drinks will certainly provide your guests with more choice and experience.

“A Darnley’s Spiced Gin and ginger ale with a wedge of orange is the perfect serve for me this Christmas. Heat things up, literally, and add some apple juice and cinnamon for a real winter warmer.”

Winter warmers

Hot Ginger Toddy

50ml Brockmans Gin
6 dashes of Angostura orange bitters
Ginger beer – warmed

Method: stir the ingredients together and garnish with orange zest, studded with cloves, star anise and a cinnamon stick. Serve in a heat-proof glass mug.

– Brockmans.

Hot Spiced Gin Punch

200ml Darnley’s Spiced Gin
350ml cloudy apple juice
500ml ginger beer
25g demerara sugar
1 cinnamon stick
50ml lime juice

Method: heat all the ingredients apart from the gin in a pot. Add the gin and mix. Strain into a mug or latte glass and garnish with apple slices.

– Wemyss Family Spirits.

Mario Díaz Pavón, The Bon Vivant, Edinburgh

How important will gin be to your bar’s drinks offer over the winter months and what are the main gin-based serves you offer?

We always keep in mind that gin is a top seller no matter what time of year it is.
Quite a few of our signature cocktails are gin-based and they tend to be popular as the gin market has many fans.
When it comes to the classics, the Negroni rules the bar and we have a nice amount of Martinis flying around too.

What is the best way to put festive twists on gin drinks in bars ahead of Christmas and New Year?

I believe it is important to realise which kinds of drinks you’ll be serving over winter. It could be anything from fizzy drinks to cocktails with a
whisk(e)y or Cognac base.

Swapping gin into these types of drinks while still offering the spicy flavours and warming effect that you are looking for at this time of year is the best tactic. I still have to find a gin Hot Toddy option though!

How important is it that bartenders engage customers with an interest in gin in conversation about the spirit?

Most customers nowadays have a good level of knowledge on gin and discussing it with them is one of the best ways to create some rapport.

From the ones that just want to stick to their favourite gin, to those that are looking for new flavours and styles, there is always the opportunity to take a little time and have a nice conversation about gin.

Which factors do you put gin’s recent success down to and where do you think the category goes from here?

The gin and tonic pairing has been the best sales and marketing agent for this category.
It’s a refreshing, light, easy drinking and simple serve. This simplicity is really important, in my opinion, as with just four ingredients (gin, tonic, garnish and ice) you can have a massive amount of choice that will suit anyone.

From this starting point, people have been trying different gin-based drinks and finding them enjoyable.

Gin will always stay as one of the top sellers due to its versatility and it will depend on all of us (distillers, brand ambassadors, bartenders and customers) to decide where it goes from now on.

Beyond tonic water, which other mixers pair well with gin in your opinion?

I would place Campari and sweet vermouth as the best partners for gin, but if I had to choose another mixer, I would keep it classic and suggest soda water with a touch of lemon.

Which gin is your personal favourite and why?

I come all the way from Spain, and therefore will have to give two different answers to this question.

I love Nordes from Galicia. It’s an aromatic and refreshing Albariño grape-based spirit, which is made with local botanicals, making it a unique Spanish option.

I also enjoy Portobello Road – which may in part be down to the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks that I used to watch as a child – with its citrus taste and classic gin style, I find it perfect for gin and tonics, or different classics.