A clear route to drinks perfection

Glassware that offers style and substance can bring real benefits to bars

Coupe glasses are on-trend at the moment as the popularity of cocktails grows, said Artis

WHEN it comes to drinks, looks matter – and that applies as much to the glass itself as to the liquid it holds.

As consumer expectations – and social media use – continue to rise, it’s increasingly important that operators and bartenders ensure drinks not only taste great but look great too.

In fact, glassware plays a key role in setting the tone for a bar or restaurant, according to producers and suppliers.

Ralph Grundy, managing director of glassware, barware and tableware supplier Artis, said glassware is an “important visual element in the success of an establishment”.

“Your choice of glassware will speak volumes about what standard of cuisine, dining style and service the customer can expect from your establishment,” he said.

“It is important, too, that your glassware is not just in good condition, but also current.

“It might not seem so, but glassware is a fashion business and it is important to keep up with modern trends. What is all the rage today can appear dated tomorrow.

“Your choice of glassware should be regarded as a key part of your marketing plan.”

This was echoed by Mike Hardman, marketing manager at hospitality industry supplier Alliance Online, who underlined the importance of choosing glassware to complement a venue’s décor and offer.

The gin boom and the growing popularity of cocktails were cited by Hardman as examples of two drinks trends which have had a corresponding impact on glassware.

“Due to the explosion of gin in recent years, copa de balon (balloon) glasses have become as ubiquitous in your local pub as a tulip beer glass,” he said.

“With the rise in gin popularity, cocktails have enjoyed a resurgence too. As such, this drinks trend has resulted in an influx of unique and unusual styles of glass.

“Two of the most notable glasses to have found vogue status are those with a skull or tiki design. Being fun and quirky styles complements the flamboyant and colourful nature of cocktails, making them the perfect candidate for your customers’ next Instagram post.

“A fashion we are predicting to make a comeback over the course of 2020 is metal-rimmed glasses. With premiumisation quickly establishing itself as one of the key trends for this year, we expect to see metal-rimmed glasses come back to the forefront.”

Of course it’s not just for spirits and cocktails that operators must consider glassware.

And when it comes to beer, it’s not just the style of glass that must be right, but the branding too.

Fi Leonard, customer marketing manager at Tennent’s, which counts Belgian lager brand Heverlee and Magners cider in its portfolio, said serving beers and ciders in the correct branded glassware enhances a drink’s quality credentials – in terms of the condition of the liquid served and the presentation of the drink.

“Glassware is an integral part to a bar or restaurant’s offering as it is something that can influence consumer perceptions about the quality of both an establishment and brand’s drink offering,” she said.

“The right glassware is also vital to ensure a quality serve for customers, particularly for pints of beer where there is an intricate science behind the carbonation process.

“The nucleation point on a pint glass helps the release of carbonation to create a crisp, refreshing pint. This is something Tennent’s Lager focused heavily on following the relaunch of their glassware in 2016, helping to make a great tasting pint of Scotland’s most popular lager each time.”

The importance of style and substance when it comes to glassware was echoed by Hardman at Alliance Online, who said anyone in the market for glassware should always review the functional qualities of any glasses they are looking to source.

“Properties such as anti-chip guarantees, thermal shock resistant, dishwasher-safe and microwave-safe must be considered when looking to buy your next everyday-use glassware as they all increase a glass’s working lifespan,” he said.

“Equally, glass thickness should also be inspected as those too thick will be heavy and cumbersome. Conversely, if the glass is too thin, you risk breakages due to the fragility and delicate nature of the glass.”

Choosing glasses is, of course, only half the battle.

Glassware care is crucial if perfect serves are to be delivered consistently.

Alison Lambie, director of Sims Automatics, said choosing reliable glasswashing equipment that can deliver spotless results every time is key. “Our research shows that 94% of customers would be put off going to an outlet gain if confronted with dirty glassware,” she said.

“It’s therefore important to ensure you choose a quality, robust machine which will stand up to the high volume of glass washing in a typically busy pub or restaurant.

“Capacities and wash cycles can differ so you need to make sure you are clear on your business requirements, and check additional features such as optional fitted drain pumps, which will help your machine drain more efficiently.

“Pure water is a prerequisite for sparkling, spotless results and once glasses have been through a wash cycle there should be no need to polish by hand; this is unhygienic and not recommended.

“Once clean, the pores in glass quickly absorb smells from their surroundings, therefore you should have an odour-neutral place to store glassware and give the glasses a quick rinse with water before use.”

Glassware should also be checked regularly for any scuffs or chips, and any that are found to be damaged should be safely disposed of immediately.

“If you wait until your stock chips or wears, you will already have lost many customers,” said Grundy at Artis.

“Restaurateurs should remember two things: glassware is a fashion business and if you do not keep up and change your pieces regularly you will lose customers to your competitors; and the look of your tabletop reflects your restaurant – if pieces are chipped, cracked or worn that will reflect badly on the image you are seeking to portray.”