Serves should sum up summer

Fresh, vibrant drinks the order of the day in months ahead

WITH lighter nights upon us and the prospect of some warmer weather on the horizon, it’s crucial cocktails and serves have a distinctly summer flavour to them.

That was the message from a host of drinks companies, which were unanimous in the importance of adding a seasonal flavour to drinks menus.

Fresh, vibrant, ‘zingy’ serves and cocktails were highlighted by many as summing up summer in a glass.

Johna Penman, UK trade and consumer marketing director at Ian Macleod Distillers – parent company of Edinburgh Gin, said the growing popularity of citrus flavours is expected to continue.

“Given gin’s natural ability to lend itself to citrus notes, it’s an obvious and much-loved pairing,” she said.

“The added flavours essentially amplify the natural flavours that already exist within the gin and as we head into the summer months, we would expect to see its popularity grow.

“With consumers looking for speedy cocktail service, the flexibility offered by flavoured gins or gin liqueurs is a great option to improve the speed of serve, which we know is critical in the on-trade. It’s key to stock a range of flavours and one to look out for is Edinburgh Gin’s recent launch, Orange & Basil Gin. Our distillers have used both fresh and dried Valencian orange peel resulting in fresh, crisp citrus notes that are delicately balanced with subtle sweetness.

“Whilst it’s important to stock full-strength flavours and cater to trends, premium and classic serves always prove consistency popular throughout the summer months.”

The perennial popularity of classics was also highlighted by Jo Jacobius of Dunnet Bay Distillers – the Caithness company behind the Rock Rose gin and Holy Grass vodka brands.

“Plan your menu to suit your customers and your venue and offer something different – something you and your customers can talk about on social media so that they help do your marketing for you,” she said.

“Classics remain popular and bars should list a range of premium spirits so that even something as simple as a G&T tastes complex. The key here is to offer a few cocktails that can be made quickly and elegantly and this means they must look beautiful as well as taste great.

“One of our favourite summer serves is Rock Rose Blueberry Basil Martini (see recipe left). This cocktail is a great colour and is simple to make so it is perfect for batch production to serve a crowd.”

Batching summer serves and cocktails was also highlighted by the team behind Don Papa rum and Santa Ana gin.

“We would suggest utilising pre-batch serves for a quicker service,” said a spokeswoman.

“This summer we would recommend the spritz, longer serves and refreshing flavours orientated around citrus, herbaceous and floral notes. Rum-based cocktails are ever so popular, with the return of many sought out retro drinks from decades past with bars conjuring up twists on classics. Think of the Mojito, the Pina Colada, the Daiquiri and of course the Mai Tai.”

Rum’s role in seasonal cocktails was reinforced by Liza Cordero, master blender of Puerto Rican rum Don Q.

“Originally created using Don Q Rum, we have unofficially adopted the Pina Colada as our favourite cocktail; revamped and rejuvenated, we now use Don Q Gold to create the perfect Pina Colada,” she said.

“This summer, we hope to see bars across the UK and Europe serving our reimagined classic.”

While not a ‘classic’ in the traditional sense but a cocktail that could be considered a ‘contemporary classic’, the Espresso Martini is also expected to remain popular this summer.

Johnny Dennys, head of brand and trade marketing at Mast-Jägermeister UK, said Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee – “although best-served as an ice cold shot at -18ºC” – can be used to create a “simple yet delicious” Espresso Martini.

“Jägermeister Cold Brew Coffee has the addition of cold brew coffee made with coffee beans from Brazil and Colombia and cacao from the Ivory Coast,” he said.

“The richness of the coffee and chocolate brings forward some of the flavours in Jägermeister, like cinnamon, star anise and cardamom. This makes for a really full-flavoured shot, as well as a balanced cocktail.”

Of course it’s not just about alcoholic serves.

Demand for low and no-alcohol drinks is expected to remain high in the months ahead.
Emilie Giffard, sales and brand development manager for north Europe at liqueurs and syrups brand Giffard, advised keeping a cocktail list “simple and delicious”.

“We would propose adding to your summer cocktail list a range of low ABV cocktails like, for example, a Spritz or a Highball and choosing refreshing and seasonal flavours like elderflower and rhubarb, or even something more tropical like passionfruit and pineapple,” she said.

That was echoed by Alex Carlton, co-founder of non-alcoholic spirit brand Strykk.

“Drinkers have become increasingly aware of their health and wellbeing during and since the pandemic and it’s therefore really important for bars to offer a good range of no and low cocktails, such as spritzes, to help manage the drinking pace,” he said.