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Shake up your drinks menu

While consumers are visiting the on trade less frequently than they used to, when they do go out they are willing to spend more in order to get the most out of their experience, according to William Grant & Sons’ 2015 Market Report, which gives an in-depth look into consumer behaviour and trends in the drinks industry. The Report also identities that, of the more than 124,000 outlets in the on trade, 23.1% stock a cocktail and the cocktail category makes up 5% of total spirit sales

Working with data from CGA Strategy, William Grant’s 2015 Market Report makes encouraging reading for the on trade. In spite of fewer consumer visits in the past 12 months, the total GB beer, wine and spirits market is worth £39.2 billion, up 1.5% from last year. The on trade accounts for 60.1% of value sales and drives the majority of growth. While the largest sector in the on trade is beer, with wine topping the list in the off trade, the second largest sector in both the on and off trades is spirits, which is seeing value growth across both channels.

Gary Keogh, Marketing Director of William Grant & Sons UK, comments: “It is notable how the trends we’re seeing in this post- recession, digitally transparent age are pointing towards consumers demanding more genuine relationships with brands, and how companies and brands who take that longer, more sustainable view are thriving. The market is more polarised than ever and it’s premium brands that can really take advantage of this trend.”

Key findings from William Grant’s 2015 Market Report include the following:

Spirits has had a strong performance this year growing almost twice as fast as the alcohol market, up 2.5%, with all channels of trade contributing to this. Premium spirits is growing at 14.1% (value), which is five times more than the total spirits market – the growth in premium spirits accounted for over 60% of total spirit value growth in 2014.

Top 10 GB on-trade spirits brands

By valueBy volume
1. Smirnoff Red Label Smirnoff Red Label
2. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey Jägermeister
3. Jägermeister Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
4. Gordon’s Gordon’s
5. Bacardi Carta Blanca Bacardi Carta Blanca
6. The Famous Grouse The Famous Grouse
7. Bell’s Original Bell’s Original
8. Courvoisier VS Baileys Original
9. Russian Standard Courvoisier VS
10. Captain Morgan’s Spiced Captain Morgan’s Spiced

Diageo concurs

“We’re currently seeing a trend for consumers spending more money on quality experiences when they are going out, so operators should stock a variety of premium spirits to use in their range of classic and bespoke cocktails,” advises David Beatty, Diageo Reserve Brand Ambassador for Ketel One Vodka.

“The Bloody Mary cocktail is currently one of the fastest growing cocktails (+17% YOY) and is usually enjoyed in relaxed social situations, both during the day or evening, and often alongside food. Ketel One Vodka is the ideal base spirit to create the perfect Bloody Mary cocktail due to its complexity of fresh, crisp flavour with hints of citrus. When combined with an array of fresh market fruits and vegetables, freshly ground spices and seasonings, a unique and premium savoury cocktail is created.”

vodka cocktailTCG invests in cocktail offer

Managed pub and bar operator TCG shook up up its cocktail offer recently with both a new manual designed to upskill its bar staff, and a refresh of its list with new flavours for the summer.

Two sites trialled the Cocktail Manual earlier this year and saw a combined sales uplift on cocktails worth £80,000 annually. The manual, which is now being rolled out to TCG’s key cocktail sites, is far more than a guide to making drinks. It devotes pages to the history of alcohol, the origins of the most popular cocktails and a glossary of bar equipment, as well as, importantly, guidance on how bartenders can interact with customers while preparing their cocktails.

The manual is used during training sessions delivered by ‘cocktail champions’ in each site, while staff also receive a key fob containing details of the most popular cocktails for quick reference while working behind the bar. Staff are regularly assessed on their knowledge and, when they master the ingredients and method for 30, 50 and then 100 cocktails, receive a certificate and items to build their own cocktail kit.

At the same time, TCG is adding a number of new cocktails to refresh its offer for the summer, including a Rhubarb Martini, frozen Strawberry Margarita, and Fruit Explosion combining strawberry and pina colada ingredients with rum and vodka.

Ben Levick, TCG director of operations, said, “As an on-trade only drink, cocktails have been an area of focus for us and we have invested heavily in developing our range of drinks and innovative serves, such as jam jars and milk bottles.

“Now we’re focusing on staff training with the aim of turning our team members into the best bartenders in their area, with technical proficiency, encyclopedic knowledge and outstanding customer interaction. We believe this is the most detailed cocktail training guide any mainstream pub and bar operator has developed, and it’s a game-changer in terms of the bottom line.”

Hendricks coctailGin for summer

 To celebrate World Gin Day on 13th June, The Gin Guild commissioned new research to determine the popularity of the juniper-based spirit.

The online poll, which surveyed 2000 alcohol drinkers aged between 24 and 38, revealed gin to be the spirit- based drink of choice this summer. 88% of respondents stated that they were more sociable during the summer, and sitting in a pub garden sipping a gin and tonic were voted among the top things they loved to do.

Of those surveyed, 89% said they enjoyed the social aspect of drinking a gin either in a bar, restaurant, theatre or at a party. Although the results highlight that gin and tonic is still by far the most popular gin-based drink, the survey also showed the revival in popularity of classic cocktails, including The Martini, Tom Collins and Negroni.

There is a growing thirst for premium gin, ranging from established brands to smaller craft and artisan distillers. Twenty per cent of respondents said they would pay more for a premium gin; 62% of respondents request a specific brand when ordering at the bar, rather than settling for the ‘house’ gin.

“Gin has long been favoured by British people due to its established place in British culture, however with the rise of craft gins and innovative brands, it has shaken off its old-fashioned image, and is increasingly being viewed as a contemporary, sophisticated drink of choice,” observes Nicholas Cook, Director General of The Gin Guild.

The Gin Guild was established in 2012 to promote and encourage commitment to excellence in gin distillation and industry custodianship of the spirit category.

Innovation at historic Royal Horseguards Hotel

Situated on the embankment, a few minutes’ walk from Waterloo Station with spectacular views of the London Eye from its stunning secret garden, the Royal Horseguards Hotel was not only the HQ of the Secret Service during World War I, but it was also the site of the Old Scotland Yard. Today, the refurbished Victorian beauty acknowledges its past (the award-winning restaurant is named One Twenty One Two after Scotland Yard’s renowned telephone number) while embracing an impressive contemporary food and drink offer.

Here are just some of the cocktails available at the hotel’s Equus Bar where the offer changes on a monthly basis and staff are encouraged to create their own cocktails to be included on the menu.

Aperol Sorbet SpritzAperol Sorbet Spritz

  • Homemade Aperol Sorbet
  • 100ml Prosecco
  • 10gm sugar
  • Juice from 1/2 an orange

Gently stir and dissolve the sugar into the freshly squeezed orange juice in the Champagne Coupe, scoop the Aperol sorbet into the centre of the glass and delicately fill up with Prosecco. Garnish with an orange peel spiral.

This delicious take on the classic Aperol Spritz makes perfect summer time drinking and goes down a storm with customers.

Berry CrushBerry Crush

  • 15ml tequila silver
  • 35ml vodka
  • 20 ml elderflower cordial
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 6 blackberries Soda water to top up

Muddle the blackberries with elderflower cordial and lime juice, add vodka and tequila. Shake the mix in the shaker for 8 seconds, pour it in the old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice and top up with soda water. Garnish Blackberries and Lime circles.

Gin and JamGin and Jam

  • Gomme syrup 10ml Juice of half a lemon 2 tsp strawberry jam
  • 50ml gin Top up with tonic water

Put gin, jam, lemon juice and gomme syrup in the cocktail shaker. Mix the drink for 8 seconds, pour in the copper mug full of crushed ice and top up with tonic water. Garnish with a teaspoon of jam.

Around the World in 80 Cocktails

We are told never to judge a book by its cover. This certainly holds true for the outwardly somewhat bland and unprepossessing Mr Fogg’s cocktail bar in Mayfair, London. Step through the door, however and you feel as though you have just stepped through the wardrobe in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as you find yourself in Phileas Fogg’s period Victorian drawing room laden with artifacts and trinkets collected from his fictional travels.

Pick up the cocktail menu and you will be hard pressed to make a decision, such are the scope and variety on offer. Price may assist you in your decision, for you can pay up to £160 for a cocktail made with vintage spirits. Notwithstanding, there is an impressive array of flavour combinations – both traditional and unusual – that comes at a more realistic price point.

Mr Fogg’s truly is a place where seeing is believing. Couple this with a particularly imaginative cocktail offering and it becomes a destination location for anyone seeking an experience that is out of the ordinary.

Courvoisier is one of the top 10 spirits in the on trade (source: William Grant’s 2015 Market Report). Here are some cocktail ideas using Courvoisier.

Courvoisier sidecarCourvoisier Sidecar

  • 2 parts Courvoisier VSOP
  • ½ part lemon juice
  • 1/5 part sugar syrup ½
  • part orange liqueur

Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake hard for a short time. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Parisian RendezvousParisian Rendezvous

  • Parisian Rendezvous
  • 2 parts Courvoisier VSOP
  • Top up with ginger ale
  • Lime wedge

Build all ingredients in a highball glass over cubed ice.

Courvoisier Champagne CocktailCourvoisier Champagne Cocktail

  • 1 part Courvoisier VSOP
  • 1 Demerara sugar cube
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Top up with Champagne

Soak a sugar cube in bitters and drop into a Champagne flute. Cover with Courvoisier VSOP and slowly top with Champagne.

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