Classic service

Related tags Martini

Spirit's category manager Alison Riddington says that quality is the key to sales

James Bond turned a dry martini - shaken, not stirred - into a legend. Now, several decades after the suave character's cool lifestyle first became famous, classic spirits and cocktails are making a welcome return to our bars.

We offer a core range of spirits, allowing customers the opportunity to trade up in key categories such as vodka, bourbon (American whiskey) and gin. It's all too easy to fall into the trap of believing you need every premium vodka that promises to be the next best thing.

Premium spirits tend to be confusing and can only be sold successfully if bar staff have sufficient product knowledge to discuss their features and benefits. Hoping the drinks will sell themselves just doesn't work - they'll sit on the back bar gathering dust.

The focus has to be on serving great drinks - G&T served in correct glassware with plenty of ice and a fresh wedge of lime can prove irresistible. And adding a contemporary twist to a traditional Martini cocktail is proving increasingly popular.

In line with the on-trade, we are seeing a growth in American whiskey, while Scotch whisky is generally declining . We are trying to minimise that negative effect by focusing on a smaller range of top brands and ensuring good coverage of malt regions.

Competition

As food sales in pubs continue to rise, Spirit aims to maximise the pre- and post- dinner occasion by linking spirits to food, including offering customers classic pre-dinner drinks and a range of after-dinner digestifs and liqueurs, including liqueur coffee.

We also offer seasonal ranges, supported by effective PoS. From long summer drinks to winter warmers and festive cocktails, there's always something new in Spirit pubs.

But offering an extended range of spirits cannot begin to compensate for the damage caused by lack of staff training and knowledge and poor customer service. Our Bar Experience training programme has been developed in conjunction with key supplier partners to ensure that all our staff are trained in basic techniques covering every aspect from merchandising to the perfect serve spirit and mixer.

With so much competition abounding for the consumer pound in today's market - cinema, bargain flights, shopping and even home entertainment - operators need to take more radical measures to tempt customers out of their armchairs and into their pubs.

Grand designs

At Spirit we strive to create drinks that customers find difficult to mix at home - the correct glass, loads of ice and a generous wedge of fresh fruit adds up to a great-value drink, served in the first-class environment of a Spirit pub.

We aim to take this to the next stage with our Bar Revolution programme, developed with Diageo, which totally refurbishes the pub and embeds our 'Design to Sell' and 'Design to Serve' principles.

'Design to Sell' merchandises our bars to maximise our 'shop window', allocating the ideal space to each drinks category and ensuring that product position, lighting and merchandising guide our customers.

'Design to Serve' focuses on bar ergonomics -the focus here is on work stations, enabling drinks to be made efficiently in front of customers with ice and fruit to hand.

In an ever-changing market such as spirits, some aspects must remain constant - product knowledge, quality presentation and great service.

Related topics Beer

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