Whether it's cocktails, shots or long drinks with mixers, the beauty and appeal of spirits is their flexibility
Training to help pubs make spirits special
To further encourage mainstream pubs to tap into the opportunities for esoteric liqueurs and more obscure spirits, Hi-Spirits has launched occasional one-day courses under the title Cocktails in Your Pubs. For £99, licensees and their staff will be able to learn how to choose cocktails for a menu, what equipment they need to make them and how to make the drinks themselves.
"As well as appealing to cocktail bars, we want to appeal to pubs looking to make cocktails for the first time," says Hi Spirits managing director Jeremy Hill. "Our
business is built on mainstream pubs, and our accessibility means we can hold their hands through the process, unlike a lot of brands that are used to speaking to high-end bars in what can sometimes seem like another language."
Larger suppliers, such as Diageo with its ESP programme and Pernod Ricard UK with Bar Excellence, also run courses to help pubs get the most out of the spirits range.
Pernod Ricard UK on-trade channel
director Will Patten says: "Bar Excellence is about educating managers on the product and brand qualities of each spirit, so they can differentiate it from others and use each brand optimally in their cocktail lists, and impart this knowledge to their customers."
Supplied by: Fior Brands
What it is: A melon liqueur originally created by Suntory in Japan.
Suggested serves: As a 25ml or 35ml serving in a highball glass with ice, topped up with lemonade, cranberry juice or sparkling apple juice. Other mixer suggestions include ginger beer and soda. "It really is only limited by your imagination," says UK marketing manager Nicki Daw. There's a Midori cocktail directory at www.midori-uk.com.
Drunk by: Predominantly 18 to 30-year-old women.
Money pubs could make: The ex-VAT price at Booker is £9.99, and each bottle has 28 servings at 25ml each. Fior Brands suggests most bars charge between £1.20 and £2 for a 25ml measure of Midori, which would mean a ball-park return of between £33 and £56 from one bottle.
The supplier says: "We have found that more and more women are turning to Midori and a mixer because it offers the fruity appeal of an alcopop, but with the added sophistication of drinking from a glass with ice, rather than swigging from a bottle," says Daw.
The licensee says: "We do very well with Midori - about a bottle a fortnight, which is very good for a liqueur," says Janine Wylie, manager of the Black Horse in Kirkham, Lancs. "We have a jug cocktail called the Green Mile, which is Midori, Malibu and Cointreau topped up with pineapple juice and lemonade, that we sell at £6.75 for two pints, and has a mark-up of about 50%. We have one group who come in and drink Midori shots and Midori as a long drink with lemonade."
Supplied by: Cellar Trends
What it is: The best-selling sambuca in the UK according to AC Nielsen figures.
Suggested serves: What the supplier calls "shotails", a 25ml shot of a Luxardo variant with an equal part of another Luxardo style or different spirit.
Drunk by: 18 to 30-year-olds.
Money pubs could make: An apple crumble shotail is 25ml Luxardo Passione Ambra and the same measure of Luxardo Sour Apple. Passione Ambra is around £11 a bottle ex-VAT in cash and carries for a 70cl bottle, which equates to 28 shots - at a selling price of £2 each this gives a profit of around £35 on the bottle. You'll get 20 shots from a 50cl bottle of Sour Apple, which costs around £9 wholesale, a profit of £31 on a bottle at £2 a shot (£4 retail price for the shotail).
The supplier says: "Luxardo works for pubs that like the idea of bringing in some younger customers, so that it's not just the big branded spirits on the back bar," says marketing manager Catherine Rigby.
The licensee says: Manager of the Black Horse in Kirkham, Lancs, Janine Wylie, says: "Our customers are very set in their ways. We do a lot of cask ale which tells you what type of pub we are. We had Luxardo behind the bar anyway, but when we put some shotails on it really started to do very well. We sell them at £2 a shot, so there's quite a bit of profit in them. The shotails are very easy to make, a bit tricky to get the layers at first but once you've got the hang of them anyone can do them. They appeal to the 18-30 crowd; if there's a party in they'll buy a round and everyone will have one."
Supplied by: Hi-Spirits
What it is: A range of classic and flavoured sambucas from the drink's heartland north of Venice.
Suggested serves: Mix black sambuca with cranberry juice to make a Purple Flirt, and banana sambuca with chocolate milk for a Banana Split.
Money pubs could make: A single measure of orange and mango sambuca will cost a pub 40p, which gives a profit of 96p after the VAT is taken out, when sold at a usual price of around £1.60. Adding pineapple juice allows the pub to sell it as a tropical cooler cocktail, costing about 65p to make. Even with an affordable price of £3.50 this will give a pub a margin net of VAT of £2.33, an extra £1.37 profit.
The supplier says: Managing director Jeremy Hill says: "We're trying to bring sambuca into the long-drink arena. It's happening more and more with sambuca and with spirits like tequila, which can really show their versatility. It means pubs get a lot of value out of their spirits and their mixers, and it's a win for the consumer because they get a drink that lasts longer."
Supplied by: First Drinks Brands
What it is: A range of products from the world's biggest producer of cocktail liqueurs, including Blue Curaçao, Cherry Brandy and Triple Sec.
Money pubs could make: FDB estimates that a Singapore Sling - which includes two shots of gin and Angostura bitters, plus half a shot of its own Benedictine brand and a shot of De Kuyper Cherry Brandy - could make a margin of around £2.85 when sold at £4.95.
The supplier says: "You're not going to make £2.85 on a pint of lager, because you're only going to be selling it at that," says senior brand manager Anthony Habert.
Supplied by: Pernod Ricard UK
What it is: Number one coffee liqueur worldwide, but takes a back seat to its bigger stablemate Tia Maria in the UK.
Suggested serves: The classic serve is one part Kahlúa to two parts vodka, with an optional splash of cola to taste, but there's also the very simple Kahlúa and milk - a highball glass full of ice, a shot of Kahlúa, topped up with cow juice.
The licensee says: Janine Wylie, manager of the Black Horse in Kirkham, Lancs, says: "We use it to make Black Russians, which we do as 25ml vodka and 25ml Kahlúa, topped up with Coke and selling for £3.50. It probably costs around £1 to make, so it's a really good mark-up. We usually sell it as one of our cocktail jugs, but we sometimes put it on as a special and it goes well by the glass. You can tell the difference using Kahlúa rather than other brands - it gives a smoother taste."
Gordon's Sloe Gin
Supplied by: Diageo GB
What it is: Gordon's gin infused with sloe berries, the fruit of the wild blackthorn. The company claims 10% distribution and that more than half the people who drink it are normally non-gin drinkers.
Suggested serves: A Summer Sloe is a pitcher cocktail made with 20cl of Gordon's Sloe Gin, topped up with lemonade and garnished with summer fruits. Sloe Gin and apple is 50ml of the gin topped up with apple juice in a tall glass. The Sloe Royale is a 25ml measure topped with Champagne in a flute, garnished with a single raspberry.
Drunk by: According to Diageo, it's 25 to 35-year-olds, a slightly younger age bracket than the traditional gin drinker.
Money pubs could make: Diageo