Valentine's Day offers licensees a perfect opportunity to put on a fun event in February to tempt both couples and singles. Phil Mellows lights the candles...
This may not be the most romantic of thoughts, but Valentine's Day comes at a perfect time for pubs, halfway be-tween Christmas and Easter when we are all looking for an occasion on which to hang an event.
But what sort of event? Your more mature pub customer will be after a table for two, sexy food, a splash of fizz and a candle to share with their long-term partner.
You could put together a package including bubbly, chocs and a red rose — blokes will love it too because they don't have to think.
The Royal Oak in York, for example, has devised a five-course alcohol and aphrodisiac menu to get the romantic juices flowing. Starting with Champagne and oysters, a typical meal might consist of such temptations as deep-fried Roquefort with blackcurrant jus, pork & honeyed fig skewers with saffon rice and sweet chilli sauce, and grilled turbot fillet with baked Jerusalem artichokes, finished off with the pub's homemade rum truffles.
Remember, though, that for the younger element Valentine's is a more social affair, spiced up with saucy cocktails and a chance to meet new potential loves.
Get the tone right
For this crowd RTD brand WKD has come up with a set of rules to help get the tone right, which licensees can display as posters. In typically WKD style, the advice includes: "Card? Check. Perfume? Check. Excuse for being late? Check" or "Man should only go down on one knee to tie his shoelaces" and "Any chocolates you buy her must be your favourites".
In general, however, it is the true spirit of romance that people are seeking and Dan Reuby, Pernod Ricard UK's customer development director, has some more serious advice for licensees.
"Don't promote too many categories," he says. "Concentrate on one promotion and get it right. Decide who is the target for Valentine's Day and focus on them. Think about offering simple cocktails, such as a Daiquiri Twist (see recipe left)."
So the choice is yours — and because Valentine's Day falls on a Monday this year, why not make a weekend of it?
Heck, the Five Bells at Colne Engaine in Essex is hosting a whole 'Month of Love' in February, and let's face it, February wants some loving.
Events with a twist
• If yours is not a heavily food-led pub you might not think Valentine's is for you. But your customers could still be up for a party. The Charles Wells Pub Company suggests the following:
• Host a singles' night.
• Organise a 'Most Unromantic Man' competition and get the local press involved.
• Stage a Valentine's quiz — perhaps an alternative version
if you're sick of all that love and romance.
• Host a Valentine's Day party with music and nibbles for people to celebrate in groups or as friends.
• Or try the approach of the Betsy Smith in Kilburn, north London. On the grounds that the course of true love never runs smooth, the pub will be oiling the wheels on the Saturday with a 'Singles' Soiree'. Those too shy to talk to their fancy can fill in one of Betsy's calling cards and Betsy will do the rest.
• And if that works, the couple can return on Valentine's night itself for a meal and a screening of Breakfast at Tiffany's.
Give your events some fizz
Mumm Champagne suggests the following:
• Create theatre with a Champagne display using bottles, ice buckets and PoS
• Encourage sales by the glass
• Include Champagne on your Valentine's Day menu
• Create a meal deal that includes a glass of Champagne
• Ensure your staff have tasted the Champagne so they know what they're talking about
• Have enough Champagne in stock correctly chilled — three hours in the fridge or 15 to 30 minutes in an ice bucket with half ice and half water
• Suggest a glass as an aperitif as customers arrive
• 20ml honey syrup
• 10ml lime juice
• 40ml Havana Club 7-year-old
• 20g fresh cranberries
• Crushed ice
In a shaker, muddle the cranberries. Add crushed ice and the other ingredients. Blend for 30 seconds. Strain into a Daiquiri glass.