Choosing long mixed drinks for the summer

By Jessica Mason

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Long mixed drinks Rum

Summer drinks to stock
Summer drinks to stock
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can offer a modern take on a classic. Drinks are no exception to this, and licensees have plenty of options when it comes to reviving old favourites this summer.

The classics
Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE) and Diageo GB are continuing to drive their long-term, joint initiative to help the on-trade create perfectly served, long mixed spirit drinks all the year round, following a successful promotional campaign spanning the past three years.

“With this initiative the companies continue to advise on perfect serves of traditional spirits and mixers, such as Gordon’s and Schweppes Tonic Water, and Pimm’s and Schweppes Lemonade,” says CCE trade communications manager Dave Turner, suggesting these serves are a good fit for traditional pubs and bars.

Likewise the Hooper’s range of alcoholic brews from Global Brands, which are 4% ABV and include Ginger Brew, Cloudy Lemonade and Dandelion & Burdock are all classic flavours and also suitable for traditional pubs.

Hooper's classic drinks

“The range is designed to be served over ice in a pint glass for a contemporary, refreshing drinking experience, and we will be investing in a British traditionalist approach to grow brand awareness with consumers throughout this summer,” says Global Brands marketing director Simon Green.

Reworking the favourites
Another classic drink, such as limoncello, is ideal for warm afternoons and outdoor drinking. But as Craig Chapman, brand manager for Luxardo at Cellar Trends, points out, its Luxardo Limoncello is a versatile drinks option.

“For special occasions, Luxardo Limoncello can also be mixed with Prosecco as a welcome drink for a group,” adds Chapman.

Pour 15ml into a chilled Champagne flute, top up with chilled Prosecco and stir. Easy.

So, using premium brands in a simple drinks menu is a good way to encourage consumers to spend more. For instance, a Brugal Santo Libre (Brugal Añejo Rum, topped up with lemonade and finished with a squeeze of fresh lime, pictured left) or Harveys Bristol Cream over ice with a slice of orange are the simplest of serves.

“The fresh citrus tang helps to bring out the taste of candied orange, complementing the dried fruit and toasted almond flavours of Harveys [in the second drink serve],” agrees Maxxium UK on-trade sales director Jim Grierson.


Indeed, a fresh new twist on classic drinks can revive interest in many brands.

“The popularity of long-style drinks served during the summer has increased consumer demand for more variety and choice, seeing a flood of new serves with an innovative take on old favourites,” says James Wright, marketing controller at Halewood International.

By using a range of premium cordials, bars and pubs can get creative and design a completely new drink to draw in customers. Belvoir Fruit Farms produces a range of fruit-based cordials and pressés that are made using “the finest, freshest ingredients with no added nasties”, says Belvoir Fruit Farms managing director Pev Manners.

“They make ideal summer mixers for long mixed drinks and serve as a great alternative to the typical cola, lemonade, tonic or bitter lemon. Give your customers a change by offering jugs of Pimm’s, for example, but mixed with Belvoir’s Elderflower Pressé instead of lemonade — a mouth-watering British flavour combination.” For premium establishments with a mature clientele, “the classic elderflower mojito is the perfect long mixed drink for the summer months”.

With a dash of fragrant Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Cordial, Cuban rum, sugar, lime and plenty of fresh mint leaves, this refreshing recipe can be served as a long cocktail or in a jug for sharing among a group of customers.

Manners says that another popular twist on a classic is Belvoir’s Long Raspberry Cosmo, which is “made with citrus vodka, Cointreau, orange bitters, lime and a good slug of Belvoir Fruit Farms Raspberry Lemonade Pressé for a fruity zing. Add a touch of drama and a tempting aroma to this long cocktail by serving with flamed orange zest, which can be done in front of the consumer for an eye-catching showpiece”.

Drink envy: some bright ideas
Consumers often buy interesting drinks and cocktails when they see others drinking them, so making them look appealing and vibrant can further boost sales.

“Simple garnishes such as fresh mint, strawberries and citrus can help to enhance the aroma and vitality of a drink, and can be easily executed in any type of establishment,” says Funkin’s CEO Andrew King.

Within the Luxardo range of flavoured sambuca, new Luxardo Sambuca with Mint, which is being launched this month, has a vibrant light blue colour and, of all the Luxardo releases to date, is said to be the most intense in colour and flavour.

“Pour 25ml over ice and top up with tonic water — this is a whole new serving method for sambuca,” says Cellar Trends’ Chapman, adding that the interest it can create would encourage sales.

Global Brands’ Green says that “the VK flavours, Reef and Hooch Alcoholic Lemon Brew are increasingly being used in the on-trade as a base for eye-catching, refreshing share serves that create theatre
in licensed venues and drive volume and GP for customers”.

Reef pitcher

He adds that “the Corky’s range also adds great flavour and great colour to a range of mixed drinks serves”, and advises that, although “summertime might be the key time for brightly-coloured pitchers and fishbowls, share serves can be used effectively throughout the year”.

Fast drinks service
Funkin produces cocktail mixers that provide a simple way to make long mixed drinks.

“With minimal training required and just the addition of ice and a spirit, they take only 10 seconds to prepare and serve,” says the company’s King, who recommends that “on-trade venues that are not normally associated with cocktails should look to add Funkin cocktail mixers for a simple, yet high-quality cocktail solution”.

The one-litre mixer range enables pubs and bars to capitalise fully on the potential of the pitcher cocktail offering and covers the most popular cocktail mixers, including: Funkin Strawberry Daiquiri, Funkin Mojito, Funkin Cosmopolitan, Funkin Strawberry Woo Woo, and Funkin Margarita.

Pitchers, fishbowls, kettles and traffic cones
Serving cocktails and quality mixed drinks can help broaden a bar’s drinks offering and customer base, setting them apart from the outlet down the road, while long mixed drinks and pitchers tend to offer the biggest profit opportunity throughout the summer.

“Diageo’s four leading brands — Smirnoff Vodka, Gordon’s Gin, Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum and Pimm’s — served in a pitcher or similar sharing vessel, combined with one or more mixers and the right amount of ice, is an effective way to drive overall spend per head,” says Andrew Leat, on-trade category manager at Diageo GB.

Pitcher serves work extremely well with summer drinks, as consumers can take them to their table to share with friends.

“Pitchers are a simple way of upselling and allow consumers to enjoy the sun longer, instead of having to queue at the bar to buy more drinks,” says Funkin’s King.

The ongoing customer support package from Global Brands includes branded fishbowls, pitchers, glassware, cocktail menus and barware, “because presentation is important for incremental sales and today’s consumers expect a branded, more premium experience when it comes to long drinks and cocktails”, says the company’s Green.

VK Fishbowl

But sometimes presentation is not just about raising the game, but raising a smile too. As part of the WKD Weekends — Bring it On! campaign, the drinks brand has just created a new range of four cocktail pitcher recipes for the spring and summer bank holidays, aptly named: the WKD Long Weekender (WKD Red, Disaronno, lemonade, ice); WKD Cheeky Day Off (WKD Blue, Port, lemonade, ice); WKD Lie In (WKD Purple, vodka, lemonade, ice); and WKD Play Day (WKD Iron Brew, Drambuie, lemonade, ice).

“Last year, tens of thousands of innovative jug-style WKD cocktail kettles were distributed to WKD stockists and they have proved a real hit with consumers while building sales for venues — one particularly happy licensee reported that sales of WKD trebled after introducing the cocktail kettles,” says Debs Carter, marketing director of WKD.

She points out that “the emergence of the popularity of the RTD cocktail is probably one of the biggest trends we are seeing among young adult consumers. RTD cocktails offer good incremental margins, there’s the in-outlet theatre that consumers just can’t get at home, and they also enable bars to create their own signature cocktails, which create a point of difference”.

To help pub and bar licensees make the most of this opportunity, SHS Drinks has created a series of WKD cocktails, used digital technology to develop an interactive WKD cocktail app and produced innovative WKD cocktail servers — eye-catching, kettle-shaped cocktail pitchers were made available to on-trade customers last year and its new traffic cone-shaped cocktail container will have a particular appeal for students when it rolls out this summer.

Carter says that 18 to 25-year-olds are always on the lookout for something new and, in order to maintain interest among these key consumers, SHS Drinks keeps on adding to the WKD cocktail recipe collection, regularly introducing new seasonal and themed recipes for key events.

The WKD Tennis Ball — 2 x 275ml bottles of WKD Iron Brew, 35ml of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum and 100ml of lemonade mixed together in a pitcher or WKD cocktail kettle — for example, has also been developed with the summertime in mind.

Sourz Mango

There are plenty of launches in the (hopefully) warmer months, with Sourz Mango among them — the first permanent new flavour in the range for two years. It was created after 54% of Sourz’s 505,000-strong Facebook community last year voted for it as a suggested flavour in an interactive poll, showing the demand for new taste sensations is still strong.

Getting by with a little help from your friends
In a challenging market, there are some companies that do everything they can to support operators with new serving suggestions, targeted PoS, and marketing support. Hi-Spirits is one of these, so ensure you take note of the help on offer and stir up a few new drinks.

“Antica will be promoted this summer with a neck label on all bottles featuring serving suggestions for the most popular flavours, plus promotional support for branded Antica pitchers and glasses.
“As well as the Buffalo Mojito, promoted long-drink serves for Buffalo Trace this year include the very simple Buffalo & cola, the Boilermaker (beer and a Bourbon), and the Buffalo mint julep,” says Jeremy Hill, chairman at Hi-Spirits.

PoS, including bar runners and table talkers, is available for both Buffalo Trace and Antica. Branded Antica glassware and pitchers, and Buffalo Trace glassware and julep cups, are also available.
This summer, Diageo also wants to help operators maximise profits by creating ‘The Perfect Serve’ and has produced toolkits that are available to the on-trade. Each kit includes a host of suggested serves, together with branded pitchers, dripmats, glassware and step-by-step information on how to serve the perfect spirit — all of which will help ensure operators’ profits are not a washout this summer.
“The Perfect Serve toolkits will be available on a first-come-first-served basis. To order one of these for your pub or bar, simply visit,” Leat recommends.

Flavours of the moment
So which flavours of long mixed drinks are the ones to back this year? And how will you incorporate them on to your menu?

Funkin’s King says that “elderflower, strawberry, mango and citrus” are good seasonal flavours and recommends pubs “try serving Strawberry Pimm’s by mixing Pimm’s with Funkin Strawberry Daiquiri”, or add a lychee or strawberry purée to mojitos. “Passionfruit is also proving to be an important flavour this year and is very popular when mixed with margaritas or mojitos,” he adds.

Aperol Spritz

Alternatively, the Aperol Spritz is becoming a cult apéritif. It has an unmistakable orange hue from three types of orange, grapefruit, and hints of rhubarb, along with an array of herbs, roots and spices.
“Orange and apple are always popular flavours,” adds Frobishers’ sales and marketing director Steve Carter.

He adds that creative pub barmen could always use the combination of berries in Frobishers Bumbleberry to great effect.

“For example, it mixes well with rums, bringing out the strawberry in the four-berry blend, or sits perfectly with fizz and ice to create a deliciously fruity long drink that’s perfect on a summer day,” says Carter.

He adds that Frobishers launched Fusion — a blended juice drink with the strapline ‘get fruity’ — late last year. It has the same qualities as the rest of the Frobishers range; it’s never made from concentrate and has no sugar, flavourings, colourings or other additives.

Spirits just got clever
Bourbon is another good example of a drink that mixes well. Red Stag by Jim Beam, infused with black cherry, was the first flavoured Bourbon to hit UK shelves, followed by Jim Beam Honey and Devil’s Cut.
The former, the UK’s first-ever honey-infused Bourbon, made with four-year-old Jim Beam Bourbon whiskey and slowly infused with natural honey, was launched last March.

Maxxium’s latest innovation from The Famous Grouse is Ginger Grouse, which is designed to appeal to a younger consumer group (aged 25 to 40). For Maxxium, it’s all about keeping the brand relevant for a new and younger demographic and adjusting it to the drinking occasion.

Ginger Grouse launched last September across 700 on-trade outlets north of the border in bottle format, and into another four bars on tap throughout Scotland, plus all major regional on-trade wholesalers.
An in-bar sampling campaign was simultaneously rolled out with a regionalised radio campaign and it will be promoted on television during the summer.


“Lamb’s Navy Rum has recently launched a range of new cocktail serves, including a variety of long-style drinks,” says Halewood International’s Wright.

“The Lamb’s Swizzle and Navy Punch are long-style serves that offer more adventurous consumers a dark spirit option with a twist such as cranberry bitters with blackberries and a mint sprig garnish. “One of Lamb’s Navy Rum’s new long serves, the Rum Runner, mixes the dark rum with pineapple juice, fresh lime juice and vanilla liqueur.”

Wine has a place
While many licensees focus on spirit-based long mixed drinks there is a growing clamour among consumers for wine-based cocktails. Not only do they add interest, but boost profits too.

The new range of fruit wines from Harvest Fruits combines a lower ABV of 10% with the benefit of consumers being able to enjoy the drinks in a variety of ways.

The line-up initially comprises three flavours, “Fruits of the Forest Wine — an original recipe inspired by classic summer fruits including raspberry, cherry, blackberry and blackcurrant; Orchard Fruits Wine — featuring apple, pear and peach; and a Cherry Wine — one of the classic fruit wines of all time,” says Continental Wine & Food marketing spokeswoman Julie Ingham.

The upshot is that there’s plenty of room for experimentation. So many brands out there are offering up their own version of a Pimm’s and lemonade and seeking bigger listings to showcase how their drinks are interesting and refreshing alternatives for consumers. Whether your outlet uses a much-loved classic or showcases something new, it’s almost certain all of them will be ready for the summer.

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