5 of the Best Summer Drinks Trends in 2014

By Jessica Mason

- Last updated on GMT

Sunshine sells drinks
Sunshine sells drinks

Related tags Soft drink

Being obsessed with the weather is a very British thing. However, sunshine sells drinks, so it’s also a big business interest for those who run pubs and bars.According to Met Office advice, “we should plan for a broader range of climatic conditions” and “need to remain prepared for cold winters, but also prepare for hotter summers”. This could mean we are in for a scorcher this year and, if so, we have to be ready.

“With the unreliability of the British weather, the key is to be prepared, so that — if there is a warm spell — pub and bar owners are not caught on the hop,” agrees CWF (Continental Wine & Food) spokeswoman Julie Ingham.

But deciding what to stock can be tricky. To help, we’ve identified five summer drinks trends and some simple serves to help you maximise sales over the warmer months.

Summer Drinks Trend 1: Quintessential Britishness

The trend for authentic, British-made, natural and great-tasting food and drink continues. So says Belvoir Fruit Farms managing director Pev Manners.

“Belvoir’s naturally delicious drinks are perfect for customers seeking something that tastes real and home-made, and their artisanal feel — and quirky 25cl bottles — make them a great addition to any range,” he adds.


According to Hiver Beers founder Hannah Rhodes, the explosion in craft beers emerged from this desire for something home-made and authentic. Hiver is a craft honey beer that launched last September. “As an all-British blonde beer with a subtle honey aroma, but little residual sweetness [the honey is used as an ingredient at fermentation], it’s incredibly moreish and very refreshing, the perfect match for beer-garden barbecues, street-food parties and à la carte dining,” says Rhodes.

Tapping into this trend are brands such as sparkling spring water Qcumber, which plays on British associations with lawn picnics and tea parties, where cucumber sandwiches make an appearance.

“Gently sparkling Qcumber delivers the crisp, refreshing taste of summer and is perfect for licensees looking to offer customers a great new product to enjoy during the warmer weather,” says Graham Carr-Smith, founder of the soft drink. “Created from natural cucumber essence and lightly sparkling spring water, Qcumber contains 100% natural ingredients and is free from artificial sweeteners, colours, preservatives and flavourings. It strikes a balance between being relatively virtuous while seeming indulgent.”


“One of the best things about it is its versatility,” continues Carr-Smith. “As well as being enjoyed as a refreshing soft drink in its own right, Qcumber is also great when served as a mixer, with the G&Q offering a summery twist on the classic gin and tonic combination. Qcumber also works really well as a cocktail ingredient,” he adds.

Not only is the traditional gin and tonic a great sales driver, but many bartenders have been exploring the possibilities of enhancing G&T with new flavours and garnishes to spark customers’ imaginations.
“Simple alterations can produce a compelling and delicious prospect for customers who enjoy seeing a twist on the G&T, such as a Bombay Sapphire Elderflower & Nectarine Ultimate Gin and Tonic,” says Jon Sampson, brand director of prestige and portfolio brands at Bacardi Martini.

Last summer, meanwhile, Thatchers re-corded its best-ever July sales since the company was founded in 1904. Traditionally, cider has been seen as a warm weather drink, and although there are cider styles that are undoubtedly suited to the winter, nothing beats a glass of light, refreshing appley cider when the sun is out.

“Thatchers is about to start its national £6.5m campaign for spring and summer for Thatchers Gold, so this cider will be front-of-mind for consumers, and is definitely one for savvy operators to have on the bar and in the fridge,” says Thatchers MD Martin Thatcher.

Summer Drinks Trend 2: Softs with no nasties

A successful soft-drinks range should include options to meet all tastes; the key thing is to offer a broad variety and avoid repetition of similar styles. That is the advice of Graham Carr-Smith, founder of Qcumber.

“In the summer, many people steer clear of soft drinks that are too sweet or sickly — and something like cleansing Qcumber offers a crisp, refreshing alternative,” he adds.

Cutting out the sugar

Pev Manners, managing director of Belvoir Fruit Farms, says that “all Belvoir’s drinks are made with natural ingredients, with no artificial colours, sweeteners or preservatives — making them naturally refreshing and, with their real fruit juices, more tantalising to the taste buds.”

“Many adults who, for whatever reason, don’t want to drink alcohol, struggle to find a soft drink that suits their palate. Soft drinks can often be too sweet and, therefore, people default to water,” says Mark Young, sales director at Freedrinks, pointing out that “Zeo contains absolutely no artificial ingredients or additives and, with less than 46 calories per bottle, it’s very low-calorie, which is appealing to today’s consumers who are increasingly health-conscious”.

Young points out how “consumers have changed: they know that too much sugar is bad for you, they are suspicious of artificial ingredients within diet products, and they want more choices”. He adds: “Our re-search shows it’s about stocking the right alternatives, and Zeo can offer an appealing compromise as it tastes good and is a healthier option than many fizzy drinks on the market.”

Young laments that there is “a huge opportunity for the on-trade in the soft-drinks category as there has been a lack of real innovation in recent years. We believe publicans across all outlets need to invest the same care and attention into their soft-drinks offerings as they do their spirits, wine and beers”.

Differentiating your offer

In order to maximise soft-drinks sales, licensees should try to offer something a bit different to other outlets and not be afraid to innovate, believes Qcumber’s Carr-Smith. “Outlets ought to apply the same desire to differentiate when it comes to soft-drinks ranges as they apply to menus, events and décor.”


“Consumers are always keen to try something new and interesting when it comes to soft drinks, but they need to be made aware of what’s available. It’s important to use menus, PoS, back-bar displays and staff recommendations to highlight what’s on offer and help steer people away from their default soft-drinks choices.”

Freedrinks’ Young, meanwhile, says: “In the summer, it’s also important to consider the role of PoS and chalkboards for pub gardens; when customers are seated outside, they need visual prompts to let them know what’s available inside.”

Summer Drinks Trend 3: Italian influences

Interest in all things Italian — be it wines or speciality liqueurs — continues to gather speed, particularly with younger consumers and we anticipate that this trend is set to continue throughout the summer and, as such, speciality liqueurs such as Amaretto and Aperol are increasingly being used as a base for summer cocktails or long drinks.

Taking the cocktail route

“Soaring sales look set to continue for Prosecco as a result of what is being called the ‘Spritz effect’,” says CWF (Continental Wine & Food) spokeswoman Julie Ingham, highlighting that, “in Italy, Prosecco is being used to make a cocktail with the Italian liqueur Aperol. Easy to prepare and enjoy, the Spritz’s popularity has spread from the Veneto region to other parts of Italy — and is taking the UK by storm”.


Summer Drinks Trend 4: A flush of blushes & elderflowers

With 84% awareness in the UK market, Echo Falls is the UK’s number three best-selling wine brand. So says Amy White, marketing controller at Accolade Wines. According to White, the “fresh, fruity [Echo Falls] White Zinfandel is the perfect summer rosé — great on its own or with light bar snacks”. 

Also aligned well with the trend for pink drinks is Belvoir Fruit Farms’ Raspberry Lemonade, “which uses real raspberry juice and is fabulous as a mixer with vodka”, says company managing director Pev Manners.

Siobhan Irons, wine buyer at Matthew Clark, recommends that licensees add its Mirabeau Rosé to their lists in time for summer. She adds: “Magnum rosés are going to be a hit this year. Stephen Cronk, at Mirabeau in Provence [in the south of France], makes a truly great wine.” 

But pink blends are not limited to wines and Thatchers Rosé also hits the mark for that sought-after summer hue. It is “a refreshing blush cider that makes a great summer drink — it’s light, sparkling and fruity, and looks great in the glass”, says Thatchers managing director Martin Thatcher, adding that it is “blended and blushed from the rosiest apples here at Thatchers in Somerset”, giving it that all-important provenance.

As red-fruit blends are on the increase, UK sales of Luxardo Maraschino “surged by 43% in 2013, and the trend is rolling into the summer”, says brand ambassador ‘G’ Franklin.


Franklin advises bar staff to pour 25ml Luxardo Maraschino, 5ml Luxardo Sambuca and 20ml lemon juice over ice and top it up with tonic water. “Add a garnish of a thin, long ribbon of cucumber inside the glass, a strip of lemon peel, and sprig of rosemary,” he says.

Belvoir’s Manners believes that scent is just as vital to a product’s mix, especially when seeding it into the summer season. “The unmistakable aroma of elderflower from your glass simply shouts out that summer is well and truly here,” he adds.

“Not only does it make a delicious soft drink but it also matches perfectly with spirits. Add the cordial or pressé to cocktails, or use the pressé as a mixer — it makes a superb alternative to tonic when mixed with gin.”


Summer Drinks Trend 5: Winetails

Another big trend that we could see this summer is wine-based cocktails, which, according to Funkin CEO Andrew King, is another innovation in their pipeline.

“Wine spritzers, as they are known, are appropriate for any time of year, but the summer in particular is a perfect time for pubs to introduce this new serve,”
he adds.

fruit punch

“Wine spritzers have a lower ABV than cocktails, creating additional drinking opportunities such as lunchtime, after-work or a gathering with friends. A house red wine mixed with Funkin Strawberry Lemonade makes for a light, tasty and refreshing cocktail that is easily paired with food”.

Damian Clarke, managing director at Freixenet, recommends “offering a small but tailored range of products to cater for all consumers’ needs, from beers and ciders to sparkling wine."

"Publicans are recommended to offer at least a Cava, Prosecco, Champagne and a sparkling rosé. During the summer, consumers will be seeking a cool drink so it’s important that these are all offered chilled.”

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