Is your glassware carefully selected to enhance the customer’s experience of every drink? Or do you have a motley array of cheap, chipped everyday glasses?
If it’s the latter, you’re missing a trick, according to Heather Lovatt, head of marketing at table-top range manufacturer and supplier Steelite International.
“Your choice of glassware will impact the flavour and appearance of your drink offering, and how your bar is perceived by your customers,” says Lovatt.
“Serving drinks in the right glasses shows you care about the taste of your offer, and about the experience you’re giving your customers.”
Presentation, and that includes glassware, has taken on new significance in today’s market, says Churchill China UK’s business development manager, David Turnnidge. “Going out is no longer a regular weekly occurrence,” explains Turnnidge. “It’s more a once-a-month treat, which means people are looking for a really good night out.
“Even high-street value outlets are offering quality glassware. They know the market is no longer just about price — it’s about the whole experience.”
During the past 12 months, Turnnidge has been seeing more and more pubs — across all bar types, and in all parts of the country — ordering more premium glassware to improve the presentation of their offer, and the quality of serve.
Glassware is a direct extension of the image a pub is trying to convey, according to Gill Head, marketing manager at Artis Glassware.
“Nothing looks more out of place than clunky wine glasses in an upmarket bar, or crystal in a speakeasy environment. And surely a pub can do better than serving spirits in a Paris goblet.
“Thinking outside the box and choosing the right glass for each drink represents a great marketing opportunity and adds value.”
It’s therefore imperative that glassware keeps up with current trends, the latest of which is ‘anything goes’.
Head explains: “The funkier, the better seems to be the watchword for many operators. This is reflected in our Art of Artis 2015 catalogue, with ranges of vintage cocktail glasses, a tiki collection, jam jars, skull glasses and squashed mugs.”
Pubs are now paying more attention to how a drink is served, and as a result customers are enjoying the benefit of more innovative glassware, according to Henry Stephenson, managing director at Stephensons Catering.
For instance, flutes etched at the bottom of the bowl are helping maintain the bubbles for Prosecco lovers, while wider-bowled flutes are being championed by wine experts because they give sparkling wines a better nose.
And the highball tumbler is no longer the go-to glass for trendy gin drinkers.
“Large enclosed bowl-style glasses better concentrate the botanical flavours and aromas and maximise the enjoyment of perfumed drinks,” says Stephenson.
Churchill China UK has come up with quirky, multi-purpose Havana and Toscana glasses to serve gin, as well as cocktails and beer.
“An innovatively shaped glass is an easy way to add a premium feel to your bar and the drinks you serve,” says Churchill’s Turnnidge.
When it comes to craft beer, the right glassware isn’t just for show. It’s essential to quality of serve.
Steelite’s Lovatt says: “Budget, mass-produced glasses can ruin the drinking experience of premium, hand-crafted beers. They’re often made of thicker glass, which causes the beer to warm up too quickly, and go flat.”
Steelite’s specialist IPA and stout glasses are made from fine, non-lead crystal, to ensure the beer stays cool until the last sip. The shape of the glasses draws the aromas of the beer, and helps preserve the frothy head and liveliness of the drink.
When craft beer specialist the Cow in Brighton adds a new product to its list of 35 craft beers from around the world, it routinely orders the glasses to match.
Katy Gibbons is assistant manager at the Indigo Pub Company-owned bar, and a passionate beer aficionado. She believes the right glassware has a different meaning for two distinct groups of drinkers: the connoisseur and the experimenter.
“The connoisseurs know what beer they want, and how it should be served. So serving the right glassware shows you know what you’re doing, and you care about their drink,” she explains. “With experimenters, you want to give them the best experience possible — that’s what craft beer is about.”
The perfect serve is equally important for lager, says Alpesh Mistry, UK customer marketing director at Molson Coors.
“The perfect pint, in the perfect glass, is the sign of a quality product,” says Mistry. “Correctly branded glassware helps ensure that the serve is consistently excellent, and that the drinks look appealing.”
Redesigning and distributing new glassware is key to Molson Coors’ brand strategy. In 2013, the brewer redesigned its Carling glasses to incorporate a nucleated surface at the base. This helps maintain the head of the lager and improve the taste of the drink.
Alpesh adds: “We recommend a 10mm head on each pint because this helps release the aroma of the beer. It also adds a pleasant feel to the mouth.”
Soft drinks rank behind only beer and spirits for on-trade wet sales. But they’re not always given the same focus by bar staff as other drinks, says Dave Turner, trade communications manager, Coca-Cola Enterprises.
That’s why it’s important not to neglect the quality of serve on your soft drinks offer. “Getting the serve right adds to customers’ experience and quality perception,” he says. “It makes them feel they’re getting a special drink — something different to what they’d have at home.”
He says that in much the same way as beer, serving soft drinks in branded glasses can heighten the premium look and feel, adding: “For Coca-Cola, the perfect serve comprises a chilled, iconic contour glass bottle, poured into a branded Georgia green glass filled a third of the way with ice, complete with a fresh lemon garnish.”
Training staff on serving soft drinks, is also important to get the serve right for customers, says Turner. Coca-Cola is launching an online training programme to help licensees maximise their takings from soft drinks. The course is free to Coca-Cola customers and looks at how to enhance presentation, and meet consumer demand for an appealing alternative to alcohol.
By delivering the perfect serve in the right glassware, says Turner, a pub not only increases the likelihood of a further order, but also encourages repeat custom.
Packaging the perfect pint
How a product is packaged is vital in creating a favourable perception of its quality and taste. Food and drink companies spend thousands of pounds focusing on this one aspect of a product and packaging a pint should be no different. Why invest expertise and effort in creating the ‘perfect pint’ for it to be ruined by being served in a dirty glass leading to the
dissatisfaction of customers?
Glasswashers and dishwashers can be the main source of cross contamination within the catering environment, if the right combination of chemicals and temperature is not achieved. Impure water can cause cloudiness and polishing glasses increases germ transfer.
Derek Maher from Crystaltech, an independent company for the installation and servicing of all makes of commercial glasswashers and dishwashers, says: “Many glasswasher detergents are too caustic and cause cloudy-looking etching on glasses or are too weak and leave behind unhygienic residual dirt/proteins, which results in poor head retention — flat beer.
“Many of the major brewers and pub operators have identified this problem and insist that managers renovate their glassware on a regular basis.”
Until recently, this process required the use of chlorine-based powdered renovate chemicals but this involved hours of washing glasses and putting them through twice to remove the powdered residue. The introduction of a liquid renovate has saved many wasted operational hours because it can be connected to the automatic detergent feed of the glasswasher. Maher recommends renovating glasses on a regular basis or continuously to remove protein, beer and wine residues.
He has also developed his own reverse osmosis system, which requires less chemicals at a lower temperature to deliver perfect results and can reduce the need for cleaning chemicals by 70%.
For the licensee who wants efficiency as well as making a conscientious environmental choice, there’s Maidaid’s Evolution series.
The range of under-counter or pass-through dish and glasswashers and are “incredibly energy and resource-efficient and have been designed to reduce water consumption and maximise energy and wash efficiency,” according to the company, which adds “all models in the range are fitted with a break tank and drain pump and are double skinned to reduce noise and for extra heat retention.” Handy stuff.
There are currently eight models in the under-counter range, including four models with an internal continuous water softener and four models of pass-through machines, so picking one that suits your venue needn’t be time-consuming.