Summertime drinks

Cool drinks for the summer

By Jo Bruce

- Last updated on GMT

Is your bar cool for the summer?
Is your bar cool for the summer?

Related tags Soft drinks Gin

With a change in the weather on the horizon, Jo Bruce looks at what drinks are forecast to heat up your sales this summer

With summer — and hopefully some sun at last — fast approaching and a real plethora of sport in the offing, the sales outlook for pubs seems bright.

Along with the likes of the UEFA Euro 2016 football championship and the Rio Olympics, the celebrations for the Queen’s 90th birthday on 11 and 12 June also offers an opportunity for a summer sales boost, with licensees able to capitalise on the atmosphere of national celebration and extended licensing hours already granted for the occasion.

Diageo’s top tips for driving summer sales:

  • Create inspiring serves
  • Quirky vessels don’t have to be expensive — how about pairing jam jars with a summer pitcher?
  • Try putting your glasses in the fridge to keep them cold — and use plenty of ice
  • Always use fresh garnishes
  • Look after your customers on hot days
  • Make water more appealing by adding fresh strawberries or cucumber
  • Offer free sunscreen with every pitcher purchased
  • Run promotions on food — eg, sharing platters to go with pitchers

The key to success on these big trading dates — and throughout the summer — is ensuring you stock up on the brands and styles of drinks consumers are looking for, offer some healthier and lower-alcohol drink options and, like every good boy scout, make sure you are well prepared.

As Tim Bird, owner of Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars, which won Best Drinks Offer and Highly Commended Food Offer at the Publican Awards 2016, advises: “Watch the weather forecast like it’s an obsession, as a change in weather for the better can quadruple your sales, have more staff on… these days you will need someone prepping garnishes all day. So People, Prep and Product…the three ‘P’s and plenty of each.”

Dan Bolton, managing director of supplier Hi-Spirits advises: “Venues should be planning a range that offers maximum flexibility across the most popular formats — shots and shooters, long drinks and cocktails.”

Offering your customers a mix of summer classics as well as innovative new serves is also key.

As Faith Holland, head of on-trade category development at Diageo GB, says: “People are no longer content with standard drink options; they’re looking for new experiences and refreshing long drinks, especially during summer.” Savvy operators will also play to the trend for healthier and lower-alcohol options.

Jim Wrigley, bar operations manager at London’s Bourne & Hollingsworth group, says: “I really like the move towards fresher ingredients, healthier drinks as well as simpler serves, which I think will be big this summer.”

Drinks with lunch

He adds: “We are launching a new range of lunch drinks with healthy ingredients, including a sharing cocktail based on gin served with coconut water; a Tequila cocktail with green juice (spinach, cucumber, ginger and celery) and a non-alcoholic Martini.”

Shouting about your pub’s summer offer is also essential. Why not put on a launch event such as a Grand Garden Opening like the Shepherd & Dog in Fulking, West Sussex, which has teamed up with some of its wine and spirits suppliers to host an event at the end of April.

So what drinks are looking hot for the summer of 2016?

Gin boom continues

The gin boom is set to continue, with increasingly confident gin drinkers more willing to try different mixers and garnishes with their mother’s ruin.

Cheshire Cat’s Tim Bird says: “Gin is having a wonderful renaissance and it has moved on hugely in the past year. Our Cholmondeley Arms now has over 300 gins and at our Gin Fest last year we found the most popular were the ones with a different mixer to tonic and a differentiated garnish, for example Opihr Gin with ginger ale, orange zest and fresh stem ginger.”

Gin cocktails on offer at the pub this summer will include the Cholmondeley Chaser of Hunter’s Cheshire Gin, Chase elderflower liqueur, 1724 Tonic and fresh mint and the Brockmans Blush of Brockmans Gin, Fentimans Rose Lemonade and berries over ice.

The pub will also continue to offer its gin boards of three different gins, three different garnishes and two tonics for £15.

Presentation is also key for Shane Cody, general manager of Mokoko bar in St Albans, Hertfordshire. He says: “We are investing in gin bloomer glasses and focusing more on garnishes, including using the botancials in the gin in the drink, such as juniper berries.”

Among popular gin serves at Manchester’s Atlas Bar is the Mediterranean Mandarin made with Gin Mare, 1724 Tonic, Cointreau and bitters, garnished with mandarin and rosemary. The bar’s owner Elaine Wrigley says: “It is perfect when enjoying a fabulous summer day.”

Gin and elderflower is an increasingly popular serve, and to help operators tap into the trend Funkin has launched an Elderflower Collins mixer, made with Sicilian lemons and British elderflower which can be added to the bar’s gin of choice.

Serve ideas from Fentimans include Wild English Elderflower Fizz of gin, with its English Elderflower garnished with grapefruit and mint, or Rose Garden, created using gin and Fentimans’ Rose Lemonade garnished with strawberries, mint and black pepper.

The company’s Jaala Pickering says: “These serves are great served in a carafe and shared. They are perfect for sitting out in the sun and avoiding the line at the bar.”


Another spirit set to take a bigger slice of the summer action is Tequila with tonic, including serves such as the Patronic, which mixes Patron Silver Tequila with Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water and a squeezed lime wedge, or Tequila with bitter lemon and ginger ale, which also lengthen it well.

Rum should also continue to be a big focus, with new brands such as Captain Morgan White Rum appealing to younger drinkers and rum will also continue its starring role in the Mojito — still the UK’s number one cocktail and a great pitcher serve for summer.

To help publicans keep things interesting for mojito lovers, Funkin has launched a Raspberry Mojito mixer.

Rum is a big focus of bar group Be at One’s summer campaign with Havana Club, with drinks on offer including the Mojito and Daiquiri, along with a treasure map competition to encourage customer interaction.

Whisky also has a role to play in summer drinks, with classic serves such as the Buffalo Trace Mint Julep, a simple to make and profitable drink.

A summer must is of course Pimm’s. As Joanna Segesser, marketing manager at Pimm’s owner Diageo GB, says: “Pimm’s is intrinsically linked to British summertime fun – last year we outsold other speciality spirit brands three-fold. Outlets should further capitalise on this seasonal popularity by not only stocking classic Pimm’s and Pimm’s Blackberry and Elderflower, but also offering our new flavour innovation, Pimm’s Strawberry with a Hint of Mint.”

Belvoir Fruit Farms has added a cucumber and mint pressé to its range which as well as being offered as a soft drink, is also ideal served with Pimm’s.

Other long serve ideas include rising star vermouth with tonic or new Pococello lemon liqueur — a collaboration between Chase Distillery and restaurant operators Pizza Pilgrims — with tonic or as a granita.

Cocktail master

Cheshire Cat’s Tim Bird recommends a Campari spritz as an alternative to the ever-popular Aperol spritz, made with cloudy lemonade or a Dubonnet spritz (apparently the Queen’s favourite aperitif) with an orange slice, Prosecco, lemonade and ice, which could be a winner during Her Majesty’s 90th birthday celebrations.

At Pleased to Meet You in Newcastle, manager Tom Proud is putting on long carafes and sharing coolers as part of the bar’s summer offer, including a citrussy St Clements, made with gold rum, Grand Marnier, Indi Lemon Tonic and orange juice.Other ideas include sambuca, which has moved beyond just the shot and can be enjoyed in a range of summery long serves such as Antica Sambuca in a raspberry spritzer, mixing sambuca with raspberry lemonade, or in an orchard sling of Antica apple with ginger ale.

Summer is the time to go blonde — with lighter style, refreshing, cold beer the key.

Pep up interest by adding seasonal beers from national and local brewers such as Meantime’s German-style Pilsner Meridian Lager available in June and Lucky Hop, a single hop ale available in August.

Publicans should also capitalise on the popularity of cans this summer as a quick and simple serving option.

As Ron Hickey, Bestway Wholesale’s sales director for catering on-trade and licensed, says: “Reduce bottlenecks at the bar with serving ideas that help with trading peaks — ice buckets of bottled and canned beer are all popular with groups of customers enjoying the warm weather.”


Among new can products are Hogs Back Brewery’s Hogstar English Craft Lager in 330ml cans.

Beer mixed with spirits is also a growing trend to tap in to. Heineken has launched a new draught format of its tequila-flavoured beer, Desperados, which can be served in stylish new two thirds of a pint glasses and beer is also increasingly being used in cocktails. As Nick Whitby, brand head bartender at New World Trading Company, says: “The blend between cocktails and beers is really exciting me. A big push has been rolling in the USA using hops as a bitter or citric element within cocktails, something if done right can be brilliant.”

Mokoko Bar’s Shane Cody adds: “I think we are going to see a boost of new style shandies, using beer as a base for cocktails. These are a good way of getting more men into cocktails. Things like Tequila and beer are already big in the USA.”

Fruit cider is the fastest growing sector in the cider market, accounting for 26% of total cider sales and is a key stock again this summer

Fruit Cider

Diageo launched its innovative Pimm’s Cider Cup last April blending Pimm’s No.1 and British cider with a hint of Pimm’s strawberry and cucumber flavours and this looks set to take off even further this summer.

New summer flavours include Carlsberg UK brand Somersby’s strawberry and rhubarb and Bulmers’ new variant wild blueberry and lime.

Stocking local ciders, or making your own, can also add interest to your offer. At the Crown Inn at Woolhope, Herefordshire, winner of Best Cider Pub in the Great British Pub Awards 2015, they make their own range of King’s Cider, including a 100% juice sparkling perry served Kir Royale style in a flute glass with lemon to help bring the fruit out and a raspberry garnish.

Owner Matt Slocombe, who also runs Inncider consultancy to help other pub operators produce their own ciders, says: “Our homemade ciders account for 50% of our cider sales. I think ciders like our sparkling perry are the way forward, with people looking for lower-strength alcoholic drinks and less quantity, but wanting a premium product that they are prepared to pay more for.”

He adds: “People love supporting what the local area does and buying homemade, and it gives us something special to offer our customers.”

For the summer the Crown Inn will also be offering cider punches and cider fruit cups along with cider granitas and lollipops.

Prosecco is a summer essential and licensees can add a premium feel to it by serving it with a fresh garnish such as a raspberry or strawberry.

For a point of difference, at Cheshire Cat sites in Mobberley Cheshire, they serve ‘Mobberlinis’ taking Prosecco and adding half a shot of liqueurs including Raspberry Chambord, St Germaine Elderflower Liqueur and Crème de Cassis and garnishing with raspberries, fresh mint and blackberries respectively.

Owner Tim Bird says: “Don’t dismiss the spritz yet either, this has far more appeal now and is still gathering pace. A popular spritz in Europe is the ‘Hugo’ with Prosecco, elderflower liqueur, soda, lots of ice and fresh mint.”

Old World is a key focus for summer wine lists. As Bestway Wholesale’s Ron Hickey says: “With customers interested in heritage and provenance right across the drinks category, in wine there’s a definite trend toward Old World producers.”

Bird adds: “Verdejo and Albariño deserve more exposure by the glass as they are both great summer wines to have as an aperitif or with fish. From France a good Pinot Blanc from Alsace or a Picpoul from Languedoc offer more than the ‘default to’ Pinot Grigio.”

It may also be worth considering alcohol-free wine, as according to Nielsen research value sales have seen an increase of 44% in the past year, with supplier Eisberg seeing a doubling in sales of its Chardonnay variety, and also launching a Sauvignon Blanc variety.

Operators need to optimise their soft drinks offer this summer to cater for the increasing number of people choosing not to drink or cutting down on alcohol.

As Ed Hartridge, marketing director at Hartridges — which has launched a range of premium sparkling variants including Cranberry and Raspberry and Rose Lemonade — says: “Creating an attractive soft drinks offering is key for pubs looking to draw in punters searching for thirst-quenching, refreshing beverages on warm summer days. This doesn’t have to be complicated — essentially, operators need a core menu of soft drinks that look and taste the part.”

Britvic’s J2O Spritz range can also add excitement to your soft drinks offer, available in apple and watermelon, peach and apricot and pear and raspberry flavours.

Soft Drinks

Frozen drinks are an innovative option, with Vimto offering a range of frozen drinks and free on loan equipment for drinks such as Starslush, a healthier childrens’ iced slush drink made with real fruit juice and Burrrst – a carbonated slush available in Vimto, Blue Raspberry and Levi Roots Caribbean Crush flavours.

Emma Hunt, Vimto head of marketing, recommends: “Maximise sales by installing Noisy Drinks machinery in high footfall areas to encourage impulse buys when consumers need a refreshing way to cool down from the summer heat.”

Hunt also advises licensees to meet the trend for healthier soft drinks. She says: “Have a selection of soft drinks available that provide one of your five a day and also have no-added-sugar options such as Feel Good’s 275ml glass bottle.”

Britvic Soft Drinks’ new multivitamin fruit drink Purdey’s Edge, which blends dark berry juices, sparkling water and botanicals, with each bottle also giving one of the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, will also help operators tap into the increasing consumer demand in soft drinks for vitality options.

Frobishers Juices’ sales and marketing director Steve Carter advises a focus on mocktails. He says: “We have developed a suite of fruity mocktail recipes to help operators expand their repertoire, which can command a higher price point than a single serving of premium juice.

“We recommend pricing mocktails at a minimum of £3 each which, with the addition of a few simple, low cost ingredients and garnishes, could elevate operators’ gross profits by more than 40% per drink.”

Cordial with soda/sparkling water is also an under exploited opportunity, which can offer operators a good return.

To help licensees maximise the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations in June, Belvoir has produced a limited-edition bottle of its Elderflower Cordial, featuring a recipe for a Celebration Punch called Give Peach a Chance.

New distilled non-alcoholic spirit Seedlip offers an interesting option for customers looking for an experience similar to drinking alcohol, with serving ideas including Seedlip and tonic and Seedlip vanilla made with soda and vanilla extract and garnished with an apple slice.

You can also keep your soft drinks exciting for customers with new flavours such as Fentiman’s Sparkling Lime and Jasmine, Belvoir’s Organic Dragon Fruit & Raspberry Pressé or Bottlegreen’s Raspberry Lemonade sparkling presse.

So with an array of new products and serving ideas now available from your suppliers, it is time to get set for summer, so that when temperatures rise — so will your takings.

Related topics Spirits & Cocktails

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