Finalists in the Great British Pub Awards’ Spirits Pub of the Year category, sponsored by Diageo, descended on the spirit giant’s Customer Collaboration Centre (CCC) in London this month to showcase their cocktail-making skills.
Each of the five finalists created their own brunch cocktail to show how operators can tap into the rising brunch trend and offer alternatives to the Bloody Mary.
Jess Hunter, assistant manager from the Queen Charlotte, Windsor, Berkshire, created a plum, clove and dark rum long hottie, which was aimed at autumn and winter brunch occasions.
She said: “I wanted to create something nice and warming that people could drink instead of a hot cup of tea or coffee with their brunch, but was just as comforting.
“There’s hot water, plum juice, fresh ginger, cloves and dark and spiced rum.”
Tom Proud, general manager from Newcastle’s Pleased to Meet You, meanwhile, created a brunch twist on the classic Manhattan by using beetroot juice and smoky flavours.
“It’s quite warming and there are vegetable notes – like you have in a traditional Bloody Mary – from the beetroot juice. It’s definitely a breakfast cocktail.”
Arron Smallman, brand head bartender at the Trading House, central London, created a tequila-based drink with smoked sea salt, green tomato juice and citrus flavours.
“I went for the green tomato juice because it’s a safe colour and looks like it will taste sweet,” he said.
Meanwhile, Harry Hazelwood, assistant general manager at the Waterlane Bar & Restaurant, Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, used carrot juice as his base ingredient.
Hazelwood then balanced the tequila-based drink with celery bitters to create a light and refreshing alternative to the Bloody Mary.
He said: “Tequila is a great spirit and you can do anything with it. It works really well with the carrot juice.”
Finally Luke Healey, brand manager at Bar Spoken, in Exmouth, Devon, created a Japanese twist on the Bloody Mary by spicing celery juice, plum juice and vodka with wasabi paste.
It is important that operators experiment with making drinks such as these explained Alex Percival, Diageo customer consultant and director of bar events consultancy Tin & Glass.
“Brunch is massive in the industry at the moment – it’s a really big trend. It’s a real consumer event and the next big trends in brunch cocktails are going to come from bars and bar staff.”
One in three customers say they go out for breakfast or brunch at least once a week, he added. While 47% of those asked said they go out every weekend for brunch.
Rob Poulter, on-trade consultant at Diageo’s CCC, said: “We have seen in the food category over the past 10 years that people are approaching it differently and things have completely changed – they want to compare ingredients and pair them with other flavours, like in drinks.”
Meanwhile, the winner of the Spirits Pub of the Year will be announced at the Great British Pub Awards at a glittering event at the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane on 5 October.
On the same night one of the spirits finalists will also be crowned the winner of the cocktail of the year. The finalists were tasked with making locally inspired cocktails at the CCC earlier this month.
Judging for the winner will take place at the Future Trends: Spirits event in London on 3 October. Read more later to find out which cocktails will be judged and how you can get involved in the process.