Beat the chill with a great winter cocktail line-up

By Alice Leader

- Last updated on GMT

Seasonal sips: exploring cocktail trends for winter
Seasonal sips: exploring cocktail trends for winter

Related tags Cocktails Winter

Cocktail drinkers visit the on-trade 25% more than non-cocktail drinkers, according the CGA analysis.

Therefore, operators may want to mix up their cocktail menu to satisfy winter trends.

A hot buttered Bourbon, a cranberry mulled wine, a Tequila hot chocolate could be the way to set off the winter season.

But, Nick Whitby, founder of Tales & Tender – a consultancy and events business – says the key to deliver seasonal favourites consistently is by “making them scalable at the forefront”.

Whitby said: “It’s easier to create one belter every few hours but realistically you’re going to have to make a few hundred or thousand because you're going to be running them for at least four to six weeks over the Christmas period.

“So, it's crucial that they can be batched and be ready to be served all day long.”

According to the CGA Mixed Drinks Report 2019​, the average customer has four cocktails serves they will choose from, yet 59% of consumers have a favourite they plump for if available.

Reaching into grandad’s cupboard

Whitby said there has been a significant increase in the use of sherry in cocktails this season.  

“Sherry in cocktails gives a rich, warming and slight spice to the drink. On those winter nights, everyone wants a glass of red, so it’s a way to introduce a similar mouthfeel and flavour to the drink.

“It’s like reaching into your grandad and grandma's drinking cupboard that's not been open for years – that's where you find the old bottles of sherry and brandy.”

Tales & Tender’s first project was working with Manchester Gin on its new site at Watson Street, Manchester, designing, creating and delivering the Three Little Words bar. There’s a cocktail on the menu called Making Moves that uses Pedro Ximinez sherry.

Whitby continued: “Vermouth is commonly used to add texture or bind flavours together. Our natural curiosity delves us to the discovery and experimentation of similar products, such as sherry and port.”

But while sherry tiptoes in, it looks like vodka is on its way out.

According to the CGA report, more classic vodka cocktails are losing share of serve, such as the Woo Woo, Sex on the Beach and Cosmopolitan.

Whitby said it is the cocktails tailored for winter that people want at this time of the year.

Let the liquid do the talking

Some 9m consumers are enjoying cocktails when they go out, making this one of Britain’s fastest growing drinks categories within spirits, according to CGA analysis.

However, tastes are moving away from fruity, sweet drinks and people want the flavour of the spirit to come through.

Whitby said: “In the past, a key topic with a lot of people is ‘Instagrammable’ drinks and this has sometimes resulted in more extravagant garnishes and interactive drinks.

“But now, I think there is more focus on making sure the liquid that is in the glass can stand up on its own without the garnish.” 

Consumers are looking for cocktails with fewer ingredients that still deliver a high level of depth and complexity.

Whitby added: “Keep it simple and let the liquid do the talking.”

Making Moves cocktail recipe

Manchester Gin (Signature)    37.5ml

Amaro Montenegro                    15ml

PX Sherry                                      15ml

Pear Brandy                                  15ml

Creole Bitters                                2ml

Stir down over ice and strain into a chilled Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with a Bourbon-soaked cherry.

Exploration coming into play

While cocktail operators have seen consumers increasingly crave more obscure flavours such as turmeric, tarragon and rose, there's even been sight of mushroom cocktails spotted on menus.

Whitby explained: “People are looking more into ingredients that are used in culinary dishes. Much like the simplicity and presentation of a drink, it drives you to be more focused on what goes into that drink which then drives you to be more creative.

“Certain things that may not work in a meal, actually work really well in a drink because it opens different levels of flavour. 

“People want cleaner looking, cleaner tasting drinks.”

Related topics Spirits & Cocktails

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