Spirits Week - In association with Diageo

Cocktail-led outings 'much, much more of a reward'

By The Morning Advertiser

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Diageo, Cocktails, Spirits, Drinks, Training, Sales, Finance, Cocktail, Bar

To introduce Spirits Week, brought to you by Diageo, drinks expert Douglas Blyde distils some of the key trends and new consumer behaviours shaking up the spirit and cocktail categories.

As spirit and cocktail-led bars bounce back from an "annus horribilis", leading drinks aficionado and writer Douglas Blyde reflects that locked down pub goers plumped for "cooler, longer serves", taking more time to ponder drink choices rather than just rushing through drinks cabinets.

"They were yearning for draught beer and simplicity, and in terms of the spirits they wanted something cool and little bit more fulsome, something to wile away the hours with," he tells The Morning Advertiser (MA).

He adds this also manifested itself in home bound drinkers taking more time to educate themselves on spirits, dusting off cocktail shakers and taking to social media to share "cupboard cocktail" creations, as well as ordering takeaway drinks kits from the on-trade.

"I think they've looked beyond just standard G&Ts," Blyde says. "Where possible they've opened books, they've bought books, books have been on the shopping list.

"Apart from text in a traditional sense, I think they've been watching Instagram, Youtube, interacting with those."

What's more, Blyde explains that, since returning to the on-trade, he's enjoyed observing and interacting with expert cocktail professionals at work on his return to the on-trade, witnessing "endless experimentation" from staff, and seeing a new wave of interest in provenance from those on the other side of the bar. 

"People are more aware of the value of their money, their budgets, and how they're going to apply those to reward themselves,” he says. “Of course, that goes into spending when they go out, which I think will be now much, much more of a reward than it's been traditionally.

"The reward – going out, sense of adventure – every time they go out is a form of date night, enjoying more than ever seeing a professional at work.

"Because I'd been playing around with cocktail kits perhaps more than ever at home, I want to interact with the professional and ask, 'why are you doing that?'” he continues. “'What's in that jar? 'What's that bottle up there?' – though perhaps taking a bit too much of their time but really enjoying the experience."

In terms of drinks trends to potentially define the "year of the terrace", Blyde forecasts that customer clamour will see operators dive into warm cocktails and adds that he believes consumers will - initially at least - remain closer to home.

"I've actually seen a minor migration of talent from the likes of Green Park to Surbiton – a few moments from my door. I've actually seen people move to the suburbs to pursue new consumers.

"Having said that, I do think London is going to come back roaring and people are going to have missed the bright lights and the energy."

Diageo’s team of drinks experts have come together to share top tips and advice this summer in preparation of reopening and share how to maximise trading through a cocktail category worth £624m[1]​​​​. 

There are many ways to do this, from encouraging exploration to focusing on key occasions. ​Download the report​ now to find out more.​

[1]​​ (CGA Mixed Drinks Report Q1 2020​ – Volumetric sales data)​​

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

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