Pubs advised keeping cocktails simple is key

By Rebecca Weller contact

- Last updated on GMT

Bartending is a real skill: the rise in desire for cocktails is expected to continue for quite some time (Credit: Getty/gruizza)
Bartending is a real skill: the rise in desire for cocktails is expected to continue for quite some time (Credit: Getty/gruizza)

Related tags: Cocktails, Top 50 Cocktail Bars, Training

The rise in consumers’ desire for cocktails “will go on for quite some time” but the industry needs to take the art of cocktail making “very seriously”, according to some of the top cocktail bars across the country.

For pubs, the key to competing in the cocktail market is to keep things simple according to Joe Schofield, licensee of number 16 on the Top 50 Cocktails list​, Schofield’s Bar in Manchester.

Schofield said: “There was a real appetite for cocktails when we opened after lockdown.

“I’ve seen a few places do cocktails that might not necessarily be equipped with the right skill sets, they try and over complicate things, so my first tip would be simplicity.

“Look for approachable drinks, tried and tested recipes, make things easy to develop, things like Aperol Spritz, Irish coffees, Old-Fashioned.

“It's easy for people to enjoy a glass of wine or beer at home, but with cocktails, there's such a skill, preparation and all the ingredients which consumers may not want to buy.”

According to licensee of the Gunmakers, in Clerkenwell, London, and founder and CEO of drinks strategy company Sweet and Chilli, Allan Gage, a passion for the art of bartending is an essential instilment in staff. 

Art of hospitality 

While Schofield advised one of the best things pubs could do to learn more about cocktail making was work with spirit brands, for Gage, passion comes from making hospitality an attractive industry to work in.

He said: “The art of hospitality is something a lot of other countries outside of the UK take very seriously, it’s considered a career, whereas here, certainly in pubs, it's not.

“It comes down to making it an attractive industry for people to go into, which if you're paying below living wage, and not receiving any service charge, it isn't, so you're only ever going to attract employees who don't have a passion for what they do; first and foremost, it's got to be worthwhile for the employee. 

“From an employer's perspective, it's a case of inspiring a passion for the art of cocktail making.

“Bartending is a real skill, just like making good food is, making good drinks isn't just about pouring pints and pouring glasses of wine.

“[it’s about] using the right ice, shaking with the right technique, having the knowledge to be able to recommend good spirits and understanding the needs and wants of your guests is all part of it.”

Investing in staff training and good quality, fresh ingredients for cocktails could also provide the highest GP product on the menu for pubs.

Gage added: “Without doubt cocktails would be the highest GP you'll find on a menu, including food, draught beer, and wine, if you get your cocktail offering right, the GP will always be north of 75%.

Rise of cocktails will continue 

“If you get your pricing right and choose your ingredients well, 80% is easily achievable.”

Now could certainly be the right time to refine cocktail offerings as so far this year sales of spirits have continued to rise.

In the week to Saturday 5 February 2022, sales of spirits were up 16% when compared with the same period in 2020 and 3% up the previous week to Saturday 29 January, according to CGA.

Sales of Spirits also saw an increase of 3.6 percentage points in the last quarter of 2021, when compared to the same period in 2019, according to CGA.

Schofield said: “The rise of cocktails is something we're experiencing will go on for quite some time.”

Related topics: Spirits & Cocktails

Related news

Show more