Drinks Masterclass top tips round-up

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Drinks Masterclass: A lookback on top tips and recipes from the series (Credit: Getty/	skynesher)
Drinks Masterclass: A lookback on top tips and recipes from the series (Credit: Getty/ skynesher)

Related tags Spirits Beer Wine Rtd

With the most recent Drinks Masterclass series having come to a close, we’ve taken a look back at some of the top tips and recipes featured.

From RTDs and spirits to wine and beer formats or show-stopping cocktail recipes, we have seen lots of interesting insights in this series’ long-reads.

Standing out from crowd with wine:

Going back to October last year, Unity Wine & Spirits brand ambassador Lee Isaacs spoke to The Morning Advertiser (MA)​ about how operators can stand out from the crowd when it comes to wine.

Isaacs explained many consumers see wine as a “luxury purchase”, meaning pubs should look to instil confidence through education, communication and service.

He said: “If you do what everybody else is doing, you don't stand out from the crowd and you need to stand out from the crowd today. A big mistake I see pubs make is not training staff [on wine].”

In addition, the brand ambassador urged pubs to choose a member of the team that is engaged with the category to be a “wine champion”, tasked with driving sales and incentivised with rewards.

Looking at service, Isaacs also urged pubs to focus on getting “the basics” right, for example not overfilling glasses and ensuring things like ice buckets are ready and properly prepared.

“We live in an age now where consumers want to live the lifestyle and share that via social media, a key part of that is having brands, products and presentation that appeal to the eye”, he detailed.

Isaacs added wine lists were a useful tool for pubs to utilise and make sure they “stand out” and urged operators to try different layouts, including cross menu pairings.

Read the whole wine masterclass here​.

Expanding your bottled and canned beer range:

Earlier this year, Society for Independent Brewers head of comms, Neil Walker, told the MA​ bottled and canned beers were a “low risk” way for pubs to “expand” their offering and “experiment” with new varieties.

Though he added “range” was important, both with styles and formats.

In addition, Walker explained the technology for canned beer has “vastly improved”, with steps taken to reduce the risk of a “metallic taste” often associated with cans in the past.

However, the beer aficionado advised it should “always be poured into a glass to avoid any impact on the flavour”.

Walker also likened the treatment of beer, in any format, to wine, adding not all wines are served “ice cold” and beer shouldn’t be either.

He continued: “You don't need four identical global lagers, you could take one of those lines and serve a local craft beer or a local pale ale or even a local lager, but a good way to test it and see what your customers like is by using bottles and cans.

“It's good to have a range of both [bottles and cans] though, because people do have personal preferences; some people will always prefer to have a bottle while  younger craft beer drinkers increasingly expect it to be in a can.”

Read more on expanding your beer range here​.

RTD trends you need to know:

Back in March, The MA ​​spoke to leaders of the RTD world to find out how operators can tap into growing trends within the segment and boost sales.

Craig Chapman, head of brand at Global Brands, which distributes VK and Hooch, told The MA​​recognising the market potential of RTDs and ensuring availability and a well-curated range was essential for generating sales with younger drinkers.

Though the category can also appeal to those looking for lower ABV serves, he added.

Another key development has been the introduction of draught cocktails, including those from Diageo, which includes Gordon’s Pink Martini and Smirnoff Espresso Martini.

Diageo head of category development Jennifer Runciman explained draught RTD serves offer a great way for operators to ensure “quality and speed of service”.

Runciman further advised the brands on offer in pubs “play a key role” in driving sales, especially as customers continue to be “conscious” of their purse strings.

Moreover, co-founder of the Cocktail Co, which creates bar-quality cocktails in shake-and-serve style bottles, also detailed the price point benefits of RTD serves.

For example, the firm retails its products at £3.20 per single serve bottle with a RRP of £9.95, providing a £5.09 cash profit on each cocktail sold.

Read the full article here​.

Top tips for expanding your reputation for spirits:

Spirits have struggled to recover post-pandemic as consumers increasingly monitor their discretionary spending and alcohol intake, but last month operators and industry leaders shared insights on how to find opportunities within the category.

Diageo head of category development for on-trade Jennifer Runciman told The MA​​ consumers are “drinking less but better”, meaning they are willingly to “spend more money on high-quality” products.

She said: “People are prioritising quality over quantity when visiting venues to treat themselves or celebrate and spirits lend themselves to both these moments as they form the base of high-quality mixed drinks and elevated serves.”

Additionally, the alcohol-free spirits category has also seen growth, Runciman added, with big brands such as Gordon’s and Captain Morgan having launched new products in this segment in recent years.

In addition, the Diageo category head also urged pubs to showcase their range well online and opt for brands that will instil confidence in prospective consumers to drive footfall.

However, growing your reputation for spirits goes beyond the products on the back bar as consumers expectations and focus on quality within the category grows.

Tim Bird​​, owner of Cheshire Cat Pubs & Bars and winner of the best drinks offer ​​at the Publican Awards, told the MA​​ the spirits category was “bigger than it’s ever been”.

Nevertheless, the award-winning publican urged operators to “cut their cloth accordingly” despite the “plethora” of drinks available and find something they are passionate about to specialise in.

He said: “The thing I find with pubs is they don't specialise in something and get the team trained in that.

“You’ve got to cut your cloth accordingly and ask, ‘what are you going to be famous for?’

“When you've made the decision, go to the wholesaler, see what is available and start to build a collection.”

See the full range of tips for building your spirits collection here​.

Cocktail recipes:

This series has also showcased some great cocktail recipes and featured two special edition recipe round-ups for both Christmas​ and St Patrick’s Day.

Soft drinks brand Double Dutch also detailed how to create their take on the Raspberry Smash cocktail, the Raspberry Repair, to help freshen drinks menu. See full recipe here​.

Meanwhile co-founder of Manchester-based cocktail bar, Ben Reilly, revealed the secrets behind the venue’s low ABV Quarter Margarita. See full recipe here​.

In addition, the MA also celebrated International Margarita Day by looking back at some of the most popular Tequila-based recipes​ featured in the Drinks Masterclass series so far.

  • To take part in the next series of The Morning Advertiser's​ Drinks Masterclass email rebecca.weller@wrbm.com​.

Related topics Spirits & Cocktails

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