Research shows that attitudes to alcohol consumption have changed. New patterns in the way people drink at home and in bars, restaurants and pubs, are starting to emerge.
One of the differences is a willingness to try new things. Perhaps it was lockdown or maybe it’s the excitement of socialising again after such a long time, but we’re all far more adventurous when it comes to what we like to drink, and cocktails are a part of this.
In fact, we’ve all become cocktail connoisseurs in our own right, having had bags of time on our hands to source ingredients and mix cocktails in our own kitchens. Many UK consumers have been busy stocking their home bars and Pinterest is packed full of inspirational images of how to style your bottles, glasses, cocktail ingredients and paraphernalia to recreate your favourite cocktail bar in your living room.
So, with so many of us now expecting so much more from a drinks menu, what can restaurateurs do to ride this emerging wave? Here are our top tips:
Offer the classics, with a twist
The cocktail classics, including the gin or vodka Martini, the Old Fashioned, the Margarita and the Negroni, are still extremely popular and sit happily alongside newer classics, such as the Espresso Martini and the Mojito on menus across the world. However, consumers are far savvier than they were just a few years ago, so offering these classics with a twist will bring consumers them they can’t get at home.
Additions like bitters, botanicals and infusions take these classic recipes to new heights. However, it’s vital not to overdo it when it comes to the ingredients list of the processes involved as this can put off more traditional punters.
Cocktails aren’t just about alcohol
We agree with many in the industry that it’s about time we scrapped the ‘Mocktail’ moniker entirely, as cocktails aren’t all about the alcohol content. With more and more of us preferring lighter drinks, less alcohol and better quality ingredients, low or no-alcohol cocktails are growing in popularity – and not just among the designated drivers!
The alcohol-free spirits industry is just getting started, having grown by a staggering 37% in 2020 alone. More people are appreciating low and no alcohol drinks as part of their downtime routine. Instead of cracking open a beer or pouring a glass of wine at the end of a long day, many of us are now making a no-alcohol spirit and tonic, for example, served in a pretty glass with some fruit. Offering deluxe non-alcoholic drinks that cater to this trend is a must for any contemporary restaurant.
Add spritzes and aperitifs to your menu
A more sophisticated understanding of what makes a great cocktail has also given rise to a greater appreciation for drier, bitter drinks. Cocktails like the Negroni have become more popular, alongside light spritzes, such as Aperol Spritz and Campari and soda.
These drinks have been popular appetite-boosters in Italy for decades and the French have also always enjoyed an ‘apero’ before dinner ‘en terrace’. These European traditions are starting to grow in popularity here in the UK, and it’s easy to see why. Who doesn’t enjoy a delicious drink pre-dinner while the sun sets and the food cooks?
Looks are everything
If you want to appeal to younger consumers, in particular, make sure your cocktails and aperitifs look the part. Social media has influenced how people consume, and some will now select their drink based on its Instagram-worthiness, over its ingredients.
And if you’re looking for a free marketing boost, attracting influencers to your restaurant or bar with incredible looking drinks will really make an impact on your sales.
If you’re keen to scale up or improve your cocktail and drinks menu for the coming summer season, go for it! Digital menu tools, like Leslie’s can help you to update your drinks offering whenever you like, without printing new menus. You can feature incredible, tempting images of your new drinks on your digital menu and remove items at the touch of a button once they have sold out, or change pricing after happy hour is up. Speak to us today about how we can help you to boost your drinks offering. Cheers!