Summer Sizzlers

Finally it is heating up, so this month we take a look at some of the coolest brands that you should have on your back bar or in your fridge. Rather than give you our opinion, Lynn Kelly asked some top bartenders and bar managers for their recommendations. Find out what they had to say.

Matthew Wakeford, Bar Manager, Hotel Missoni, Edinburgh.

“Aperol continues to be a popular choice with our guests, and is probably the drink that has seen the biggest increase in the last year or so. There has been a huge push on Aperol Spritz recently, as seen with the Aperol Garden on George Street during the festival last year. Being an Italian aperitif it’s very popular with us – we’re actually doing an Aperol Sour this summer. “Gin also continues to be the ‘in’ drink at the moment – Hendrick’s is probably the most asked for by brand as it so summery and fresh with cucumber, although we sell a lot of Tanqueray as it’s our house pour. Gin cocktails are popular as well as a simple  G&T, which is our most popular spirit and mixer by far.”

Alan Gray, General Manager, The Richmond, Glasgow

“I predict that gin will once again become even more popular this summer with more and more customers asking for specific brands. Four customers came in the other night and all asked for Caorunn Gin, and this brand in particular has been more and more popular over the last month or so. We have been serving it with different garnishes including apple so perhaps people are buying into the fact that it is an alterative serve offering something different. “Flavoured cider is also big here, especially with customers who are ordering food. Males are happy to order a flavoured cider, and Rekorderlig is by far the most popular here. On a sunny day we can’t stock enough in the fridge. Another popular beer that people are ordering by name is Estrella Damm. We opened with Budvar but since we got Estrella Damm put in, it is flying out the door. Customers engage with the POS and bar font, it is instantly visable. I think it will continue to be a popular choice for the summer months.”

Mikey Miller, Head Bartender, Ricks, Edinburgh

“I see the gin category going from strength to strength, with brands like The Botanist (from Bruichladdich on Islay) being called for. Most of its botanicals are grown on Islay and people are looking more towards local, homegrown and artisanal produce. This is also true of the craft beer movement, with people starting to enjoy the amazing brewing talent we have on our home turf as opposed to the continental lager powerhouses that usually dominate the market, with brands like Williams Bros and Cairngorm Brewing likely to keep growing, helped by being stocked in supermarkets giving them extra exposure to consumers.”

Richard Burniston, Manager, Strata Bar, Glasgow

“I think craft beers are becoming more and more popular, and if we have decent weather this summer they will just keep growing. Blue Moon is a favourite here, as I think beer drinkers like to experiment with new flavours, and it is also popular with females too. I’m also seeing more people ordering gin at the bar rather than a vodka or rum. Caorunn Gin introduced the idea of garnishing the serve with a slice of apple and that has gone down extremely well with our clientele. Our customers want a trendy, fashionable drink which needs to look, and taste good. Hendrick’s led the way with the slice of cucumber, so Caorunn have just followed on from that and consumers always like to try something a bit different from the norm.”

Gordon Purnell, Bar Manager at The Voodoo Rooms, Edinburgh

“I’m seeing a real buzz about Italian beers at the moment, particularly with Birra Morretti which has a distinctive flavour and is a good alternative to Peroni. Another beer that is proving popular, which I think will become bigger over the summer, is Sol. I think this is hitting the spot because it is refreshing and something different but the ABV is still high. If we get the weather this could be a great summer beer.”

Fraser Walker, Bar Manager, Bath Street Palomino, Glasgow

“Obviously I’m expecting gin to become popular during the summer. It is always a nice alternative to darker spirits and consumers start to notice the POS and adverts, then they ask for it at the bar. Sipsmith Gin is popular here and I think it will get even more popular over the summer. The challenge for the staff is to create something different and come up with new serve ideas.”

Callum Murdoch, Bar Manager, The Candy Bar, Edinburgh

“For me the big one over the summer is the flavoured cider category, especially for brands like Rekorderlig and Kopparberg. The flavoured cider market just keeps growing and more and more customers are asking for it at the bar. Females are opting for a flavoured cider instead of a wine, and the guys like to experiment with different flavours. They are also great brands to pair with food.”

Robin Honhold, Manager, Bramble Bar, Edinburgh

“I see more and more customers taking an interest in the craft beer market. The best selling brands here are The Kernel and brands from the Williams Bros. Consumers are becoming more interested in what they are drinking now and who is making it. Therefore they are becoming more selective. The craft beer market is new to some customers and that gets their attention, along with the fact that it makes a great pairing with food. Also we like the whole sale pitch here which allows the staff to talk about the background of the beer and who makes it. It is so important to have knowledgeable staff.”

Russell Downie, Head Bartender, Tonic, Edinburgh

“I predict that even more people will be drinking gin this summer compared to last year. Tanqueray is popular here, and we are seeing a lot more Tanqueray reps which is helping with POS and serve ideas. We work to get as much flavour out of a gin serve as possible and try to experiment with different ideas. It is also a good way to interact with customers and work with them to create their perfect serve.”

Josh Ramsay, General Manager, Treacle Edinburgh

“As usual at this time of year customers are looking for light refreshing drinks. I’m noticing more people asking for Aperol by name, and requesting Aperol with tonic or Aperol and ginger ale which is also becoming popular. The presence that they had at the last Edinburgh festival has obviously paid off as customers are asking for this brand by name.” “Gin is always going to be massive over the summer months but I’m definitely noticing that gin drinkers are getting more knowledgeable and know exactly how they want it served. I think this is mainly because they are more interested in how drinks are made and where they come from. Two brands that came out last year, Sipsmith and Portobello Road are popular here and customers are quite specific about how they want it made, asking for a lemon garnish and not lime. Not only are customers asking for a gin by name, they are also requesting garnishes too. With brands like Tanqueray and Martin Miller Gin people have been asking for grapefruit garnishing and also ginger ale as a mixer.”

Category: Features
Tags: Aperol, Beer, Birra Moretti, Blue Moon, Botanist, Caorunn, cider, gin, Kopparberg, Sipsmith, Summer, Tanqueray, The Kernel