Shake, stir and serve up more interest, variety and creativity from behind the bar, but make sure you do it for both your drinking and your non-drinking customers. A new generation of successful pub and bar owners are engaging and exciting their customers with a range of ingenious and imaginative drinks, and the best of the bunch aren’t just relying on alcohol to do this. Never before has ‘virgin’ been so in vogue, as non-alcoholic cocktails – or mocktails – become mainstream and consumers increasingly look for a soft drink that makes them feel as special as if they were sipping a traditional Singapore Sling.
We’ve all become more health-conscious. There are now apps to measure sugar levels or to monitor your weekly intake of alcohol. With this, the UK’s relationship with drinking and alcohol consumption is changing… but our relationship with the great British pub doesn’t have to. One in five of us no longer drink alcohol, according to the Office for National Statistics, and that number rises when you consider younger adults or those living in London, where almost one in three are turning away from alcohol. Whether this represents a grand move to teetotalism, or just demonstrates the shift in choices that we make to reflect our busy lives, it would be a mistake to ignore the many potential customers out there that are looking for a soft drink to tempt them.
With an explosion of new and exciting soft drinks on the market, we’re increasingly seeing mixologists go back to basics to create their own breed of soft drink in the form of a signature mocktail, or bar owners looking to premium soft drink brands for inspiration to create a fleet of mocktails for their menus. And these colourful creations are going down a storm, adding a point of difference to a standard soft drinks offering and quenching a non-drinker’s thirst for something a little more memorable when enjoying an evening out.
Scan the soft drinks menu of an increasing number of pubs and bars across the country and you’ll find their own take on non-alcoholic cocktails. These mocktails don’t just mimic, they blend pure, premium-quality fruit juices, fragrant herbs and essences, colourful garnishes and equally colourful names. They’re matched to dishes on the menu, the changing seasons or a particular celebration. They’re no longer just a cocktail with the alcohol removed, but a drink in their own right; they’ve become a considered choice and a special treat for all non-drinkers who don’t resonate with a syrup-pumped carbonate just because they’re having a night off the booze.
So, join the mocktail movement and squeeze more passion into your soft drinks.
Here are my handy mocktail-making tips:
- Make them interesting: Create enticing and eye-catching mocktails that will inspire, demonstrate creativity and make customers feel special.
- Shaken and stirred: Go through the same theatrical ritual you would for a cocktail when making a mocktail. Shake, stir, strain and garnish before serving in the most gorgeous of glassware that’s guaranteed to make a statement.
- Mocktail not mimic: Don’t just think of the non-alcoholic version of a cocktail when developing a mocktail, as these can often be unbalanced and lacking in flavour. Aim to create unique, standalone mocktails that can hold their own at the bar. Try to create a spectrum of flavour profiles from tart to sweet, and consider food matches and how each mocktail fits your customer’s needs throughout the day.
Frobishers Spiced Apple Cooler
Frobishers Apple Juice
5 good slugs of Angostura Bitters
Apple to garnish
Fill a collins or goblet glass with ice, then add the apple juice and bitters. Top up with soda water and garnish with a slice of apple.
Authored by Steve Carter
Steve Carter began his career at Grand Met Brewing straight from university, and has worked within the drinks business ever since. He held senior positions at First Drinks and Taunton Cider before moving to premium fruit juice brand Frobishers in 2009, where he is sales and marketing director.