The Mixologist Recommends
Interest in cocktails has never been greater. With this in mind, in every edition Take Stock will bring you the latest tips and trends from the experts. Callum Pates shares his top tips for stocking and selling vodka…
What to stock?
Think base, upsell and premium. The average on trade outlet stocks four vodka brands* – one standard and three premium. For most outlets a recommended range could consist of Smirnoff Red as a house pour with an upsell to Absolut Blue – in more up market accounts you’d go for a better house pour. The extended range could then include the likes of Grey Goose and Belvedere. This clear pricing ladder can help guests trade up to more premium brands when they want to treat themselves or if they feel that a premium brand is better suited to their drinks choice. If you bear in mind that Smirnoff is the top selling vodka brand and Absolut is the number two and the top selling premium vodka, then you can’t go far wrong. Stocking vodkas like Grey Goose and Belvedere helps you to increase the average price of your drinks and shows you’re serious about the vodka category.
Tricks for upselling?
Upselling is about giving consumers the opportunity to try out premium spirits to enhance their experience. Having the knowledge and confidence to talk about your products is key. Being personal and personable is, for me, the most important factor in upselling. Building individual relationships with each guest and establishing their palate, habits and limitations can give you the ammunition needed to offer something well suited to the customer. As someone once said to me on the subject of hospitality, ‘the experience is king’.
What’s the best way to show customers what’s on offer?
Visibility is key to not only show that you sell cocktails, but to also highlight your great range and specialist serves. Cocktail of the month boards, cocktail menus on tables or even a category focus such as gin or vodka menu with key serves are all great ways to activate in the on trade. However the best POS that on trade outlets have are their staff, with 55% of cocktail drinkers saying they like to ask bartenders for advice on what to try. They can help educate guests with brand or serve knowledge as well as helping them choose their perfect cocktail!
Use simple descriptives to tell customers about each vodka’s characteristics
The number one influence for cocktail choice is taste. This may seem obvious but helpful cues on a short simple description can go along way. If you are using premium spirits it is important to also list the brands in the descriptions so that guest can justify spending the higher price tag a cocktail has (compared to a spirit mixer), as 86% of consumers say they are much more likely to try a cocktail if they have heard of the spirit brands included. In terms of a description on the vodka brand itself, the location is important, as well as how it is made and its recognisable flavours. The Swedish vodka Absolut, for instance, is one source. This means that all the ingredients used to make the vodka are sourced and distilled locally, making a better vodka and reducing carbon footprint.
Use flavoured vodkas correctly
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – substituting flavoured vodkas in unflavoured classics such as vodka and tonics, vodka and lemonade/coke, and vodka, lime and soda for example. Absolut Pear and cloudy apple juice is a personal favourite!
Create top vodka cocktails
Understanding the purpose of each component in the drink is a prerequisite. For any mixologist out there seeking to create a cocktail using a flavoured vodka, as with creating any cocktail from scratch, it should all start with inspiration. Consumer demands are regularly changing and adapting and this needs to be factored in when brainstorming. Incorporating and marrying flavoured vodkas with seasonal flavours, herbs and/or spices for example. Twists on classic cocktails can also be fantastic e.g. Cosmopolitan with Absolut Citron, Metropolitan with Absolut Kurant.
There is, no doubt, an increased focus on elaborate garnishes in drinks. It not only adds a huge aesthetic element to the drink, but more importantly, acts as a flavour enhancer. Fresh herbs such as rosemary, cilantro, thyme, basil and mint are becoming ever so prevalent in cocktails. The popularity of gin and tonics and the increased variations of the perfect gin and tonic is a great example of this. Increasing your range of vessels to serve cocktails in will also contribute to aesthetics and enhance your guest’s experience. From copper containers, bespoke tea cups to levitating glassware, every bar needs a good stock of many styles and sizes of glasses to accommodate different drinks.
*Source: CGA On-Premise Measurement Service, 4 Week Snapshot P05 (w/e 14/05/2016).