People have been mixing their drinks for as long as they have been drinking alcohol, whether adding a hint of spice, sugar or even ice from as recently as the early 1800’s. The word cocktail however was first found to be printed on 13th May 1806 and today the term is used as a reference to mixed drinks in general. An American called Jerry Thomas revolutionised the bartending profession with the first known published bartender’s guide in 1862.
Today cocktails are available for consumption everywhere – whether in your local bar or at home – with the quality of serve and drink varying to a huge extent. Cocktail drinks remain popular, whether as a simple serve such as a Gin & Tonic or the more commonly known cocktail drinks such as the Mojito, the Daiquiri, the Manhattan or the Margarita to name a few and they are here to stay.
“The cocktail is a trend which is not going away anytime soon. People love the theatre and artistry of the cocktail. It really is so much more than a drink, even down to the style of the glass. The whole ritual of watching and waiting as your drink is prepared; people love it.” Stella David, William Grant & Sons CEO
At home consumption of cocktails also continues to grow, either via pre-mixed cocktails (in some cases even frozen!) or for those more adventurous, through the use of bartender kits and with easier access to unique ingredients, such as those provided by Shaken for example.
“People enjoying a drink at home is a huge driver for spirits growth. Shaken successfully helps people discover and mix the best cocktails at home by delivering all of the premium ingredients required to their door each month. It’s these sort of personalised experiences that will help brands gain cut through in today’s market.” Mark Jennings – Founder, Shaken (Source: William Grant & Sons UK 2015 Market Report)
Every spirits brand can be used in a cocktail and most try to push unique signature serves. This will help to drive trial of the product (Liquid to Lips) and its unique flavours and/or quality credentials. Simple serves also allow for consistency and ease for the consumer to make their own, perhaps at home and with friends. One such example is Hendrick’s and its use of cucumbers in its serve for Gin & Tonic as per the video below.
At bars and restaurants where cocktails may be consumed, staff is critical and it is no secret that people skills are fundamental. The Food & Beverage industry is all about the people. This is also why brands spend so much time, money and effort in providing training. At William Grant & Sons, face to face training is available as much as possible and people are brought over to the brand homes ideally for a full immersion. But as we cannot be everywhere all of the time, online training and support is also on offer via the William Grant & Sons Spirit School.
Despite the challenges related to the practicalities of offering signature serves/ cocktails for brands across a wide variety of locations and outlets, it is this very need for a high engagement with people everywhere that makes it so much fun to work in this industry! Below is a picture of the last cocktail I had whilst out in London recently…
As always, please drink responsibly!
Note: All views on this post are my own and may not necessarily reflect the views of my employer. Others quoted on this post were used for context only.
This blog was originally published in September 2015 on LinkedIn