Lifting the lid on the Barbecue

barbecue food

How you can use it to grow wet sales

There has been a 35% increase in the amount of US barbecue dishes served in UK restaurants since 2010 according to dining trend analysts, thefoodpeople. American style barbecue food is a certifiable hit.

Indeed according to CGA Peach research, 57% of respondents in their 2014 Business Leaders survey believed barbecue food will have a big impact on the market in 2015.

How can this trend help you to sell more drinks? It all comes down to authenticity. If you’ve already got barbecue food on your menu, how can you move forward? If you think it stops at beer, sweet barbecue sauce marinades and battered onion rings, think again. There’s a whole world of inspiration out there.


At one of London’s first barbecue specialist restaurants, Bodean’s, the meat is cooked in specialist smoke pits and seasoned with dry rubs in a traditional Kansas City style. Exactly the style that has taken the UK by storm.

Bodean’s has “a big following of beer drinkers” according to Dave Thompson, Group Bar Manager, but at training sessions, he ensures cocktails and wines are included in the food matching. While it’s important to cater for what consumers are familiar with, giving them an informed choice ensures they have the confidence to explore your menu.

It’s no surprise that Thompson suggests Bodean’s is “a Malbec drinker’s dream with steaks and our Jacobs Ladder beef ribs [is popular] with Argento Seleccione Malbec.” Ensuring the food and drink menus complement each other means a more streamlined experience for consumers and ultimately, higher margins.

South Africa

With the explosion of American style barbecued food in the UK, where else can you look for inspiration to stand out? South Africa. Braai, the shortened version of “Braaivleis” the Afrikaans for barbecue, is so important to South African residents it has its own national holiday. Etienne Pansegrauw, owner of South African inspired restaurant Hammer & Tongs, says the key to their South African twist is the savoury herbs and spices they use “compared to the USA which concentrates a lot on barbecue flavours i.e. sweeter styles.”

Drinks are important to a successful Braai according Pansegrauw, “a braai is not a braai without drinks and we take a lot of care and effort to get it right.” That extends to a wine list that covers a wide variety of South African styles. As the quality of “commercial” South African wine rises with each vintage, Hammer & Tongs is positioned well to deliver their offer successfully.

South America

The barbecue in Argentina, or Asado, is a fixture in homes up and down the country. So at Gaucho, the 16-strong group of Argentinean restaurants, the grill is central to their menu. Though at Gaucho it’s not the herbs and spices rubbed into the meat that differentiates it from other cuisine. It’s the way the meat is cooked. According to Phil Crozier, Wine Director at Gaucho, a v shaped grill that drains fat away and a steam-creating water bath underneath is the key to their success. Crozier says “it’s quite a unique way of cooking and it’s the best way of cooking for us.” This method of cooking enables the meat to take centre stage and means its delicate flavours aren’t lost when accompanied by the traditional Argentinean sauces like chimmichurri.

Much like South Africa, drinks have always been part of the barbecue culture in Argentina. At specialists like Gaucho, you may expect Malbec to be the most popular wine by far. But according to Phil Crozier, Malbec sales are under 50% of turnover, he says “People are drinking other varietals like Syrah and Bonarda.” That’s achieved by a menu designed to inform the consumer on what flavours to expect from wine and well-trained staff who confidently handle questions about wines on the list.

Knowledge is power

What links all three of these venues is more than just cooking over a grill. They show how powerful your staff can be and why the right choices for a drinks list matter. Investing in knowledge can move consumers on to drinks that educate them, inspire them or surprise them. The result? More money in your till.

Three authentic wines to go with meat

Argento Seleccione Malbec – If your menu has meat that goes anywhere near a grill, you need a Malbec on your list. It’s a variety consumers recognise and can be upsold to.

Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel – The daddy of Californian Zinfandel. Big and bold, this is a wine that’s born to match with barbecue.

Journey’s End The Cape Doctor Cabernet Sauvignon – You don’t need a braai to enjoy this delightful red from Stellenbosch. It’s fresh and fruity so it’s perfect for drinking with anything.

Speak to your account manager for their expertise in how to sell more wine or to arrange training for your staff.


21st May 2015

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