Why Christmas is the season of spirits

If you'd told me five years ago that we'd be seeing gin and tonics served in goblet glasses, with premium mixers and an array of other embellishments, I may not have believed you. But it's a fact - consumers have become serious about spirits and how they are served.

It comes as no surprise that spirits were the clear winners during the Christmas season last year, outperforming every other alcohol category. The Christmas trading period gives operators an amazing opportunity to do something special with their spirits range, by serving traditional cocktails with a twist, or capitalising on the extra money that consumers are willing to spend at this time of year through offering a range of premium spirits.

Cocktails and food 

Wine is normally associated as the drink of choice to pair alongside food, but increasingly we're seeing really innovative cocktail and food pairings, especially in the premium On Trade. 59% of consumers say they would order a cocktail that has been paired alongside a food item on the menu - so operators really need to be seizing this opportunity, by creating some festive food and cocktail pairings. The versatility of cocktails means that flavours can be altered to match the intricacies of any type of dish.

The rum resurgence

Premium rum is having a moment, so some creative seasonal rum cocktails can serve as a brilliant point of difference on cocktail menus. Rum sees a huge uplift in sales during the festive season, and considering the premiumisation of spirits, operators shouldn't be underestimating the power of having a sensational range of rums.

Spice up the classics (and make them look pretty)

At a time of year when diners are full of festive cheer, putting a yuletide twist on cocktails and mixed drinks is not complicated, especially with 50% of consumers wanting to see seasonal drinks on menus. Not only does this make the drinks more enticing, but has the added benefit of being great to photograph (ignore the power of Instagram at your peril...). This can range from a sprig of rosemary in a G&T, to a spiced twist on classics like a sloe gin spritz. And don't forget the classic hot alcoholic drinks. Beyond just mulled wine, hot toddys or a hot buttered rum punch are perfect warming cocktails, that have the additional bonus of increasing sales and margins.

So as temperatures start to dip, turn the heat up on your spirits creativity!

Feeling inspired to shake up your spirits?

Read more about making sure your garnishes have the 'wow' factor here.

Michael opened Bibendum's first On Trade account way back in 1985. Fast forward 30 odd years and today he's our CEO. Keep up with his latest industry thoughts in his monthly blog on topics from English wine to Mindful winemaking.

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