by Carolyn Sharp

How to serve up a drinks experience in a challenging market

How to serve up a drinks experience in a challenging market
Quality is key. With people drinking out less, having something special when they do is essential. Drinks help deliver a wow experience for customers which will keep them returning and giving rave reviews.



Signature serves and social media worthy drinks

Almost two in five cocktail drinkers say they always or almost always order the ‘signature drink’ 1, so if a pub/bar can offer something bespoke or unique to their venue, it helps consumers feel they’re getting something they couldn’t replicate at home or get elsewhere.



In 2022, 31% UK adults said a visual ‘wow factor’ would encourage them to buy a new alcoholic drink, rising to over half (54%) of 18-34 year olds 2. Give people something different and exciting. Format and presentation will matter just as much as the taste and ingredients, so think about how to make drinks visually exciting.

67% of consumers would order a dish they’d seen looked good on social media 3, it’s likely the same with cocktails and drinks. Look at ways to make things in your venues ‘Insta worthy’, even if that’s through venue décor like floral walls or something novel like flaming drinks or serving a G&T or passion fruit martini tree.


British is still a very sought-after menu description

Think about British cocktail ingredients, local beers or English wines, such as Hattingley Valley sparkling wines and shout about them on menus and socials.


Hit the sweet spot

Recommend a glass or bottle of dessert wine, a sparkling wine or sherry or port, to match a dessert or cheese board. Ensure these are on your drinks list or as an insert in your dessert menu too.

Go further and drive spend by linking in drinks with dishes, such as a limoncello with a lemon sorbet or a shot or prosecco with a passion fruit cheesecake.




Offer signature liqueur coffees with a modern twist. Perhaps served in more contemporary glassware or with the liqueur on the cream on top.


If customers don’t want coffee why not suggest a round of Espresso Martinis for the table instead


Identify your margin makers drinks categories which can help deliver a strong margin such as spirits, premium spirits, cocktails and premium beers. Entry level wines and mid-priced wines can also achieve 70% GP.


Tips on upselling drinks

  • If a cocktail is made from a standard gin, vodka or rum ask the customer if they would prefer a premium instead. For example, Gordon’s to Tanqueray.
  • Ask the customer if they would prefer 250ml or double spirit or a large wine?
  • Offer a ‘Spirit of the Week’ or ‘Cocktail of the Week’ made from a premium spirit.
  • Wine list – recommend higher margin/ premium wines with meals.




Carolyn Sharp, category support specialist at Unity Wines, is a WSET diploma holder. Unity represents the specialist team within Bidfood focusing on all manner of wines, beers, and spirits. Working from 17 depots around the country, Unity offers a range of exclusive wines and key brands and recently added keg beer to their expanding range.




Struggling to get your website seen by potential customers? Check out the ultimate website SEO guide for pubs: unlocking success here.

[1] Trends 2023 research – CGA and Bidfood bespoke consumer research June 2022Trends 2023 research – CGA and Bidfood bespoke consumer research June 2022

[2] Mintel Alcoholic Drinks Review UK 2022

[3] Trends 2023 research – CGA and Bidfood bespoke consumer research June 2022

Back to Top