Richard Clark, marketing controller, Halewood International

“Many cocktails are built around the spirit trinity of gin, vodka and white rum. There is an opportunity to encourage consumers to try a broader range of cocktails, but this requires brand owners and retailers to provide cues to consumers on usage, presentation, recipe and occasion. By doing this there is a real opportunity for growth areas such as dark rum to re-engage with consumers in a contemporary way. Importantly, retailers need to stock a broader range of spirits if they are to drive growth in cocktails, and they need to take a

view that extends beyond the traditional white spirits and a handful of liqueurs.”

Simon Thomas, commercial director, Pernod Ricard

“The easiest way to get consumers mixing at home is to start them on simple, but effective, long mixed drinks. The emphasis should be on careful presentation: a tall, clean glass filled with ice straight from the freezer with a premium spirit and high-quality mixer well combined, garnished with a wedge of fresh lemon or lime and with a smart straw. This not only adds visual appeal, but also enhances the flavour of the drink and creates a pleasurable drinking experience.”

Stelios Eliades, spirits buyer, Planet of the Grapes, London

“On the DIY cocktail front, education is the key. At our new wine bar, we plan to organise cocktail nights with customers being charged a flat fee to attend an evening of mixing classic cocktails, hosted by professional staff. The cocktails will be included in the price, and the ingredients will be available for purchase. Off-licences could try hosting free demonstrations and tastings to stimulate trade during quieter months, or at weekends when customers have the most time on their hands.”

Michael Thompson, trade marketing manager for grocery, Beam Global

“When selling cocktail ideas in the off-trade, the key thing is to keep it simple. Don’t have too many ingredients – three or four max – and don’t make them too obscure or expensive.

There’s nothing worse than having to spend £15 or more on a strange liqueur for a particular cocktail that you only need a little bit of. It’s also a good idea to educate staff on basic mixability knowledge so they can advise customer about which spirits work well with which mixers.”

Ben Pick, on-trade brand promoter,

Cellar Trends

“A soupçon of Grand Marnier in a flute of Champagne makes a simple Champagne cocktail and a fantastic flavour combination. My tip for retailers is that this great pairing could be sold together in the run-up to year-end festivities. A slightly more sophisticated version is the Grand Mimosa – into a flute pour 25ml of Grand Marnier and 50 ml of orange juice, then top it up with Champagne. For me, this says Christmas.”

Mariam Ridley, marketing manager,

J Wray & Nephew

“At this time of the year, home entertaining increases and consumers are keen to share their skills with their guests, so easy-to-do ideas are key. There’s a perception that you need lots of different and sometimes complicated ingredients to make cocktails at home, when in actual fact, you can make some great cocktails with only a few different ingredients. Cross-merchandising a spirit with a suggested mixer or cocktail ingredients not only gives the customer new ideas on what to serve, but

they save having to trek from one aisle to the next.”

Simon Oldham, off-trade marketing director, Whyte & Mackay

“My top cocktail tip for retailers this Christmas is don’t hide away

your liqueurs and cocktail ingredients.

Typically, these are high-value, high-margin lines and very often they are hidden out of sight . Also, it’s best to lead with a cocktail that is easy to prepare, has readily available ingredients and most importantly still tastes good.”

Why I love…


Rob Preston, director, United Brands

“The Pallini Bellini is a fantastic alternative to the breakfast Buck’s Fizz on Christmas morning. Take a Champagne glass and fill a third with Pallini Peachello, and top up with chilled Prosecco or Champagne.”

Sloe gin

Esther Brooks, owner, Cotswold Country Liqueurs, Arlingham, Gloucestershire

“Even though I live in the Cotswolds, where sloes are plentiful and so many people make their own, sloe gin is a very good seller as it’s so versatile. It’s great on its own or to make a Long Peddler by adding a splash of Bitter Lemon. Ginger ale also makes an interesting mixer. Some people add it to their favourite bubbly, and food-wise it goes well with good strong British cheese instead of port. It adds an interesting kick when added to fresh apple sauce to accompany pork and is wonderful in a home-made mango sorbet.”

Cumin liqueur

Ben Furst, co-owner, The Sussex Wine Company, Eastbourne

“Served chilled, straight from the fridge, Mentzendorff Kümmel is a fantastic Christmas or anytime tipple. It brings back from my youth notes of carraway seeds; my grandmother used to make

delicious carraway seed, sweet and sour loaf. This is thick, clear and sweet on the finish – a great digestif all round.”


Filip Wojcikiewicz, managing director, Ocean Spirits

“One of my favorite s for this time of year is the Polish chai tea. Make a strong chai infusion using hot water and a chai tea bag, pour it into a martini glass, mix it with a teaspoon of

acacia honey, sprinkle with cinnamon and drop in a cinnamon stick. Now add to this sweet, aromatic mixture a shot of Soplica Polish Wódka . An ideal companion for these cold and windy winter nights.”

Warm whiskey

Hilary Maguire, senior brand manager, Diageo

” I enjoy warm whiskey serves. Use Irish whiskey like Bushmills Original, which lends a smooth, honeyed character. Hot Bushmills is especially good on winter evenings. Pour the whiskey and honey over a lemon wedge in a toddy glass. Fill with hot water.”

Christmas cocktails

A Bloody Sleigh Ride

Combine 25ml Loch Fyne Liqueur,

25ml port, 25ml dry sherry and two drops of Angostura Bitters. Shake

with lots of ice, double strain and serve either straight up in a martini glass

or on the rocks. Garnish with an

orange twist.

Christmas Pear Punch

Pour ¾ parts freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1½ parts sweet sherry, 2½ parts Belle de Brillet Cognac and 4 parts Maguires pear cider into a glass.

Then stir and microwave for 40 seconds to one minute. Stir again and decorate with a stick of cinnamon.

Corky’s Winter Warmer

Blend together one 25ml shot of Corky’s White Chocolate and a cup of steaming hot chocolate.

Classic Snowball

Mix together two shots of Warninks Advocaat and a quarter of a shot of

lime cordial in a cocktail shaker. Pour into an ice-filled highball glass and top up with lemonade.