It wasn’t too much of a surprise to us that alcohol consumption in young people was reported to be down. Running two sites, the trend for us in recent years has been for quality not quantity. This relates to beer, wine and soft drinks. No longer are people, and young people in particular, interested in big brands at the lowest cost. They are far more discerning and seek value, interest and variety. Without doubt there are recognizable products that guests initially desire: namely Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec or a branded Lager. But they don’t want cheap and nasty. This allows us to list products that may cost a little more but deliver far more in terms of taste, texture and interest.
Once guests see the point of difference and enjoy what they are familiar with, we find they will trust us with slightly more off beat choices or unknown varieties. We have a wine from the Barossa Valley in Australia called Domaine Lucci – no grapes listed and other than a cartoon of a girl in a mini skirt, there is no knowing what you might get. The reputation for the Barossa Valley is big bruising juicy numbers. But this, while juicy, is perfumed, mineral and textured. How do we get guests onto it? By pouring a taster and explaining its background. Once tried forever smitten!
This extends to our beer list with an array of ever changing breweries and brews. Some of these beers are quite high on alcohol content but given the intent of the customer is only to have one or two, they are happy to give these beers a try, always seeking a new taste and experience. The days of only having gun served cola, lemonade and orange are over and being in East Anglia there are loads of great pure fruit based drinks. We even seek to provide alcohol free cocktails to include fresh fruit as the season moves into summer. And we frequently convert the hard-core Gordon’s Gin and Tonic with ice and a slice drinker to Hendricks with tonic and cucumber.
Undoubtedly with these more interesting drinks comes more interesting prices. Small individual production without the economies of scale make it more difficult to meet lower price points but their first port of call is making a great tasting drink. Providing the initial price remains stable and isn’t inextricably linked to the number of awards won, then the choice and quality for customers is far greater than at any time before.
What I’m drinking this month:
Easter weekend, when falling in April, means lamb. My match is generally Burgundy but dry reds from Northern Italy or older Rioja work equally well.
If the weather is a bit chilly, I seek richer red ales or porters and stouts such as Brewdog’s Brixton Porter or London Field’s Brewery Texan Tea – a black ale.