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Why Pubs should focus on their non-drinking customers too!

by Claire Martinsen on Thu 01st Dec 2011 03:18

Was really honoured to be guest blogger on the Inapub website last week – I wanted to get a real bug-bear of mine off my chest………why the choice of soft drinks in pubs is so often lacking!  If you missed the blog then catch it here or its reprinted below!


December is the month of Christmas parties – but just a plea to all those pub landlords out there – please don’t forget your non-drinking customers.  As well as designated drivers, there are lots of other reasons why customers may choose not to drink any alcohol………….and they need to be inspired and thought of too!

I shared my big bug-bear last week on this blog………where pub landlords carefully craft and select a range of beers, spirits, largers and wines and then just wham a range of uninspiring soft drinks in the fridge almost as an afterthought.  A carefully selected and thought through soft drinks range will pay dividends [and earn untold brownie points from thankful customers].

Here’s some top tips from Breckland Orchard HQ on how to tempt customers with a stunning range of soft drinks:

  1. Select a great range of drinks – think of soft drinks much as you do a beer range….you need some established big brands [Cokes, J2O et al], some carbonated/some still to give choice.  But you wouldn’t have a bar that just served the biggest most well known beer brands and nothing else, so add to the base range with some interesting brands and interesting flavours [much as you would through cask ales or foreign bottled beers]
  2. Have a soft drink menu – give the customer a choice of enticing drinks with descriptions.  This could be on a blackboard, or on a printed menu card.  Just as you would with beers, include some tasting notes eg ‘Cloudy Lemonade – tradition inspired drink bursting with zesty flavour, served over ice’
  3. Make the range visible – if you can fit all of the range on the back-bar then so much the better, but if not then have a selection of some interesting drinks on view [not hidden at floor level]
  4. Use Point of Sale – utilise POS just as you would with your alcoholic offering to educate and let your customers know of the soft drink range you have!
  5. Guest Soft Drink – lots of pubs have a Guest Ale of the month, but how about a ‘Guest Soft Drink’!  Its a great way to try out new flavours and brands [maybe even to add to the range if they are a hit with your customers].  Introducing new flavours and new brands is a great way to add interest to the range – highlight the guest soft drink on the back-bar or on a blackboard to let customers know what you have on offer.
  6. Educate bar staff – have a tasting session so that your staff really know the range!  Educate them as to the stories behind the various drinks so that they can pass these on to customers and add to the overall customer experience.
  7. Non-Alcoholic Cocktails – Add some of these to your menu as they can increase the range of soft drinks on offer without needing to increase the amount of range carried.  How about a Ginger Breeze: Half cranberry juice, half Ginger Beer with a squeeze of lime.  Or  A Sublime Lime: lime cordial, soda water with a handful of fresh raspberries
  8. Make suggestions – Encourage your customers to try new things by suggesting drinks that they may like to choose! How about: ‘We’ve got a stunning Ginger Beer behind the bar – when was the last time you had one of those’.
  9. Follow trends – Don’t be afraid to introduce some new flavours to the range. As Claire Dodds wrote in Inapub, Elderflower is a huge consumer trend in soft drinks that has followed in the wake of Ginger Beer.  Its very popular with female consumers so is sure to be a hit!
  10. Pair food and soft drink suggestions – Make recommendations for pairings between food and drink.  The lunchtime menu is a great place to do this, where people may not want to drink over the lunch period.  How about a ‘Retro Lunch’ of a Fish Finger sandwich paired with some Dandelion and Burdock for a real taste of childhood!


Good Luck!



Posted in: General Musings!


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