The Merchant

Consumer spirits high as thirst for cocktails rises by a third

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24th September 2021

Consumer spirits high as thirst for cocktails rises by a third


Northern Ireland’s largest hospitality provider has reported a 30% rise in sales of innovative alcohol drinks, compared to the same time pre-pandemic in 2019.

Since reopening the doors to the award-winning Cocktail Bar at The Merchant, mixologists and bar staff at the Beannchor Group’s five-star venue have shaken and stirred almost 2,200 cocktails each month, despite still not being able to operate at full capacity due to social distancing restrictions.

This newfound appreciation around alcohol innovation and exponential increase in demand has led to the venue’s current recruitment search for a Head of Drinks Innovation position, to continue leading the way in elevating its drinks offering through amplified creativity and skill.

The reported surge in innovative drinks orders is a direct reflection of a trend that emerged last year whereby consumers, during extended lockdown periods, turned their efforts to recreating intriguing and exciting drinks that typically would’ve been enjoyed while socialising, as a way of breaking up the mundanities of day-to-day lockdown life. Consumers not only invested in at-home cocktail making equipment, but data from off-trade sales reported a shift in purchasing behaviour – with consumers opting to purchase more premium priced spirits and mixers.

Gavin Carroll, general manager of The Merchant Hotel, commented on the evolvement of consumer knowledge and the need to be a market leader in drinks innovation:

“Ahead of reopening earlier this year, our team discussed the implications of consumer trends that arose during the pandemic, and the direct impact they may have on the sector, particularly whether people would choose to stay at home rather than visit a venue for drinks premium cocktails.

“In contrast, we were surprised to see a significant spike in cocktail orders post-lockdown in comparison to the same date period in 2019. Our Cocktail Bar mixologists and serving staff would agree that over the last few months, guests are more knowledgeable in the science and creativity behind the invention of cocktails – and this is something we intend to embrace.”

“By opening up an opportunity with the Head of Drinks Innovation role, we hope to further demonstrate that the hospitality sector can adapt to post-lockdown trends and re-emphasise the longevity of career opportunities within this industry.”

The Merchant’s Cocktail Bar has a long list of accolades that reaffirm its reputation for being a world-class venue – it is a Guinness World Record title holder for serving up one of the most expensive cocktails to order in the world - the Mai Tai, priced at £750, and has hosted elite mixologists from around the globe, including Audrey Saunders of New York’s Pegu Club, as part of exclusive bar takeovers. Additionally, the hotel’s alumni include Jack McGarry and Sean Muldoon, best known for running New York bar, The Dead Rabbit, voted the World’s Best Bar in 2015.

The Merchant Hotel
The Merchant Hotel

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