What is in a name? You are invited to a cocktail party – what do you expect to be offered when you arrive? Nine times out of ten in Australia you will be offered the same old trays laden with sparkling wine, beer, red and white wine and a soda water. Well I hate to break it to you but you ain’t at a cocktail party unless cocktails are served.

Rewind and add the option of a gin and tonic or a whisky highball, both very simple to execute, and don’t you think the tone of the event has fundamentally changed? Ok, you’ve come this far, why not step it up and add in something a little more complex such as an Old Fashioned or a Boulevardier? Now we are at something special where your host has made that extra effort to make you feel welcome.

Recent years have seen a rapid growth in the consumers’ willingness to explore the cocktail and to support the many new venues that are serving and creating them. And with good reason. There is a cocktail to suit everyone’s palate. Cocktails are theatre. Cocktails add drama. Offer your guests a mojito and invoke the spirit of Hemingway or conjure the glamour of The Great Gatsby’s legendary parties by offering F. Scott Fitzgerald’s drink of choice, the Gin Rickey.

With a shake of your cocktail shaker you can transport your guests away from their day-to-day lives to somewhere exotic for an evening (or an afternoon).

Stir equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, garnish with a half orange slice, hand your guests their Negroni and with the first sip they can be transported from your living room to a piazza in Italy. Add triple sec and fresh lemon juice to cognac, shake, strain into cocktail glass and hey presto this Sidecar is taking your guests on a ride around Paris. Add a dash of Angostura Bitters and a splash of vermouth to rye whiskey and you transport your guests straight to Manhattan.

Somewhere sunnier? Tequila, Cointreau and fresh lime juice and this Margarita has your guests partying like it’s fiesta time in Mexico while a Mai-Tai will have them relaxing by the beach in Hawaii.

Home-made cocktails can bring all of these experiences to friends and family. A cocktail party makes for a wonderful shared experience and spirits fit perfectly with the trend to drink less but drink better.

Leading retailers are embracing the move to cocktail culture. They are making it easier for consumers to plan and prepare for home entertaining by placing ingredients and equipment in dedicated sections along with recipe cards. It does not need to be overly complicated – in fact the key to success is to make it simple for consumers. The sales teams of spirit suppliers are a good source of inspiration and support to help retailers drive sales and profits through meeting and encouraging the consumer’s desire for something different and generous.

Serving cocktails is the difference between having a party and giving a party.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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