By Catherine McLaughlin, Group Marketing Manager, Solotel

In recent years there has been a real evolution in the quality and level of beverage offering in pubs and hotels. The line between restaurants, bars and pubs is continually blurring, and with this, pub guests no longer just visit for a schooner and a schnitzel (although there is definitely a time and a place for that).

Pubs now have beverage lists that can suit a guest’s tastes for everyday visits, and also take them right through to those special occasions. Speciality cocktail lists, interesting wines and craft beer all offer customers quality products and flavours that they are keen to try for new and different experiences, and we find that they are willing to pay a more premium price to experience this.

Another strategy within Solotel is our take on the modern pub – large hotel venues diversifying and offering smaller ‘bar’ experiences within, has again allowed venues to offer a greater level of bar service, with experienced bartenders and high quality drinks being delivered. This can be seen at The Clock Hotel in Surry Hills – which as well as a public bar also has The Whisky Room delivering a premium whisky bar experience and is an official Ardbeg Embassy – as well as a cocktail bar specialising in premium gin and fine cocktails.

“The Clock is such an awesome venue with all sorts of nooks and crannies for our guests to discover. There are four bars within the venue so we really wanted to create different engaging smaller spaces amongst a large venue that hopefully caters to all our guests’ needs and wants. In doing so, we wanted to make sure the drinks offering reflects those narratives,” says Jeremy Shipley, Solotel Group Bars Manager.

“With the increased and positive awareness of the whisky category, we took a risk in 2014 and decided to offer something really unique within the venue – and we consider the Whisky Room as a premium bar offering. The 150+ whisky selection has been hand-selected from various parts of the world to cater for the most basic whisky novice to all-round whisky nerds. We really want to give our guests a reason to come out and experience the various beverage offerings with us, and I think this is a fantastic example of a unique premium drinking programme designed for everyone,” says Jeremy.

At The Sheaf in Double Bay, the Garden Bar also offers a premium cocktail service and a wine list – ranging from French Rosé, Champagne, and iconic local wines. Our expert group sommelier Matt Dunne takes years of experience in restaurants and injects flair and interest to the pub wine listings.

“We want to show diversity, quality and be approachable in our wine offering – highlighting that you can get a great glass of wine in our venues,” says Matt. These unique offerings within the pub environment support the premiumisation of the pub beverage offering, and the quality delivered supports a higher priced range over and above traditional house wines and draught beers.

The Bank Hotel in Newtown is home to the Uncle Hops craft beer bar, showcasing Australian craft beers from small craft brewers with a hugely diverse range of brews and constantly rotating taps. With the smaller volumes, prices are accordingly more premium, but the true craft beer offering of Uncle Hops supports The Bank’s wider offering where craft enthusiasts can enjoy truly unique, premium products, but then also be able to enjoy traditional local draughts elsewhere in the pub when the occasion suits.

We all know that Australian consumer tastes in recent years have shown that people want to know where things come from, how it is made, and have an increasing interest in consuming artisanal products that are locally made – and the beverage trends we are seeing are no different. We see a growing interest in natural wines, Australian-made spirits, mixers and ingredients, and will continue to experiment with new products to ensure we are giving our discerning customers what they want and more.

This contributor's piece was first published in the September issue of  Australian Hotelier, which you can view here.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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