Celebrate National Vodka Day With Finest Call

Finest Call

The origin and history of National Vodka Day is unknown, yet since 2008, bars and restaurants across the globe have been honouring this spirit with events of all kinds.

From classic cocktails to flavoured shots, vodka has been achieveing wide acclaim since the 1940s. Data recently released by Nielsen has found that the category has grown by 4%, reaching sales of £9.9million in 2015. With Finest Call Premium Cocktail Mixes, creating cocktails has never been easier. Vodka tops the list as being the spirit of choice for many consumers, so adding these cocktails to drinks menus is a guaranteed way to boost sales:

Cosmopolitan

50ml Vodka
75ml/100ml Finest Call Cosmopolitan Cocktail Mix (dependent on size of glass)

1. Shake all ingredients over ice
2. Pour into a Martini glass
3. Stir well for approx. 5 seconds
4. Garnish with a half-moon of orange

Bloody Mary

50ml Vodka
100ml Finest Call Bloody Mary Mix

1. Fill a tall glass with ice
2. Pour vodka and Finest Call Mix into glass
3. Stir gently
4. Garnish with lime wedge and celery stalk

Arkell’s Brewery Put To The Test By Finest Call

Finest Call Speed League

Finest Call, a leading cocktail mix brand, has launched a nation-wide cocktail challenge, inviting bartenders to demonstrate their skills to win a trip to the USA. Wiltshire-based brewery Arkell’s rose to the challenge and amidst fierce competition, Summer Lancaster, the pub manager from The Riverside Lechlade, mixed and muddled her way to first place.

10 eager bartenders were put through their paces and asked to produce four popular Finest Call cocktails which would then be judged by Steve Dingley, European Brand Manager for American Beverage Marketers and Peter Thornton, UK Brand Manager at Cellar Trends. Participants were tasked to create a Mojito, Sweet and Sour, Cosmopolitan and Margarita and were judged on taste, presentation, spillages and the all important `speed` element which saw all contestants work against the clock.

With staff from the Riverside at Lechlade and the Sun Inn in Coate Water, the standard was high with experienced bartenders all taking the position behind the bar. Climbing to the coveted top spot was deserving pub manager, Summer Lancaster, who sprinted into first place with a total time of 55 seconds beating 59 seconds from bartender, Alex McCay.                            

Peter Thornton, Brand Manager at Cellar Trends comments: “Touring the UK with the Finest Call Speed League has enabled us to demonstrate the speed and ease of the cocktails that delivers time and time again. It’s a perfect example of how we work with pubs and bars to ensure every cocktail served is great tasting and simple to make. Taking our initiative to such a renowned pub group as Arkell’s allowed us to engage with some enthusiastic bartenders and Summer showed everyone just how easy it is to serve cocktails – 4 cocktails in 55 seconds is impressive! We are now working with

The Riverside to design cocktail menus for the site following recent customer interest in branded POS at the bar, which advertised Finest Call cocktails. It’s exciting to see this venue fulfil the demand for cocktails with Finest Call.”

The Speed League competition was also open to trade journalists with Charlie Whitting, Deputy Editor at Pub and Bar Magazine, taking the pivoted top spot with a time of 2 minutes and 5 seconds.

Summer Lancaster and Charlie Whitting will now enjoy an all-expenses paid trip to American Beverage Marketer’s Head Office (makers of FC) headquarters in Louisville, Kentucky.  Here they will enjoy a tour of the plant, a chance to see the world famous Distilled Spirits Epicentre and a visit to some of Kentucky’s finest Bourbon distilleries.

Finest Call

Finest Call

High volume venues can struggle to produce consistent cocktails, especially in the high-demand areas where one below-par drink can effect several others. It’s with this that developers have sought out opportunities to produce brands that can take the stress away from cocktail creations, especially in venues that are not traditionally cocktail led. By coming up with a base ingredient, or a multitude of them that forms the basis of a classic cocktail, and ‘all you need to do is add your spirit’ and it’s as easy as one, two, three.

Or is it?

Some brands work well for a time-being, and then start to lose their own flavour, their own consistency and ultimately you are back to square one. But one brand that prides itself with knowing how a venue works, no matter what the scale of service you are on, is Finest Call.

In 1995, the American Beverage Marketers (the same company behind the Real range) came out with a new line of premium cocktail mixers, designed with the bartender world in mind. Using fruit sourced from around the world and redefining the packaging by utilising a store-and-pour design, Finest Call made waves within the industry.

To go away from my usual style of feature, It’s best with the Finest Call expressions to explain as we go along, so below, you will find my tasting notes on each variation I’ve had the chance to experience so far –

Finest Call Pina Colada Mix – 0%

Produced with Bakers cream of coconut from the Philippines and Dole pineapple juice from Thailand, they utilise the coconut meat and milk for a thick and creamy texture.
Fresh coconut on the nose, with the bold pineapple aromas coming through slowly. A thick, natural sweetness follows. Thick texture with a thin flavour of the coconut flesh, followed by a slight zest from the pineapple. A lingering well-balanced flavour to finish.

Finest Call Mojito Mix – 0%

Using Key limes from Mexico and blended with spearmint and superfine sugar. Plenty of lime notes come through on the nose, with soft hints of the spearmint following nicely. Natural aromas of the sugar gives a good base. Light with a dry lime flavour standing out. More refreshing on the second sip, with the spearmint releasing fresh aromas on the lingering, slightly sweet finish.

Finest Call Sweet and Sour – 0%

Created using pure lemon juice from California (Eureka and Lisbon varieties) and simple syrup. Sharp on the nose with the citrus naturally dominating. Soft sugar notes come through to underline. Clean and light on the palate, with natural elements of the citrus drawing out a long finish with kicks of sweetness following.

Finest Call Cosmopolitan Martini Mix – 0%

A blend of New England Ocean Spray cranberries, Key lime juice from Mexico and sweet orange oils. Fresh, dry aromas of the cranberries come through on the nose, followed by the natural note of the Key lime juice and the subtle orange. Thick texture on the palate, with a stringent stewed cranberry and lime mix as the dominating flavour. Subtle orange oils follow but the cranberry offers the long finish.

Finest Call Wild Berry Puree Mix – 0%

A combination of strawberries from California, raspberries from Pacific NW and mangoes from India, combined and then an addition of pomegranates and lemon juice from California. Bold, fresh raspberries come through on the nose, with the mangoes offering a soft underlining aroma. Thick texture with a good balance of the strawberries and raspberries. The mango once again offers the smoothness and kicks off the subtle aroma on the finish. Fresh and naturally sweet.

As you can imagine, all of these are designed to be a part of recipes such as –

Wild Berry Colada

Glass –

Highball or Hurricane

Ingredients –

30 ml Finest Call Wildberry Puree
30 ml Jim Beam Red Stag
90 ml Finest Call Pina Colada Mix
3-4 leaves mint leaves
2 cups ice

Method – 

Pour Finest Call Wild Berry Puree in the bottom of the glass. Combine remaining ingredients in a blender and pour over Wild Berry Puree. Swirl with spoon and garnish with fresh berries.

or perhaps

Finest Call Mojito

Glass – 

Highball

Ingredients – 

50 ml White rum
90 ml Finest Call Mojito Mix
Top with soda water

Method – 

Combine the first two ingredients in a Boston glass filled with ice. Shake and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a mint sprig and lime wedges.

There are many other expressions available, including Margarita mixes, a range of purée such as banana, mango, strawberry, passion fruit and watermelon, a Bloody Mary mix and syrups like sugar syrup, almond and triple sec. These are perfect for at home too, with simple to use bottles and a long shelf life (on average around 18 months unopened, 12 months when opened and refrigerated and 3 months if not) and great for summer or winter punch bowls. Pick up some bottles for your bar at home and take a test to see how quickly it can be to whip up a cocktail, and keeping the freshness.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Future Proofing The Pub

Finest Call

Drinks Industry Experts Discuss Cocktails in the Pub

 

As part of the campaign to help the pub industry to embrace cocktails, Premium Cocktail Mix brand Finest Call brought together industry experts to discuss the future of the pub. The group consisted of Inapub Editor Matt Eley, Mixologist and Drinks Consultant Andy Pearson, Drinks Journalist Dave Marsland, Journalist and Gastronomist Douglas Blyde, Finest Call’s UK brand manager Peter Thornton and European brand manager Steve Dingley, Pub & Bar’s Deputy Editor Charlie Whitting and Marketing Consultant, Mark Davis. The forum discussed the trend for mocktails and pitcher serves, whilst also debating the strength of “classic” cocktails and unearthing what the barriers to entry are for publicans fearful of serving cocktails in their venue.

Where are we now?

The UK pub market has changed dramatically over the last decade. The introduction of the smoking ban, followed swiftly by the recession and rising utility costs have made it a challenging sector for publicans, leading to lots of pub closures. However, the tide seems to be changing with a recent influx of new entrepreneurs taking over pubs and doing things a little differently. Not to mention, consumers’ demands have become far more diverse, which has meant pubs have had to improve their offering.

Cocktails now make up 5% of total spirit sales and the category has grown by 10.8% in the last two years1. So could cocktails be a way of future proofing the pub?

 

Cocktails…easier than you think?

Finest Call’s Steve Dingley is working with other brands to help make cocktails accessible for all. “A lot of pubs can be very sceptical about asking their bartenders to shake a drink. Cellar Trends introduced the ‘Stir it and Serve it’ campaign to encapsulate the simplicity of Finest Call and the phrase can be seen on most menus as well as bartenders’ cheat sheets. There’s no mess, no fuss, just quick, quality and consistent cocktails time and time again.” The 14-strong Finest Call portfolio, which includes a range of Bar Essentials, Speciality Cocktail Mixes and Purees, removes the need for extensive training sessions and expensive ingredients, making bartenders lives easier.

To demonstrate the quick, quality and consistent message, Finest Call and Cellar Trends are currently running a Speed League competition.

Mocktails: A growing trend or a splash in the pan?

With the evolution of the cocktail sector comes the trend for mocktails. Non-alcoholic cocktails are helping to attract a new wave of customers who want a more grown-up alternative to a soft drink.  “This point of the “mocktail” really needs to be addressed. We need a term that doesn’t remind the drinker that it’s actually non-alcoholic,” explains drinks writer Douglas Blyde.

Consumers tend to make their choice at point of purchase and the default position isn’t always to go to a pub to have a cocktail, let alone a non-alcoholic cocktail. Pub & Bar’s Deputy Editor Charlie Whitting agrees: “It needs to be portrayed as a higher value soft drink, rather than a lower value cocktail.” Following 2014’s Soft Drink Report, Pub & Bar magazine talked to both operators and patrons and found out that consumers felt that operators weren’t giving enough thought to their soft drink option. Most soft drinks weren’t perceived as being value for money.

Pitchers: Just for the younger consumer?

According to the recent CGA Report, pitchers are most popular with 18 – 24 year olds, with 88% reporting that they drink them2. If you consider the motivation behind purchasing a pitcher; it’s about bonding and having that shared experience. “Creativity and imagination around sharing vessels has come on leaps and bounds”, claims Peter Thornton, Finest Call brand manager at Cellar Trends. “Sharers are something that the brand is keen to develop further.”

Sharers and pitchers are seen in places like Wetherspoons and Yates’s, and look set to grow organically this year. Dave Marsland, Founder of the website Drinks Enthusiast explains: “You need to ensure that your customers know you actually sell pitchers and non-alcoholic cocktails. Utilise those blackboards, print out some fliers and advertise in the local paper to help spread the word.”

 

Barriers to Entry

Consumers are looking for brands and experiences and cocktails can be at the heart of this. So what’s preventing publicans from offering them? Mixologist and Drink Consultant Andy Pearson suggests there is a real necessity to “get the business owner to understand the profitability around making simple serve cocktails”.  Publicans need to be reassured that cocktails can offer business support, highlighting the brand’s profitability and providing product training.

Marketing Consultant Mark Davis agrees: “One of the challenges is cost control and delivering a healthy margin. Getting the mix of the right ingredients, ensuring it’s cost effective for the business but also providing customers with great quality cocktails is the key to unlocking success into the mainstream.”

Putting Cocktails on the Menu

This summer Finest Call, together with their Brand Advocacy Team, is crusading for change. Armed with a menu of enticing and profitable summer cocktails, the brand is offering one-to-one consultations and training nationwide. Tweet @CellarTrends with #FCCrusaders to put your views forward to the brand.

Celebrate National Margarita Day With Finest Call

Finest CallThe margarita cocktail is one of the most popular mixed drinks around, originating in the 1940s. Any bartender worth their salt has created their own unique spin of this classic drink, but no one knows who created the original, although it is widely believed it originated in Mexico.  22nd February gives cause to celebrate with National Margarita Day this year.

Every great cocktail bar needs a truly sensational margarita gracing its menu – according to the most recent CGA report (issued in 2014) it is one of the top 5 most popular cocktails in the UK. Finest Call has spent years developing their signature margarita mix, enhancing the taste and quality of the cocktail to ensure it leads the way for pre-mixed cocktails.

Created with the perfect blend of Mexican lime juice, a touch of natural lemon juice, aromatic orange essential oils and agave nectar for a flavour that’s balanced between tart and sweet, Finest Call Margarita mix offers a smooth and refreshing taste to be combined with a customers favourite tequila.

Try Finest Call’s Margarita mix yourself and discover how to make this delicious iconic cocktail consistenly and quickly to the delight of cocktail-lovers. Visit www.Finestcall.com  for product information and more serving suggstions.

Finest Call Margarita

Ingredients:

35ml Tequila
85ml Finest Call Margarita Mix

Instructions:

Strain over ice into salt-rimmed margarita glass
Garnish with a lime wedge and orange slice


Crimson Sunset
Crimson Sunset

Crimson Sunset

Ingredients:

25ml White Rum
25ml Archers
100ml Finest Call Margarita Mix
50ml Raspberry Puree

Instruction:

Take a tall glass and fill with ice. Shake and strain
Garnish with a lime wedge

The 12 Cocktails of Christmas From Finest Call

Finest Call

Christmas is the perfect time of year to entice customers to spend a little more and treat themselves to a cocktail. Finest Call has put together some Christmas-themed serving suggestions to entice consumers to trade up. If you haven’t included cocktails on your drinks list before, why not try introducing a few of these simple serves at this crucial sales period. Ensure consistent, speedy service by using Finest Call’s premium cocktail mixes – no need to chop and prepare endless ingredients, the hard work is already done for you.

Try some of Finest Call’s easy-serve 12 Cocktails of Christmas suggestions to maximise your profits this Christmas:

Berry Merry Christmas

Blended berries, sweet apple mixed with citrus fruits and subtle mintiness

25ml gin
25ml vodka
50ml Finest Call Mojito mix
50ml Wild Berry puree
50ml apple juice

Stir and serve in a tall glass over ice, garnish with a sugar dusted orange wheel

The Bells of St Clements

Oranges and lemons just like the song but spiced up with mango, Midori and tequila

25ml Midori
25ml tequila
50ml mango puree
25ml Finest Call Sweet & Sour mix
50ml orange juice
Stir and serve in a tall glass over ice

Garnish with one squeezed lemon wedge and one squeezed orange wedge

Mistletoe’s Calling

Lemon and lime mixed with raspberry puree make a delicious combination

25ml white rum
25ml Archers
100ml Finest Call Margarita mix
50ml Finest Call Raspberry puree

Shake, strain and serve in a tall glass over ice, garnish with lime wedge

Festive Fruity Tang

Wonderfully fruity with melon, orange, apples, lemons and limes

25ml Midori
25ml Triple Sec
25ml apple juice
50ml Finest Call Sweet & Sour mix

Shake, strain and serve in a chilled Martini glass
Christmas Colada

A wintery berry twist on this summer classic

50ml Rum
75ml Finest Call Pina Colada mix
25ml pineapple juice

Shake, strain and serve in a tall glass over crushed ice
Garnish with a cinnamon dusted orange wheel

Christmas in the Big Apple

Transport yourself to NY with this extra juicy classic

50ml vodka
50ml Finest Call Cosmopolitan mix
50ml apple juice

Stir and serve in a tall glass over ice, garnish with two squeezed orange wedges

Seasonal Sour Mash

This sour is sweetened with three different berries and balanced with tangy citrus

50ml gin
50ml Finest Call Wild Berry puree
75ml Finest Call Sweet & Sour mix
25ml lemon juice (squeeze two good size wedges and drop in for garnish)

Stir and serve in a tall glass over ice

Mr Jack Frost

A classic Whisky Sour given a Tennessee makeover

50ml Jack Daniels
100ml Finest Call Sweet & Sour mix
25ml fresh lime juice

Stir and serve in a short glass over ice, garnish with a squeezed lemon wedge

Christmas Mojito

A Jagermeister Mojito with added passion fruit puree

50ml Jagermeister
50ml Finest Call Passion Fruit puree
100ml Finest Call Mojito mix

Shake, strain and serve in a tall glass over ice, garnish with mint

The Grinch’s Favourite

Sour with an underlying sweetness, just like The Grinch

50ml Midori
50ml Finest Call Sweet & Sour mix
25ml freshly squeezed lime juice

Stir and serve in a short glass over ice, garnish with a squeezed lemon wedge

Go Rudolph Go!

A delicious fruit punch bursting with tropical flavours

25ml Malibu
25ml Southern Comfort
50ml Finest Call Peach puree
50ml orange juice
50ml apple juice

Stir and serve in a tall glass over ice, garnish with a cherry

Almond & Cinnamon Surprise

Sweet almond balanced with sharp lime and a touch of cinnamon to add Christmas spice

50ml Amaretto
50ml Finest Call Sweet & Sour mix
25ml freshly squeezed lime juice (do not drop in the fruit)

Stir and serve in a short glass over ice
Garnish with a squeezed lemon wedge and a light cinnamon dusting

Steve Dingley, European Brand Manager for Finest Call, comments: “Our range of cocktail mixes and purees take the headache out of serving cocktails at a busy bar. If you’ve been nervous about introducing cocktails before, Finest Call will give you the speed and consistency of serve that you need to maximise your profits without annoying your customers. Try some of our simple serving suggestions this Christmas.”