Snowmageddon: Keeping the on-trade afloat in the snow

02 March 2018

The Beast from the East, eh. And how beastly it has been. Suddenly everything becomes a chore, from getting to work to walking down the street. But what about the on-trade? With everyone rushing to make it home, by-night businesses are suffering.

To attempt to combat the weather and keep trade busy, venues across the UK are thinking on their feet and making other arrangements to get customers through the doors.

At Penny Royale bar in Cardiff, staff have been making boozy hot chocolates in an effort to draw customers in and away from the cold. 'I think everyone has seen a decrease in customers,' said owner Alex Taylor, 'we had a few in early for the boozy hot chocs, but in reality for a new independent this weather could cripple us.

'The hot chocolate thing is more as an attempt at damage limitation,' he continued. When it comes to staffing, Penny Royale is also making cuts due to the snowy conditions. 'We've cut down to bare bones, and are trying to make sure whatever guests we get are still comfortable and happy. A lot of other businesses in Cardiff have closed their doors but the winter we've had so far means we can't really do that as a new indie,' Taylor revealed. 'It's just about thinking on your feet and making sure the people who have still braved it are glad they did.'

By Soul Shakers

Glass: Irish coffee mug
Garnish: Sprinkle of paprika
Method: Heat the service glass with boiling water. Whip cream until bubbles start to disappear. Add sugar, coffee and chocolate and spice and stir, add vodka, float cream. Garnish with a small sprinkle of paprika

30ml Finlandia Vodka
10g pure chocolate for hot chocolate
1 strong, short americano coffee
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pinch cayenne pepper
50ml cream

Enticing customers in with the promise of hot drinks is also happening in London, where London Cocktail Club Goodge Street has also started dishing out hot chocolate, but free of charge.

'What I decided to do with my staff was to keep a hot plate behind the bar with hot chocolate and with whipped cream next to it,' said general manager Cressida Lawlor. 'Since it's been so cold and snowy, whenever guests have arrived we have helped settle them in with hot chocolate and some popcorn.

'The whole idea behind it was to use it as a conversation starter since Londoners are always a sucker for talking about the weather. When you get people sat down and a nice warm drink inside them they want to stay warm as well as comfortable for the night. I would say its a great tool to increase sales and get return guests. It's a simple kind gesture and not expensive to do.'

And it seems Lawlor's strategy is working. 'It was the highest we had taken in sales all week when we started doing it,' she revealed. 'We will continue it tonight during service.'

If you're thinking of serving up your own hot creation to punters tonight, Drew Mallins, founder of the London Bartender Association, suggests a simple Shaman Coffee (see box). 'I was served Shaman Coffee at training session 10 years ago, and its easy to make and pretty tasty,' he revealed. 'It's also low cost if you want to serve it complimentary.'


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