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The Return of the Sundowner

Friends Enjoying A Sundowner

The aperitif, or aperitivo, represents that quiet moment after a long day and before an even longer night where the drinker can sit and prepare themselves for the epic meal that is to come. As much a drinking occasion as a style of drink, the tradition has taken on a life of its own in recent years becoming synonymous with the more British idea of a Sundowner.

Whatever you call it it’s a key opportunity for licensees to increase their revenue from drinks. As we move further away from dark winter evenings and lockdowns there is an undeniable sense of celebration, not hurt by the smorgasbord of sporting occasions happening this summer. Given customers in the UK probably won’t be heading off on holidays in the usual hordes this year, there will no doubt be a need to create special moments out of more everyday occasions. We're already seeing this play out in the data, with CGA noting the premiumisation of special occasions seen since lockdown ended. 45% of consumers have traded up in the trade on an occasion.

Aperitif hour represents the perfect chance to create a moment for your guests. A special pre-dinner or after-work menu that includes some salty snacks to compliment the drinks will encourage customers to linger a little longer. We've put together a couple of ideas that are just perfect for your aperitif menu.

Bottega Poeti Prosecco Brut DOC

While tradition dictates the aperitif consists of something herbal and spiced to prepare the stomach to digest the evening meal, the concept can be broadly thought of as a drink that excites the senses and stimulates the appetite. Wines that are light in body and high in acidity are perfect for this as they get the mouth tingling without overwhelming the palate. A pre-dinner drink list isn’t complete without something Italian and sparkling and the Bottega Poeti Prosecco Brut DOC is a perfect fit. A lovely balance of the softer prosecco character of white flower and peach in a crisp tart package, this wine speaks to the sense of occasion that is at the heart of the aperitif.

Pimm’s Sundowner

The name says it all. Pimm’s, already an English institution, have recognised the pre-dinner drink opportunity and crafted a flavoured spirit that fills the aperitif brief beautifully. Unlike classic Pimm’s, the new blend is full of tart red-berry flavour and is slightly bittersweet. It’s best enjoyed in a spritz with sparkling wine and a dash of soda - garnished with berries (I love raspberries for this). A simple, attractive, and unquestionably summer-ready serve.

Beefeater Peach & Raspberry

Beefeater is another classic English brand that has noticed the consumer need for something special to elevate the usual pre-dinner fare. Flavoured gins have quickly gained momentum in the trade and, when mixed with a bitter, herbal and complex tonic like Fever-Tree, make absolutely beautiful aperitifs. This juicy and delightful gin is perfect for refreshing your G&T offering and is extremely moreish. Don’t be surprised if your customers keep ordering them well past sundown.

Tito’s Vodka & Pickle Martini

While there will always be a place for the richer sweet and herbal style of aperitif, Nielson data around drinks trends in 2020 suggests that the vodka martini, driven by a desire for low sugar lower calorie alcoholic drinks, is experiencing a surge in popularity. For a deliciously savoury martini with a salty edge, perfect for getting the mouth-watering, try this Tito’s Pickle Martini recipe.

90ml Tito’s Handmade Vodka
15ml dry vermouth
30ml pickle juice

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice.
Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.

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About the author

Gabrielle Hutson

Gab found a love for wine (and spirits and beer and coffee!) during her years on the hospitality scene around Australia. The desire to dip her toes into a bigger wine and hospitality industry drove her to London and today she writes, reads and talks non-stop about wine for Matthew Clark's website and social channels.

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