Soft focus

30 August, 2016

Adult soft drinks have come a long way and now offer a viable, sophisticated alternative to their alcoholic counterparts. Tracy West reports


ANYONE STILL ONLY serving bog-standard soft drinks is definitely missing a sales trick. Yes, Coca-Cola is still popular and there’ll probably always be a market for lime & soda, but many of today’s adults – old and young – want their tastebuds tantalised by unusual flavour combinations. Just as with food, they want some authenticity. They want less artificial and more artisan. They want natural ingredients. They want a premium soft drink that’s a treat and they’re willing to pay for it.

Amanda Grabham, marketing director at SHS Drinks (Bottlegreen and Shloer), says: “Consumers have made a decision to go out and want to treat themselves, so they’ll choose a premium soft drink over a standard carbonate.

“There’s also the trend for drinking less alcohol in the week.

“We have an ageing population but it is quite a sociable one. These people are going out a lot but don’t always want to drink alcohol. Then there’s the younger generation (18 to 25-year-olds) who are health conscious but also very conscious about how they are seen on social media so they’re mindful of their alcohol intake.

“Both these groups want something more interesting than a standard carbonate.”

Grabham reckons Bottlegreen has the answer and reports that the brand is seeing growth in UK pubs, bars and restaurants but it also has quite significant distribution in pubs and bars in Australia and Canada. It’s listed in Soho House in London and Toronto, for example.

She puts much of Bottlegreen’s success down to its adult flavour profile. Of course, Bottlegreen is synonymous with elderflower – it is the company’s best seller and it’s still in growth.

“Bottlegreen has strong natural credentials plus it’s at the lower end of the calorie and sugar spectrum. It’s made with a filtration process like wine – so there’s no sediment – and it works really well with food.

“It obviously features on the drinks menus in many pubs but it’s also on some lunch menus too. We’ve worked with pubs to put together suggestions such as ‘try a pressé with a salad’ or our Sparkling Cox’s Apple with a sandwich.”

Bottlegreen is keen for bartenders to understand its ethos and so hosts a lot of on-trade customers at the Bottlegreen Mill. Grabham says this works brilliantly as it showcases the drink’s unique production process and means guests can really “experience the brand”.

Meanwhile the Shloer brand, although sold as an in-home drink in the UK, has potential in the international on-trade now thanks to its recent Halal accreditation. Grabham says SHS will definitely be looking at unlocking the potential of the brand in international markets.


Obviously getting the message out there about a brand is always key to its success. At Belvoir, a small sales team visits outlets where possible, but also works closely with distributors to help educate bar staff as to the best way to serve a Belvoir drink.

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