15 08 2022 / 5 mins read

Learn from the best: key learnings from the UK's best cocktail bars

Learn from the best: key learnings from the UK's best cocktail bars
15 08 2022 / 5 mins read

Learn from the best: key learnings from the UK's best cocktail bars

Your venue has a lot to offer - starting from classics and modern twists to wines and craft beers. Your staff are incredible - they are highly-skilled, enthusiastic, motivated, and will go the extra mile for you. 

However, some days you’re wondering if you’re doing it right: “Should I up my marketing game?”

We’ve decided to research some of the best cocktail bars in the UK and analyse what they are doing well to have earned a place in the Top 50 cocktail bars in the UK selected by the industry experts. Let’s get straight into it!



What they are doing well:

  • Impressive drinks selection, Instagrammable signature cocktails, skilled, passionate and happy staff;
  • After being open for 13 years, they’ve launched an entirely new cocktail menu; it took 8 months to develop it;
  • They’re using similar flavours but different presentation for signature cocktails such as the Bramble itself;
  • They have their own R&D space and have a DIY approach to making own syrups and infusions;
  • Cocktail prices range from £8 to £9.50.

What you can takeaway:

​​Their cocktail prices fall between “a great price”  (£6.85) and “getting expensive, but would consider purchasing it” categories (£10.31)(CGA Mixed Drinks Report), meaning customers are likely to purchase their cocktail. Price your cocktails reasonably. 

If you are revamping your menu, take your time to develop not only unique-tasting but also visually appealing serves; did you know that 38% of consumers post a picture of their cocktail on Instagram “every time” or “almost every time”? (CGA Mixed Drinks Report). Give it time to taste and test the cocktails with the team, get everyone’s feedback and ensure the team are all on the same page before the launch. This is marketing you won’t need to pay for in the long-run.
Bramble, Edinburgh 


What they are doing well:

  • Modern Classics and Seasonal cocktails;
  • High-quality table service;
  • Creative drinks;
  • They have a gizmo called the Twist of Fate which “picks” a cocktail for you if you can’t make up your mind; you also have the chance of winning a free cocktail;
  • They offer dumplings and prawn crackers to accompany your cocktails - all for sharing and snacking.

What you can takeaway:

Invest in staff training and schedule on-site training days to motivate them and make sure they are up to speed with the menus. Why? 36% of consumers say that the service quality is one of the key factors when deciding on the venue to go to (CGA Mixed Drinks Report).

If you have a cocktail-only menu, consider adding a signature bitesbits - it’s not only responsible, but also extends the guest dwell time in the venue. Research finds that alcohol makes your brain think that you are in a starvation mode and… order food alongside drinks!



What they are doing well:

  • A cocktail bar set up and opened by 2 brothers, long standing professionals in the cocktail industry.
  • Classic cocktails with signature serves sprinkled throughout the menu;
  • Also serve wines, spirits, draught beer and British tapas;
  • Bar, a table service area, and a terrace outside; 
  • Five-star service with the finest Northern hospitality twist;
  • Many people knew of Schofield’s months and even years before its actual opening- it used to be “a world-famous bar that didn’t exist”  - all driven by the founding brothers’ numerous pop-ups around the world under their “Schofield’s” label.

What you can takeaway:

Schofield’s twist classic cocktails and experiment with flavours. CGA report shows that staple classic cocktails have lost market share and provides an example of classic Martini - it’s not as popular as the fruitier, and more crowd-pleasing, flavoured Martinis which have grown in market share. If you need inspiration for the flavoured martinis, we have you covered - try giving Strawberry Shortcake Martini and Berry Cinnamon Martini a go.

Schofield’s are focused on being inclusive - they aim to cater for anyone and everyone. They have extensive drinks options as well as British tapas on the menu.



What they are doing well:

  • Flat pricing across all signature serves;
  • A bottle shop where you can buy craft brews, ales, and more;
  • Drinks offerings change once in 6 months - each new menu designed around a certain theme; 
  • Special events, including paella nights;
  • Saturdays - focus on bottomless brunch with cocktails;
  • A free Espresso Martini cocktail when customer purchases 3 or more small plates (for Independent Birmingham Members);
  • One of the most Instagrammable destinations in the city;
  • £6 Happy Hour Cocktails 5pm-7pm Tuesday - Friday.

What you can takeaway:

If you haven’t yet, start offering signature serves  - 37% of customers pick a cocktail unique to the venue “every time” or “almost every time” when ordering cocktails (CGA Mixed Drinks Report).

Introduce Happy Hour to sell cocktails at a better price point - a great price for a cocktail is £6.85 (CGA Mixed Drinks Report); this removes a barrier to entry and lets more customers enjoy (more of) your creations! Promote the venue externally by offering a discounted rate to certain member clubs or societies. Lastly, work closely with your pouring spirit partner to find the best way to engage with the cocktail consumer by running ad-hoc giveaways or promotions - it will drive footfall and sales.
Consider adding seasonality to your menus, i.e. introduce theme-based serves (for example, for Summer Solstice, Halloween, Christmas); alternatively, choose a theme based on what’s happening in the world or in your local area at the time. 



What they are doing well:

  • Themed yearly cocktail menu, this years is based on scientific theories and frontiers with further info for customers interested in the inspiration behind the cocktail;
  • Monthly special menu;
  • Offer a hen cocktail making experience where customers get to choose what they make.

What you can takeaway:

Lab 22’s cocktail menu educates and inspires its customers. Not only do they show what drinks are on offer, they also build trust and a better relationship with customers by using storytelling techniques. Check it out here.

73% of consumers look at the menu before choosing a cocktail (CGA Mixed Drinks Report), making a menu one of the best ways to encourage your customer to try new serves. Tell them your story.
Also, think about offering cocktail masterclasses - it’s the best way to closely engage with your consumers and build additional brand awareness.


Homeboy Bar, Islington, London


What they are doing well:

  • Modern Irish bar with a focus on highlighting Irish Whiskey where this spirit is used in drink;
  • Celebration of Irish producers - simple Irish dishes, Saturday brunch and Sunday roasts.
  • Sensibly priced cocktails;
  • Happy hour from 4-6pm;
  • Pop-up events with prominent industry figures and bartenders from away.

What you can takeaway:

We recommend introducing happy hour to encourage consumers to try new cocktails as well as making them affordable to those who are on lower incomes but still want to enjoy their time out in the city. Homeboy is the prime example of how an Irish pub can serve world-class cocktails quickly, efficiently and consistently. Running a pop-up/take-over with other bars also drives footfall, especially if organised on a quieter weekday. You can make a big deal about it on social media, enable your guests to try more exotic tipples and collaborate with spirit brands which have the capacity to support the event with some free stock.



As you can see, even though the above-mentioned venues have many things in common such as five-star service or Instagrammable cocktails, each of them have some uniqueness that stands out and makes them the best cocktail bar in the UK. For some, it’s their staff and owners’ experience, for others, it’s their interior design and signature serves.
Implement one thing at a time to find out what works and what doesn’t work for you.
Good luck, you’ve got this!

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