We reveal how Halloween offers the perfect opportunity for your bar to put a spell on guests, and how participating in the month’s festivities can, in turn, provide an array of benefits to your business.
The spooky season is upon us! For consumers, Halloween is the perfect cause for celebration, and many will be planning their nights in advance, seeking out the best bars to grab a late-night tipple under the moonlight.
To meet this demand, and provide an elevated experience for guests this Halloween, it is essential that your business injects the thrill-factor throughout your bar, from magical serves and intriguing décor to enchanting entertainment. After all, this spooky occasion offers the ideal opportunity to increase footfall and revenue, so why not do all you can to bring the wow factor?
For any bar, your serves are the star of the show, and at a time like Halloween, where guests are expecting a truly thrilling experience, it is important that your cocktails don’t fall short. Even more, the spooky night presents the perfect opportunity to experiment with your serves and entice guests with new and exciting flavours, which are sure to trick and treat!
Olivia Yelf, Senior Brand Manager at Maurissa Beverages, reveals how bars can offer guests an exceptional experience, as she explains: “Halloween is an exciting time for bars to shine and create a memorable experience for their patrons. One way they can achieve this is by expanding their spirits collection to embrace the spooky spirit of the holiday.”
Special, seasonal variations of your bar’s most-loved spirits, such as the Mozart Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Liqueur, or visually striking tipples, like Blavod Black Vodka, are the perfect additions to elevate your venue’s serves and align with the spooky season, while creating a truly unique and enjoyable experience for guests.
25ml Blavod Vodka
25ml Lemon juice
Build into a highball, over ice.
Pumpkin Spice Martini
60ml Mozart Pumpkin Spice
10ml Vanilla Vodka
10ml Sugar Syrup
Shake and strain into a coupette glass, then garnish with grated nutmeg.
Moreover, with more consumers seeking a theatrical cocktail experience, meaning they are more willing to pay a premium for their serves, it is essential for your venue to arm itself with quality spirits that both tell a story and are visually appealing. Alex Robson, Co-Founder and Director of The King of Soho, agrees: “Halloween is a time when customers are open to something new, something daringly different even, but drinks must still be of great quality. People celebrating are also willing to trade up for a special occasion.”
Tina Connolly, Senior Brand Manager at Amber Beverage UK, introduces KAH Tequila, an authentic, quality spirit that is sure to treat guests this October. “Renowned for its skull bottles, KAH Tequila (40% ABV) is a super-premium spirit made with 100% Blue Weber Agave,” she says.
While it is premium, KAH Tequila also has a certain, physical appeal due to its beautifully crafted bottle, which emulates traditional Mexican culture, making it the perfect statement piece for bars celebrating Halloween this year.
Tina explains why KAH Tequila is a great addition to a back bar, especially this spooky season. She says: “Aesthetics do matter and KAH is perfect for Halloween. The white bottle fits onto the back bar, where it makes a striking addition to the display, whilst taking up less of the valuable space. The KAH ‘Day of the Dead’ branding comes to life in the brick format and, by embracing that Mexican celebration immediately after Halloween, bars can maximise the opportunity.”
While introducing a show-stopping spirit like KAH Tequila is sure to intrigue guests and heighten the eerie ambience, it is also worth considering swapping out your well-loved and versatile house spirits for a unique, premium alternative too. Vodka, which can be used in a variety of cocktails or served with mixers, is a popular choice among guests, so replacing this with a premium variation that aligns with the night of intrigue and terror, ensures an elevated experience for guests.
“Halloween drinks tend to be theatrical and vodka is versatile for a range of these cocktail serves. The King of Soho Copacetic Vodka (40% ABV) adds to the theatre of the occasion, and is dressed appropriately in a vibrant purple bottle,” Alex says.
With Halloween comes increased footfall, simply meaning there is a wider range of guests for your venue to cater for. Among the customers eager to try creative concoctions with unique flavours and tastes, there will remain some who will be seeking alcohol-free alternatives, yet who don’t want to miss out on the fun.
Alex Haslam, Head of Category Development, On Trade, at Diageo, explains the continuing trend of no-and-low alternatives: “People are looking for more choice when spending their time, and importantly their money, in the on trade and, with 39% of consumers looking to moderate during drinking occasions, stocking a few high-quality alcohol-free options is key.
“There is still room for education when it comes to the category, so ensuring alcohol-free options are as accessible as possible will help operators make the most of their range. Having well-known brands on the back bar can easily help this consumer journey. Diageo, for example, has launched a range of alcohol-free spirits including Tanqueray 0.0%, Gordon’s 0.0% Alcohol Free Spirit and Gordon’s Pink 0.0% Alcohol Free Spirit,” Alex adds.
Increased footfall during Halloween also means heightened pressure on your bar staff – serves must be great-tasting and meet guests’ expectations of a creative and thrilling concoction. RTD cocktails can be a great aid to bars this Halloween, saving time for bartenders, but ensuring a quality serve for guests.
Abby Matthews, Director of The Cocktail Co, reveals the benefit of RTDs during busy periods for bars. She says: “By offering ready-to-drink, bar-quality cocktails, bartenders can serve customers at a fraction of the speed – helping to manage queues at the bar, and increasing profits, as they’re able to serve more customers, more quickly. If the venues choose the brand wisely, customers won’t have to compromise on taste either.
“Serving RTD cocktails from a bottle doesn’t mean that customers can’t also have the bartender experience that they look for from the on trade. For example, while our RTD cocktails at The Cocktail Co can, of course, be enjoyed as they come, they are also designed to be shaken with ice and served with a garnish, to offer that personalised, premium touch,” Abby adds.
KAH Spiked Pumpkin
25ml KAH Tequila Blanco
50ml Lime juice
2 tbsp. Pumpkin puree
1 tbsp. Honey
1 Apple slice, to garnish
1tsp. Pumpkin pie spice
Place all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake until cold. Rim the glass with pumpkin pie spice. Strain the drink into a highball glass filled with ice, then garnish with a slice of apple.
While these deliciously daring creations provide an elevated experience for guests, they also offer your venue an array of appealing benefits. Olivia explains how your venue’s magically curated serves can elevate your brand. She says: “These themed cocktails become prime material for patrons to share on social media platforms, effectively amplifying the bar’s online presence and attracting more customers. Furthermore, the uniqueness of these themed cocktails often allows bars to price them slightly higher, contributing to increased revenue.
“Lastly, creating a memorable Halloween experience can lead to invaluable repeat business, with patrons returning for more fun during other events and holidays, ensuring a steady and loyal customer base throughout the year,” Olivia adds.
Dark & Stormy (Night)
20ml Bristol Syrup Co Ginger Syrup
20ml Lime juice
50ml Dark rum
2 dashes of angostura
Topped with ginger ale
Build in a highball glass filled with ice, then garnish with a lime wedge.
While creating a thrilling experience through your venue’s exciting serves is sure to please guests, your bar can elevate the experience further by providing an even more unforgettable night, with enchanting entertainment – another bewitching way to boost footfall and revenue on the night of terror!
Alberto Zandi and Arian Zandi, Co-Founders of Emerald Hospitality Group, explain the importance of providing an experience for guests, particularly at Halloween. They say: “At Emerald Group, we believe that the hospitality industry has developed beyond food and drinks, but is now also delivering experiences. Engaging in culturally popular events, like Halloween, offers a special opportunity for guests to receive an added value experience from their favourite restaurants.”
Looking for a little Halloween inspo for your bar this year? Alberto and Arian reveal the exciting Halloween event to take place at Riviera this October. They say: “We are hosting a very complex and special show called ‘Sexy Halloween’, in which we are bridging the world of horror and beauty. Guests can expect phantom of ghost opera, vampire striptease, a conversation with Dr. Dracula, demon acrobats and much more!”
Marco Matesi, General Manger at Savage Garden, reveals the venue’s big plans for the spooky season. He explains: “This Halloween, Savage Garden is going all-out and putting on a Halloween party on Friday 27th October. The ticketed event will see captivating performances from a contortionist and an illusionist. Plus there will be freakishly fabulous cocktails on offer, our delicious feasting platters and small plates, and a fancy-dress theme and £100 prize for the scariest costume of all!”
Including Halloween-themed entertainment on the night, and getting guests involved in a ‘Best Costume’ competition, will align with your spooky serves and further elevate the guest experience. It too, offers the perfect opportunity for guests to create and share user-generated content on their social media accounts, reaching wider audiences and elevating your bar’s name.
Marketing your bar’s Halloween festivities – from your thrilling cocktails to the chilling entertainment on the night – effectively is crucial in ensuring success over the spooky period. Dan Brookman, CEO of Airship and Toggle, a hospitality-focused data-driven CRM, which enables email and SMS marketing platform, explains: “How bars choose to market their Halloween offerings will, ultimately, affect how successful their event will be.”
For this reason, targeting returning customers, as well as prospective guests is crucial. Kieran Corbitt, Brand Social and PR Manager at The Alchemist, reveals the brand’s marketing approach to ensure successful campaigns among their venues. He tells us: “We take a three-pronged approach when it comes to marketing our campaigns: We create an email campaign and send e-flyers to our database, which consists of people that are genuinely interested to hear about our happenings. We also reach out to any press contacts and publications for any ‘what’s on’ listings if we’re holding a specific event, to hit any round ups for any occasions, including Halloween. Lastly, we create a targeted social campaign focused on all our brand channels: Facebook, Instagram (including stories), TikTok and Threads.
“We tend to share the assets at least two weeks before on socials, and on TikTok we look to join any trending topics around Halloween from October the first, to keep us in people’s minds when making Halloween plans. This is complemented with some paid media promotion on social channels and Google,” Kieran adds.
Ultimately, Halloween presents the perfect opportunity to provide an elevated experience for guests, with magnificent serves and captivating entertainment. While offering guests an unforgettable experience, your venue’s Halloween activities are a chance to boost footfall and revenue, and elevate your bar’s name!