The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the tech take-up in hospitality. Will ordering through apps and online booking become the new normal?
New ideas for the big events in January and February
After the excesses of the festive period, more and more customers are taking part – in 2020 4 million people gave up alcohol for Dry January.
What’s on the menu?
The campaign gives a chance for you to show customers how comprehensive your soft drink selection is. Stock up on the favourites such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi and juices but also look to increase customer spend by creating an exclusive Dry January menu.
As well as non-alcoholic beers, such as Heineken 0.0, consider non-alcoholic spirits and mocktails. Get inspiration from our recipe bank.
Make a night of it
January is traditionally quiet in hospitality but that doesn’t have to be the way. If social distancing allows, put on a Dry January quiz night. As quiz nights are table-based, you can put them on relatively safely and restrict teams to 4-6 people. Offer tickets with a free drink and you could even include a drinks round in the quiz.
A highlight of the Scottish calendar on 25 January, this celebration has grown to be a big occasion across the UK. There might not be any dancing in 2021 because of social distancing but it can still be a great night.
A new twist
Haggis, neeps and tatties are a must-have on your menu, it wouldn’t be Burn’s Night without them. But the bar can play its part in the celebrations, too.
Put on a whisky-themed night to remember. A tasting evening after the traditional meal is the perfect chance for customers to discover their new favourite whisky, and it gives you a new revenue-generating opportunity.
You can sell tickets for the experience and offer add-on deals for extra drinks for when customers need to try just a wee dram more of their top pick. Your drink suppliers or the brands themselves should be able to help with tasting notes, or you could even ask them to host the evening. Make it a sit-down event with the host taking customers through the whiskies on a mic to avoid people mingling unsafely.
Get guests started with this Bobby Burns whisky cocktail.
In 2021, the day of romance is on a Sunday, which gives you the chance to turn the whole weekend into a celebration (and create more sales).
Try a loved-up brunch
Valentine’s Day is traditionally celebrated in the evening but why not add something different to your offer? Keep your traditional Valentine’s evening menu to the Saturday night but also put on a Valentine’s brunch on the 14th itself. The market for morning meals is around 66% of the British adult population – 35 million – but demand is twice as strong with younger people. If your venue has a high number of younger customers or you’d like to attract more, a Valentine’s Day brunch could be the answer!
A brunch menu could include fried eggs cooked in a heart mould and brioche French toast cut into hearts with a fruity topping and chocolate hazelnut drizzle. Or try a large stack of heart-shaped American-style pancakes with bacon and maple syrup.
How to make the evening special
Valentine’s Day is an occasion that can actually work well with social distancing as your customers will be couples, so no worries about big groups. Think about arranging two evening sittings if you think you will struggle with space to socially distance properly.
Pre-booking is essential and encourages customers to pre-order. This means you can order appropriate quantities to avoid waste. As part of a Valentine’s set menu, you could include a cocktail or glass of fizz.
Include a sharing menu for romantic couples to enjoy, without the worry of the Covid-19 risk. For starters, a meze or tapas-style course, followed by a sharing steak with a bowl of chips or dish of dauphinoise potatoes.
Round off the meal with heart-shaped meringues layered with Chantilly cream and fruit, or chocolate brownies cut into hearts and a scoop of ice cream.
Valentine’s is an ideal occasion to upsell on drinks. Offer some different options to excite customers, such as Tequila Rose. It’s a strawberry cream liqueur with tequila and tastes fantastic on its own as after dinner shots or in a Pink Russian. Try this Valentine’s special cocktail with ice cream and coconut.
Another great choice is the new Bombay Bramble, Bombay Sapphire’s blackberry and raspberry gin. Serve with a plain tonic, ice and squeeze of lemon for a gorgeous twist on the G&T.
Chinese New Year
If you haven’t celebrated Chinese New Year in your venue before, make 2021 the year. It’s still one of the most popular cuisines in the UK, so a special celebration will be sure to get interest from current and new customers.
When is it?
The biggest celebration in the Chinese calendar, the New Year starts on Friday 12 February and will run until around 26 February. It’s a common misconception with Westerners that Chinese New Year is just celebrated on one day. It is, in fact, celebrated over a 2-3 week period, which means you can make a real occasion of it.
The year of the...
The Chinese zodiac animal for 2021 is the ox. So, you could get creative with ox cheeks, maybe a slow-cooked stew with star anise. Try this delicious soy braised beef or ox cheek dish.
Or try a simple steamed sea bass with Chinese five spice, ginger and garlic. Use Kikkoman Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce to cater for those with gluten allergies and intolerances, too.
Add some colour
Red is traditionally associated with Chinese New Year as it’s believed to keep away the bad spirits, and bring luck and good fortune. Red decorations and tableware, as well as red vegetables such as peppers will bring brilliant colour and vibrancy to your menu.
Match up your Chinese dishes with an Asian beer. A well-known full-bodied lager is Tiger – winner of 40 international awards for quality. It goes particularly well with red meat stir-fries, so it’s ideal for Year of the Ox celebrations.