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Five most popular cocktails

Margarita

The Margarita is a celebrated Mexican cocktail renowned for its refreshing taste and – if mixed well – its kick. Traditionally it’s made with tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau or triple sec and served in a salt-rimmed glass. Its origins are debated, with stories ranging from it being invented in 1938 by bartender Carlos “Danny” Herrera to its naming after socialite Margarita Sames. Who knows. The cocktail’s appeal lies in its balance of tangy lime, sweet orange liqueur, and the distinctive kick of tequila. Variations include the frozen Margarita and flavoured versions like strawberry or mango, making it a staple drink if your bar is planning a Mexican evening. Now there’s a thought.

Mojito

The Mojito, hailing from Cuba, is a light and refreshing cocktail that captures the essence of the Caribbean. Made with white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and mint leaves, its history traces back to the 16th century and the beginnings of transatlantic trade – with its dubious origins. The Mojito’s allure comes from the invigorating combination of mint and lime, complemented by the sweetness of sugar and the gentle bite of rum. It’s a popular choice for warm weather, offering a cooling, zesty experience. The mojito gained global popularity through Ernest Hemingway, who famously enjoyed it at La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana. Always hard to mention Havana without invoking the name and spirit of Papa Hemingway whose prodigious literary output was matched only by his legendary drinking.

Martini

A symbol of sophistication, the Martini is a classic cocktail known for its simplicity and elegance. Traditionally made with gin and dry vermouth (never mind the bottle with Martini written on it – that’s a pale imitation), garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. Sharp and sweet there is no better pre-dinner drink. The exact origin of the Martini is unclear but is believed to date back to the late 19th century. Its popularity surged in the 20th century, becoming synonymous with James Bond’s iconic “shaken, not stirred” preference. The Martini’s enduring appeal lies in its crisp, clean taste and the endless variations it inspires, such as the Vodka Martini and the Dirty Martini.

Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is a cornerstone of cocktail history, often regarded as the original cocktail. Consisting of bourbon or rye whiskey, sugar, bitters, and a twist of citrus rind, it dates back to the early 19th century. Its name reflects the simplicity and purity of the drink, embodying a return to traditional cocktail-making methods. The Old Fashioned has seen a resurgence in recent years, thanks in part to its portrayal in popular culture, such as the TV series “Mad Men.” Its robust flavour and timeless appeal make it a favourite among whisky enthusiasts wanting a good malt with an extra something.

Negroni

The Negroni, an Italian classic, is a bold and bittersweet cocktail made with equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Garnished with an orange peel, it was invented in Florence in 1919 when Count Camillo Negroni requested a stronger version of his favourite cocktail – the Americano. The bartender replaced the soda water with gin (an interesting if slightly challenging choice) and the Negroni was born. Its popularity stems from the harmonising of bitter, sweet, and botanical flavours, making it a sophisticated choice for an aperitif. The Negroni has inspired many variations, including the Boulevardier and the Negroni Sbagliato. There’s one to test the bar staff knowledge. Sbagliato means bungled or confused in Italian – too many cocktails and we know how that feels.

Cocktails in film

Lots of your customers love a cocktail. Their sophistication and status – what they say when allied to a warm ambience and good company – is a symbol of our leisure time and society. Cocktails have long played a significant role in movies, acting as more than just a drink in a glass but as indicators of sophistication, power, and character development. Cocktails often serve to elaborate on the storytelling and give us some feeling for the character’s personality and social status.

One of the most iconic cocktails in film history must be the martini, famously associated with James Bond. Bond’s preference for his martini “shaken, not stirred” is a phrase which has passed into everyday language. Bond is a suave and discerning character. His choices underline his sophistication and meticulous nature. That was all well and good for the Bond movies but beyond the silver screen it set a trend in our real-world cocktail culture.

In The Big Lebowski the White Russian cocktail becomes an extension of the main character – Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski. His laid-back, unconventional lifestyle is perfectly represented by his drink of choice, which he sips throughout the film. The White Russian is almost a secondary character, a symbol of his nonchalant and somewhat chaotic approach to life.

Cocktails also serve as a backdrop for social interaction and plot progression. In the Bogart/Bergman classic Casablanca Rick’s Café Américain is a central setting where characters frequently engage over drinks. The cocktail glasses clinking in the dimly lit bar, the piano playing and smoke rings forming in the air all contribute to the film’s atmospheric tension and the unfolding of complex relationships. Here’s looking at you.

Then The Great Gatsby – the Robert Reford and Leonardo Di Caprio versions – feature lavish parties with flowing cocktails, representing the excess and opulence of the Jazz Age. The champagne cocktails and mint juleps are not merely refreshments but reflections of the characters’ desire for extravagance, their spending power and their pursuit of the American Dream.

Cocktails in movies and on TV often reflect a cultural and historical context. In the series Mad Men, the proliferation of classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan highlights the 1960s era’s drinking culture, emphasizing the social norms and business practices of the time. Most business deals are accompanied by a trip to the bar. Don Draper knows how to mix a cocktail and how to order one in the most sophisticated bars and restaurants in New York. How we’d like to be so sophisticated.

Cocktails in the movies are powerful narrative tools that do more than quench thirst—they define characters, set the mood, and offer deeper insights into the era and social dynamics portrayed on screen. That’s a bit deep when all we want is a choice at the bar with the chance to bring some joy into our lives – and joy into the lives of our friends and partners on a lunch or dinner date. Cheers.

Cocktail recipes:

Bond’s Martini is always: “Three measures of Gordon’s gin, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet (white vermouth) – shaken not stirred – poured over ice with a thin slice of lemon peel added.” Bond’s contemptuous look is a matter of personal choice.

The White Russian: A delicious creamy drink with a hidden kick and a sophisticated look not unlike a liquid dessert. Take one measure of good vodka and one measure of Kahlua coffee liqueur. Stir together, then add slow-melting ice (densely frozen or large cubes) and gently top with a good quality dairy cream. The proportion of cream added is a matter of taste but be sparing if you want to retain the kick of the cocktail’s main ingredients.

A Champagne Cocktail: Adding anything to champagne can create a cocktail but the classical tipple is champagne with cognac, bitters and a sugar cube. Treat the sugar cube with the bitters until the cube has absorbed all the liquid then put it in a champagne flute. Pour over a measure of cognac (10ml or so) and then add the champagne (75ml or so) very slowly. A twist of orange peel to decorate is a nice touch. If you’re going to Wimbledon it will undoubtedly be a strawberry.

Mint Julep: The only alcohol in a mint julep is Bourbon so make your choice a good one. Add crushed ice to a julep cup or tumbler. Put a handful of mint leaves into the ice and stir around, keeping the shape of the leaves intact. Now add the bourbon; at least a double measure but more if you want a bigger kick. Stir again, add a little more crushed ice then drizzle the bitters on to the top of the drink. A very popular drink at race meetings in the summer but very refreshing whenever the sun shines.

An Old Fashioned: It is vital to use your favourite whiskey or whisky (or rye or bourbon) as your key ingredient. Like many cocktails this is a mixture of three elements which combine beautifully in the proper proportions but let one dominate another and it can go wrong. Add bitters on to sugar and dissolve a modest quantity of water into a cocktail shaker. Add the spirit and shake. Strain into a tumbler and add a large ice cube. Perhaps twist a little orange zest into the drink and add the peel to decorate or garnish the old fashioned. Some things never need modernising.

A Manhattan: Ordering a Manhattan in a Manhattan bar was the highlight of a recent trip to America. It’s not unlike an old fashioned in its ingredients but differs in how it’s served and the fruit garnish with which it may be decorated. Again, choose your base whisky well. Add vermouth at a ratio of one to three (or to taste – this drink can kick like a mule). Stir a cherry syrup and some bitters into the mix, shake and then serve in a martini glass with a maraschino cherry to top it off.

Cola Wars

Drinks Rivalry

The rivalry between Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola, two of the most iconic soft drink brands in the world, has been waged for over a century. This competition, often referred to as the “Cola Wars,” extends beyond mere taste preferences and into marketing, cultural influence, and brand loyalty. It has even involved presidents and heads of state over the years. Some claim that Santa Claus wears red to suit the Coca Cola colour but I’m sorry – that’s a myth.

Pepsi, created in 1898 by Caleb Bradham, and Coca-Cola, invented in 1886 by John Stith Pemberton, have each carved out a significant portion of the global beverage market. Coca-Cola, often referred to simply as Coke, has historically led in market share and brand recognition. Its classic red and white logo, along with its extensive – some may say relentless – advertising campaigns, have made it a symbol of American culture.

Pepsi, however, has positioned itself as the challenger brand. It has targeted a younger demographic with bold marketing strategies and a more modern image. Pepsi’s “The Pepsi Generation” campaign in the 1960s and 1970s successfully tapped into youth culture, promoting itself as the drink for the new generation. The brand also scored a major coup with its “Pepsi Challenge” in the 1970s, a blind taste test campaign that claimed people preferred Pepsi over Coke.

In terms of product offerings, both companies have diversified significantly. Coca-Cola has expanded into various beverages, including Dasani water, Minute Maid juices, and Powerade sports drinks. PepsiCo, on the other hand, owns brands such as Gatorade, Tropicana, and Mountain Dew, and has a substantial presence in the snack food industry.

Marketing soft drinks

Marketing strategies have been crucial in the Pepsi vs. Coke rivalry. Coca-Cola often relies on nostalgia and tradition, featuring ads with themes of happiness and togetherness. Pepsi’s marketing tends to be more edgy and contemporary, frequently aligning itself with pop culture icons (remember Michael Jackson’s hair catching fire) and events.

In one famous episode where Pepsi tried to break into the Chinese market after Richard Nixon was seen sharing Coca Cola with Mao Zedong they had their ad agency translate their current slogan – Come Alive with Pepsi” into Mandarin. Mandarin is a pictographic language, quite unlike western scripts, and the resulting ‘translation’ could be read literally as “Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave.” Best laid plans and all that.

Ultimately, the Pepsi vs. Coke debate is more than a matter of personal taste. It represents a clash of marketing philosophies, cultural symbolism, and brand strategies, making it one of the most enduring and fascinating rivalries in the business world.

And unlike China and Mao you can get your Pepsi from CS Drinks. Just call Stephen or Dianne on 01539 559033.

Keep the customer satisfied

Just trying to keep the customer satisfied…

We all work in the licensed trade one way or another. We are suppliers of post mix drinks, our customers run bars, clubs and pubs – restaurants and hotels. One thing we all have in common though is the search for customer satisfaction.

Customer satisfaction in the licensed trade is like the secret sauce that keeps the drinks flowing and the vibe buzzing. Like another drink? I’ll get them in.

You stroll into your favourite watering hole after a long day, parched and ready for some relaxation over a drink. What’s the first thing you notice? It’s not just the drinks on offer, but the whole experience, the ambience, the décor, the furnishings – but most of all it’s the staff. Are they friendly? Do they welcome you? Can they get you anything? It’s so nice to be asked: “Can I do something for you?” rather than the cry of the working day – “Can you do this for me!”

In this business, it’s all about making people feel at home, even if home serves alcohol and has a jukebox or a quiz machine in the corner. It starts with the basics: a friendly smile, a nod of acknowledgment, maybe even remembering their drink order from last time they were your customer. It’s about creating an atmosphere where people can unwind, chat with friends, and maybe even make some new ones. When you put it like that it’s a responsibility not just a service.

But let’s not forget the drinks themselves. Nobody wants a warm beer or a weak cocktail. Quality is key. People come in expecting their favourite tipple to be poured just right, with care and attention to detail. And if there’s a little extra flair thrown in, like a fancy garnish or a cheeky cocktail umbrella, well, that’s just the icing on the cake.

At CS Drinks we are committed to providing the ingredients for the perfect drink. That’s our job. Yours is to provide and maintain a clean and comfortable environment. Nobody likes sticky tables and dirty carpets. Keeping things tidy and inviting is crucial for keeping the customers happy and encouraging them to come back again.

At the end of the day, customer satisfaction in the licensed trade boils down to one simple thing: creating an experience worth raising a glass to. So here’s to good drinks, good company, and good times. Cheers!

Steve and Dianne

Bag in box

Bag in box invention

We are all used to getting drinks, wine especially, in a plastic container which itself is contained in a cardboard box. The origins of bag-in-box packaging can be traced back to the late 1950s and early 1960s, when the need for a more efficient and convenient way of storing, selling and delivering drinks and liquids. The concept was initially developed by an Australian inventor – Charles L. Underwood – who filed a patent in 1955 for a “flexible liquid container.”

The bag-in-box packaging system was designed to address several challenges associated with traditional packaging methods, such as bottles and cans, not least the cost of making them. These challenges included issues like storage space, transportation costs, and product wastage from breakages and the like. By utilising a flexible bag – hermetically sealed like a balloon – housed within a sturdy cardboard box, the bag-in-box system offered significant advantages in terms of storage efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and shelf appeal.

Bag in box evolution

The earliest applications of bag-in-box technology were primarily focused on industrial and commercial use, particularly in the food and beverage industry. One of the earliest adopters of this packaging format was the wine industry, which saw the potential for bag-in-box packaging to revolutionize the way wine was stored, transported, and sold.

In the 1960s and 1970s, bag-in-box packaging gained popularity in Europe, particularly in countries like Sweden and France, where it was embraced by both consumers and manufacturers. The convenience and practicality of bag-in-box packaging made it ideal for an expanding range of products, including fruit juices, soft drinks, and dairy products.

In the following decades, bag-in-box technology continued to evolve and improve, with innovations such as improved barrier films, tamper-evident closures, and dispensing systems enhancing the functionality and reliability of the packaging format.

By the late 20th century, bag-in-box mixers had become commonplace in households, restaurants, and catering services around the world. Today, they are widely used for a variety of beverages, including cocktails, juices, syrups, and soft drinks, offering consumers a convenient and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional packaging formats.

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