We always talk about F&B, food and beverage. But then off we go discussing food in all its parts, almost ignoring drink completely. So, let’s redress the balance here. Because there is so much to say about drink at the moment, and it remains a crucial part of the event experience.
The first thing is to say, as probably expected, the world of event beverage has gone far beyond tea and coffee. In fact, even the tea and coffee at events has gone far beyond traditional tea and coffee. We’re looking at fair trade, ethically grown, sustainable beverages here, we’re even using discarded coffee beans to grow mushrooms in. These super fungi are then used to create meat free burgers and all sorts of other plant first, super sustainable menu options. And that’s just the start …
But let’s put this together properly and look at drinks in a methodical way. We’ll do it systematically, starting with breakfast and moving on until we reach the evening …
We’ve already talked about tea and coffee, but now is the time to embrace the smoothie, the freshly squeezed juices, the energy and health shots. Morning drinks have expanded beyond the hot options, and they’re no longer left lonely alongside heavy cakes and croissants. Now they sit proudly, set into ice, next to flavoured waters that refresh, energise and provide super antioxidants to start the day. They’re matched with morning fruit cocktails or a simple piece of fruit, they look bright, engaging, and positive, the perfect way to start the meeting. The brain is being fed from the very start.
Sure, some people just want a coffee hit, and that’s OK too, but why not offer them the chance to try something new, bold, flavoursome, and healthy. Great beverages set the tone so well, breakfast has never looked so good.
The next opportunity is a morning refresh. Sure, many will see this as an opportunity for a second hit of coffee, but we’re looking at things in a different way. Whereas the morning was about vitality, we’re changing the ingredients to feed the brain once again and work on endurance. From zingy citrus to powerful, super foods like kale, from mint and cucumber to super berries.
Let’s also take the opportunity to talk about water. If we’re going to prize the water cooler moment, let’s make the water stylish and contemporary. Packed with ice, fruit, flavour, not too overpowering but interesting. You can get water anywhere, but this is an event, so let’s make water an event. Let’s put an area aside to fill up water bottles and offer still and sparkling, sweet and sour. Sat next to smoothies and shots, the water becomes a water feature.
Not everyone wants a large lunch. Increasingly event food, especially at lunch, has been hijacked by delegates ‘bringing their own’. This is about healthy lifestyles, they bring homemade smoothies, protein shakes and Huels. This isn’t right, and we can help give them what they want with our own, homemade, handmade alternatives.
Sat next to soups and salads, our event beverage becomes about nutrition, and feeds the body and the soul. Many delegates will be working out, using the break for yoga classes or walks in the fresh air. So easy take away options of smoothies and shakes are always available.
At Lime Venue Portfolio, our venues have nutritionists and wellness experts that can make these options a part of the event experience; delegates can look at breakfast, lunch and dinner and see a well thought through set of menus that talk to them and their own lifestyles.
Meanwhile, those looking for a slightly more indulgent option should be reassured that there is a choice of fairtrade, locally sourced and beautiful wines, innovative cask beers and beverages, that mean they can enjoy a pleasant tipple over lunch.
While some of our guests digest their lunch time tipple, it’s important we address those that don’t have alcohol. This could be for many reasons, often cultural, sometimes deeply personal, often just a preference for that moment in time. It’s important, regardless, that we handle the subject in a responsible and sensitive way, knowing that this is a business event.
For some this will be complete abstinence, for others, it’s about making it less front and centre. But for everyone, a good alternative is a must, otherwise we’re discriminating against those who choose not to abstain.
Mocktails are a great option, and the quality has continued to get better and better. Mixologists are like modern-day chefs, delicately mixing flavours and tones, using new and exciting ingredients, seasonal produce, and interesting combinations. This is more than just coke or lemonade, and it doesn’t have to be all singing, all dancing; it works with two flavours, it doesn’t have to be five or six. Equally, serving suggestions are a must, how about drinks stations, or maybe send wait staff around the room with neon light trays, designer glasses, or ice fountains.
Drinks need to be vibrant and fun, they need to be created and designed in the same way as food, right down to the cup, class, or mug they are served in. In modern day events, everything you do says something about you, so it’s important that drinks reflect this.
There is a better way of doing drinks at events, and this is just the start. The evolution of event beverage is a massive trend for 2024, and the conversation has already started.