Is Your Drinks Business Festival Ready?

4:22 pm

Main festival stage

With summer upon us, people are making the most of outdoor spaces and whatever sunshine they can grab. Festival season is in full swing and an explosion of open-air events are under way, meaning many Nisbets customers are boosting their businesses by providing the drinks at Britain’s bevy of outdoor occasions.  Unfortunately, however, keeping punters' thirst at bay during outdoor gatherings requires particular expertise. So, how can you effectively market and sell drinks at outdoor events?

Harry Sloan is a director of Beetle Juice Events, a UK company which uses VW campervans as innovative and novel cocktail bars, juice stations and DJ booths across some of the UK’s biggest festivals and events. As Harry suggests, top quality mobile catering is all about careful planning and being prepared to do something different.

Quality Counts

Festival by riverThe cost of setting up, purchasing a pitch or license and providing disposable glassware can be reflected in the prices at outdoor events. Whilst people are accustomed to these costs, it’s vital that your drinks offering still represents value for money. Whilst this makes the price of a pint of beer or cider noticeably high, guests are often prepared to pay for a premium quality product, as Harry highlights:

“Nearly two years ago, we partnered with Lanique, a rose liqueur from Jersey. With the spirit business just going up and up, it was a great opportunity to offer a product which stands out and the van really adds that wow factor.”

Be Original

Despite inhibitive pricing, beer and cider are firm crowd pleasers at many events, meaning stores of disposable pint glasses are a must have. That said, from a local fete to Glastonbury festival, potential customers usually have a choice of drink options available, meaning it’s challenging to stand out. Whilst some traders choose to undercut competitors to become people’s first choice for a quick pint, successful businesses ensure they offer something different which customers will actively hunt out. Beetle Juice's beautifully converted retro camper vans don’t hurt, but as Harry suggests, it’s also important that your product stands out:

“I think that if your brand is strong, you should use it. Our bestselling cocktail is a Beetle Juice and customers know that they can only get one from us. It’s been one of our bestsellers for the last five years and customers seem to love it.”

Cocktail service is naturally theatrical and crowd pleasing, so add some theatre to your outdoor drinks service using our range of cocktail shakers.

Know your Audience

However exciting, innovative and popular your product is, every event has a different vibe, along with different clientele who have unique tastes. As Harry points out, it’s down to you to be responsive and plan to meet their needs:

“Our biggest event is Download Festival, where over 80,000 people go to rock out to Slipknot or System of a Down and you have to cater for that. If it’s going to be a predominantly male crowd, we offer more dark rum and whiskey-based cocktails such as Dark N’ Stormies to suit their tastes, but you’d be crazy not to offer a mojito as it’s everyone’s failsafe.”

The Nisbets range of purees and syrups are versatile tools to create a wide range of drinks and Harry recommends Funkin purees due to their low additional sugar and high fruit content.

Be a People Pleaser 

Late night festival headlinersThe availability of pulled pork on most of the UK’s menus proves how powerful food and drink trends can be. Coffee has been transformed from a weekday pick-me-up to a mainstay of British culture in the last decade, with savvy caterers constantly adapting to meet the public’s changing palate. Awareness of trends is  particularly important for drinks vendors at events where outgoing customers will be spoiled for choice and Harry emphasises that it's vital to monitor what's popular:

“It’s really important to keep up with the kinds of things that people want. Tequila is going to be big in the future and we’re finding that drinks like long margaritas are getting more and more popular and make sure our cocktails reflect that.”

It’s clear that you need a well-formed idea of what sets your product apart, along with a watertight plan of how to promote this, before launching into outdoor and mobile catering. For businesses which succeed, the reward is a summer full of almost unlimited opportunity.

New to cocktails? Why not check out our guide?

For more information on Beetle Juice Events, visit  or check out Beetle Juice on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

By Oliver Bernard

My years of experience working in pubs and restaurants means I am always interested in the latest industry trends. If I’m not exploring interesting new eateries, I’m trying to mimic them at home!


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