Menus across the UK are set to get a refresh next week, as thousands of restaurant, pub and bar buyers head to the Casual Dining trade show (at London ExCeL on 27-28 February) for their annual tasting extravaganza.
Thanks to a 35% increase in alcohol brands, this year’s event will showcase hundreds of beers, ciders, wines and spirits (plus low/no alcohol variants) for casual dining operators. Plus, another 40+ exhibiting brands (there are 220 exhibitors in total, including food, drink, equipment and catering tech) will be sampling premium soft drinks and hot beverages – that’s everything from fruit juices, cordials, pressés, syrups, mixers, tonics, and waters, to specialty teas and artisan coffee – to suit every occasion, taste and daypart.
Some of the UK’s best-selling drinks brands will be there, including Brita Vivreau, Carlsberg UK, Coca-Cola European Partners, Diageo, Fentimans, Heineken UK, Schweppes, Jaegermeister UK, Vimto Out of Home, Nestlé, Freedom Brewery, Longflint Drinks Co, Tails Cocktails, KBE Drinks (whose portfolio includes Kingfisher, Dos Equis, Sagres, Bintang Beer, Krušovice, Lion and Peacock) and Molson Coors Brewing Company (for Carling, Coors Light, Staropramen, Cobra, Sharp’s Doom Bar, Worthington’s, Caffrey’s, Rekorderlig and Aspall, among others).
Scottish craft breweries and micro distilleries will also be well represented in the new Scotland Food & Drink Pavilion. Casual Dining show regular Thistly Cross Cider will be there, joined by a host of first-time exhibitors: Bellfield Brewery (gluten free beer), Stewart Brewing (its newest beers include Hedgerow Sour 4.2% and Voss IPA 6.5%), and The Start-Up Drinks Lab (craft sodas). Plus, specialist gin producers: Isle of Skye Distillers, Kinrara Distillery, Verdent Spirits, Dunnet Bay Distillers (gin and vodka), and Shetland Distillery Company (gins and whisky).
Other new exhibitors for 2019 include Jubel Beer, Whitewater Brewery (on the Invest Northern Ireland stand), Frizzenti – Cocktails On-tap, and Spirit Cartel – distributor of Becherovka, The Duppy Share, Embargo, Four Roses Bourbon, Koch El Mezcal, Ron De Jeremy, and Tequila Cantinero Orendain.
Real Kombucha, LA Brewery Kombucha, Pedrino, Longbottom & Co (Virgin Mary tomato juice), Soda Folk, Flyte – Clean Energy Drink, and Pago Premium Fruit Juice will be hoping to make a splash in the soft drinks category.
While Black Fire Coffee Tequila, Conker Spirit, The Cornish Distilling Co, Manchester Gin, Poetic License Distillery, LUXLO Spirits (20% gin alternative), Sea Arch – Not Gin, The Sweet Potato Spirit Co, and HMS Spirits Company will also be making their show debut in the popular Artisan Spirits Lounge. It brings together a host of innovative styles, flavours and blends from across the UK (and beyond) and also features Locksley Distilling, Pococello, Pinkster Gin, and Masons Yorkshire Gin.
King of Craft
As in previous years, the show’s Craft Beer & Cider Zone will see twelve rising stars of the brewing world vying for business (and the King of Craft crown) at the show.
The prestigious King of Craft award is voted for by dozens of VIP drinks visitors, press and beer experts, who’ll be sampling their way around the zone over the two days. Judges (to date) include: Dishoom’s Brian Trollip, Las Iguanas’ Glenn Evans, chef consultant Jay Morjaria, and MEATliqour’s Scott Collins.
New drinks hoping to take home the crown include Grind Pale Ale from Beer Tailor by Hop Kettle Brewing Co; Citra Four Hop Pale Ale from Big Drop Brewing; Juicy Pale 4% from Big Hug Brewing; Electric Eye Pale Ale from Big Smoke Brew Co; 4.2% Tropical Storm, Citrus Pale Ale from Black Storm Brewery; Indian Pale Ale 4.2% from Bombay Bicycle IPA; Meteor Pils 33 cl beer from BRASSERIE METEOR; Cuckoo Penny 4% Rhubarb Cider from Celtic Marches Beverages; NEIPA – New England IPA 5.6% from Home 2.0 Craft Beer; Hackney Hopster from London Fields Brewery; India Session Ale from West Berkshire Brewery; and Pogo from Wild Beer Co.
The show’s full exhibitor list (representing every link of the supply chain) is available to view here
“Drinks menus often dictate where many consumers choose to eat, so we’re thrilled to be able to offer such a vast and diverse range of alcohol, and, of course, non-alcoholic beverages, to this year’s visitors,” says Casual Dining’s event manager Eva Ellis.
“Our exhibitors will be promoting the best choice of quality, innovation and differentiation within the market – everything casual dining restaurant and pub operators need to stay ahead of their competitors,” she says.
“Discovering quality new drink and food innovations is so important to everyone at MEATliqour,” says Scott Collins, the company’s co-founder, “There’s no better place for us to find this than at our industry show – Casual Dining.”
Free trade registration
Casual Dining will take place at the new venue of ExCeL London on 27-28 February 2019.