Not to be confused with shots, shooters feature a mix of spirits blended to create a single short drink.
Gone are the days when herds of revellers bellowing like bison at the bar on a Friday night had a straight choice between tequila, sambuca and neon sour stuff.
Short drinks have been transformed by the cocktail revolution and bartenders are whipping up increasingly complex concoctions with increasingly risqué names.
Many involve Jägermeister – which has been keen in recent years to disassociate itself from the once- ubiquitous Jägerbomb.
For example, Liquid Cocaine blends Jägermeister with Goldschlager, Redheaded Slut mixes Jägermeister with cranberry juice and Screaming Nazi contains Jägermeister and peppermint liqueur.
The names might cause the Portman Code enforcers to have seizures, but they seem to resonate with bar-goers, and retailers can capitalise on the trend by grouping together on shelves bottles of spirits that work as shots and shooters.
The trend towards off-trade drinking shows no signs of abating – BWS is up 2% in volume in the off- trade and spirits are up 3%, while total alcohol is down 2% in the on-trade and spirits are down 3% (Nielsen and CGA data, year to April 2015) – and drinkers want to recreate on-trade merriment when hosting parties.
Jonathan Dennys, customer marketing and insight controller at Jägermeister, says: “Retailers can increase their shot sales by taking advantage of pre-party and big night in occasions with eye-catching displays and theatre in-store.
“Consumers are experimenting more with their drinks at home. Speciality spirits, such as Jägermeister, are a unique offering and help consumers to bring something different to their big night in or parties, due to their unique and complex flavour combinations.
“Spirits which can be used for multiple serves, such as Jägermeister, are a must-stock for retailers looking to tap into the shot opportunity, as they allow consumers to enjoy not only shots, but cocktails and refreshing long drinks.”
Along with Jägermeister, the main players in this category are tequila, sambuca and liqueurs such as Sourz.
Dan Bolton, managing director at Antica sambuca supplier Hi-Spirits, says: “Shooters offer far more of an opportunity than more complex cocktail serves because they are easier to replicate at home.
“The key is understanding the signature serve of each brand and merchandising it accordingly.”
Retailers must take care, however, as the Portman Group says they should avoid actually using the word “shooter” because it implies down-in- one drinking, which breaches its code of practice.
It says: “The term ‘shot’ is more ambiguous in that it might be taken to imply a small measure of a drink rather than a style of consumption. We do advise caution when using the word ‘shot’ with regard to the accompanying messaging. For example, it is not advisable to include pictures of shot glasses with the term ‘shot’ above them on a point-of- sale piece – but it is possible to use the word in an acceptable way under our code.”
It also warns retailers to take care when marketing drinks as shots, and encourages them to run marketing and promotional materials past the Portman Group to make sure they are in line with the code.
The opportunities could be vast for the take-home trade. Shots and shooters account for around 15.2% of spirits sales in the on-trade but just 1.5% in the off-trade (Nielsen and CGA data). If retailers were to close that gap they could increase the category by £224 million.