Capitalising on the fros fad
What do you get when you combine the power of Instagram with Australians’ love for summer time sundowners?
Restaurant and bar operators around Australia have New York City’s Bar Primi to thank for the latest boozey trend sweeping across the country.
Bar Primi's general manager, Justin Sievers, developed the fros – a ros based slushie drink – during the States’ 2016 summer, and it was an overnight Instagram sensation. The drink’s popularity has not only skyrocketed across the US, it’s also ventured overseas and is set to enjoy a similar cult-status during Australia’s warmer months.
Pelicano, located in the affluent Sydney suburb of Double Bay, has embraced the fros trend, going so far as to launch a dedicated Fros Garden terrace.
“I spent most of the Australian winter in north American and Europe, looking for new venue and beverage trends. While I was in America the fros concept came into play in New York City and I thought it would have a great impact here at Pelicano, especially considering that in summer our ros sales outstrip the sales of white wine and red wine combined,” Pelicano owner, Andrew Becher, said.
The terrace seats 32, has five ross on its list and tries to introduce a new fros each week. When Becher spoke with Hospitality, Pelicano had two on offer: a sweet variety made from Jacob's Creek ros, a house-made strawberry syrup, freshly squeezed watermelon juice and fresh lemon juice, served in a coupette and garnished with edible flowers, and a drier option, also with Jacob's Creek ros but with the addition of Lillet Blanc vermouth, fresh lemon juice and soda water.
At Melbourne’s Mr Miyagi, owner Kristian Klein only has one fros on offer, but patrons aren’t perturbed, with the slushie machines working overtime on weekend nights.
“We’ve got five machines at the moment and on a Saturday night we’re going through them twice, which is exciting because we haven’t even had a hot night yet. We’ve been a bit unlucky with the weather lately, but as it gets hotter, it’s going to be interesting to see how much fros we go through. We’re doing about 800 glasses of it a week at the moment, which is pretty crazy,” he said.
Getting the price right
A fros at Mr Miyagi will set guests back $14 – a price which Klein said he had to consider carefully.
“It’s sort of like a cocktail – you get it garnished, it looks really nice, and there’s more millage than a traditional glass of wine, but we didn’t want to price it as a cocktail because I feel like cocktails are something that you might have one or two of during dinner, but we want you to be able to drink fros all night,” he said.
“It fits in with the [way we price] the rest of our wine but obviously it’s a little bit more expensive given that we’ve got the cost of the machines and there’s the cost of preparing the mixture. It’s not just a case of ordering a bottle and putting it in the fridge.”
The fros at Mr Miyagi is made from Chandon ros, and Klein said that despite what many may think, poor quality wine can’t be masked by the addition of other ingredients.
“We tried different ross and the cheaper ones didn’t really work – it tasted like cheap wine. Crappy wine tastes like crappy wine, even if it’s in a fros. We weren’t expecting that, but you really can taste the flavours and the quality of the wine through the fros,” he said.
At Pelicano, fross go for $15, and like Klein, Becher agrees that a couple of extra dollars need to be charged to ensure its profitability.
“Obviously there’s a bit of labour intensity, to get the mixture ready for the machine. But after that, it becomes a good, profitable beverage. The price point is really reasonable; we charge $13 for a normal glass of ros anyway, so there’s a little bit more just to cover the cost of the garnish and the labour,” he said.
And while Pelicano partnered with Pernod Ricard to bring the Fros Garden Terrace to life, Becher isn’t as convinced about the importance of using a high quality ros.
“There’s such a broad range of ross on the market now,” he said. “We target a pretty high end clientele here and we like to use really good ingredients in everything we do, [but] the good thing about fros is that you can use a lower quality Australian ros rather than a high end French one. It’s a mixed drink, and the ingredients you add can dictate the taste, so you can definitely add a lower quality, cheaper style of ros.”
The beauty of the fros craze is that there’s no recipe to follow; you can use a premium ros or a more affordable drop, adding as many or as few other flavours as you like. You can get the best of both worlds, jumping on the bandwagon to capitalise on a trend that’s already well established, while giving the bar staff some creative license. Just remember, make sure it’s Instagrammable.