In a health-conscious world, I've noticed recently that greasy bar snacks have definitely taken a hit.
Yes, it is true that for every trend toward health, there is a counter-trend for indulgence, such as pork scratchings.
But there is definitely a market out there for 'healthy snacks' on the bar – and it is pretty simple and cheap to put together.
Cheap and cheerful and a pub favourite. Recently brands such as Stella Artois have even been promoting matching their brews with the staple snack.
The question of whether to offer a few complimentary olives or try and upsell at the bar is tricky, and depends on the type of pub. You also have the question of stuffed or unstuffed, with stones or pitted. Options to match beers with olives stuffed with either jalapenos, dried tomato, garlic or onion are wide-ranging.
Presented on the bar as a large snack or possible as a complimentary dish of cornichons. In a similar way to olives, the options for brining, pickling, and presenting with numerous herbs and spices is almost endless. As a result, the options for matching with beer and wine and spirits is equally limitless, and offers numerous opportunities for unusual flavour combinations.
Unsalted and unsweetened popcorn, but flavoured with spices, can be a winner for soaking up the beers with a light pre-meal snack. The margins can be pretty ace too. Publicans can offer self-serve popcorn dispensers on the bar – or maybe a large, colourful dispenser like you would see at a cinema, on the back bar. Either way, it's a great snack for a wide selection of customers.
It has always amused me that kids often get a little bowl of carrot or cucumber sticks prior to their meal. Why not the adults too? Hell, chuck in a collection of dips too – hummus or guacamole. There is no better illustration of the freshness of your food offer than a collection of vegetables and homemade dips being on the menu.
This is essentially a nut replacement. The snack can be topped with spices and maybe even a cheeky smattering of salt. They are lower in calories – and have more protein and fibre – than nuts and as a result are much healthier. The full, 'nutty' flavour means that it sits well with beer too and is a guaranteed winner for people who normally munch on a pack of dry roasted.