Blog Entries Tagged as alcohol

Making History Hip

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: alcohol

What’s new? New styles, new watering holes, new apps, new electronics, new cars…the list can go on and on. There’s no question that today’s consumer is obsessed with all things new—and when he or she does find that shiny, new thing that no one else has yet discovered they make it known. Do you like this jacket? It’s new. Did you see this app? It’s new. Have you been to (enter bar or restaurant name here)? It’s new. You get the idea.

But lately there’s also been an obsession with what’s old. I’ve never been a history buff myself, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have an appreciation for the events that have helped shape the modern world.

In the spirits world, there’s been a newfound love for what’s old, where a return to the classic cocktail and iconic brands that date back more than a century are becoming what’s new again.

With speakeasy-type bars in demand and consumers tuning into shows like “Mad Men,” classic cocktails are getting a second look. Mixologists are bringing the sexy back to drinks like Moscow Mule, Negroni, Old Fashioned or Rusty Nail with a spin that brings these cocktails to another level.

What’s helped fuel this trend, in addition to pop culture, is the investment iconic brands are making to teach consumers about their history and the cocktails made with them.

Campari, an aperitif that dates back to 1860, is used to make the Negroni: one part Campari, one part gin and one part sweet vermouth. Last year, a contest in New York City asked bartenders to come up with their own version of the Negroni causing a spike in menu placements for the drink around the city. History lesson: Campari originally got its rich red color extracted from a cochineal beetle native to South America.

Bacardi, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, is widely recognized for the Mojito: 1.5 ounces of Bacardi, 12 fresh spearmint leaves, half a lime, 7 ounces of club soda and 2 tablespoons of simple syrup. This cocktail, which dates back to 1862, was originally called the Draque, invented by Richard Drake, a pirate on board the ship of Spanish explorer Francis Drake.

Today, the Mojito recipe is often altered and made with a variety of fruit flavors and flavored Bacardi rums to get a customized version of the classic. History lesson: Bacardi got its bat symbol because bats were found in the rafters of the original distillery.

Glenfiddich celebrates its 125th anniversary this year. In honor of its anniversary, the brand is promoting cocktails that create a modern take on the historic brand. The Pioneering Spirit: 1.5 parts Glenfiddich 12 Year Old, 2 parts pear juice, one-half part agave nectar, 1 part lemon juice. History lesson: Founder William Grant and his nine children built the first Glenfiddich distillery by hand over the course of a year.

While these cocktails, and the brands that help make them, aren’t necessarily “new,” they are classic—and that’s one thing that never gets old. 

Even the U.S. can be an emerging market it in its own way.

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: alcohol

There’s been a lot of coverage about emerging markets of late, including my PourWord from last month detailing a recent trip to an emerging South East Asian market, Vietnam. We traditionally think of the so-called BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as the four biggest emerging markets on which beverage companies have been lavishing attention, followed by the next wave of burgeoning sites in Asia (like the aforementioned Vietnam), Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

What really defines an emerging market is the level of untapped opportunity to grow various product categories. So, in that regard, couldn’t just about every country be an emerging market for something? And, yes, that includes even the U.S.

I never in a million years would have considered the U.S. to be emerging in any way, shape or form, since it’s possible to get a drink from just about every category in the States. But then a recent invitation to a press event in New York City reminded me that there are many segments that have yet to max out their market potential in the U.S. The invitation was from the Japanese External Trade Organization (JETRO) and it was for a showcase of shochu, Japan’s national spirit (see some pics in this month’s Liquid Lens).

Shochu had been on my radar for a while. One of my favorite izakayas in Manhattan is a place called Umi No Ie, which specializes in the spirit; shochu varieties outnumber the sakes nearly tenfold. Also, on a trip to Japan a couple of years ago, I had stumbled into a Tokyo bar that served shochu exclusively. But beyond those examples I rarely gave it much thought in my daily life. And that’s kind of a small tragedy because given the extremely niche-level penetration shochu has in the U.S. market, it’s likely that most legal-drinking-age consumers don’t pay it much mind either.

The New York event reminded me that it’s a pretty accessible and versatile spirit. For a clear spirit, it pairs pretty well with a variety of foods without any enhancement. But for cocktail-crazy consumers, its various flavor expressions—depending on whether it’s distilled from sweet potatoes, barley, rice, sugar or buckwheat—make it fairly flexible for drinks both sweet and savory. Renowned mixologist Junior Merino led a guided tasting at the expo to demonstrate just how mixable it is. What’s more, there’s no shortage of romance associated with its history and product methods to satisfy even the most discerning Scotch and bourbon aficionados. Its origins can be traced back to feudal Japan of 500 years ago and is, to this day, distilled using wooden pot stills. Its single distillation ensures that as much of the flavor complexity of its base ingredient is retained.

The U.S. may be one of the most mature spirits—and overall beverage—markets around, but when it comes to segments like shochu, it’s barely a toddler. And that toddler, if nurtured correctly, could have some very fruitful growing-up years ahead of it.

Is it last call for the independent neighborhood tavern?

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: alcohol

“Steve believed the corner bar to be the most egalitarian of all American gathering places, and he knew that Americans have always venerated their bars, saloons, taverns, and ‘gin mills,’ one of his favorite expressions. He knew that Americans invest their bars with meaning and turn to them for everything from glamour to succor, and above all for relief from that scourge of modern life—loneliness. He didn’t know that the Puritans, upon landing in the New World, built a bar even before they built a church.” — “The Tender Bar,” J.R. Moehringer
 

In his 2005 memoir, “The Tender Bar,” J.R. Moehringer recounts how the local tavern in Manhasset, Long Island, where he grew up, served as his home away from home, with all of the people who frequented it nurturing him and helping him grow into the man he is today. “Americans have always venerated their bars,” Moehringer writes.

That is, until recently. Times change, and so does, apparently, where Americans like to stop for a drink. For better or worse, the independent neighborhood tavern is disappearing from the American landscape. According to a recent article in USA Today, “Neighborhood taverns, which for generations were cornerstones of Chicago’s ethnic communities, are being squeezed out by the economy, gentrification, changing tastes and city regulations that make it more difficult to operate in residential areas.” The article goes on to say that in Chicago, the number of tavern licenses has dwindled from 3,300 in 1990 to about 1,200 today.

And the U.S. is not alone. Even in the U.K., where the neighborhood pub has been even more important to the social fabric, a similar trend is playing out. Six British pubs were closing every day, according to one recent survey, a trend attributed to the smoking ban, the huge discounts for alcohol offered by retail chains, and, of course, the effects of the recession on extra spending money.

Here in the U.S., a big part of the reason also has been the proliferation of national chain restaurants, with their flashier, brightly lit bars and big-screen TVs. I’d venture another reason as well—the rise of social media. In “The Tender Bar,” Moehringer describes how the other bar-goers became his extended family. Log onto Facebook today and our lists of friends have become the digital equivalent. That’s not to say we don’t still want to see them in the flesh to hoist a real, not a virtual, pint. But with all that Facebooking, friending, Tweeting and FarmVilleing, how much time does that leave for a trip down to the neighborhood bar?

Is this for better or for worse? I’d argue it’s for the worse. America has become a country where people of different political persuasions or different social strata rarely come into contact with one another. And that is an important ingredient for a healthy democracy to function. To mull this issue or that over a beer with your neighbors at the corner bar used to be as important as the U.S. Senate debating and filtering down the latest piece of legislation. Just think of all the mulling we’ve been missing. 

Last Call for 2012 BevStar Awards Submissions!

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: alcohol


I just wanted to give you a quick heads-up that the submission deadline for the Third Annual Beverage World BevStar Awards is fast approaching.

The awards recognize innovations across the major beverage categories, introduced to the market--US or abroad--during the past 18 months. You can submit as many products as you'd like, as long as they've been released within that time period. We'll award gold, silver and bronze medals in each of those categories, as well as a Best in Show award and special achievement awards for Marketing Innovation, Social Media Initiatives and Environmental Sustainability.

We're happy to announce a new category this year: mead, cider and sake. We felt that these fermented classics got lost within beer, wine and spirits, especially since sake is actually closer to beer than it is wine even though it's frequently lumped in with wine.

Other categories include carbonated soft drinks, water/enhanced water, functional & energy, beer, wine & spirits and ready-to-drink tea.

The first step is to email your submission to bevstar@beverageworld.com. That message should include:

• Product Name

• Parent Company

•
 High-resolution product image

• A brief description of the product and why you believe it should win a BevStar Award — maximum 75 words please


• The names of any packaging design, ingredient and branding companies that played a key role in the development of the product

If your entry passes the initial screening process, expect an email directing you where to mail a product sample.

Good luck to you all!

Beverage brands are taking it to the streets.

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Category: General Blogs  |  Tags: alcohol

I’ve never been on a road trip—a real road trip that is, like one across country or down the East Coast. But I imagine they’re fun, exciting, great learning experiences and make for an even greater story…maybe something to put on my Bucket List.

It’s the story part of the road trip though that’s got me thinking HIT.

Over the past year, I’ve been hearing about brands taking their story on the road and meeting fans along the way. This isn’t necessarily a new way of marketing (in the past, start up beverage brands have traveled in branded vehicles as a way of literally hitting the street and spreading the word on a new drink that’s on the market) but lately it’s been established brands that are going the distance to reconnect with their consumers on a more relatable platform. They’re tying into a hot trend, like food trucks, or a theme like American artisans or by letting fans be the roadmap through tweets and “Likes” on Facebook.

Freixenet, the leading sparkling wine brand in the world with roots that date back to 1861, launched a Tastings & Tapas Tour to reintroduce its cava, a famous sparkling wine from Spain, to consumers while pairing it with a range of tapas—the message, Freixent is for every day and can pair well with a variety of foods from spicy dishes to barbeque to sushi.
The Balvenie, a hand-crafted single malt scotch whiskey, hit the road this year with the Balvenie Rare Craft Roadshow, a nationwide search for the best craftsmen in the country from brewers, to vintners, cheese makers, tailors, apothecaries, bicycle makers and everything in between. Traveling to 20 states and 30 cities in a handcrafted Morgan Car (naturally) Balvenie ambassadors Andrew Weir and Nicholas Pollacchi honored artisans committed to their craft just as Balvenie, a brand produced by a fifth generation family-owned distillery, does. The tour, which was from March to October, was documented in a web series, which will later become a documentary.

Fernet-Branca, a bitter that is used widely among mixologists and dates back to 1845, also traveled the country this year—in a restored VW bus. The tour was powered by tweets where every tweet brings the bus closer to its next location. On its Facebook page The Fernet-Branca Tour tab has a TweetOMeter that measures the Tweet Fuel level. The more tweets @FernetBranca, the more miles the bus can go.

A brand that is said to be coveted by an “inner circle” of mixologists, was looking to broaden that circle with its consumers through interactive events, tastings and special cocktails.

At each stop, these brands got the chance to tell their stories and reignite some excitement among consumers by sharing common passions, whether it was done in person or from the virtual world. Either way, taking a brand on the open road is opening up opportunities.