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2 INDUSTRY INSIGHT By Alan Forester, CPA, Attorney 6 CATEGORY FOCUS VALUE WINES 10 NEW PRODUCTS & PROMOTIONS 12 NEW PRODUCTS & PROMOTIONS 14 INDUSTRY REPORT STIFF COMPETITION Across the country, top bartenders compete to create the best cocktails and help build brands. 20 COVER FEATURE LE TOURMENT VERT ABSINTHE THE GREEN PARTY'S JUST STARTING! Le Tourment Vert Absinthe made a splash when it recently launched. Its versatility as a great all-around spirit, however, solidifies its potential for broader growth. 30 INDUSTRY EVENT ABL CONVENTION 32 INDUSTRY EVENT BROWN-FORMAN 2009 RETAILER OF THE YEAR AWARDS TO ABL MEMBERS 34 BRAND PROFILE TEQUILA AMATE
42 BRAND PROFILE GABRIEL BOUDIER SAFFRON INFUSED GIN 46 POUR OF THE MONTH FINEST CALL MIXERS 48 BRAND PROFILE CLAUSTHALER PREMIUM NON-ALCOHOLIC BEER 50 BRAND PROFILE BOMBAY SAPPHIRE GIN 52 BRAND PROFILE TEQUILA ORO AZUL 54 BRAND PROFILE HPNOTIQ 58 INDUSTRY NEWS 60 INDUSTRY NEWS
36 CATEGORY FOCUS GIN: CLASSIC OR CONTROVERSIAL? Movement For 2009 Is Unpredictable
42 BRAND PROFILE BLUECOAT, AMERICAN DRY GIN
62 SPEAK EASY A CHAT WITH JOHN MCDONNELL Chief Operating Officer, Patron Spirits International A.G.
BY ALAN FORESTER, CPA, ATTORNEY
Beverage Industry News
VOLUME 99, ISSUE NUMBER 34 FOUNDED IN 1934 www.binonline.net
SEXUAL HARASSMENT, EMPLOYER’S RESPONSIBILITY
In California, the laws regarding driving under the influence (DUI) are some of the strictest in the nation. DUI laws are designed to punish offenders for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, other drugs or a combination of alcohol and other drugs. A driver who is caught with illegally high alcohol levels in their blood or breath or who refuses to complete a chemical test are usually dealt with in two ways. Firstly, they can be prosecuted in court for the criminal offense of DUI or refusal. The criminal penalties that may be imposed include jail and prison, fines, treatment, probation and license suspension. Secondly, the driver may be subject to licensing action by the DMV for the civil offenses of driving in excess of the fixed alcohol limit or refusing a chemical test. There are two alcohol limit laws in California, one is called the “per se” alcohol limit, the other is called the “presumptive” alcohol limit. A driver who exceeds the per se breath or blood alcohol content (BAC) limit will be prosecuted only for having an amount of alcohol in their system greater than that permitted by law. The actual level of the driver's impairment will not be an issue. A drivers will be guilty of a DUI simply for having violated the per se BAC limit. California's per se BAC limits vary depending on the driver's age, whether he or she is a commercial driver, and whether the case is adjudicated in a court (criminally) or by the DMV (civilly). Drivers who exceed the presumptive BAC limit are presumed to have been under the influence of alcohol when driving, that is, it is assumed their faculties for driving were impaired. California's presumptive BAC limit is .08%, which amounts to about four drinks in an hour for a 160-pound male. BAC levels are established from results of law enforcement officers' chemical tests. A driver who exceeds this presumptive limit is presumed to have been under the influence. Still, they can attempt to prove in court that - despite having had an incriminating BAC – that they were not physically impaired when driving. It is also important to note that a driver whose BAC does not exceed the presumptive BAC limits can still be convicted of a DUI if other evidence shows that their abilities were impaired. It is common for a court to prosecute a person who has been arrested for a DUI for violating both the per se and presumptive statutes. If there is strong evidence against the driver from the BAC test, it is likely that a prosecutor will try to convict on the less complex per se charge; if the evidence from the BAC test is not strong, it is more likely that a prosecutor will still attempt to use the sobriety test evidence to prove that the driver was physically impaired, and guilty of the presumptive DUI charge. A driver who is convicted of both a presumptive and per se charge will only be punished for one of the two charges. If a driver refuses to take a chemical test for a DUI, they may still receive a severe punishment. In California, all drivers are required to take and complete a chemical test if a law enforcement officer requests them to do so. There are severe consequences for refusing a chemical test such as harsh license sanctions or suspensions, facing the probability of a DUI conviction and a conviction for test refusal, receiving all standard DUI penalties, losing the possibility of getting probation as a substitute for jail, and receiving a longer jail sentence. Courts can impose DUI penalties in several ways. A misdemeanor offense will be punished less severely than a felony. In California, a misdemeanor DUI offense typically will not involve injuries, where a felony DUI offense will usually involve someone other than the driver being injured or killed as a result of the offense. A driver who is convicted of a misdemeanor can be sentenced to jail, but not prison, and fined up to $1,000. A driver who is convicted of a felony can be sentenced to prison and fined more than $1,000. It should also be noted that if a driver already has a DUI conviction on her record, any subsequent DUI will be punished more severely than previous offenses. Alan Forester is an attorney, CPA and an expert witness in Alcoholic Beverage Control Law. For more information, please visit www.ABClawyer.com or call 800-464-1040. I
Disclaimer: This article is not to be construed as legal advice. Please check with an attorney before taking action. 2 BIN 2 0 0 9 • I S S U E 5
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VALUE: THE TIME FOR WINE IS NOW
In the chase for shrinking dollars, the wine trade is generating a brave new world of wine values
By W. R. Tish
oming off 15 (or is it 16? who’ counting?) years of dynamic growth, s
America’s wine culture has been blooming. Now this. Pundits don’t have a name for it yet, but with the economy seeming to stagger more dramatically each week, no industry is untouched. How will the deep and extended downturn impact wine?
however, “People who like wine still have a passion for it. They are spending less per bottle, but they aren’t opposed to treating themselves to a mixed case.” It is hard to say yet if consumption will keep rising in the new, deﬁnitely-not-improved economy, but people are clearly becoming more conscious of what they spend at retail. As Christy Frank, proprietor of Frankly Wines in NYC, puts it: “I think consumers have always wanted wines that overdeliver for the price. These days, they just feel a little more justiﬁed in asking for it.”
It’s too soon for statistics to paint a broad and clear picture, but based on interviews with pros at every level of the trade, wine’s current experience appears to be more of a clash than a crash. In essence, the free-market system is grinding up against the threetier system as never before in history. Wine’s almost inconceivable number of SKUs—at price points that range from stupid-cheap to stupid-expensive—coupled with a national thirst that seems far from slaked, has generated an incredible downward pressure on prices. The pie, growing so deliciously for so many years, may not be shrinking at all, but it is suddenly—and rapidly—reassembling itself. And players in every nook of the business are scrambling to keep their sliver. It all starts, of course, with how consumers are shifting their dollars. Trading down was in full force over the holidays, according to Katherine Moore, manager of Union Square Wines & Spirits in NYC, with Cava and Prosecco cannibalizing Champagne like never before. And it hasn’t abated in the ﬁrst quarter of 2009; conspicuous consumption is history and sticker-shopping is now the norm. She adds,
Will the Real ‘Values’ Please Stand Up?
In hard times, the notion of value takes on fresh importance. Not just price, but value. Value is not a commodity, it is a concept. Deﬁnitions differ greatly, of course, as one drinker’s idea of a great value is a $18.99 box of Merlot, another’s may be a $6 anything-but-Merlot by the glass, while yet another person’s deﬁnition may be a $25 Pomerol. The rela-
tive spread of what value means is bound to stay expansive, yet the appeal of what consumers consider “value” is likely to intensify. How can you apply the concept of value to your business to satisfy the consumers who are demanding it? Speciﬁcs will vary based on your wine niche, but it may be helpful to approach the concept of value as an evolving target. On one hand, there are “Classic Values”—driven by logical strategies wine drinkers have long applied to get more “bang for the buck” [see sidebar]. On the other hand, there seems to be a bunch of brand new value opportunities, borne directly from the sense of urgency that is infusing the industry from producers right through drinkers. Here is a closer look at where the “New Values” are.
CLASSIC VALUE STRATEGY
WHAT: European “breadbasket” wines STRATEGY: Proven yet humble European table wines make excellent “house” wines or by-the-glass pours EXAMPLES: Italian Montepulciano, Nero d’Avola; Portuguese Douro, Dão; Spanish La Mancha, Campo de Borja and < $10 wines made from Grenache; French Languedoc, Pays d’Oc, Côtes du Rhône WHAT: Able understudies STRATEGY: For drinkers who favor distinctive regional/stylistic wines, trade down while keeping similar wine character EXAMPLES: Swap Monterey Chard for Napa (e.g., Hahn); Cava and Prosecco for Champagne WHAT: South American stars STRATEGY: Tap Chile’s comfort level and Malbec’s growing popularity and crossover appeal (vs. Merlot, Shiraz) EXAMPLES: Various < $12 Chilean Sauvignon Blancs, Cabs, Carmenère and good-intensity but smooth Malbecs WHAT: Vintage sleepers STRATEGY: In “excellent” years, the rising tide lifts quality of the basic wines of a region EXAMPLES: Basic AOC or “Côtes” from Bordeaux in 2005, 2006 (e.g., “today’s Bordeaux” @ www. bordeauxwinecouncil.org); 2007 Côtes du Rhône; 2007 California Pinot Noir (e.g., Mark West) WHAT: “Second” wines STRATEGY: Clue customers/diners on to secondary labels or side projects of higher-priced producers/consultants EXAMPLES: Odfjell Chilean line (Paul Hobbs); Christian Moueix’s Pomerol, St. Emilion, Médoc; declassiﬁed Napa wines, e.g., Reaction; Cabernets by “The Show”
don’t think they can move out quickly. A great deal on four cases of a wine is worthless if it’s going to sit stacked. With so much wine in warehouses and wineries needing to work its way through the pipeline, the deals are likely to customers continue to pop up— are increasingly especially at higher accepting of wines in new price points. packaging formats
Big is beautiful.
“I think consumers have always wanted wines that overdeliver for the price. These days, they just feel a little more justiﬁed in asking for it.”
– Christy Frank, Frankly Wines, NYC
Consumers can do the Quality-Price Ratio math. They do it all the time when they buy jugs of Tide, cases of Pepsi and ﬁve-gallon containers of water. The current crisis has opened the door for them to re-think buying wine in bulk. Frankly Wines’ Frank says, “Our customers are increasingly accepting of wines in new packaging formats—Yellow + Blue 1L Tetra Pak, Roger Perrin 3L boxes, 1L jugs of Austrian Grüner and Zweigelt sealed under crown cap. It takes a little reassurance, but once they understand that these formats can deliver good wine and great value, they usually come back for more.” As long as the economy is weak, large formats are bound to stay strong.
Brands are back.
There’s an old saying in the wine industry: the wine doesn’t know what bottle it’s in. But consumers certainly do. Kevin Connor, director of marketing for Robert Mondavi’s Woodbridge, Private Selection and Solaire wines, points out that after a decade of the wine industry’s top 10 brands representing an increasingly smaller share of the overall market, the slide did an about-face in 2008: the top 10 gained ground relative to their peers. Connor attributes the turnaround to consumers’ attitudes. “When times were good, wine drinkers were more adventurous in terms of trying new labels,” he explains. “Now, with their budgets tight, they are looking to play it safe and returning to brands they trust.” Call it the comfort factor: for dayto-day drinking, there is real value in buying wine that won’t disappoint.
Deals, deals, deals.
If you haven’t sensed the volatility in the wine pipeline since fall of 2008, you haven’t been working. “The slump is on everyone’s lips,” says Mike Duffy, a sales rep for the heavily Italian portfolio of Selected Estates of Europe. “What I see are shrinking inventories and ordering on-the-spot, with everyone looking for deals.” And the pressure is working its way back up the chain: knowing they need better pricing to get the orders from their increasingly demanding retail and restaurant accounts, distributors are squeezing producers to hold prices if not drop them further. The net result is situational bargains galore. The trick, of course, for wholesale buyers is to jump on the deals that ﬁt their particular clientele. In short, nobody is rushing to bring anything in the door that they
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New ‘power reds.’
For lovers of red wine, seeking more bang for the buck is not just about the buck, it’s also about the BANG. After a long spell of promoting the sheer power of 90-point reds,
Australia: their glut, your gain.
Australia is one big magnum of irony winewise; amid years of serious drought, there is nonetheless more Oz wine in our pipeline than ever. Some say the glut is over, but there should be plenty of excellent Shiraz-based wines (e.g., Marquis Philips, Red Dust and Penfolds’ Koonunga Hill) still reaching our shelves at prices in the low teens.
Shelf Talkers are one way to point out good buys to customers
New “sweet spot” on wine lists. Fine dining has been hit
harder and faster than wine retail since the economy turned sour. Responding to slower trafﬁc and trading down, restaurateurs are targeting wines that can resell in the $30-$39 per bottle range. And more are coming up with special promotions to spur wine sales, such as half-price nights
“When times were good, wine drinkers were more adventurous in terms of trying new labels. Now, with their budgets tight, they are looking to play it safe and returning to brands they trust.”
– Kevin Connor, director of marketing, Mondavi’s Woodbridge, Private Selection and Solaire Wines
Green is beautiful. Consumers’ willingness to go green when given the opportunity seems to be holding up in recent months. For many, there is real value implicit in wines made from organically grown grapes and sustainable practices. The $10 bottle. On the
national chain front, Ruby Tuesday, which includes 800 restaurants across the country, recently launched a value promotion: a bottle of Coastal Vines Chardonnay for just $10 off the wine list.
Luxe is a four-letter word. Times are going to get extremely tough for high-end wines—especially lesser-known big reds from Napa/Sonoma and Super Tuscans. Home cookin’. The ﬂip side of the
restaurant doldrums: people are buying excellent wines at better-than-restaurant prices and enjoying them at home. For America’s growing gourmet culture, this is a natural transition in tough times.
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now it is up to the industry to show them they can still get impact wines for less coin. The current crisis is the perfect opportunity to turn customers onto wines that deliver the style they want and save them money. From Spain, Jumilla and Toro say kaboom; ditto Aglianicos from southern Italy. In California, one classic example of trading down by style is suggesting full-bodied Zin to high-end Cabernet drinkers. But don’t stop there: Petite Sirah is poised for a star turn. Bogle has long been considered a staple by penny-pinching red enthusiasts, and Ravenswood and Red Truck have recently added excellent bottlings to their lineups, priced to sell for under $12. The most fertile new power red of all may be Malbec priced in the high teens. Clos de la Siete, Amancaya, Achaval Ferrer and Ernesto Catena’s “Tahuan” are blockbusters in style but easy on the wallet. Think of
the Napa Cab drinker: wouldn’t he be thrilled to get a six-pack of killer Malbecs for less than the price of a bottle of Dominus? I see these reds winning over lovers not only of big Cabs but also heady Aussie Shirazes. Perhaps the real key to navigating the coming months will be for wine sellers to confront the crisis head on. Everyone knows times are tough, but in terms of wine, everyone knows there is a lot of good juice out there. Be proactive. Make sure you have wines in diverse categories and distinct price points that you know are good buys. And then, make sure your customers know it. Flag them with shelf talkers. Set up a special section on the ﬂoor or your wine list. Shout it. This is no time to be whispering. By addressing the economy directly, your clientele will realize that A) you’re not being passive, and B) you’re on their side when it comes to value. They’ll drink to that.
NEW PRODUCTS & PROMOTIONS 1 2
1 Stirrings LAUNCHES BAR SOLUTIONS CARTONS Bar Solutions is a new line of Stirrings’ all natural mixers in an eco-friendly carton. Designed for professionals, the carton packaging has a convenient pour spout, shelf stability and is recyclable. The Stirrings Bar Solutions line is available in select markets and includes: Bloody Mary, Mojito, Margarita, Cosmopolitan, Pomegranate and Wild Blueberry. Visit www. stirrings.com or call 508-324-9800 2 B&G Bistro Chardonnay TAKES A RELAXED APPROACH TO WINE In the spirit of the French café, Barton & Guestier Bistro Chardonnay is meant to be enjoyed in a casual setting. Round and creamy, this Chardonnay offers intense aromas of white peach and crisp apple with hints of hazelnut and vanilla on the ﬁnish. Other Bistro varietals include Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. Visit www.bartonguestier.com
3 Jeremiah Weed OFFERS SOUTHERN–STYLE SWEET TEA WITH A TWIST Jeremiah Weed, founder of Jeremiah Weed Bourbon Liqueur, has ventured into new territory with the creation of Jeremiah Weed Southern Style Sweet Tea. The 70 proof sweet tea ﬂavored vodka is currently available nationwide in 50 ML, 750 ML and 1.5 L bottles. Visit www.jeremiahweed.com 4 Brugal Extra Viejo Rum ARRIVES STATESIDE Available for the ﬁrst time in the American market, Brugal Extra Viejo has been launched nationwide by Shaw-Ross International Importers. Known for its characteristic smoothness, the super-premium Brugal Extra Viejo is a blend of older reserves with a bouquet of raisins, toasted oak and pipe tobacco notes. Visit www.shaw-ross.com 5 Belvedere EXPANDS ITS FLAVOR PROFILE WITH BLACK RASPBERRY Belvedere Black Raspberry is the newest ﬂavor to Belvederes line of ﬂavored vodka which currently includes Belvedere Citrus and Orange macerations. Belvedere Black Raspberry uses hand-harvested raspberries from Poland and blends them with French black currants and French rose water. The fresh fruit and ﬂowers are macerated in Belvedere’s luxury vodka for a minimum of one month to create a unique blend of ﬂavors. Visit www.belvedere-vodka.com 6 Carmenet Vineyards NOW PART OF BRONCO WINES Carmenet Vineyards is the most recent addition to the Bronco Wine Company’s portfolio of wines. The Carmenet wines, labeled Vintner’s Collection Reserve, include a 2008 Chardonnay, 2007 Merlot, 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008 Pinot Grigio and 2008 Pinot Noir. All ﬁve wines have a California appellation. John Albaugh is the winemaker. Carmenet Vineyards, Sonoma, CA, 707-265-4060
NEW PRODUCTS & PROMOTIONS 1 2
1 Señor Frog’s ENTERS THE TEQUILA MARKET Batrachian Spirits and Señor Frog’s bar and restaurant chain are launching Señor Frog’s Tequilas. The new Tequila line will be available in two styles: Señor Frog’s Plata ($25.99) and Señor Frog’s Reposado ($29.99). Both offerings will be available in a 750 ML format. The launch will be supported with trade communications, a range of POS materials and, where legal, off-and on-premise sampling. Visit www.senorfrogstequila.com 2 Captain Morgan SERVES UP ITS OWN LONG ISLAND ICED TEA In a new line extension, Captain Morgan is now offering ready-to-serve Long Island Iced Tea. The new prepackaged cocktail is a refreshing mix made with rum, vodka, tequila, gin and triple sec. Available in 750 ML and 1.75L (1.75L glass & PET). Visit www.captainmorgan.com 3 Four Roses Bourbon NOW COMES IN A BIGGER BOUQUET Four Roses Yellow Bourbon is now available in a 1.75 L format. Produced at its historic distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, Four Roses Yellow Bourbon offers hints of pear and apple on the nose with a smooth palate ﬁlled with honey and spice. The new format bottle will be available in select markets. Visit www.fourroses.us 4 42 Below Passion Fruit Flavored Vodka DEBUTS ON AMERICAN MARKET Made in New Zealand, 42 Below takes its name from the country’s location of 42 degrees below the equator. To produce its unique passion fruit ﬂavor, 42 Below takes fresh fruit and steams it, returning the “essence” into the vodka. The result is a smooth vodka with a touch of sweetness and aromas of tropical fruit, rose petals and Turkish Delight. Available in 50 ML, 750 ML ($21.99) and 1L sizes. Visit www.42below.com
5 Heck Estates DEBUTS PININFARINA WINES Paolo Pininfarina, president and CEO of Italian design house Pininfarina Extra, and Aaron Heck, co-owner of Heck Estates, have joined forces to create Pininfarina Wine. The collection will showcase a new wine region and its signature varietal each year. For its inaugural 2005 vintage, Pininfarina Wine has chosen Napa Valley and Cabernet Sauvignon. Visit www.pininfarinawine.com 6 Woodford Reserve RELEASES 2009 KENTUCKY DERBY BOTTLE This year Woodford Reserve chose Tom Chapman, retired jockey turned artist, to capture the spirit of Kentucky Derby 135. Chapman’s signature adorns the neck band of the bottle, and an attached tag tells his story and that of Woodford Reserve Bourbon which has served as the ofﬁcial bourbon for the Kentucky Derby for the past 11 years. Visit www.woodfordreserve.com
Across the country, top bartenders compete to create the best cocktails—and help build brands.
By Noah Rothbaum
The International Finlandia Vodka Cup Shaking it up at an Averna competition
A Drambuie competition in Austin, TX
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Averna photos credited to Walter Lo Cascio.
ver the last few years, many of the country’s best bartenders have been feverishly creating cocktails. But these tasty drinks aren’t just for bar menus — they’re for cocktail competitions sponsored by spirits companies. In an attempt to win over both mixologists and the public, many of the biggest brands, including Absolut Vodka, Domaine de Canton and Drambuie, have all recently sponsored shake-offs.
For years there may have been ﬂair bartending competitions (think Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail) but up until recently there were just a few cocktail contests in America. This recent trend is indicative of just how much spirit companies now rely upon bartenders for creating new drinks and for driving drink trends. It also helps that these events almost guarantee media attention for the brands.
Cocktails and Limericks
These competitions, of course, revolve around bartenders who mix up drinks featuring the sponsor’s brand. But some spirit companies add a twist. The annual International Finlandia Vodka Cup has an Iron Chef-like round where bartenders are given a mystery basket ﬁlled with 10 items (of which they can only use four) and have just 15 minutes to come up with and prepare an original drink. Hendrick’s Gin, which is known for its creative promotions and unusual botanicals, held a competition this winter where bartenders from across the country not only had to create a cocktail but also perform a limerick. “I wanted to put the emphasis on the personality of the bartender just as much as the taste of the cocktail – rewarding showmanship and entertainment,” says Charlotte Voisey, Hendrick’s Gin brand champion. “The competition was designed to further the spe-
Finlandia’s Vodka Cup participants
Participants of the Averna Cocktail Competition
cial relationship that Hendrick’s enjoys with bartenders all over the USA.” To build nationwide buzz, the Scottish spirit held preliminary contests in eight cities, including New York, Boston, Miami and Las Vegas, with the ﬁnals held in Los Angeles.
Judging the Judges
These contests not only draw talented bartenders from top bars but also impressive judges. Last spring, Rhum Clément’s annual New York Cocktail Challenge was judged by an all-star bench, including Tony AbouGanim, who created the cocktail program at the Bellagio Resort; Julie Reiner, who co-owns New York hotspots the Flatiron Lounge and the Clover Club; Jim Meehan, co-editor of the cocktail book Mr. Boston and general manager of New York’s PDT; and Toby Cecchini, author of cocktail memoir Cosmopolitan: A Bartender’s Life.
was held in New York’s Madison Square Garden.) And the ﬁnals of the mid-winter International Finlandia Vodka Cup are held in a giant snow dome up in the Arctic Circle. Unfortunately, the site’s low temperatures can wreak havoc with certain ingredients, like honey which hardens in the cold. Still, there is at least one advantage of the weather: “The best part is that you don’t need to cool down your glassware,” says Finlandia’s Raittinen. Slightly warmer, the ﬁnal mix-off for the contest sponsored by the bittersweet Italian liqueur, Averna, took place on a terrace overlooking the Sicilian Ionian Sea in Italy. “Going to the ﬁnals is the prize,” says Don Lee, a New York City-based bartender who won the Averna contest with his inventive take on a rum and Coke, which doesn’t ac-
tually call for soda. (The aptly named “La Cola Nostra” is made with Averna, Zacapa rum, lime juice, simple syrup, pimento dram and Champagne.) In addition to the trip, Lee was also awarded a $1,500 American Express gift card for his winning creation.
New Competitions Follow the Trend
While Finlandia has been holding a cocktail competition for over 10 years, many other brands have only recently started offering contests. The sweet Scottish liqueur Drambuie, which is made according to a recipe created over 260 years ago, began holding cocktail contests around the country for the ﬁrst time last August. The brand held contests in seven cities, including New York, Portland, Denver and Austin and in each town, 10 local bartenders battled it out. Some of the winning recipes were very simple, like the “Ginger Dram” created by Mindy Kucan from the Hilton Hotel in Austin, which calls for just Drambuie, Grey Goose and orange blossom water. Others were much more complicated like the “Drambuie High Plains Drifter” a creation from David Shenaut of the Teardrop Lounge in Portland, which featured ﬁve ingredients including gin, rosebud-infused honey syrup and lemon juice. Drambuie is planning on holding another series of competitions this year and a national contest in 2010. The ginger-based liqueur Domaine de Canton also held its Bartender of the Year Competition for the ﬁrst time this past March. The ﬁnals of the contest took place
One reason these competitions have become popular is that they offer bartenders a way to meet their colleagues from around the country or around the world. “We give the bartenders a forum,” says Markku Raittinen, Finlandia Vodka’s global brand ambassador. These competitions also offer contestants something else more tangible: travel and prizes. For one thing, the ﬁnals of many of these contests take place in exotic locations. Marie Brizard brought 36 ﬁnalists from 30 countries to Bordeaux for its International Bartender Seminar and Cocktail Competition. (The East Coast preliminary round
16 BIN 2 0 0 9 • I S S U E 5 Marco Dionysos who took 2nd place in the Domaine de Canton competition
MASTERS of the SHAKE-OFF
These winning cocktails bring new visibility to spirit brands
The Drambuie Bartender Showcase “Ginger Dram” Mindy Kucan, Hilton Hotel, Austin 1/2 part Drambuie Liqueur 1 part Grey Goose Vodka 1/4 tsp orange blossom water Chill all ingredients in a shaker ﬁlled with ice. Strain into a champagne glass that has been rinsed with ginger liqueur. Garnish with candied ginger. International Finlandia Vodka Cup “The Quicky Tini” by Raditya Dimas, Dubai 1 1/2 oz Finlandia Cranberry Fusion vodka 1/2 oz strawberry liqueur 1/2 oz passion fruit syrup 1 oz lemon juice Shake all the ingredients together and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lemon slice and a mint tip. Rhum Clément’s New York Cocktail Challenge “Bitches Brew” by Daniel Eun, PDT in New York City 1 oz Rhum Clément Première Canne 1 oz Pampero Anniversario 1 oz fresh lime juice 1/2 oz St. Elizabeth All-Spice Dram 1/2 oz Demerara syrup 1 egg Combine all ingredients in a shaker, dry shake, add ice, shake and strain into a ﬁzz glass. Averna HAVE A NEW LOOK “La Cola Nostra” by Don Lee, PDT in New York City 1 1/2 oz Zacapa 23 1 oz Averna 3/4 oz Lime 1/2 oz simple syrup 1/4 oz Pimento Dram 2 oz Champagne (Moet & Chandon White Star) Shake all ingredients except for the Champagne. Strain into long glass with ice. Top with Champagne. Domaine de Canton Bartender of the Year Competition “Earth, Wind, and Ginger” by John Lermayer, the Florida Room at the Delano Hotel in Miami 2 oz Domaine de Canton 1/2 oz passion fruit nectar 5 large pineapple chunks 5 dashes Angostura Bitters 5 sage leaves Muddle pineapple chunks. Then add the passion fruit nectar, sage, Domaine de Canton and bitters. Shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with 3 dashes of bitters and a sage leaf. Hendrick’s Gin Bartender Limerick Cocktail Competition “A Cotswold Afternoon” by Peter Vestinos 2 oz Hendrick’s 1/2 oz lemon juice 1 drop orange ﬂower water 1 heaping tablespoon of orange marmalade In shaker add one heaping tablespoon of orange marmalade. Shake and double strain into clear glass cup. Top with caraway seed foam*. Garnish with toasted caraway seeds. (*Caraway Seed Foam: Toast 1/4 cup caraway seeds. Add to 1.5 cups water and 1 cup demerara sugar, place on low heat to dissolve sugar and allow to simmer for 10 min. Turn off heat and allow to seep for 3 hours. Then strain.)
John Cooper, founder of Domaine de Canton, with John Lermayer who received 1st place check and trophy.
This recent trend is indicative of just how much spirit companies now rely upon bartenders for creating new drinks and for driving drink trends. It also helps that these events almost guarantee media attention for the brands.
on the beautiful island of St. Martin and top bartenders from across the country competed for bragging rights and a $10,000 prize. John Lermayer of the Florida Room at the Delano Hotel in Miami came out on top. His winning cocktail was called “Earth, Wind and Ginger”, which called for Canton, fresh muddled pineapple, fresh muddled sage, passion fruit nectar and Angostura bitters. The event was such a success, Canton is already planning next year’s competition. And beginning this June the brand is also going to start holding a Bartender of the Month Competition online. Mixologists will be able to submit recipes on the Canton website and each month’s winner will get a $500 prize and their recipe gets posted online for the whole month. But some of these competitions offer even heftier prizes. This past winter Absolut and LXTV.com set out on a mission to “Search for America’s Top Bartender.” The 10 ﬁnalists from across the country competed in Las Vegas for one of the largest purses ever to be offered by a cocktail contest. The competition was ﬁlmed and serialized like a reality television show. The drama-ﬁlled episodes were shown on LXTV.com. The winner was Las Vegas bartender Amanda Gager who was awarded an oversized check for $100,000 and also made an appearance on NBC’s Today Show. Not a bad tip for a few rounds of tasty cocktails.
THE GREEN PARTY’S JUST STARTING!
Le Tourment Vert absinthe made a splash when it recently launched. Its versatility as a great allaround spirit, however, solidifies its potential for broader growth.
alk about a spirited beginning! Le Tourment Vert Absinthe, imported by Distillerie Vinet Ege, debuted at the right moment, when progressive bars, restaurants and retailers were tapping into the mystique generated by Absinthe’s return to America. CEO Minott Wessinger’s family has enjoyed more than a century of success distributing craft beers. However, the decision of Wessinger to launch such a daring product marked a major move forward for both the company and the fledgling category it is supporting. Le Tourment Vert stands side by side with some of the most respected Absinthe brands, originates from France and features a package design reflecting its competitive ambitions. However, Wessinger points out that Le Tourment Vert’s debut is only the beginning. While Le Tourment Vert’s appeal to bartenders, connoisseurs and curious consumers is obvious, plans are in place to keep consumers’ eyes open to Le Tourment Vert beyond the category’s splashy return and the novelty of the louche enjoyed by literati during the Belle Epoque a century ago. At 100 proof, Le Tourment Vert is also one of the most mixable absinthes around. Though its recipe (which includes the “holy trinity” of anise, fennel and Grand Wormwood) renders Le Tourment Vert authentic, its mild taste and lower proof makes it more accessible to a broader audience. Jay Law, a master mixologist from The One Group, is living proof Le Tourment Vert not only translates as an absinthe but a cocktail foundation from market to market. Though native New Yorker Law has been professionally steeped in classic/historic cocktails and worked Le Tourment Vert into older recipes appealing to a literati following, he was delighted that the spirit worked just as beautifully for recipes designed
for Miami’s beach-ier denizens at his new post, Plunge at the Gansevoort Hotel. “The One Group is behind some of the hottest and most trend-setting clubs and restaurants in New York, Miami and L.A.,” observes Law. “Mixologists are at the forefront of cocktail culture, and at The One’s establishments, Le Tourment Vert fits right in with a variety of cocktail scenes and different personal tastes. Thanks to this spirit’s flavor, proof and mixability, they can accomplish this. Another One concept, STK in L.A. and New York, is a steakhouse with a strong appeal to women. Le Tourment Vert’s philosophy is right in line with the way our group does business and appeals to young, trendy and sophisticated people looking for something new.” Now that the secret pleasure of absinthe is open again, and open to all, Wessinger and his team are anxious to shift the absinthe paradigm from a curiosity to a cocktail lover’s necessity in the eyes of restaurateurs, retailers and consumers. To reinforce the message that Le Tourment Vert is here to stay, the company is focused on building relationships with on- and offpremise clients of all sizes that are equally enthusiastic about transforming a historybased trend into an enduring classic.
interviews, he found his spirit-ual soulmate in Bruno Delannoy of Vinet Ege Distillery in Cognac, France. Unlike other distillers he visited, Wessinger was impressed that Delannoy, though focused professionally on Cognac production, shared his passion for absinthe and spent some of his spare time experimenting with a certain absinthe recipe from his wife Annie’s side of the family.
Recipes For Success
These classic and modern cocktail recipes like these are sure to ensure Le Tourment Vert will grow on your customers.
ABSINTHE MINDED REFRESHER Gerber Group recipe
1.5 oz Le Tourment Vert Absinthe .5oz Cointreau .5oz St. Germain Liquor 1.5oz Sweet & Sour 1oz Fresh Orange Juice .5oz Fresh Lime Juice In a mixing glass, filled with with ice, add Tourment, Cointreau, Sweet & Sour, Orange Juice and Lime Juice. Shake well and strain into a tall glass filled with ice. Float the Elderflower on top, and garnish rim with a lime wheel.
IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN…BUT WORTH IT!
Though Wessinger had his family’s 150 years of experience to draw upon for the company’s continued success, he was anxious to build upon that foundation by going in a new direction. 2006 marked a watershed year with Wessinger selling some of the beer brands to Miller Brewing Company in 2006 and making a definitive decision to take the next step with absinthe. While he had always been a fan of the spirit, thanks to his many business and pleasure trips to Europe, actions taken by the U.S. government to make selling absinthe legal again sealed the decision in his mind. That summer, Wessinger staged a serious scouting trip around France. After an exhaustive series of distillery visits and
“When Bruno and I sat down to discuss the tradition and history of absinthe, we realized in short order that we were both intrigued with the idea of rethinking absinthe for a modern day audience, even while keeping an authentic recipe,” Wessinger recalls. “Both of us agreed the world has changed a lot since absinthe was banned 96 years ago, and what worked before the turn of the century may not work as well on the US market, especially as absinthes could be as strong as 120-160 proof and sometimes used only for medicinal purposes, and were bitter due to the high concentration of anise.” Delannoy and Wessinger also agreed that if they were to collaborate on the perfect modern absinthe, it would also have to be sold and presented in a modern-day way. This meant, specifically, that it had to be mixable in cocktails as well as be enjoyable in
GREEN CLOUD House of Blues Recipe
1 oz Le Tourment Vert .25 oz Rosemary Simple Syrup .25 oz Fresh Lemon Juice Shake above ingredients over ice 3 oz Ginger Beer Garnish with rosemary sprig.
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more traditional formats, such as the louche. “I thought it was a very interesting proposition for absinthe to take a greater role in a cocktail’s recipe, and compete with any other spirit such as tequila, vodka or rum, served in cocktails in full measure,” Wessinger continues. “As Bruno developed the recipe into what would become Le Tourment Vert, we talked about things like proof and it was important that it not be too strong in terms of proof and be enjoyed in a variety of different ways, and less bitter. 100 proof seemed appropriate. When we discussed anise levels, we wanted something that was authentic but not overpowering, and with that Bruno began to distill the first batch and we were very pleased with the results. As the process continued, it turned out that our approach to bringing Le Tourment Vert to life was right on target.”
THE GREEN-ING OF AMERICA
Le Tourment Vert arrived on the scene in January 2008, not long after the category as a whole hit the mainstream and, slowly but surely, took flight and generated curiosity among serious cocktail aficionados and mainstream consumers alike. Though they also arrived at the dawn of a challenging era, the dramatic change in the world economy, they were surprised at how fast clients and consumers embraced Le Tourment Vert’s colorful and contemporary twist on the old legend the category originally cashed in on. The launch was followed by a sponsorship of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and a stellar series of celebrity sightings, from Madonna and Snoop Dogg to Robert Redford and George Clooney. Wessinger, however, insists blossoming relationships with distributors, on- and off-premise account clients and influential mixologists are most important to the brand’s continued success and long-term appeal. Le Tourment Vert’s National Chain Sales Manager, Michel Daniel, heartily agrees. “From a marketing standpoint, offbeat
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and non-traditional marketing has been effective in generating awareness for Le Tourment Vert,” says Daniel. “My job is to spearhead national accounts, create relationships with buyers and gain authorization for accounts to run certain types of promotions and programming on and off premise. But that’s only the beginning, as these accounts appreciate all the creative things both the absinthe category and Le Tourment Vert stand for. However, the job is not just about executing promotions and programs properly, but also educating onand off-premise clients on the product thoroughly. This is critical for our early and future success. We’ll go into branches of BevMo, for example, and go into each branch multiple times to inform each employee personally. This is important, because we are dealing with a spirits category that disappeared for 96 year and returned with all kinds of mythology— good and bad—that had to be dealt with. It is important that employees at our accounts not only know what absinthe is, but can differentiate between different styles of absinthe and explain what the category is actually about.” Daniel is also focused on maintaining the company’s unprecedented growth trajectory since its launch 18 months ago. Because Vinet Ege is a small company, she believes it is important for her and her colleagues to circle back through the accounts to be sure whatever program, recipe or promotion they are running with them is effective and making money.
“This is critical with the authorization accounts that we have, such as Hard Rock, The Gerber Group, House of Blues, Interstate Hotels and TGI Friday’s. These are big key accounts, and my focus is to continue growing these opportunities and expand our presence. It is a landmark that we are the first absinthe to get a national approval to be put in a national APL last summer via TGI Friday’s. However, we have to move forward from there to continue making an impact.” Though Daniel notes that high-profile accounts like The Gerber Group and The One Restaurant Group and niche accounts like The Doheny in Los Angeles have helped give Le Tourment Vert the much needed upscale cache, accessibility via such accounts as House of Blues, Hard Rock Café and BevMo will balance things out by presenting Le Tourment Vert as an absinthe that is as accessible as it is elegant, and as versatile as it is classic. Wessinger re-touches on the fact that the lower proof, meanwhile, contributes to the kind of accessibility that appeals to general consumers and connoisseurs alike. “There are lots of great absinthes now on the US market, but they are high proof and quite bitter,” he affirms. “Because Le Tourment Vert is not overpowering and is 100 proof, this has enabled it to gain great acceptance by the cutting edge bars and restaurants, as well as TGI Friday’s. Thanks to our focus on creating something like this, opportunities are unfolding with each passing day. When we first
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launched Le Tourment Vert, we launched it with friends of my family---The Maloofs (famously the owners of the Palms and other high profile resorts) at the Palms Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. As the Maloofs are focused on bringing the newest and most compelling products and ideas to their guests, when they heard we were importing a new absinthe from France, they immediately expressed an interest in testing it out in their hotel’s bars and restaurants.” more in demand because cocktail culture has captured the imagination of consumers from all backgrounds across the globe. While Harkins admits shifting his sales approach thinking from beer to absinthe was challenging at first, he now states working with Le Tourment Vert makes everyday in his field a great adventure. “What’s really exciting is witnessing how consumers have embraced the product,” Harkins says, beaming. “It’s gratifying to see that people are so enthusiastic about the entire absinthe category, and yet our brand has already captured a solid reputation as one of the highest quality and most versatile products out there. The response has been equally strong on the retail and on-premise fronts. But what’s most surprising is that wholesalers for off-premise establishments have gotten totally behind our brand, comparing it to other products that do well in their portfolio such as Ketel One Vodka. Even with that, however, when I see consumers get excited about Le Tourment Vert, that’s the most gratifying thing.” Harkins notes that that the basic difference between on- and off- premise is that on-premise accounts presents sampling opportunities that allow the team to interact with bartenders and consumers in a very meaningful, hands-on kind of way and get feedback in a hurry. He also believes great marketing ideas for future campaigns also spring forth from consumers and mixologists. While bars and restaurants are in many ways living laboratories for the brand, the most ambitious account, Virgin America, has brought Le Tourment Vert’s potential, figuratively and literally, to new heights.
EMERALD CITIES, STRAIGHT AHEAD
The crew at Vinet Ege was not initially sure about how Le Tourment Vert would be received at this first account, even with the Palms’ reputation as a launch pad for all “next big things” in entertainment, dining, clubbing and lifestyle. Initially, the two entities agreed to sell it in full bottles with the fountain and spoon, alluring people via absinthe’s history and lore. However, as people started reordering more Le Tourment Vert and it gained in popularity, the Maloofs noted bartenders took the initiative of bringing absinthe into the 21st century and began mixing it into cocktails. “We knew it would catch on as a cocktail foundation, especially in a place like the Palms, but we initially did not expect that to happen so quickly,” continues Wessinger. “From the introduction forward, Le Tourment Vert took on a life of its own, first at the Palms, and then at other clubs and casinos along the strip. From there, upscale bars like The Doheny in Los Angeles and White Star in New York City began to carry it. The reputation as a mixable absinthe began to spread, from consumer to consumer and from bartender to bartender. From there, we got Hard Rock Café, House of Blues, Interstate Hotels and TGI Friday’s—all very different from one another, but equally significant.” From the perspective of Joe Harkins, Vinet Ege’s National Sales Manager, though some craft beers do have an upmarket cache, Le Tourment Vert is an even more sophisticated product, and so much
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MILE HIGH Virgin America Recipe
1 oz. Le Tourment Vert 2 oz. Sprite Serve over ice Garnish with lemon wedge.
ABSINTHE MINDED COLODA Hard Rock Recipes
1 oz Le Tourment Vert .5 oz Stoli Vanilla 2.5 oz HRC Pina Colada Mix Shake above ingredients with ice. Serve in 12 oz beverage glass. Float .5 oz Le Tourment Vert Garnish with pineapple wedge and mint sprig.
GARGOYLE Hard Rock Recipes
1 oz Tourment 2 oz Sweet and Sour Splash of Simple Syrup 1 - 2 lemon wedges Pour in tall glass over Ice. Garnish with lemon twist.
LIKE A VIRGIN
Harkins compares the experience of flying Virgin America to being a patron at a nightclub at 30,000 feet. Given the exclusivity of many “it” clubs, one may think it would have taken a superhuman feat to for Le Tourment Vert to be received by such a heady company as Virgin America—reigning king of cool com-
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merce. However, as Michel Daniel recalls, her positive experience on a San Francisco flight, taking mental notes of the two companies’ creative similarities in marketing philosophy and simply approaching the airline’s open-minded creative gatekeeper, Porter Gale (VP of Marketing), led to one of the most highprofile (pun intended) in flight campaigns in spirits history. “Although we did not have the proper size bottle to offer (for airline distribution), I was so excited about the prospect that I told the others back at our offices that I would just love to find out who the people behind Virgin America were,” recalled the resourceful Daniel. “I knew, like us, they were based in the Bay Area, and took the liberty of reaching out for the purchasing and procurement people. Though Virgin America had other priorities with their marketing, they told us they had seen our brand and mentioned that if we could produce Le Tourment Vert in the 50ml size, they would definitely do something with us. Starting May 1, 2009, Le Tourment Vert became available on Virgin America flights, and in all passenger classes. Four signature cocktails are now available for order via the in-flight entertainment system called “Red,” where passengers can order amenities via touch screen during the flight, on demand. The signature “Mile High” cocktail, which includes Le Tourment Vert with Sprite and a lemon or lime wedge, has already captured the imagination of passengers and industry watchers alike. “To us, Virgin America represents the ultimate brand in terms of their sophisticated demographic, young, hip, early adopters of any market you may be talking about including spirits,” says Wessinger. “When they approached us about their interest in adopting us into their spirits program, we were beyond thrilled. Virgin America is the rare airline that celebrates the cocktail culture, and you cannot ask for a better sampling opportunity. Not only is the brand association great, but through it we’ve introduced people to the notion of Tourment-ing one’s cocktail: substituting the vodka, tequila or other spirit in
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your favorite cocktail with our product.” Harkins adds, “The experience of flying Virgin America is fun and exciting, so this makes the union between us and the airline an ideal match. The association speaks to the creativity of our products, especially with Virgin America being such an innovator and embracing companies like ours that approach marketing our products and our brand images in a similar fashion. It seems like a marriage literally made in heaven, because we both have reputations for high quality products that are original and on the cutting edge, and most importantly, fun.”
THE EVER-PRESENT ABSINTHE
According to Harkins, Le Tourment at press time was in 27 states, and given progress so far this year, things are looking strong for being “national” by the fourth quarter of the fiscal year. In addition to the landmark accounts Wessinger and Daniel mentioned, Harkins also points out Le Tourment’s expansion into Walgreen’s, Winn Dixie and Miller’s Ale House in recent months has brought them that much closer to a goal that initially seemed so far away. “Our goal has always been to become the number one absinthe in the United States, and in most markets, we have achieved number one status, or at least a very strong number two absinthe,”
Harkins points out. “With that foundation set, we’re now looking to get up to the top level, across the board, this year. One ways we can do that is to continue stressing on-premise samplings with the product, emphasizing the qualities that set Le Tourment Vert apart from the other absinthes among mixologists and consumers. We are pushing that to the point this year where we will be perceived as less of a niche product or a trend and more of a go-to spirit that works in dozens or even hundreds of different kinds of cocktails as a quality vodka, rum or tequila would. By achieving these goals, we will transcend from trendy to mainstream and enduring.” Although everybody involved with Le Tourment Vert could not be happier about the inspired way the product has captured the collective imagination of people along all points of the distribution chain, Wessinger is cautious about continued success noting repetition of the brand’s key messages need to be emphasized clearly, from wholesalers down to the retailers and consumers, given that the legend of absinthe and its effects still linger in the collective conscious. “The process is time consuming, but well worth the effort, especially when you consider that absinthes are often dramatically different from one other, while tequilas and vodkas have a lot in common with one another,” says Wessinger. “One
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absinthe can vary tremendously from one another. “We selected a balance of 14 different herbs that not only include the essential fennel, anise and Grand Wormwood, but also coriander, sage and eucalyptus that gives Le Tourment Vert a complexity and balance that result in a spirit that tastes great on its own and enhances other components of a cocktail.” Daniel, meanwhile, emphasizes that although Le Tourment Vert’s success is based on its accessibility, it’s the mixologists from trend-setting bars across the country that are helping set the mood and stage for greater mainstream acceptance. “When it comes to modern cocktail culture, people are turning to experts who know what they’re doing when it comes to mixing cocktails,” she says. “At The Doheny in Los Angeles, master mixologist Steve Livigni took Le Tourment Vert to a new level of sophistication with his cocktails as did Jay Law at Plunge in Miami. The Hard Rock Café used Le Tourment Vert to transform the conventional lemon-drop into their Gargoyle, which replaces the vodka with Tourment. They also have an Absinthe-Minded Colada, and it is outstanding. They are simple cocktails to make, and yet they really stand out. Promoting the brand has taught us a lot, via the mixologists, about how a spirit can extend beyond absinthe’s surface appeal or reputation.” in Le Tourment Vert’s power to transcend trends to become an essential part of the bartender’s tool kit instead of an occasional flourish, no matter who is drinking his cocktails—be they the Manhattan sophisticate, the Hollywood entourage or Miami’s sun set. “I like the fact that the spirit is young and trendy and yet has classic roots and works with the approach that I personally like to follow with my mixology,” he states. While the Hard Rock Café is known for a different genre of classic—as in the classic rock concert kind of vibe, Worldwide Director of Beverage Cindy Busi feels that Le Tourment Vert’s interesting amalgam of current and classic matches well with the group’s enduring motif. Tourment Vert throughout our entire US operations in 2009.” Jeff Isaacson, Managing Partner/Director of Operation for the The Gerber Group, meanwhile, finds Le Tourment Vert is not only fully compatible with the mixologists’ collective creative approach to cocktailing, but also expresses the spirit serves as an ideal canvas for their establishments’ particular selection of fresh ingredients. “With its taste profile and lower proof, we felt Le Tourment Vert was the absinthe most suited to creative mixology,” says Isaacson. “Now that absinthe is legal again in the U.S. after a century of prohibition, we are proud to give our patrons the opportunity to try one of the best products on the market today.” These qualities are also important for consumers buying for home entertaining, according to Christina Bross, BevMo! Spirits Buyer. “Our customers come to BevMo expecting to find new, first-to-market products everyday, and absinthe falls into this category,” she notes. “When it again became legal to sell, we carefully selected what we believed were the best absinthes in the market. Le Tourment Vert was one of the products selected based on its strong price point and quality packaging. As our number one selling Absinthe, it is clear that our customers crave newness and innovation at the right price. Le Tourment Vert satisfies all of those attributes for our customers.” When absinthes first began reappearing in 2008, Young’s Market Company was inundated with distribution requests. According to President and COO Chris Underwood, Le Tourment Vert was a great fit for their diversity of accounts, based on the unique formula and bottle. “We knew this was going to be a hot category,” he recalls. “However, the question was what brands should we partner with. Le Tourment Vert, as it turns out was and is ideal for us with its great package, superior product inside the bottle, and most importantly, the great people behind the brand. The absinthe category is here to stay, and we are proud to have Le Tourment Vert as one of our leaders in this category." I
“It’s gratifying to see that people are so enthusiastic about the entire absinthe category, and yet our brand has already captured a solid reputation as one of the highest quality and most versatile products out there.”
– Joe Harkins, Vinet Ege’s National Sales Manager
“The historical association of absinthe with creativity made it a natural for Hard Rock” Busi declares. “When people come to our hotels, restaurants and establishments, they are looking for quality food and beverage in a fun environment. Though absinthe had a cool and rebellious past, we were surprised at first to learn that not all absinthes mix in cocktails as well as others. Le Tourment Vert, however, fit our style. We tested it in our New York, Las Vegas and San Francisco stores over the last few months and have been very pleased with the results. However, we must stress Le Tourment Vert is not a novelty. Sales keep increasing and more customers are buying Tourment cocktails. We’re excited to be expanding Le
A GREENER TOMORROW
Wessinger, Harkins and Daniel all agree that a spirit’s proposition begins with a great bottle and package that draws the eyes to the shelf instantaneously. However, they all insist they are committed to Le Tourment Vert for the long haul, and all the feedback so far has validated their hard work and aggressive-but-likable approach to continuous exposure. “Success and creativity like this are the sorts of things that make one want to go to work everyday,” affirms Harkins. “It’s remarkable to come to work everyday, especially during these times, with the news on our progress almost always being good.” The One Group’s Jay Law is a believer
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Coming Together in Challenging Times
The 7th annual ABL convention reminds retailers of the importance of collaboration and communication in good times and in bad.
By Daina Paulin
his year the American Beverage Licensees welcomed a record number of ABL members and industry professionals to its 7th annual convention in Las Vegas. The three-day event, held in early March, was jam-packed with seminars, panel discussions and a host of social events, providing a forum for retailers to discuss common problems and collective solutions. “This year’s convention proved to be a great opportunity for retailers to exchange information and share their perspective with CEOs and high-level alcohol industry executives,” said Susan Day Duffy, ABL’s director of operations and trade relations Many of these industry executives and industry leaders led a series of presentations focusing on current challenges for retailers and the industry as a whole. Following the convention’s theme, ‘Leveraging Your Strengths in Today’s Economy,’ many speakers focused on how to move forward even during challenging times. Commenting on the current economic climate, John McDonnell, chief operating ofﬁcer, Patrón Spirits International A.G. said, “Let’s face it. With the economy the way it is, there seems to be fewer opportunities these days. However, our industry is old enough to have survived many hard times before.” Also speaking on the economy, Jeff Becker, president of the Beer Institute, reinforced the necessity of a united front: “It’s particularly important in today’s environment that the industry be uniﬁed. It’s very important that we understand what is going on with each of our respective [industry] organizations.” Craig Wolf, president & CEO of Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America, highlighted
30 BIN 2 0 0 9 • I S S U E 5 2009 ABL Ofﬁcers (L-R): vice president Chuck Ferrar; treasurer Jane Springer; vice president Mel Gitler; president David Jabour; vice president Warren Scheidt; and vice president Skip Boise
the importance of collaboration when responding to outside criticism. “How we present ourselves and our arguments matters,” he said. “We have to (L-R): Dr. Peter Cressy, president and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council maintain credibility of the U.S.; Craig Wolf, president & CEO of Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of with those who have America; John McDonnell, chief operating ofﬁcer, Patrón Spirits the power to act in International A.G. ways detrimental to their business. This discussion was coupled our interests.” with an on-premise discussion moderated by Focusing on other industry issues, Dr. former ABL president, Kevin O’Laughlin. Peter Cressy, president and CEO of the DisThe conference also took time to honor tilled Spirits Council of the United States industry veterans Ralph Aguera, this year’s (DISCUS), drew attention to the ongoing Top Shelf Award recipient, and the former threats of tax increases and the importance executive director of the Metropolitan of collaboration. “We are at a point where Package Store Association, Bill McDevitt, we need to avoid the perfect storm,” he aswho recently passed on. To honor McDeserted. “The perfect storm is municipal, vitt, his friend and fellow ABL board direcstate and federal taxes all getting piled on tor, Frank Anzalotti of the Massachusetts top of one another. When we get a tax in Package Stores Association, offered a brief your state, and we get together a hospitality eulogy before reading Bill’s last Final Night coalition, we can pull together to get a lot of Banquet benediction. grassroots support.” Closing out the conference, the ABL The Beverage Network showed its announced its incoming leadership. David support during the conference by hosting Jabour, the CEO and co-owner of Austin, an ABL board of directors & trade press Texas-based Twin Liquors, will lead this year breakfast. Nearly every publisher of the 33 as ABL’s fourth president. Jabour will be supmember publications of Beverage Media’s ported by a newly-elected slate of ABL ofBeverage Network were on hand for the ﬁcers that includes VP Chuck Ferrar, MD; event. William Slone, the Beverage NetVP Melvin Gitler, NJ; VP Warren Scheidt, work chairman, remarked on the wonderIN; VP Skip Boise, NY and Bob Sprenger, ful opportunity the breakfast provided for WI who will serve as at-large members to the publishers and ABL members to discuss the executive committee. ways in which the publications could better serve retailers. Slone furthered this dialogue by leading a collaborative discussion with For more coverage of the 7th annual ABL convenan off-premise panel, providing retailers tion, or to learn about next year’s convention, visit www.ablusa.org. with speciﬁc ideas and strategies to promote
Scott and Patti Slaga, 710 Beach Club, San Digeo – CA
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Maximum-quality premium tequila at modest prices
equila Amate’s creators, Juan Carlos Jiminez Ahedo and Carlos Monsalve Agraz, understand that in order to thrive in a marketplace affected by both the world economy and keen competition, you cannot just offer accounts and their customers good ultra premium tequila. You need to serve up a great tequila, with many attributes that set it apart from the others.
Speaking from his headquarters in Jalisco, Mexico, company owner Monsalve-Agraz reveals the company’s latest strategy for California—teaming up with the formidable power Gallo for distribution—will certainly boost the profile of what makes Amate a strong player in an increasingly crowded and competitive arena. “Because Amate is just starting to find its way in the market, we decided to deal with Carlos Monsalve-Agraz direct,” affirms Gallo’s Danny Despars, in detailing the offpremise focused distribution deal for California that goes into effect on June 1. “While Amate’s price point fits well into portfolios, the quality and attention to detail to achieve the final product is also important to us. Because it’s only been a year since we’ve branched out into distilled spirits, we are very particular of who we take on. Though Amate is small, Carlos is putting out a great product, and we feel this relationship will be a great transition for all of us.” Amate tequilas already have a lot going for them out of the gate. Monsalve-Agraz points out that slower cooking of the agave plant in brick ovens combined with a natu34 BIN 2 0 0 9 • I S S U E 5
ral aerobic fermentation process results in Amate’s signature smoothness and distinctive flavor of the Silver, Reposado and Anejo. Amate Reposado is aged in American white oak barrels to develop a fuller flavor. The Amate Blanco, meanwhile, starts with perfectly cooked agave, the aroma wafts and lands on the tounge with a minty, cherry and spicy personality and then is transformed with chocolaty notes that fill the mouth and linger on the taste buds. The Anejo is aged for a specific time in oak barrels which transfer to impart a rich oaky aroma into the agave. To achieve these unique flavors, Jiminez Ahedo and Monsalve Agraz personally taste and approve every single batch before bottling. This kind of attention to detail has resulted in awards from the Beverage Testing Institute, San Francisco World Spirits Competion and Vin et Avec, ISW Award (2007). However, Monsalve Agraz notes that these accomplishments are only worthwhile if the products are accessible to final consumers at retailers and bars. “Though there is a (worldwide recession) going on, we are developing our mar-
keting program to benefit the consumer by playing up the notion that he or she will get a premium product in a hand-made bottle at a price that is just as alluring,” notes Monsalve Agraz. “By taking this action, we are not only trying to keep our existing consumers but bring in new ones by offering discounts to our off-premise accounts.” To keep a line of loyalty going, from the production line to the consumers, Jiminez Ahedo and Monsalve Agraz have organized a team that works closely with client restaurants and bartenders at on-premise accounts, educating them on the special origins of Amate tequila in a seminar format at their place of business. “Before cocktails come into play, we show them how to test it for flavor and quality, how to serve it straight up and what characteristics they should be looking for in a quality tequila,” details Monsalve Agraz. “Our philosophy across the board is that when restaurant customers see the name Amate on a napkin or advertising, we want them to think of our tequila first when purchasing tequila for home use at a later time. We believe that if people can have exposure to the Amate name in the background, they will know it is not just a tequila for party time, but one to be savored anytime.” Monsalve Agraz adds that the scope of the value could be expanding in the next couple of years, as there are plans in the works to launch a super premium product or a special limited edition. All in all, we predict Amate Tequila will make it big by keeping prices small and quality in clear focus. >>> page 58
CLASSIC OR CONTROVERSIAL?
MOVEMENT FOR 2009 IS UNPREDICTABLE
By Jenny Adams
Bombay Sapphire Ginger Grape Martini
he gin category has always been a precarious one, often overshadowed by vodka. Today, it’s come into its own, known for the distinct botanicals that find foreground in its flavor profiles and its much celebrated appearance in classic cocktails that are now once again so in fashion. Yet, 2009 is a challenging year across all categories and gin’s future could be just as uncertain.
According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), the total gin category has been fairly stagnant since 2003. Last year, gin was the 6th largest spirits category at 11.1 million cases compared to 11.0 million cases in 2003. The winner within the category, however, has been the super-premium segment, which in that same time period, has grown from 49,000 cases to 73,000 cases, almost a 50% increase. In terms of revenue, suppliers sold over $900 million in gin in 2008 versus $852 million in 2003. Gin, of course, is still far outpaced by vodka, the #1 spirits category, which accounted for 53.3 million cases last year. Gin has two unique advantages that help push the category along: the influence of its history and a two-part demographic of drinkers. “I think there are definitely two parts to gin’s resurgence,” says Allen Katz, director of mixology and spirits education for Southern Wine &
Spirits of New York. “One, you have the segment of consumers in the 60+ age group, and those people certainly grew up with an understanding of gin, even if the quality of the cocktails during those years was probably questionable. Secondly, you have a renewed interest in classic cocktails from the youth movement of bartenders—many of whom are under 30—stimulating interest in contemporary gins.”
(6th largest spirits category by volume)
the gin category in the u.s. accounted for
RETAIL VS. BACKBAR
Off-premise sales are still heartiest in terms of mature brands such as Beefeater, Tanqueray, Bombay and Plymouth, with the on-premise remaining the playground of the botanical-forward, artisan brands like Aviation, G’vine, Hendrick’s, Martin Miller’s and Bulldog. Plymouth is Pernod Ricard’s fastest growing gin brand, but Matthew Rodwick, Pernod Ricard’s off-premise district manager for metro New York, says Beefeater traded down in off-premise sales in 2008. “We actually had a healthy performance from Seagram’s, which is our more value brand,” he explains. “It’s a good, solid base in our more urban markets. The more upscale Beefeater 24 is a launch Pernod Ricard is quite excited about, though. “We wanted to make something that’s a traditional London dry gin,” explains brand ambassador Dan Warner. “We wanted to make something great tasting without moving away from what makes
A mix of vintage and new gin brands
super-premium gins grew by over
total gin revenue
(at the supplier level)
from 2007 to
$ 900 million up 5.6 % from 2003, but down .5 % from 2007
gin, gin.” Inspired from an original recipe from the group’s founder, Beefeater 24 uses a blend of Chinese green and rare Japanese Senchas teas as its main botanical. Since education is key to pushing the gin category, Beefeater 24 has joined forces with a few other gin producers to create an informative symposium on the spirit that will take place this summer in New York and San Francisco. As the on-premise education for consumers continues, the effects trickle down to increase off-premise sales of the contemporary brands, too. “If you walk into a retail store now versus three years ago, there are more brands available,” says Charlotte Voisey. As brand ambassador for Hendrick’s gin, Voisey attributes the success of Hendrick’s to quality, followed by approachability and the aesthetic appeal of the packaging. Much like tequila, the newer gins profit from unique packaging – whether it’s being solicited from a backbar or perused on a store shelf. On almost every brand’s bottles, consumers are finding educational information on the back label, but the bottles themselves have evolved to help symbolize the quality of what’s inside. Hendrick’s dark bottle and “antique” label are a colorful nod to the category’s roots in apothecaries; Magellan, the original blue gin known for its exotic botanicals, like iris, beckons in its bottle, emblazoned with an illustration of the famed explorer’s ship; and G’vine’s bottle is bright green to represent the trademark essence of Cognac vine flowers.
THE GREAT JUNIPER DEBATE
Ryan Magarian helped co-found Aviation Gin, launched in 2006, and he says part of his decision to produce a new boutique gin was because of the successful future he foresees for the category. With more drinkers enjoying an arsenal of classic cocktails featuring gin, there is definitely room for the spirit to run.
Aviation Gin’s Ryan Magarian
“Every spirit has its own equity drink,” Magarian explains. “Tequila has the margarita. Cachaça has the Caipirinha. I looked at gin and realized that it has so many equity cocktails – the Negroni, the Southside, the Aviation, the Martini – and in the next five to 10 years it would be a major, major player.” What Magarian also predicted and anticipated with the launch of his own brand and other new gins was the inevitable controversy surrounding the experimentation of new botanicals, not just juniper. “It’s mind boggling to me that people haven’t done this before now,” Magarian says. “Genever was never that focused on juniper. Once continuous distillation was developed, the juniper came to the forefront. I don’t see why now there should not be another evolution. I think gin will always be defined by juniper’s characteristics, but that’s why I coined the term ‘New Western Gin.’ I would like to see a more clear definition of ‘London Dry,’ in order to keep that category from being diluted. We pushed some buttons with Aviation, and it got people thinking. I think it’s really cool there has been such an interest.” It’s not surprising there is an interest given how dynamic the category has become, whether it’s the refined New Amsterdam Gin, a nod to New York’s old-world history with subtle citrus flavors; Whitley Neill, the London Dry Gin inspired by Africa, featuring the iconic baobab fruit; or White Rock Distilleries’ Pinnacle Gin, awarded “Rising Star” Growth Brand status by the Adams Beverage Group. It has the advantage of being the sibling to Pinnacle Vodka and with 18,000 cases sold last year, the brand is clearly picking up momentum. Bulldog launched in 2007, and in 2008, case volume was 50% more than the first year. “Mixologists are an integral part of what we do,” notes Bulldog Gin’s founder and CEO, Anshuman Vohra. “We consider ourselves to be the first sipping gin, and as such, we have a very delicately balanced, crisp finish. Mixologists love our exotic mélange of
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well with craft distilling; bartenders are the gatekeepers of spirits,” says Auwerda. Robert Cassell, Bluecoat’s master distiller, also agrees the gin’s flavor profile pleasantly surprises. “There is a wide array of flavor complexes that work off each other. So many people anticipate just the flavor of pine, but you don’t have to have that,” he points out.
gin has two unique advantages: 1) the influence of its history and 2)a two-part demographic of drinkers: the 60+ age group who grew up enjoying gin and the under 30 group who is interested in today’s resurgence of classic cocktails.
botanicals as it unleashes their imagination. Education of the trade is a continuous process and something we invest heavily in.” This summer, look for Bulldog to unveil its “Summer of Love” campaign in New York, with a host of specialty cocktails celebrating Bulldog’s “aphrodisiac” botanicals. One U.S.-made artisanal gin that’s making waves is Bluecoat, produced by Philadelphia Distilling and packaged in a striking blue glass bottle. Andrew Auwerda, president of the company, says the brand is about spirit and rebelliousness, “people willing to put themselves on the line,” as he sees it. The premium product, now available in 19 different states, is making quite an impact so far. “The on-premise is really important. The mixology trend dovetails
TIMES TO COME
From cardamom and coriander to cinnamon and ginger, the complexity of flavors is astounding, and it’s shaping cocktails onpremise. But several companies are addressing both the mature audience and the younger drinkers by launching a more contemporary style alongside a traditional one. G’vine is producing their grape and ginger-influenced Floraison gin, but has also been offering their [Nouaison] since May 2008, which is stronger, spicier and has more appeal to traditional connoisseurs. Martin Miller’s offers consumers an additional 90-proof Westbourne strength, and Beefeater 24 will undoubtedly spark some conversation as this mature brand takes a stab at the young mixologist’s market. What is unclear is how the economy will affect gin. New York’s Prohibition Distillery president, John Walsh, has plans to launch a new gin in the near future. Besides keeping in line with Prohibition Distillery’s speakeasy theme, he feels his gin still has terrific sales potential for this troubled economy. His marketing will hearken to hard times overcome in the 1930s, and his product will be produced at small, independent, already-existing farm distilleries around the country. “The majority of the products we want to rub elbows with are in the $35 range, but we will set the price significantly lower to attract a client who wants quality for less cost,” Walsh says. “As we all know, alcohol is a product that is somewhat recession proof. People drink when they are happy and when they are sad, and I haven’t had one person express the slightest discomfort that we are launching in this climate.”
GABRIEL BOUDIER SAFFRON INFUSED GIN
A few years ago, when flavored vodkas were all the rage, savvy gin producers capitalized on the fact that gin predated flavored vodkas as a trend setting flavored white distilled spirit…and by a couple of centuries. Driving the point home a little further is Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin, which is now finding its way to American bars and retailers thanks to the efforts of 21st Century Spirits and Gabriel Boudier, a leading microdistiller based in Dijon, France that has been producing since 1874. Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin is based on a French colonial-era recipe that integrates eight natural botanicals (juniper, coriander, lemon, orange peel, Angelica seeds, iris, fennel and saffron) and is only produced in small batches using a traditional pot still. The said recipe for Saffron Gin and unique distilling methods were discovered by the company’s master distillers in historical French archives and dates to the time when England and France both claimed India as their “jewel,” and Gin was the most fashionable spirit around. Ironically, consumer and mixologist interest in international foods, flavors and spices makes Gabriel Boudier Saffron Infused Gin’s appeal new and fresh nearly two centuries after this kind of spirit was first savored by discriminating connoisseurs. This incarnation was launched at Bar06 in June of that year, creating huge interest within the international beverage trade. At the time, when the product found its way into the UK through a company called Emporia, that company’s chairman James Rackham noted, “The main blend we're encouraging is Saffron and tonic, but with a slice of orange. We're actually altering the flavor of a gin and tonic, and changing it to something very different.” In bringing Saffron Gin to adventurous American consumers and trade accounts, 21st Century Spirits plans to take the product’s unique qualities even further via recipes and promotions that trade upon the delicately spicy character Saffron brings to the traditional Juniper spirit. I
THAI ME UP
50 ml Saffron Gin 25 ml Malibu 3 Fresh Lime Wedge 25 ml Coconut Cream Fresh Ginger Roots Fresh Sweet Chili Shake-pour over ice cube into a rock glass. Garnish with physalis fruit.
25 ml Saffron Gin 12.5 ml Havvanna 7 12.5 ml Boudier crème de peche 25 ml Orange juice Orenadine lace Garnish with speared orange twirl.
50 ml Saffron gin 25 ml Cinnamon syrup One pear (muddled) Combine ingredients and pour into a martini glass.
BLUECOAT, AMERICAN DRY GIN
Bluecoat, American Dry Gin celebrates the American spirit of independence and rebellion born in Philadelphia over two centuries ago. In the spirit of the original Bluecoats, whose revolutionary actions founded our nation, Master Distiller Robert John Cassell has proudly created a genuine innovation in the spirits arena. Bluecoat is craft distilled with 100% certified organic botanicals, highlighting citrus botanicals grown here in America. Using a copper pot still unique in design and size, Cassell employs an artisanal process to ensure an efficient separation of alcohols which allows him to produce an extremely smooth and pure spirit. The Master Distiller describes the spirit as “A revolutionary dry gin that leads with refresh42 BIN 2 0 0 9 • I S S U E 5
ingly sweet aromatics, giving way to soft and earthy juniper notes. The body is intensely smooth with a complex depth of flavors that reveal themselves as they permeate the palate. The bright citrus finish is exceptionally long and completes an experience that is incredibly pleasing to the senses.” Bluecoat is no longer going unnoticed by those who appreciate high quality spirits including the judges at the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, where Bluecoat was honored with the coveted “Best Gin” and “Double Gold Medal”. The rave reviews in the Wall Street Journal, Men’s Journal, and Forbes have created awareness of this superior gin through-
out the market, including the mixology community who appreciates the craftsmanship that goes into making each bottle of Bluecoat. Bluecoat is delicate and distinctive on its own, or at the centerpiece of your favorite cocktail. As we approach our nation’s birthday celebration, Bluecoat provides an exceptional choice for asserting our independence from those “Redcoat” gins! I
8 blueberries purple shiso leaves 3/4 oz agave syrup 2 oz bluecoat 1/2 oz vieux carre 1/2 lime Muddle 8 blueberries and purple shiso leaves in 3/4 oz agave syrup. Transfer to highball glass filled with ice. Add Bluecoat, vieux carre, the juice from 1/2 a lime and top with soda water and stir.
BEAM GLOBAL SPIRITS & WINE NAMED IMPORTER OF THE YEAR
In addition to winning 28 medals at the 2009 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, Beam Global Spirits & Wine was awarded the coveted title of Importer of the Year. Beam Global’s portfolio of brands took home 12 double gold medals and nine gold medals. El Tesoro Platinum won “Best Tequila” and a double gold medal, while (ri)1 Whiskey took home a double gold medal in its inaugural year. Other brands receiving recognition were Ardmore Traditional Cask Scotch Whisky, Canadian Club Sherry Cask Whisky, Jim Beam Bourbon, Laphroaig Scotch Whisky, Old Grand Dad Kentucky Straight Bourbon, Courvoisier Exclusif, Baker’s and Booker’s Bourbon.
turned on-air analyst, partnered with Maker’s Mark to create the Maker’s Mark Turfway bottle to raise funds for cystic ﬁbrosis research. Proceeds from the sale of the bottle totaled more than $32,000 and beneﬁted the Boomer Esiason Foundation.
suggested retail price of $499.99. Ardmore 30 Year Old is aged in former bourbon barrels and handmade quarter casks, giving the whisky a unique complex ﬂavor of its own. Only 1,428 bottles, each individually numbered, are available at a suggested retail price of $449.99.
KNOB CREEK OFFERS DAD A PERSONALIZED GIFT
This year for Father’s Day Knob Creek Bourbon is offering gift givers the chance to personalize their own bottle for Dad. Each bottle purchased can be customized with an original printed label placed on bottles of Knob Creek Bourbon. Labels are complimentary and can be created online at www.KnobCreek.com.
SAUZA TEQUILA LAUNCHES MARGARITA-IN-A-BOX FOR SUMMERTIME ENTERTAINMENT
America’s most ordered cocktail is now available in an entirely new format. Sauza Tequila has created the Sauza Margarita-in-a-Box, the ﬁrst boxed margarita cocktail made with real tequila. The Sauza Margarita-in-a-Box contains a blend of lime juice, Sauza Blanco Tequila, triple sec and margarita mix. The compact box ﬁts easily into a refrigerator, keeping it fresh for up to six weeks after opening. Sauza Margarita-ina-Box will be available in a 1.75L box size with a suggested retail price of $17.99.
HORNITOS TEQUILA TEMPTS CONSUMERS TO MISCHIEVE
Hornitos Tequila, a member of the Sauza family, is launching a new multimillion dollar campaign designed to engage consumers throughout the night. Titled Mischieve, the campaign encourages consumers to embrace new experiences while still enjoying Hornitos Tequila responsibly. Aimed at social, urban males, the campaign will be supported through print ads, pointof-sale materials, on-premise events and live on-premise photo booths where consumers can capture their revelry.
BEAM GLOBAL RENEWS PARTNERSHIP WITH THE NATIONAL CENTER FOR DWI COURTS
In recognition of Alcohol Awareness Month, Beam Global Spirits & Wine renewed its partnership with the National Center for DWI courts and encouraged states to establish 365 new DWI courts in the next ﬁve years. This is the third year in a row that Beam has partnered with the NCDC and is part of the group’s effort to bring national attention to the effectiveness of DWI courts in addressing hardcore drunk driving.
BEAM GLOBAL SURVEY SHEDS LIGHT ON CONSUMER TENDENCIES IN A ROUGH ECONOMY
To gain insight into customer’s spending habits during a shaky economy, Beam Global Spirits & Wine partnered with Clarus Research Group to survey hospitality industry personnel at the 2009 Nightclub & Bar Show held in Las Vegas. The survey found that 88% of respondents see spirits as an affordable luxury. More than 50% of respondents said people are hosting friends at home more often, but many bartenders also noted that their consumers are ﬁrst hosting friends at home before heading out to bars and restaurants. As for what they are drinking, a quarter of the respondents believe that whiskey is the next big category for mixing.
LAPHROAIG 25 YEAR OLD AND ARDMORE 30 YEAR OLD SINGLE MALT SCOTCH WHISKIES HIT AMERICAN MARKET
Beam Global Spirits & Wine is offering two new limited-edition bottlings for their spirit collection: Laphroaig 25 Year Old and Ardmore 30 Year Old. Laphroaig 25 Year Old makes its U.S. debut. This whisky combines bold peat ﬂavor spiced with sweet sherry notes and rich oaky undertones and has a
MAKER’S MARK TURFWAY BOTTLE TO BENEFIT CYSTIC FIBROSIS RESEARCH
The 2009 Maker’s Mark Turfway bottle commemorates the 38th running of the Grade II Lane’s End Stakes. For this year’s bottle, Boomer Esiason, former NFL quarterback
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POUR OF THE MONTH
POUR OF THE MONTH
Bartender Carlos Robles shows off the Finest Call products.
BRENNAN’S RESTAURANT: A family tradition for 50 Years
John P. Brennan was born in Berkeley in 1890. After years as a contractor, building such landmarks as Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, he retired in the early 1950’s. After a few years of retirement John got bored. In 1958, with no previous experience in the food business, John decided to build, then operate a restaurant that served the kind of food he liked. Brennan’s, a gathering spot for some five decades since, opened on his 69th birthday in 1959. In October of 2008 Brennan’s opened a new restaurant right next door to the original location in the heart of West Berkeley. It is now situated in the lovely, historic Southern Pacific Railroad building, a Berkeley historic landmark built in 1913. In the dining room the large arched windows were the original train station’s arches along the exterior breezeway. The high ceiling dining area still has the original beams in what was originally the station’s main room. Brennan’s is an old fashioned cafeteria/ Hof Brau, with a full bar, now in the hands of the 3rd generation of the Brennan family. They are known throughout the Bay Area as a place to go for real Irish coffee or a hand carved sandwich or hot plate from a selection of freshly roasted meats (Turkey, Roast Beef, Corned Beef, etc). They have something for everyone from macaroni and cheese; to twenty-two draft beers and sporting events on eight large screen TVs. At the bar Brennan’s mixes of choice are Finest Call, which feature a full line of superior products from Sweet, & Sour, Grenadine, Coconut, Pomegranate and Prickly Pear Syrups, two Blood Mary mixes, the Raspberry, Mango and Strawberry Purees; to the premium Cosmopolitan Martini, Sour Apple Martini and Mojito mix. As Bartender Carlos Robles says” Finest Call Mixes offer the best quality in the business, and we know our customers appreciate that.” Brennan’s is located at 700 University Ave. Berkeley, CA 94710.
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NEW LOOK, SAME AWARD-WINNING TASTE
Clausthaler Premium Non-Alcoholic Beer Debuts New Packaging
lausthaler, the award-winning, premium non-alcoholic beer, hits the shelves this summer sporting a refined, new look. Lighter and cleaner in appearance, the modern packaging design reinforces the brand’s premium positioning and better reflects the brew’s crisp and refreshing taste.
gram with Clausthaler, and sponsor events and festivals across the country to help reinforce the responsible drinking message.” Clausthaler appeals to sophisticated beer drinkers who want the refreshing taste of an imported beer without the alcohol. Anytime, anywhere, consumers may enjoy the rich, full bodied flavor of a true German beer without the alcohol.
The re-design includes a new label, packaging and POS. Available in off-premise and on-premise accounts throughout the United States, Clausthaler is imported from Germany, and brewed in the authentic pilsner style. It is the leading non-alcoholic beer in Europe. “Clausthaler has been a U.S. market leader in the non-alcoholic brew category since its introduction here in 1982,” said David Deuser, VP of Sales, Binding Brauerei, USA, importer of Clausthaler. “The new packaging stands-out at retail and immediately communicates the brand’s premium position to long-time fans as well as new consumers. It is also an indication of our company’s commitment to the brand and category,” he continued. “Today’s consumers continue to be health conscious and educated about responsible drinking. Clausthaler’s new image is aligned with that contemporary lifestyle,” said Deuser. “We have an active designated driver pro48 BIN 2 0 0 9 • I S S U E 5
“The new packaging stands-out at retail and immediately communicates the brand’s premium position to long-time fans as well as new consumers. It is also an indication of our company’s commitment to the brand and category.”
– David Deuser, VP of Sales, Binding Brauerei, USA
Clausthaler has won numerous Gold Medals in the NA category at the World
Beer Cup competition. Just this year, Clausthaler Classic and Clausthaler Golden Amber were awarded the top prize in the non-alcoholic beer category in the World Beverage Championships. This organization was founded in 1989 with the establishment of the Chefs in America Awards Foundation and its professional Board Members gather weekly to conduct taste tests on a myriad of foodservice and retail grocery products. The judging was conducted “triple blind” in Northern California by a panel of On-Premise Beverage Buyers. The Chef du Jury was famed Maître du Goût (Master of Taste) Jesse Sartain. Sartain said, “Clausthaler has all the attributes of a choice German beer: pleasant taste, a bouquet of hops, a firm head and a full body.” Clausthaler is brewed under a patented process based on the German Purity Law of 1516, ensuring that little fermentable maltose is produced. Clausthaler Premium is cold-fermented with perfectly normal beer yeast that has been individually cultured for the brand. The yeast can only produce a tiny amount of alcohol (similar to what may be found in a glass of orange juice) but it produces plenty of the full-bodied, flavorsome taste that characterizes a good brew. Clausthaler is available in ‘Classic’ and ‘Golden Amber’ and is imported by Binding Brauerei, USA, based in Norwalk, CT, 203.229. 0106. The company imports a portfolio of high-quality beers from Germany and the Czech Republic, including Radeberger Pilsner, Krusovice, and Tucher, among others. I
BOMBAY SAPPHIRE GIN: STILL SPARKLING
It’s blue skies ahead for this gin in the Summer of 2009, especially when it comes to impressive marketing and entertaining.
Though summer has always been a great time for mixologists and home hosts to bring out cool cocktails, this season the trend will be to serve up luxury with a classic twist…and with more twists on classics such as an old standby called the Tom Collins. Bombay Sapphire® is leading the charge this year with on- and off-premise campaigns that reflect new ways to enjoy this gin even as it retains its title as the best selling imported gin in the world for a fifth year. The master distillers at Bombay Sapphire credit the gin’s endurance to a proprietary recipe of ten botanicals from around the world, selected and blended for incomparable flavor that is great on its own, mixed into a cocktail…and yes, paired with food. Setting the gin apart are almonds and lemon peel from Spain, coriander seeds from Morocco, juniper berries and orris (iris root) from Italy, liquorish from China, cassia bark from IndoChina, cubeb berries from Java, grains of paradise from West Africa, and angelica root from Germany’s Saxony region. The production process, fully detailed at www.bombaysapphire.com, also continues to be a source of intrigue, from the on- and offpremise retailers to connoisseurs and clients. While most gins are made by boiling botanicals with the spirit in a standard pot still, Bombay Sapphire’s unique vapour-infusion combines the botanicals with the spirit while it is still in vapor form. This delicate procedure requires specially adapted Carterhead stills, of which there are just two in the world, both used exclusively by Bombay Sapphire. The result is a classic dry
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gin that is incomparably smooth, nuanced, and flavorful. Though the brand, the fastest-growing, premium gin in the world, has upped its cache worldwide through its commitment to individuals and groups serving as innovators in design, film, music, and other artistic arenas, it also brings inspiration to bar menus across the country as well as home entertaining. Campaigns for Bombay Sapphire for Summer 2009 revolve about the Sapphire Collins. Several fresh updates of the beloved Tom Collins are being conceptualized for every occasion, from beaches, to urban roof-decks and Hollywood Hills pool parties in full force this summer. “The Sapphire Collins truly represents old-world class, quality and sophistication with a chic modern twist and is the perfect libation to sip in warm weather,” says New York mixologist Albert Trummer, who with colleague Jonathan Pogash, developed some of the recipes below. “The bubbly club soda tickles the palate; the tart, yet succulent fresh lemon juice along with the tangy, sweet simple syrup and muddled fruit integrated with the 10 botanicals of Bombay Sapphire, make for a tantalizing summer sipping creation. We predict the Sapphire Collins will become the “it” drink of this summer.” Another campaign pairing Bombay Sapphire and New York’s famed fromagerie Artisanal brings together something smart and unexpected…a distinctive cheese and gin pairing program. “The result of these gin and cheese pairings are an intriguing interplay of two striking, yet complementary fla-
vors,” says Bombay Sapphire Master Mixologist James Moreland. “Cheese pairings have gone beyond wine,” adds Waldemar Albrecht, Maitre d’Fromagerie at Artisanal. “Bombay Sapphire is an amazingly versatile spirit which pairs extremely well with a vast array of delicious, easy-to-serve cheeses.” I
TRADITIONAL SAPPHIRE COLLINS
2 parts BOMBAY SAPPHIRE Gin 1 part fresh lemon juice ¾ part simple syrup Club soda Pour first three ingredients into a Collins glass with ice and stir well. Add more ice and top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
RASPBERRY SAPPHIRE COLLINS
1 ½ oz. BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin ½ oz. fresh lemon juice ½ oz. simple syrup* 5 fresh raspberries muddled or ¾ oz. raspberry puree 3 oz. club soda Shake all ingredients, except club soda, and pour into ice-filled highball glass. Top with club soda. Garnish 1 raspberry and lemon wedge.
LAVENDER SAPPHIRE COLLINS
1 ½ oz. BOMBAY SAPPHIRE gin ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice ½ oz. lavender syrup 3 oz. club soda Squeeze half a lemon into a Collins glass, add lavender syrup and BOMBAY SAPPHIRE. Stir and fill with ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a lemon wedge.
SEEING MORE OF “ORO”
21st Century Spirits takes ownership of Oro Azul, an acclaimed tequila and El Ovido, its sister brand, adding a cool edge to a portfolio that began with Blue Ice Vodka
hough Blue Ice Vodka helped 21st Century Spirits founder Jim Myerson’s Family lay a foundation for a successful distilled spirits company, he and his team were adamant that the company was not going to be “a one trick pony,” according to Kevin Egan, V.P. Director of Sales and Marketing. While the Blue Ice line’s recent expansion has propelled the company into a living success story, Egan notes the recent acquisition of Oro Azul from (Tim Boyd at Barrel Select Imports) made perfect sense, even if the current economy poses a few challenges.
industry tastings and competitions. When one adds those factors in with elegant packaging and value-driven pricing, the result is a product that appeals to many trade clients and consumers covering a wide range of demographics. “The overall package of Oro Azul represents great value without compromise, either for our on- and off-premise accounts or the final consumers,” Egan continues. “There is no doubt that final consumers are hunkering down on their overall (recreational) spending. However, because Oro Azul offers a great balance between full-on luxury and reasonable pricing, the line has an advantage over other tequila brands that are spending a lot more on advertising and promotion. In addition to Oro Azul, Egan and the 21st Century Spirits team have high hopes for El Ovido, a popular and respected brand in Mexico that also enjoys a following among Hispanic populations in the United States. Though the initial push of El Ovido will be
“We’ve been looking to expand our portfolio at 21st Century Spirits and tequila was on the radar for us,” says Egan. “Even though these times are not ideal for an acquisition, when the Oro Azul line became available, this was an opportunity we could not pass up. We were aware of both the quality of the product and its potential throughout the United States, especially with tequila’s rising popularity. There is also something to be said for acquiring a product with great potential at a time like this, then watching it grow when the economy gets better.” Egan acknowledges that Tim Boyd and the team that launched Oro Azul in the U.S. market did a great job generating interest in the line without overspending on spending advertising or promotions, letting the quality speak for itself. He also affirms that after he and his colleagues sampled Oro Azul’s three varieties (Blanco, Anejo and Reposado), the products lived up to their ratings and awards garnered from a variety of
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aimed at Hispanic consumers in the 15 major tequila markets across the United States, he believes that the El Ovido’s unique Reposado will appeal to a wider general audience. “We tasted the brand, which has a distinctively different style and flavor from Oro Azul,” he notes. “Like its sister brand, however, it is nicely distilled and offers a lovely balance of value and quality. Oro Azul’s Reposado is so rich and elegant that it is best enjoyed in a snifter or on the rocks on its own, especially with the deep notes of vanilla and caramel. El Ovido’s Reposado, a top seller in Mexico, has a lighter touch and finish, and is perfect for a margarita that is deeper and more complex than one made with a blanco tequila. El Ovido’s promotional materials are going to be brightly colored and will emphasize fun, while Oro Azul’s promotional materials will continue to blend the messages of luxury and quality.” Egan adds that in addition to the luxurywith-value niche, 21st Century Spirits will also support the Oro Azul line through continued advertising, charity event exposure and placements with Los Angeles’ ESPN Radio affiliate and its sports radio counterparts in other major California markets including San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Fresno and Sacramento, areas where 100% Agave tequilas enjoy a strong following. While it may take a little while longer to strike gold in the changing beverage market, Egan strongly believes how one strikes is as important as where one strikes. For 21st Century, the tequila additions represent a bold step towards future success. I
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Carlos Monsalve Agraz not only cares about putting out a good product, but helping other tequila producers make their mark For the ten year-old Amate Tequila, the labels, packaging and promotional materials are all essential components for winning sales formula. However, Carlos Monsalve Agraz also understands that helping his fellow small producers use color and design to build their share of the market is also important to the category. For the last twelve years, even before Amate hit the market, Monsalve Agraz has dedicated himself to growing the Tequila category, one producer at a time. Because small producers are important proponents to the messages of quality and value in the tequila segment, Monsalve Agraz sees wisdom in sharing great marketing ideas instead of keeping them all to himself. “I have always liked doing business internationally,” he affirms. “Through my consulting business, I have helped tequila producers develop and create brands, and then groom them to be successful in the U.S. as well as different markets around the world. I am convinced that teaming good artisanal tequilas with uniquely designed bottles, corks, labels results in some something special that is more than the sum of its parts for each individual producer.” Monsalve Agraz’s Guadalajara-based company reaches out to producers interested in creating tequila brands that will not only appeal to niche markets in Mexico, but connoisseurs around the world. His company has been granted a special permit by the Mexican government to enforce key standards in tequila production, as well as help the producers order barrels, corks, bottles and other supplies necessary in the making of authentic, high quality tequila. He also assists producers with logistics in terms of delivering finished bottled tequila to warehouses to ensure the products are then correctly channeled to their distributors. “Because there are so many opportunities in the Tequila industry, my job is to make sure producers benefit as I speak English and understand the needs of the markets in America and in other countries where tequila sells well,” he says. “By helping other brands, we are helping suppliers, and in turn, the industry as a whole.”
PHARMORX Security, offers end-to-end product security solutions with AuthentiTrack, providing diversion control, anti-counterfeiting and multi-million dollar savings on returns and recalls for companies in the pharmaceutical, food and beverage, and consumer goods industries, as well as others. The company’s offerings address product security, consumer protection and brand integrity. The unique technologies and services allow users to identify products down to the unit level, offering manufacturers the ability to track products throughout the entire supply chain. This ability provides traceability for manufacturers, law enforcement and other product inspectors to obtain important data to identify points of entry of counterfeit products. It also allows them to minimize gray market diversion and guarantees product authentication in the field. Uniquely, PHARMORX provides solutions for unit level authentication and linkage to serialization at all levels of packaging. The security offerings are customized, from simple labels and cartons with proprietary taggants to sophisticated web-based serialization solutions that provide the brand manufacturer with knowledge of the product’s entire life history. By combining layers of security, a product travels from manufacturing, through packaging, into distribution, through the retailer’s point of sale, and into the hands of the consumer with maximum traceability, safety and integrity. www.pharmorx.com.
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Real Water is the only alkalized, antioxidant bottled water with stable negative (-) ions on the market today. Most water and waterbased products are damaged because the water has traveled through pipes, filtration devices, and various systems - in turn being stripped of negative electrons (-). With Real Water, the proprietary E2-Electron Energized technology adds electrons to the water through electrical restructuring at the end of the seven-step purification process. Real Water will help move your body to an alkalized state by removing acidic toxins, and the added negative (-) electrons act as a powerful antioxidant to neutralize harmful free radicals. This water will also aid in cellular hydration. Real Water is available for purchase at Whole Foods Markets in the Southwest, and online at www.drinkrealwater.com with no additional shipping costs. A 16.9 fluid ounce bottle retails for $1.50.
DRINK PR SELECTED AS U.S. AGENCY OF RECORD FOR MARTIN MILLER’S GIN
San Francisco based DRink PR has been selected as the U.S. agency of record for super premium English gin brand Martin Miller's Gin. Headed by Debbie Rizzo, a thirteen-year veteran in the spirits and mixology industry, DRink PR will manage all U.S. PR efforts for the well-known brand. “We are extremely pleased to be working with Debbie Rizzo and DRink PR,” said Janet Wampler, Brand Director for Martin Miller’s Gin. “Their reputation in the spirits industry is unparalleled and will help us to further awareness for this exceptional gin.” “Martin Miller’s Gin is a great example of true craftsmanship in spirits,” said Debbie Rizzo, founder of DRink PR. “I am looking forward to a winning partnership with the Martin Miller’s team in the US and abroad.” DRink PR will work to encourage trade and consumer awareness by focusing on the quality and heritage behind the brand. The agency will target the 'Gin-telligentsia', via national and regional consumer press, new media, and drinks trade press. The gin, brought to life by entrepreneur Martin Miller, will celebrate its 10th anniversary this year. For additional information about Martin Miller’s Gin, please contact: Debbie Rizzo at (O) 415-567-6988 or (M) 617-233-8024.
THE WINE WAREHOUSE ANNUAL TRADE TASTING AT FORT MASON, SAN FRANCISCO Ltr: Scott Rankin-Sr VP Sales, Greg Akins-C.O.O., Jon Hartmann-VP Sales, Alan Kerman-Vp Spirits, and Don Schiff-CEO Imports
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Chief Operating Ofﬁcer, Patrón Spirits International A.G.
created with the care and attention that can only be accomplished by hand. People recognize Patrón as a high-quality spirit. WS: How will you approach your marketing
and advertising efforts this year?
John McDonnell, COO, Patrón Spirits International A.G., sat down with The Beverage Network’s William Slone to talk about the ultra-premium white spirits consumer, why luxury brands are a crucial component to keeping your business healthy and why hospitality has never been more important.
JM: Unlike many other suppliers, we’re not backing off our marketing plans. The Unilevers and Pepsis of the world have proved that when you continue to market your brands during downturns, you are well-positioned and strong when the market turns around.
On the Industry
WILLIAM SLONE: DISCUS estimates that on-premise business was down about 5.5% last year. How has that effected Patrón, which is such a strong on-premise brand? JOHN McDONNELL: There is deﬁnitely a shift into the off-premise, which grew about 3% last year. But overall Patrón grew 23% last year, when the tequila category grew only 4%. The superpremium category grew by 10.6 %, and we accounted for the majority of that growth.
I do think the on-premise consumer is still dining out, just less frequently. WS: How is it that Patrón has
managed to stay strong while so many other brands are reporting slower sales?
JM: Our advertising and brand message is consistent, which is very important when you’re building a brand. And above all, we have a very high-quality product, produced from the best agave, and each batch is
A N I N F O R M A L C O N V E R S AT I O N W I T H I N D U S T R Y L E A D E R S
“I always encourage retailers to expand their shelf presence of luxury goods—more ﬂoor displays and more facings up front.”
On Luxury Brands
WS: You believe retailers should continue
to emphasize luxury products even during a soft economy. Why is this?
JM: As a result of both the economy as well as all the consolidation in our industry, I think the odds are very much against most new products succeeding today. You have to have a unique selling proposition, which we do. Brands that aren’t supported with packaging and advertising will fail. Retailers don’t want to tie their money up in dead inventory. WS: What are some other exciting brands
in your portfolio?
JM: It takes three or four bottles of standard tequila to equal the proﬁt of one bottle of Patrón. I always encourage retailers to expand their shelf presence of luxury goods—more ﬂoor displays and more facings up front. The same is true for the on-premise. There was a recent study which showed that the number of restaurant consumers who make their drink decisions based on what is on the menu is extremely high. These are things that do not cost any money, and will enhance margins. WS: Why do you discourage retailers
premium vodka. I do believe it will take a bit longer to build this brand in this economy. But we are doing the same things we did with Patrón, and we ﬁrmly believe it is all about a quality product and quality distribution. You won’t hear us ask any of our wholesalers “How many cases of Ultimat did you sell today?” For us, the focus isn’t on volume but on menu placements, samplings and exposure. Ultimat was served at the Oscars this year, and we have a global ad campaign that we are adapting locally. We are also well-positioned at $40, which is a nice middle ground between the many vodkas around $30 and those priced at $60 or above. We have a 30% reorder in every market we are in, but I suppose the most important thing here, is that we are prepared for a slow, successful bid. WS: How about the many other new
JM: The hottest product in our portfolio is Patrón XO Café Coffee Liqueur. The staffs in restaurants and bars have adopted it as their brand. We were up 80% last year and we’re up 47% through February this year. WS: As an industry veteran, what is the
most important thing retailers can do to protect and build their businesses in this challenging time?
JM: Certain categories are loss leaders, to get people in the door, but this should not be the case with luxury brands with high margins. Are people going to buy a $45 bottle of Patrón because it is $2 off? Retailers are just sacriﬁcing their margins when they do this.
brands we’ve seen launched in the last year? Do you think they will have a hard time succeeding?
JM: We are in the hospitality business, and we can’t forget that. This is a people business and personality and service really matters. I lived in NYC in the early 1980s, and in those days when you bought a few drinks, the bartender bought you one back. That doesn’t happen anymore but it should. Building relationships in this difﬁcult economy really helps. Our products are about relaxation and fun, and we are lucky that nothing can replace them. The beverage alcohol business will be here forever.
On New Products
WS: Last year, the Patrón Spirits Company
got into the vodka business with Ultimat Vodka. How is that brand doing?
JM: People tell me that we picked an interesting time to launch an ultra64 BIN 2 0 0 9 • I S S U E 5
“[Ultimat] is well-positioned at $40, which is a nice middle ground between the many vodkas around $30 and those priced at $60 or above.”