The indispensable tool for the Massachusetts adult beverage trade.

Single Blog Title

This is a single blog caption


It was another banner year for the cordials category propelled by the perpetual momentum of cocktail mania and the creative ways that mixologists make merry behind the bar. And once again, Massachusetts grabbed the top spot for retail spending for cordials and liqueurs to the tune of 333 million dollars and landed in the number eight spot for consumption.

to figures from the 2OO7 Adams Handbook, there was an
overall growth in 2OO6 of 3.2% for the category with imports
claiming the lion’s share. Leading the pack for domestics
were the DeKuyper Cordials, Southern Comfort and Hiram
Walker Cordials.

As for imports,
Jagermeister again reigned supreme with a staggering
of 19.1%.
Baileys also faired well with a 4.2% increase. It will be
interesting to see how Kahlua shakes things up next year
given their launch of two new flavors along with ramped up
promotional campaigns.

We’ll start at the top with
DeKuyper Cordials as they led the pack with an increase of
2.8%. Their “Bump It Up” program combined with the launch of
three new tropical flavors – as well as pomegranate and red
apple liqueurs – were certainly contributing factors. “I
think that we’ve truly started innovating again and
launching new products on a regular basis,” says Amy
Underwood, Senior Brand Manager at Beam Global Spirits. “We
are out there with relevant messages that make sense and
communicate how to use our products to consumers and
bartenders. It’s really exciting to see the needle move. We
don’t have flavors for the sake of having flavors, there
really is a legitimate market behind every flavor we have.”
Looking ahead, Underwood says that in addition to launching
some new flavors in ‘O8, DeKuyper is also partnering with
the Flair Bartender Association (FBA). “We’re going to
become a major sponsor and be working with them throughout
the year. One of the competitions is going to be called the
DeKuyper Blue Blazer Challenge, scheduled for May in Las
Vegas,” states Underwood. “It’s like a dance routine except
it’s with mixing cocktails. It’s high energy and creativity
and fun . . . and believe me, these people express
themselves in their flair bartending.” Move over, Tom

Although the Starbucks
Liqueurs line saw a decline in growth this past year, Stacey
Simmons, Senior Brand Manager for Starbucks at Beam Global
Spirits isn’t concerned. “In general with most new brands,
you’ll see a bit of a dip after the initial launch. That’s
to be expected. But we still feel extremely good about the
way business is going. We’re very excited about what we
accomplished not only in year one, but in years two and
three as well. Some notable accolades were bestowed upon
Starbucks Liqueurs from the Beverage Tasting Institute
(BTI). They received awards for the Best Tasting Coffee
Liqueur and the Best Tasting Cream Liqueur. “We’re very
happy because BTI is very well respected in the spirits
category in general. They’re an independent professional
taste testing panel,” explains Simmons. “It helped to really
reinforce the preiumness of our product.”

As much as Starbucks is
synonymous with coffee, such is certainly the case with
Godiva’s link to chocolate. Senior Brand Manager for Godiva
at Diageo, Jennifer Long, explains how consumers are seeking
what she calls “affordable luxuries” in their everyday
purchases: “Godiva, the ultimate chocolate liqueur, is a
luxury that consumers want to treat themselves to for
everyday occasions.” Never ones to rest on their laurels,
Godiva is moving forward with the launch of Godiva Caramel
Milk Chocolate liqueur. “The flavor is inspired by the
Godiva Milk Caramel Embrace, and combines rich, creamy
caramel and smooth milk chocolate,” says Long. The
corresponding cocktail is the Carameltini. Long says their
focus in moving forward is all about mixability, or as they
like to say, “mixing decadence”.

The Hiram Walker Cordials
line maintains a strong hold on the number three spot for
domestic liqueurs. Cort Kinker, Hiram Walker Cordials Brand
Manager for Pernod Ricard USA comments, “What has been hot
for us has been our Peppermint Schnapps, where we are the #1
producer, and Triple Sec, where we are likewise the #1
producer. Cocktails have continued their stellar growth, and
our Triple Sec continues play a part in the growth of
margaritas,” says Kinker. This past summer the brand
launched several new flavors in their Flavortini line:
Pomegranate, Pear, Pink Grapefruit, Tangerine, and Mango
Schnapps. “Our newly introduced – and consumer and bartender
preferred – Melon Liqueur is expected to be a big success
once the natural taste of the product is sampled,” adds
Kinker. His lips were sealed as to what lies ahead, but rest
assured there will be new flavor launches in the coming
months. The only real area of concern lately for the brand
has been with flavored brandies. “Flavored brandies have
been a bit challenging for us this year. With an aging
consumer base, we are looking for ways to bring in new
consumers,” explains Kinker. They still however lead the
pack with their Blackberry, Peach and Apricot

Southern Comfort saw an
increase of over 6% in growth and maintained their number
two spot for domestic cordials. More than any other factor,
there’s been one cocktail in particular that’s driven their
numbers up. “We are continuing to benefit from broad
consumer acceptance of the SoCo & Lime drink. This
particular phenomenon started in the Northeast about ten
years ago but has gathered steam and is becoming very
relevant out west and in many of our global markets” says
Campbell Brown, Vice President, and Director Southern
Comfort Americas. Looking to 2OO8, SoCo plans to go forward
with their multi-media approach. “We will continue to
develop new advertising for the brand that leverages
exciting music and graphic treatments of groups of friends
enjoying SoCo in various settings,” Brown remarks.
Demographically speaking, Southern Comfort targets young
adults in the 21 to 29-year-old range with a focus on more
intimate settings. “Typically we give a greater focus to
environments and situations where smaller groups of friends
gather. This is a brand that has a strong appeal across age
groups and sexes and we like to support that by developing
promotional mechanisms that put a spotlight on the group
versus the individual,” says Brown.

Heaven Hill Distilleries
was the first to bring a pomegranate liqueur to market in
the form of PAMA – and they made their mark with resounding
results. The Adams Handbook reports that sales of over
5O,OOO cases in 2OO6 earned it a Rising Star Brand Award.
“PAMA and pomegranate right now are on fire. I think it’s
only going to get bigger until the next thing comes along.
It will probably cycle for a year or two. Everyone right now
is into pomegranate. It’s the hot flavor that everybody
wants to try,” remarks David Boyle, Vice-President of
National On-Premise Accounts for Martignetti Companies. “The
past year for PAMA has been outstanding. PAMA is growing in
leaps and bounds thanks to mixologists, bartenders and
consumers embracing the versatility and flavor of the
product,” says Reid Hafer, Senior Brand Manager of PAMA for
Heaven Hill Distilleries. Hafer also acknowledged the
brand’s need to grow in the minds of consumers and how there
is still tremendous opportunity in this area. Hafer also
thinks that the flavor is in it for the long haul. “PAMA
would not be around if we felt the pomegranate was a passing
interest,” he says. As for usage, there’s no shortage of
options. “It is a great element for complex drinks or for a
simple tonic drink with lemon. Further, martinis, margaritas
and Mojitos all benefit from a sweet splash of PAMA,”
remarks Hafer. Their media campaign continues with ads in
magazines like vanity fair, bon appetit and marie claire and
they’ll continue to utilize scent strips in select
publications. PAMA is also honing in on the romance of
February 14. “PAMA and the pomegranate are seductively
styled and flavored. So, the brand will take an approach
towards Valentine’s Day. The program combines holiday-themed
ads in lucky, elle and bon appetit with unique mixed drinks,
POS, web-advertising and tasting opportunities where legal
across the country,” Reid comments.


Grand Marnier, the fifth
most popular of the imports, continued to enjoy a steady
rise in sales. “We’ve got about 13 years of consecutive
growth on Grand Marnier,” says JC Iglesias, Business
Director of the Grand Marnier Group for Moet Hennessy USA.
Iglesias points to the classic drinks continuing popularity
as well the brand’s solid reputation. “We have a role to
play because we are a differentiated product within cordials
and liqueurs. We’re not triple sec. We add more depth and
richness and complexity and that uniqueness is really what
helps us,” Iglesias says. The focus lately has been two
fold. The first one is experiential consumer programs. “We
did a tour around the country in 21 different cities doing
comparative tastings of margaritas with and without Grand
Marnier and had phenomenal results,” remarks Iglesias. The
other focus has been on working with bartenders. “The brand
has a very long standing relationship and affinity with the
bartenders specifically,” says Iglesias. He goes on to
explain that bartenders in their role as gatekeepers are
huge contributors to the growth and popularity of the brand.
As for specific drinks, Iglesias identified not only the
margarita, but a host of others: “One of the earliest
cocktails for Grand Marnier is something called a Red Lion
and it’s actually a gin based cocktail. We’re getting a fair
amount of traction on that. The other one that works really
well for us is the Sidecar. I’ve seen people do Grand
Fashioned which is Grand Marnier, muddled oranges and
bitters; sometimes with a little bit of bourbon.”

The number four import,
Hpnotiq, earned a 1.7% increase in sales in 2OO6. “Hpnotiq
had a great year seizing on a growing base of consumers
still encountering the product for the first time. In
addition, we had great success with National Accounts and
awareness among mixologists and bartenders,” explains Justin
Ames, Senior Brand Manager of Hpnotiq for Heaven Hill. Ames
also points to the growth of martinis and the popularity of
exotic fruit flavors. The brand supported cocktails and
bartenders through the Hpnotiq Bartender IQ & VIP Recipe
Contest. “The program rewards bartenders for their knowledge
of Hpnotiq with a $25 cash card and entry into a Las Vegas
VIP trip. The goal is to continue to build on the brand
awareness of the flavor and versatility,” says Ames. The
foot will remain on the accelerator this year as

Sidney Frank’s legacy lives
on via the leading import Jagermeister. The 19.1 % increase
speaks for itself. It’s no secret that its biggest fans are
the over 21 college and beyond set – although it wasn’t
always in the forefront of consumer’s minds. “I’d never
heard of Jagermeister until the mid ‘8Os when I was tending
bar. I tell people that’s now a case buy. It’s still a
shooter brand. You can’t say to somebody, ‘have a
Jagermeister and tonic, have a Jagermeister and Coke’ – it
doesn’t work,” says David Boyle of Martignetti Companies.
Dennis Iannelli, from Bauer Wines agrees with Boyle on this
point: “It’s not really utilized as a mixed drink or it’s
not even utilized as an after dinner cordial. It’s basically
a shot and a shooter.” However, Rich Daly from Andover
Liquors points to the ubiquitous Jaegerbomb cocktail
(Jaegermeister and Red Bull) as a major factor in the
brand’s continued success. Bauer Wines owner Susan Fortuna
says she knows it’s a hot seller, just not with her
clientele. “We don’t sell a lot but it’s popular with the
college age kids. I don’t see anyone over 3O buying it,” she

“This past year has been a
really exciting year for Baileys” says Yvonne Briese, Brand
Manager of Baileys for Diageo. Baileys sits in the number
two position for imports and recently rolled out two new
flavors; Baileys Hint of Mint Chocolate and Baileys Hint of
Caramel. “They are on fire. I think those two brands are
absolute winners. They’ve been very successful with what
they’re trying to do and I see them both as growth
opportunities,” remarks Martignetti’s David Boyle. Briese
reports that the key growth drivers of the brand are the
two-fold approach of advertising and sampling. She goes on
to say that there is a huge mass appeal to the brand. “It is
the quintessential liqueur. It’s hard to find somebody who
doesn’t like Baileys.” Briese also says that it’s key for
the brand to promote new ways for it to be served.
“Consumers are always looking for something interesting.
Sometimes they need a little bit of a nudge.” To that end
Baileys rolled out a new cocktail this past summer called
The Baileys Shiver and has plans to pursue it further this
year. “It is basically just Baileys and ice in a blender.
It’s just a nice refreshing tasting product. It cuts down
the sweetness just a little bit and the delivery is
everything you expect Baileys to be.”

“Our Disaronno continues to
maintain category leading investment in national cable TV
advertising and that really has been the key driver of the
brand’s growth. It’s also attributed to the high levels of
awareness that the brand enjoys,” says Michelle Beauchamp,
Senior Brand Manager of Disarrono for Bacardi USA. The brand
landed in the number 7 spot this past year with a 6.3%
increase. “As you know, Disarrono has a very unique flavor
profile and consumers have been discovering its versatility
in the mixed cocktail. So what we’re seeing is a lot of
consumers enjoying Disarrono cocktails like the Disarrono
Sour and the Disarrono Cosmo,” says Beauchamp.

The target audience for
Disarrono, explains Beauchamp, is males and females ages 25
to 34. She adds that people are willing to pay a premium for
it as it’s the original amaretto and its recipe goes back to
the Renaissance times of 1625, which is where the romance
comes in. “The story is that a student of Leonardo de
Vinci’s was commissioned to do work on a fresco for the
Adoration of the Magi in Saronno, Italy, and he was quite
taken with the innkeeper’s daughter. He asked her to pose
for the fresco. She did and actually her image remains on
that fresco to this day so, as a thanks to him, she created
Disarrono and that’s the origin of the brand.”

The bottle and what’s
inside are creations from Robert Cooper, St. Germain
Elderflower Liqueur, which launched in March of last year.
The brand took home the “Double Gold” and “Best in Show”
awards at the 2OO7 San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Cooper is a third generation distiller, former owner of
Chambord and current president of Cooper Spirits
International. “It’s been amazing how well received it’s
been. Ultimately I created this product not just for top
bartenders and enthusiasts of the cocktail culture but also
for consumers at large,” says Cooper. It all started about
eight years ago in London when a bartender served Cooper a
cocktail that would set him on the quest that would
ultimately become St. Germain. “I asked him what is in this
and he said elderflower and I thought he was lying to me. He
went on to explain to me that it’s a flower that tastes like
a fruit,” explains Cooper. The bartender apparently had been
making a simple syrup with handpicked elderflowers on a very
small scale. “Little did I know how difficult it would be to
produce a liqueur made from these flowers,” says

“It was really my desire to
create an amazing sort of product that was produced based on
classic production methods that really led to the
difficulties. I could have slapped together an elderflower
liqueur much in the way that the multi-nationals slap
liqueurs together – and done it and turned it around in 18
months – but that’s not what I set out to do. I set out to
create a liqueur that was based upon the fresh flowers that
had a very low sugar content,” tells Cooper. It took him
three years to find a source of the fresh flowers that was
significant enough to make a commercial product. Eventually
he was introduced to a group of French farmers who had been
harvesting the flowers for decades and some of them still
used old bicycles to collect them. It did however take
Cooper and his team three harvest seasons to perfect the
process. “One of my production team members suggested that
we try this idea that he had come up with and it basically
allows us to gently press the flowers without pulling too
much flavor out of them and it allows us to do it very
rapidly to maintain the freshness of the flowers so that
they’re not sitting too long in solution. The second I
tasted the maceration after that third harvest I just knew
that was it and that’s what we’re drinking

Cooper also is credited
with designing St. Germain’s bottle, each of which is
individually numbered and includes the vintage date. “I was
looking for inspiration in a lot of different places;
vintage perfume bottles, antique liqueur and cordial bottles
from France particularly. It’s also inspired by the Art Deco
period which coincides with the period of time in France
that I think is very in line with the spirit of the brand,
that sort of innovative; creative era in the early 19OOs
through the 193Os when there was a lot of creativity
emanating the Saint Germain des Pres area with
existentialists and a lot of incredible modern art coming
from there at the time.” Cooper points out that although his
liqueur’s name was originally inspired by the neighborhood
in Paris it was also very much influenced by a visit to a
chapel near the harvest site. “A lot of the classic cocktail
bartenders are adverse to working with new products because
they want to align themselves with products that have stood
the test of time, that have had longevity, and so they shy
away from anything new because they don’t want to be seen as
climbing aboard some flash in the pan or not really aligning
themselves with things that really have a ton of integrity,”
says Cooper. “I just tell people that it’s really well made,
the drinks are amazing, it’s got integrity, it’s a new
classic and it’s the answer to all of the world’s

Drambuie continues to tap
into its rich history as a means of modernizing and
contemporizing the Scottish spirit. “During the last two
years the consumer outreach has been centered around the
Drambuie Pursuit Contest. Ten teams will be selected to go
Scotland and participate in it – a race across the Scottish
countryside re-tracing the steps of Bonnie Prince Charles,”
outlines Michelle Beauchamp, who is also Drambuie’s Senior
Brand Manager for Bacardi USA. Beauchamp also explains how
the brand was first bestowed upon the fabled McKinnons.
“During that pursuit, when the British were chasing Prince
Charles across the countryside, he actually handed off the
recipe to the McKinnon family; the secret recipe for
Drambuie.” Drambuie goes back to 1745 when said prince
failed to reclaim his throne from the British and ended up
on the run. “The modern day adventurer is the kind of
consumer we’re looking to connect with, it’s tied directly
to the essence of the brand,” says Beauchamp who adds that
this campaign will continue throughout 2OO8.

“Our goal for Drambuie is
to generate product trial and adoption by adult males ages
25 to 34 and these are males who consider themselves modern
day adventurers.”

It was a mid-November
afternoon when I and a handful of other writers broke bread
with acclaimed spirits writer Gary Regan at Eastern Standard
Restaurant in Boston. Regan was on a multi-week Bacardi USA
sponsored tour and his mission was to introduce the world to
his new B&B/Benedictine cocktail creation: the TAMI.
Regan regaled us with tales of starting the tour at the
legendary bar where B&B was born some 7O years ago: The
21 Club in Manhattan. “Before we get on the plane to go to
France, I was being a clever bastard and I invented this
drink in my head. I gave the ingredients to the bartender
and he made it up and it did not work. I had called for too
much B&B and it took over the drink,” recalls Regan. His
next stop was in Fecamp, Normandy, where he toured the
B&B distillery. All the while, Regan was trying to
perfect his failed B&B cocktail attempt that took place
back at The 21 Club. While on the trip, Regan was asked by a
Bacardi USA representative which direction he thinks the
brand should head and he offered up a surprising response:
“We’re going to teach people to throw B&B down the
drain.” Two days later in Paris, while dining at Maxine’s,
Regan perfected his formula and the TAMI came to life. “I’d
reformulated it to make it three parts Cognac, one part
sweet vermouth, one dash of Angostura bitters per drink and
then the B&B we just put half an ounce in the glass,
whirl it around, coat the interior so we’re rinsing the
glass with B&B and then you discard the excess.” Regan
says that The Benedictine Palace represents Tradition and
Modernity, Art and Industry. “So I juggled them about and
TAMI was born on the 18th of October of 2OO7 at Maxine’s,”
quips Regan.

Brandy Toth, Field
Marketing Manager for Bacardi USA, also chimed in on the
brand. “B&B has such an amazing story, an amazing
recipe. It adds so much to the drink repertoire and we’re
really trying to get people to recognize that it’s a
fantastic brand that’s been around for a long time, not like
the flavor-of-the-month vodka.

Earlier last year Kahlua,
the number three import, launched two new flavors; Kahlua
French Vanilla Coffee Liqueur and Kahlua Hazelnut Coffee
Liqueur. Although he points to some initial confusion, David
Boyle at Martignetti gives both extensions of the line the
thumps up. “I think they’re hot – I just think people don’t
know what to do with them. People are expecting a coffee
flavored liqueur. So when I say to somebody ‘Kahlua
Hazelnut, Kahlua French Vanilla’ people are taken aback. But
once they try it, they love it.” Susan Kilgore, Kahlua Brand
Director for Pernod Ricard USA comments on the results so
far: “They have been extremely well received by the trade
and consumers. These two flavors are the most popular coffee
flavors in the US so they are a natural line extension for
the number one selling family of coffee

The brand’s most recent ad
campaign is called Explore Your Curiosity. They also hope to
boost consumer interest in another way. “Kahlu;a recently
introduced new packaging that leverages the iconic Kahlua
bottle and color palette, one of the most recognized
packages in the spirits industry. The new packaging redesign
builds on the existing equity of Kahlua by introducing
premium metallic accents, along with Meso-American cues that
evoke the brand’s heritage,” says Kilgore. 2OO8 brings with
it the launch of Raspberry White Russian Ready-to-Drink and
Drinks-to Go. You can also expect iced blender drinks this
summer and some other new initiatives that are still
classified as “hush, hush”.


“Some of the hotter
products would be limoncello. There are also various other
ones, such as cream limoncello and flavores. The raspberry
flavored limoncello (Sonia di Sorrento cream limoncello) has
been a new, hot rage,” reports Rich Daly, Manager of Andover
Liquors. “The other thing that’s been kind of hot is the
PAMA pomegranate liqueur. Then we just got in this biscotti
liqueur (Faretti Biscotti Famosi Liqueur). It’s delicious,”
says Daly, who also mentions that the martini madness in all
of its many forms continues to drive his sales in the
cordials category.

Over at Bauer Wine &
Spirits in Boston, owner Susan Fortuna also points to the
popularity of martinis. “It seems that certain drinks become
popular in bars. When they were doing the chocolate
martinis, all of a sudden you’ll see people wanting Godiva
chocolate liqueur or cre;me de cacao or different things
like that that sort of make a hit in a bar scene. People
want to make them at home when they’re having a party and
say ‘this would be something cool and different to do and
we’ll make a special martini.’ So we’ll start to see spikes
in certain liqueurs.” Howie Rubin, also from Bauer Wine
& Spirits, offers his take on the past year. “One of the
better liqueurs that we sell a ton of is the Belle de
Brillet. It’s a pear cognac liqueur. The other one that does
well is Diabolique made by a local chef [Robert
Fathman] and the one we have is the bourbon spice
liqueur.” Rubin also gives the thumbs up to PAMA. “We had a
huge summer with it. That’s something you can have during
the summer with a little sparkling water or something or you
can put it in some vodka and make a pomegranate martini so
that’s done really well for us.” Rubin also agreed with Rich
Daly on the consistent performance of limoncello and he
singles out Limone from the Island of Sardegna.


A conversation with
Deneen Scully, bartender at The Bristol Lounge at Boston’s
Four Seasons Hotel, reveals her clientele’s love for the
classics as well. “Pretty much what I think is happening is
things are going very classic, back to all the classic
cocktails. Most places are really working on that: fresh
flavors, just going back to making everything fresh – new
ingredients that are really old ingredients,” says Scully.
As to what’s a consistent customer favorite, that was an
easy one for Scully to answer. “We do a Boston Uncommon.
It’s a hot coffee drink that we do every year and it’s
pretty popular. It has Baileys and Frangelico and

. . .

It’s clear that the passion
for flavor and the love of traditional cocktails has spilled
over from 2OO6 into 2OO7. 2OO8 will no doubt continue to
paint from this palette while also exploring new territory
by way of new flavor launches and the wizardry of local
mixologists. Next year at this time it will be very
revealing to check the status of Kahlu;a’s new flavors, the
revival attempts of B&B and Drambuie, how St. Germain
makes out and of course, whether Jagermeister logs another
explosive year. Until then, keep the flavor wheel spinning
and stay on a steady course with creative