Monday, January 17, 2011

Crack Open an Ice-Cold Can of... Whisky?

Scottish Spirits' can of Scotch Whisky
Not sure why anyone would think whisky in a can would be a good idea, but apparently someone does – and that someone did it. Panama-based, Scottish Spirits, is releasing their canned whisky into the Caribbean marketing beginning May 1st.

This whisky can contains around 8 shots of whisky and doesn’t include a way to reseal the container. Scottish Spirits suggests that a single can should be split between 3 people. I’m having trouble imagining that scenario:

“Hey guys! Why don’t we watch the Super Bowl at my place over a couple of cans of ice-cold whisky?”

That sentence doesn’t really slide off the tongue so well. The Scotch Whisky Association apparently agrees with that sentiment and has said it would try to ban the cans for breaching international labeling rules.

In an interview with The Daily Mail, Scottish Spirits’ Chief executive, Manish Panshal, said: “We are really thrilled with the idea – it’s going to be a part of every lifestyle and occasion. It’s lightweight and portable and entirely recyclable, which is good news. It will be one of the hot picks for any outdoor activities.”

I can't really see the average adult consumer eagerly incorporating cheap canned whisky into their lifestyle – at least not in the U.S.

Foodie Gossip: Here’s Vodka in Your Eye!

Foodie Gossip: Here’s Vodka in Your Eye!: "Forget beer bongs and jello shots. Eyeballing vodka is now all the rage among college students world-wide. I’m sure you just read that statement and are now thinking: ”WTF??” But it’s..."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Top 10 Liquor, Beer & Wine Trend Predictions for 2011

Beverages counted for approximately 30% of the average restaurant’s revenue and 50% of its profit. And with the upwards turn of the economy, we’ll see liquor, wine and beer play a more prominent part on the culinary stage. Here is how we predict liquor, wine and beer will advance in 2011:

1. Cocktail & Food Pairing: Beer and food pairing was all the rage in 2010, and wine and food pairing will always have its place in the gourmet world. But 2011 will see an uptake of pairing food with different cocktails. While experts thought that this trend would go mainstream in 2010, the culinary cocktail concept is just starting to take off. Both sweet and savory, cocktail and food pairings will take center stage in the New Year.

2. The Bar Chef: As mixology evolves and cocktail and food pairings become more prominent in the culinary world, we’ll see mixologist and chef merge into one, creating the "Bar Chef". Turning their noses down on processed and artificial ingredients, the bar chef will always opt for natural, organic components when fashioning their culinary cocktails.

3. Simplified Cocktails: Mixology really evolved in 2010. We saw fresher ingredients and adventurous combinations. But in 2011, we’ll see more simplified versions of our favorite bar beverages. While fresh is best, sometimes less is more. We’ll still see quality ingredients in our glasses, but the amount of ingredients will definitely be scaled down and specific ingredients will be more often showcased.

4. Mezcal: Tequila has been king of hard liquor for decades, but the Mexican spirit may just loose it’s throne to Mezcal in 2011. Mezcal is also an agave-based liquor, but it’s almost always smoother and more complex than even the highest-end tequila.

5. Dessert cocktails: From Whisky & Cola floats to the Grasshopper cocktail, we’ll see dessert cocktails increase in popularity in 2011.

6. Moonshine: Small-batch corn whiskey modeled after the homemade version synonymous with the South is finding its way into cocktails.

7. Bacon Infused Liquor: We predicted that bacon fat would be a hot item in our Top 10 Food Trend Predictions for 2011 and we’re carrying that over to our booze list as well. We’re hearing rumors that bacon will find its way into Rum and Bourbon bottles in the near future, by means of a method called “fat washing”. Fat washing is a process where alcohol is mixed with meat fat and then chilled to solidify the fat. The fat is then skimmed away, leaving an infusion of the liquor and savory flavors from the bacon. Step aside Bloody Mary – Bacon Booze is coming to town and brunch will never be the same again.

8. Boutique booze: A wonderfully small, but new fad in 2010 was small distilleries specializing in their own meticulously crafted artisanal spirits. While this industry still has a way to go before it becomes a real player (micro distilleries only count for 1% of the $63 billion distilled spirits market) we’re excited to see it flourish in 2011.

9. Beer sommeliers/Cicerones: Experts project growth within the Hospitality and restaurant industries in 2011. And with the rising popularity of comfort food and craft beers, it’s only predictable that beer-food specialists would emerge to aid patrons in their beer and food pairings.

10. Cocktail Punch: Cocktail Punch will become the “cupcake” of house party cocktails in 2011. Simple is “in” and everyone loves to ladle a refreshing concoction into their party cups. So be warned: If you’re throwing a house party, make sure to include a punch cocktail on your list of refreshments.

And those are our “Blender Booze” predictions for 2011. Happy New Year!!

More Food & Cocktail Trends and Predictions:

Top 10 Cocktail, Beer and Wine Trends of 2010: A Year in Review

2010 was the most creative year for cocktails, beer & wine. It was so wonderful to see how the advancement of the culinary arts has impacted the alcohol industry. And while we anxiously await what will unfold in 2011, lets reflect on some of the top alcohol trends for 2010.

1. Beer and Food Pairings: Pairing the perfect beer with the perfect food was one of the hottest bar beverage trends of 2010.

2. Locally Crafted Beer: Unique beers with delicious flavors were discovered locally around America in 2010.

3. Organic Alcohol: The demand for organic foods centers primarily on fresh produce, such as fruits and vegetables. But in 2010, eco-conscious consumers began seeking out certified organic alcohol as well.

4. The Mixologist: Mixologists have been around for years. But in 2010, we saw the bartender evolve into the more gourmet-focused mixologist, who added a fresher, more creative spin on cocktails.

5. Fresh Vodka Infusions: While plain and flavored store-bought vodka will always have its place, freshly infused vodkas really started to come into their own. Why buy artificially flavored vodka, when you can make your own just as easily – and your own is almost guaranteed to taste better.

6. Wine Cocktails: There was definitely a rise in cocktails that featured wine as the main ingredient. Specifically in Pan-Asian restaurants, we saw sake showcased in endless creative combinations. Sweet or dry, we watched as mixologists brought the concept of wine consumption to new levels.

7. Bars as Restaurants: Most restaurants have always had bars and most bars have always had food, but 2010 saw an increase of bars improve upon and expand their menus

8. Alcoholic energy drinks: In 2010 you could find Four Loko and other caffeinated alcohol beverages nice and cold in your local mini mart, but the caffeinated versions of these energy drinks will be banned in many states beginning in the New Year. They’ve become a “black market” item and can be found on eBay, selling for double the cost. Sugar and caffeine saturated, the “blackout in a can” will be missed dearly.

9. Jelly Shots: These jelled, watch-them-wiggle, shots were a required party treat in 2010. Let’s hope this trend carries over in the New Year!

10. Wine Prices: 2010 was a great year to build on your wine collection! 32% of wine makers reduced their price-per-bottle and the price reductions we saw in stores were enough to make the angels sing. 2010 was a GREAT year for wine shopping.

Happy New Year!

More Food & Cocktail Trends and Predictions:

Monday, January 3, 2011

Kahlúa® Partners with Food Network Star, Aarón Sánchez, to Launch a Bad Branding Campaign

I’m bemused over the Kahlúa®/Aarón Sánchez press release I read this morning. Maybe the Kahlúa marketing team threw the campaign together at 3am New Year’s morning, after too many Kahlúa shots? They’re doing a terrible job masquerading their “Delicioso Night In” marketing campaign as an intro to a fabricated Mexican tradition. I’m all for trying out new trends, but the last time I checked, the residents of Mexico – specifically Veracruz – didn’t have a tradition of inviting family, friends and co-workers over for Kahlúa® once a month. In fact, I’m fairly sure that entertaining company in one’s home in Mexico isn’t saved for special occasions, but practiced regularly as a way of life – no?

Moreover, Kahlúa® is referring to their “Delicioso Night In” campaign as a “movement”. Aside from suggesting that consumers invite friends over one night a month (which most of us do anyway), there isn’t anything I can find that would brand their campaign a “movement”. I can understand the “equal rights movement” or the “anti-slavery movement”, but the “share a bottle of Kahlúa with friends movement” just doesn’t seem to have the same ring of authenticity.

In addition to the “Kahlúa movement”, they’re holding a “Delicioso Night In” sweepstakes. Apparently, all you need to do is invite a few friends to your house once a month. But the sweepstakes just seems like a cheap way of collecting contact info from consumers – note the lack of privacy policy in the registration form. Consumers beware: your prize for entering the sweepstakes will most likely be A LOT of spam and not much else.

My favorite part of the sweepstakes rules: “In the event that the Aarón Sánchez dinner portion of the prize is not available, cancelled or postponed due to circumstances beyond Sponsor's control, that portion of the prize will not be awarded and no additional compensation will be provided.” Let’s hope that Sánchez feels like entertaining strangers when that “portion of the prize” is awarded.

To summarize: Kahlúa® gets personal contact information from thousands of unsuspecting consumers (which they can later remarket to or sell to a third party) and Chef Aarón Sánchez gets some press - all for a fraction of the cost of other marketing techniques.

In my meager opinion, this is an exploitation of Mexican culture and a cheap tactic to collect personal information from consumers and spam them at a later date.