The Cocktail Mix Culture

Posted on | March 1, 2004   Bookmark and Share
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Mixes have long served as consistent and time-saving vehicles for bars, and in recent years have experienced great success with consumers off-premise. While most operators add real fruit as a garnish, they need mixes for convenience, consistency, stability and ultimately, profitability. By introducing new flavors, promotions and packaging, mix marketers are seeking fresh ways to solve old problems. The resurgence of the cocktail culture has sparked new interest in the pre-mixed category, as retailers who stock them will testify.

pre-mixed shots
From the Brandywine Cider Company, BuzzBomb was released last year. Packaged in 50ml flex (plastic) packs, the gelatin shots contain 15 percent alcohol and energy ingredients, including ginseng, taurine, caffeine and sugar, in a cherry gelatin base. The idea for the product came from England, capitalizing on the energy drink craze, and they are made in Denmark. This spring Buzzbomb will introduce five new flavors- Watermelon Splash, Kamikaze Lemon, Blue Raspberry, Apple-Tini and Grape Crush. BuzzBombs come in a tear and break-proof package.

With instant success that has surprised even the Bacardi team themselves, Bacardi Party Drinks were launched last year and have already hit 500,000 cases in 2003. Bacardi sees retailers using Bacardi Party Drinks (around 12 percent abv) to fill a gap in the market for pre-mixed, rum-based products. Packaged in 750ml and 1.5L.

This bright blue 70 proof Tequila mixed with citrus liqueur is designed to taste like a high proof Margarita right out of the bottle. “These are very hot and they are made with real Tequila,” says Vic Morrison, VP marketing, McCormick Distillers. They come in 200ml and 1.75ml sizes and the flavors include Blue Citrus, Strawberry, Berry, Melon, and Mango.

cocktail mixes
Since its beginnings in 1974, Franco’s has grown into the largest producer of Margarita salt in the world. The company was the first to create the Hurricane mix and in 1993 signed a licensing agreement to introduce Jose Cuervo Margarita Salt Sombreros. “Our highest revenue item is the Franco’s Lemon Bar Mix (sweet and sour), which is also our number one export item, and we are opening new markets for that,” Richard Franco shares. “Soon, we plan to produce bi-lingual packaging.”

cocktail mixes
MR. & MRS. T
Originally launched in 1960 by Herb and June Taylor, Mr. & Mrs. T now offers a line extension; Mr. & Mrs. T Premium Blend Bloody Mary Mix, made with 22 juices and spices. “We had a vision of improving the quality and taste of Bloody Marys, that’s why we created our new Premium Blend Bloody Mary Mix,” says Tara Leonard, brand manager of Mr. & Mrs. T Cocktail Mix and Mr. & Mrs. T Premium Blend Bloody Mary Mix. With its three mix brands (Mr. & Mrs. T’s, Holland House and Rose’s Lime Juice), Motts is the category leader.

cocktail mixes
As successful as its restaurant empire namesake, Barton Brands’ Chi-Chi’s has made an art of quickly spinning off new products in step with the cocktail of the moment for the off-premise. Currently, the portfolio includes Vanilla Mudslide, Caribbean Mudslide, Long Island Iced Tea, Mexican Mudslide, Original Margarita, Piña Colada, Premium Gold Margarita, Strawberry Margarita, Tequila and Triple Sec, White Russian and the ever-popular Cosmopolitan. Retail promotions for Chi-Chi’s include case cards and a floor pieces that contain multiple cases.

cocktail mixes
The category leader for frozen blended non-alcoholic mixes, Daily’s fresh flavors and creative packaging, not to mention incredible variety, keeps the brand current. The line of 19 flavors includes traditional Daiquiris, Margaritas and Bloody Mary mixes to recent releases like Mocha Mudslide and Orange Dream. Daily’s partnered with world-renowned artist Burton Morris to mix fresh fruit flavors and pop art for the Green Demon Margarita mix. As an innovator in this category, the company introduced the first national non-alcoholic Hard Lemonade, and also released a Salsa Bloody Mary mix. Daily’s latest innovation is The Party in a Bucket, which consumers use by adding liquor and freezing.

pre-mixed shots
The test tube shot manufacturer has been marketing pre-filled Tooters brand for 10 years, and currently sells 2.5 million tubes a month. Joe Norton, national brand manager, believes the surge in volume is due to increased home entertaining. “Consumers can purchase 30 tubes for around $15 off-premise. Because they are pre-portioned one-ounce servings, people know exactly how much they are drinking, and are less likely to over consume.” Tooters two new flavors include Lemon Drop and Zipperhead (a blend of grape, black raspberry flavors and vodka).

cocktail mixes
Produced by American Beverage Marketers (makers of Finest Call product line as well), Master of Mixes makes a wide range of nonalcoholic mixes for the off-premise. Last year the brand introduced the Cocktail Poker promotion and recently, the BigBucket Margarita Mixer, which enables consumers to create Margaritas at home by pouring a 750ml bottle of tequila into the BigBucket and place it in the freezer (for frozen margaritas) or the refrigerator (for on the rocks).

pre-mixed shots
Started in 1998, these gelatin shots are crafted to taste like popular cocktails; Blue Hawaiian (coconut and vodka), Purple Hooter and Fuzzy Navel. Today, Zippers sells 75 percent of their volume off-premise. “Many people want to take the product home for parties,” observes Joseph J. Brewer, web/graphics, BPNC, Inc., Zippers Gelatin Shots & Zippers Red. “We currently deal with about 40 different distributors in the U.S., and they are all different sizes. We estimate our sales at $6-$8 million in 2004.”

One of the first and still strongest brands in this category, these frozen cocktails have been copied by many suppliers eager to have a piece of this profitable niche. The original Mudslide which started it all is now part of a line that includes Margarita, Mudslide, Amaretto Mudslide, Raspberry Chiller, Strawberry Shortcake, Orange Dream, Pina Colada, Strawberry Daiquiri.

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