The Find: December 2012 Edition

Posted on | November 30, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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Borrowing from the culinary world, mixology has a fresh take on the notion of “semi-homemade.” The new Cocktail Rx line features the tools (reusable stylish shakers) and essential ingredients needed to make eight servings of each of three festive holiday cocktails—Peppermint Martini, Cranberry Margarita and Pomegranate Martini. Home bartenders need only add ice, liquor and shaking power. Five other flavors are available as well, for after the holiday season. 

SRP $6.99-$7.99


New to the U.S., Big Peat announces its style in cartoonish fashion. A “vatted” selection of robust malts from the Islay island—including Ardbeg, Bowmore, Caol Ila the rare Port Ellen plus a couple of other distillates kept secret by the producer, the Glasgow-based Douglas Laing Company—Big Peat flaunts its strong, smoky character. Having already earned both critical praise and design accolades, importer International Spirits and Wines currently sells the Scotch in New York, with plans to expand nationally.

SRP $59.99



Not just another flimsy foam-rubber sleeve, the new BeerHugZ is a stylish, ergonomic holder that fits most bottles and cans. Colorful and easy to hold, BeerHugZ is foam-lined with a plastic exterior that is designed to keep beer cold and the hand holding it dry. The sturdy base has a bucket that prevents spillover from condensation that can create ugly rings on tabletops. SRP for individually packaged BeerHugZ is $4.99-$6.99; five colors; bulk orders and imprinting also available.




Wine boom and cocktail culture notwithstanding, there is still a place in the world for shots. Catering to the wild and colorful side of the shot spectrum, Tooters have reloaded, so to speak, with two new flavors (Maragarita and Triple Berry Punch), making nine total. The tubes are available for individual sale, or in newly redesigned party packs (holding 15 or 30 tubes); perfect for countertops by the register. SRP is $1.99 each, $9.99/15, $17.99/30; all Tooters are 30 proof. Top sellers are Ala Bama Slama, Blu Dacious Kamikazi and Red Diculous on the Beach.


New Products & Promotions: December 2012 Edition

Posted on | November 28, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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A sparkling fusion of crisp white wine and premium vodka, Absolut Tune is a new innovation from Absolut Vodka. Made with Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough region and Absolut Vodka, Absolut Tune is designed to celebrate life’s greatest moments. Absolut Tune can be enjoyed chilled in a flute or in a selection of sparkly cocktails. 28 proof.

SRP: $31.99


Introducing new Cacciata Chianti Classico Riserva 2008 (100% Sangiovese) and Cacciata Toscana I.G.T. “Barrique” 2008 (85% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon). Cacciata’s vineyards are located in the “golden triangle” of Italy’s Chianti Classico region. The Chianti Classico is soft and elegant; the Toscana has violet, cinnamon and chocolate notes and full-bodied flavors.



Tuaca Liqueur has introduced Tuaca Cinnaster, combining the original blend of vanilla, Mediterranean citrus and Italian brandies with a kick of cinnamon flavor. Based on a recipe more than 500 years old made for Lorenzo di Medici and rediscovered in 1938 by a set of adventurers who bestowed the name Tuaca, Cinnaster carries on the legacy. In limited release, with expanded availability in early 2013.

SRP: $23.99



Old New England Egg Nog is crafted using the freshest dairy base prepared by fine local farms. Made with imported brandy, smooth blended whiskey, rum and Kentucky bourbon, it makes for a fine holiday treat. For this season, Old New England Egg Nog is available in Original, Chocolate and the newest flavor, Pumpkin Spice. 30 proof.

SRP: $7.99


Ty Ku Premium Saké & Spirits has added to its award-winning line of premium sakés with Ty Ku Coconut Nigori. Brewed in saké’s heartland, Nara, Japan, Ty Ku Coconut Nigori is made using Junmai nigori saké which is infused with all-natural creamy coconut. Low-calorie and gluten-free, Ty Ku Coconut Nigori pairs well with a variety of cuisines or in cocktails.

SRP: $15.99





In response to myriad requests for rye created the George Dickel way, Master Distiller John Lunn has crafted George Dickel Rye. Chilled and then charcoal filtered, this 90-proof straight rye whiskey consists of a mash bill of 95% rye and 5% malted barley. Amber in appearance, George Dickel Rye offers composed spiciness and pleasant fruit notes on the finish.

SRP: $24.99




More than 75% of America’s lemons are grown in Ventura, California. The bounty helped inspire James Carling and his Italian wife Manuela Zaretto-Carling to use her grandmother’s limoncello recipe to craft their award-winning Ventura Limoncello in small batches year-round, using hand-peeled lemons. Additionally, Ventura Limoncello Company offers Limoncello Crema and seasonally made Orangecello Blood Orange.

SRP Limoncello 750ml: $29



Brady Vineyard wines, from the Brady family, are the result of years of perseverance and experimentation, particularly with Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2009 Brady Cabernet Sauvignon has been crafted to reflect the terroir of Paso Robles. The wine is bold, featuring deep crimson color and aromas of blackberry, black currant and cassis with notes of spices and vanilla.



Trinchero Family Estates has introduced two new Sutter Home wines: Pink Pinot Grigio and Red Moscato. Right on trend, Red Moscato follows the recent launches of Pink Moscato, Bubbly Moscato and Bubbly Pink Moscato, and is a blend of California Moscato and Merlot. The new Pink Pinot Grigio is similar to an off-dry rosé and offers notes of strawberries and peach balanced with crisp acidity.

SRP: $5.49 each



Vodka has been a boys’ club just waiting for a shake-up, so three women have created Vixen Vodka. Crafted in Colorado using corn and pure spring water, Vixen Vodka is distilled five times in one of the few glass stills in the world. The X in the logo is designed to look like women’s legs, and the brand’s tag line is “lust in liquid form.”

SRP: $24.99


Deutsch Family Wine and Spirits is introducing Enza Prosecco, available nationwide starting this month. Enza Prosecco is made from D.O.C. grapes from vineyards lying between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, with notes of citrus and hints of honeysuckle, green apple and peach. The packaging is fresh and festive, evoking Italian elements of style and sensuality.

SRP: $14.99


Scottish craft beer maker Innis & Gunn has introduced its first Porter-style beer for the season—Winter Beer 2012. This beer is inspired by a 19th-century recipe and uses molasses combined with slow maturation. Winter Beer 2012 is rich, complex and malty with notes of molasses, fruit and hints of chocolate. Available in 4-packs and in the Holiday Winter Beer Pack.

SRP: $10.99


Cocktails in a Bottle: Premium, Premixed Cocktails Drive Innovation in the Ready-to-Serve Category

Posted on | November 28, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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With all the bar buzz on house-made syrups and bitters, artisanal infusions and beloved mixologists, it seems everyone must be on the crafted cocktail bandwagon. Not so. Ready-to-serve (RTS) cocktails are consumers’ dirty little secret—simple for entertaining and the fraction of the price of a fancy drink. While many in the business may scoff at premade cocktails, new brands and exciting flavors are proving to be easy to swallow—to the tune of 6.8 million 9L cases alone last year, a 6% increase over 2010 according to Impact Databank.

To clarify, RTS products are distinct from RTDs (ready-to-drink), which are single-serve, often malt-based brands like Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Smirnoff Ice. RTD cocktails represent about 55% of the overall category, with RTS making up the other 45%.

Lorena Streeter, marketing communications manager for Florida’s ABC Fine Wine and Spirits, sees a shift across her approximately 145 stores across the state. “Over the years, we’ve seen RTDs go from primarily single-serve or two-serving cocktails to a category dominated by larger-sized bottles that you’d pick up for a party. It’s also become a category largely driven by brands, whereas years ago you’d find a single company making a range of drinks with a variety of spirits.”

While most major suppliers have played in the RTD and RTS category for years, a host of new brands and packaging has changed the landscape. This batch of party-friendly RTS cocktails caters to younger, trend-setting enthusiasts who have developed a taste for mojitos and other popular cocktails, but may have no idea how to make them. The category is also geared toward the price-sensitive consumer who recognizes the convenience and savings of not having to purchase and make a cocktail from scratch. Tom Tesauro, partner in Massachusetts-based Yankee Spirits, says, “Many of our customers are a bit intimidated and mystified when it comes to mixology. Ready-to-drink offerings help them overcome this challenge.” He adds that, as a category, RTDs are young and volatile: “There is a constant stream of new offerings as well as frequent discontinuations.”


Similar to on-premise, the Margarita is the most popular cocktail among both RTS and RTD brands, followed by the Cosmopolitan. Diageo controls more than a third of the category with its offerings, most notably under the Jose Cuervo and T.G.I. Friday’s brands. Line extensions from Smirnoff and Captain Morgan continue to perform well. Bacardi has maintained a firm position with its Party Drinks and Classic Cocktails lines. Kahlúa and Jack Daniel’s are two other well-known brands joining the ready-to-party bandwagon.

Getting Skinny With It

There’s a notable catalyst to the growth and innovation in the RTS category, and it can be traced back to 2008, when on-premise spirit sales declined 2.2%, the first time the industry had seen a dip since 1995. Consumers began to curtail their spending by drinking at home more often. About this time, popular reality TV star Bethenny Frankel decided to launch a calorie-conscious bottled Margarita under the brand name Skinnygirl. It was an overnight success, ultimately purchased and extended by Beam Inc. in 2011. The Skinnygirl brand grew by 81% in the first half of 2012, buoyed by the introduction of Skinnygirl vodkas and wines.

Fast forward to 2012, and “skinny” is used so often on both cocktail menus and liquor bottles, it hardly needs an explanation. Nearly all the major players in the RTS category have introduced lower-calorie versions, citing this trend as a reflection of the busy, social, health-conscious female.

In May, Bacardi announced actress Busy Philipps as the spokesperson for their new Bacardi Classic Cocktails Light. Christina Perez-McDowell, brand manager at Bacardi USA says the brands are “a new staple for sophisticated at-home entertaining…offering [consumers] a way to enjoy more time with their guests, without sacrificing flavor or style.” At less than 95 calories for a 4 ounce serving, Bacardi promotes the line as being made with natural flavors, real juice and pure cane sugar.


Campari America came out with a brightly packaged Midori Skinny Margarita as well as a RTS version of the core Midori Sour cocktail in July. Many new brands are entering the market, like CountryGirl Cocktails, which counts on a partnership with Nashville record label Average Joe’s Entertainment to reach its core female target through product placement at concerts, in music videos and promotional contests. CountryGirl Director of Marketing Serra Justice points to the 16% ABV as being a point of distinction: “This slightly higher alcohol content gives CountryGirl Cocktails a bold taste while maintaining the sweetness desired by most RTD consumers.”

According to IBISWorld, women account for 55% of RTS purchases, and most are under 30 years old. But don’t count out men in the low-calorie RTS craze—VeeV Spirits, known for its VeeV Açaí liqueur, has entered the category with VitaFrute cocktails, aimed toward both genders. The line launched with Margarita, Cosmopolitan and Lemonade flavors and is all-natural, organic and 125 calories per serving.

Trading Up

Cocktails are perceived as more premium to drink than beer, a point that holds true in the spirit-based RTS category as well. According to DISCUS, 20% of the category is premium, and that is a segment that is growing, especially the “skinny” brands notes Streeter at ABC.

At all three Yankee Spirits locations, Tesauro says the RTD and RTS category has become highly competitive, with innovations in various packaging and flavors coming faster than most retailers can handle. “Over the last several years, we’ve seen real trade-up in this category with more premium offerings. Where value brands like Ice Box and Chi Chi’s once dominated, we now see more premium offerings like the Cuervo Golden Margarita, Bailey’s Mudslide and the offerings from Bacardi—all of which retail in our store in the mid to high teens for a 1.75 liter. We now have 750mls of Skinnygirl flying out the door at the same price as a 1.75 liter of the value brands.”


Staying Power

With cocktail culture in full swing, the average consumer will continue to experiment with premade drinks. The benefits of price and convenience coupled with more at-home entertaining all point to more supplier investment in the category.

Elsewhere in the world, bottled cocktails are more commonplace than in the U.S.; Australia, Russia and Japan account for 75% of the global RTD/RTS volume. The United States accounts for a mere 2%—a number that may well creep up with the more premium offerings entering the category.

Keeping track of the various premade cocktail brands is no easy task. The chart we’ve compiled of some of the most common spirit-based RTS cocktails offers just a snapshot of this flavorful, growing segment.

NJLSA Trade Show Deemed Another Success

Posted on | November 27, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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On October 17th, the New Jersey Liquor Store Alliance held their 7th annual Holiday Package Trade Show at the New Jersey Convention and Expo at Raritan Center in Edison. This sold-out event showcased thousands of products at over 100 booths. Attendees were able to sample old and new products, view holiday packaging and ask questions to suppliers and distributor representatives. To make inquiries for the 2013 event, please contact NJLSA event coordinator Patricia Brewer at 609-396-1980 ext. 1133.

Moët Hennessy Brings New Jersey to France

Posted on | November 27, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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Recently a group from MHUSA in New Jersey, with members from Fedway Associates and Allied Beverage Group, visited the Hennessy Maison in Cognac, France. Maurice Hennessy hosted the group, pictured here at the Hennessy family guest house, Château de Bagnolet.

NYSLSA Holds Annual Holiday Trade Shows

Posted on | November 27, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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The New York State Liquor Store Association held holiday trade shows at The Desmond Hotel in Albany on October 9th and at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Buffalo on October 11th. Attendees enjoyed sampling through offerings from a diverse array of distributors and brands represented.

Whyte & Mackay Hosts Special Tasting of Mackinlay’s Shackleton

Posted on | November 26, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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On October 26th, Whyte & Mackay held a special, private tasting during Whiskeyfest events, at The Marriott Marquis. Mackinlay’s Master Blender Richard Paterson spoke to the group about recreating the 1907 whisky that was lost under ice in a fateful Antarctic expedition. Explorer Tim Jarvis also told of his plans to re-enact Sir Ernest Shackleton’s trip in 2013.

Metro Package Store Association Hosts 78th Annual Dinner

Posted on | November 26, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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The Metropolitan Package Store Association held its 78th Annual Dinner at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach, Queens on October 22nd. The guests of honor were Senator Majority Leader Dean Skelos and members of the Senate Majority Conference. Guests enjoyed an evening of cocktails, dinner and dancing.

Veuve Clicquot Hosts Intimate Champagne Dinner

Posted on | November 26, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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On October 17th, Veuve Clicquot Senior Winemaker Cyril Brun and Vanessa Kay, President of Veuve Clicquot U.S., hosted an intimate dinner featuring several rare Veuve Clicquot vintages at Crown. Chef John DeLucie created a special four-course menu paired with four vintages. Brun led guests through the tasting, which included new releases La Grand Dame 2004, Cave Privée Rosé 1989 and Cave Privée Brut 1990 and Yellow Label.

Oak Beverages Pairs Beer at Oyster, Arts & Music

Posted on | November 26, 2012   Bookmark and Share
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Oak Beverages recently participated in the Pier Restaurant/Tiki Bar’s Oyster, Arts & Music Festival in their Rye Playland location in Rye, NY. The event celebrated Oktoberfest and included an eclectic round-up of music, arts and crafts, children’s games and good food. Warsteiner’s Pilsner, Dunkel and Oktoberfest, along with Sam Adam’s Octoberfest and Thomas Hooker’s Octoberfest quenched the thirst of festival attendees.

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