New Products & Promotions: January 2014

Posted on | December 31, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Hood River Distillers, Inc. recently unveiled a new label design for Sinfire Cinnamon Whisky. Originally released in February 2012, Sinfire capitalized on the growing flavored whisky trend with sweet but hot natural cinnamon flavors. The updated label features a thermochromic temperature-triggered color-changing label to help consumers know when Sinfire reaches its optimal shot-serving temperature of 32°F.

SRP: $17.99 |





Anchorman 2 hit movie theaters in December, and Riviera Imports in association with Paramount Pictures launched Ron Burgundy Scotch, “Great Odin’s Raven Special Reserve,” to coincide. The label is appropriately playful, but the spirit is a serious blend of Speyside, Highland and Islay whiskies. The Scotch is made at Old St. Andrews Distillery. 92 proof.

SRP: $24.99




New to the Brady Vineyard portfolio are the 2013 Brady Vineyard Paso Robles Zinfandel and the 2011 Brady Vineyard Paso Robles Petite Sirah. Brady Vineyard wines are the result of years of perseverance, patience and experimentation in a continuing adventure with wine. In addition to the new Zinfandel and Petitie Sirah, the portfolio also features the 2010 Brady Vineyard Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon.




Malibu has introduced three new products to its portfolio. Malibu Rum Sparkler, available in coconut and peach flavors, is a crisp, bubbly Caribbean rum with a splash of coconut water. Malibu Orange Float combines the signature taste of Malibu Rum with the classic taste of oranges and cream. And Malibu Fizzy Pink Lemonade single serve cans offer a blend of Malibu and pink lemonade for on-the-go enjoyment.


Star Industries presents Wild Flame American flavored whisky. Wild Flame is available in six flavors: Blueberry, Cherry, Cinnamon, Coconut, Honey and Peach. All flavors are available in a 750ml size and a 1L size. 66 proof.

SRP: 750ml/$12.99-$13.99; 1L/$16.99-$17.99


The Great American Wine Company pays tribute to the pioneering spirit of America. Fine grapes from coastal California vineyards nod to three of America’s favorite wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Red Blend. In honor of American heroes, The Great American Wine Company donates to U.S. military charities, starting in 2014 with a $100,000 donation to the USO.

SRP: $12.99







To distinguish its vodka from others on the market, Global Spirits has created Leaf Vodka, with a focus on vodka’s main ingredient: water. Leaf Vodka comes in two varieties—one made from Alaskan glacial water, for a pure taste with a hint of sweetness and the other made from Rocky Mountain mineral water, offering richness and complexity. The packaging was designed to echo the contours of a leaf, and the vodka is certified USDA organic. 80 proof.

SRP: $16.99







Korbel Brandy has released Korbel 12, a limited-edition California brandy and the first new brandy from Korbel in over a decade. Korbel 12 was distilled in a copper-lined still and aged for a minimum of 12 years in hand-coopered Appalachian oak barrels. Blended from selected barrels, Korbel 12 offers concentrated fruit, cedar and spice with excellent smoothness. Selected markets. 80 proof.

SRP: $39.99 |




Tequila Avión has released Avión Reserva 44, a hand-bottled extra añejo tequila. After 43 months in oak, Reserva 44 is aged an additional month in special petite barrels, rotated daily, which shapes the rich character of the liquid. The fire-polished crystal bottles are then hand-filled and numbered, before being signed by brand founder Ken Austin. 80 proof.

SRP 750ml: $150




Six Degrees Cellars has added a new varietal to its popular lineup. In addition to California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Six Degrees is releasing a California dry rosé. The beautiful new pink wine boasts flavors of strawberry, raspberry and black cherry fruit. It pairs well with healthy entrées like grilled pork chops, poached sea bass and Thai cuisine. Packaging appeals to the trifecta of Millennials, Gen Xers and hip Boomers.


Goose Island Beer Company has introduced Ten Hills Pale Ale, the first of three limited release beers slated for 2014. Idaho’s Elk Mountain Farms began growing ten “hills” of hops two years ago; Elk Mountain now grows more than 200,000 hills of hops for Goose Island annually. The ale shows apricot and tangerine aromas, and is 6.2% ABV. Available in six- and 12-packs. Price varies by market.


Boutique winery Provenance Vineyards has introduced its first new wine in 10 years. Provenance PWave Red Wine shakes things up by using non-traditional grapes in a Bordeaux-style blend. PWave joins the Provenance portfolio that already includes Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley Merlot and Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc.

SRP: $40.99




Super Sized Profits

Posted on | December 31, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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No matter the teams, the Super Bowl is a money maker. On-premise or off-, be ready to get a slice of the pie.

Eric Tschetter, who owns two Pour House sports bars in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, has two pieces of advice for anyone getting ready to serve the hordes of customers who will show up when the Super Bowl comes to New York City in February.

First, even though the Super Bowl promotes itself, that doesn’t mean those customers will show up just because you want them to. Marketing, even for the Super Bowl, is crucial, if only because the competition will be promoting their efforts. Second, always have a Plan B, because you’ll never know when you need one. In Tschetter’s case, it was the freak ice storm followed by five inches of snow a couple of days later, both of which snarled the Dallas area during the week it hosted the game in 2011.

“We should have had a backup plan,” says Tschetter, whose 24,000-square foot location in Fort Worth’s cultural district was the focus of the company’s efforts for the Super Bowl. “I don’t know if it would have made a difference, but Super Bowl week was kind of a bust. People didn’t venture out, and that left us with our pants down. I’m not sure we could have come up with something, but we needed a backup plan.”

In this, the Super Bowl has evolved into a lucrative, week-long event that requires a surprisingly sophisticated approach to both planning and operations.

“It used to be, when I started in the restaurant business 25 years ago, the Super Bowl was a slam dunk,” says Brad Miller, an operations associate for Synergy Restaurant Consultants in Laguna Niguel, CA. “You put in a big screen TV and everyone came in and watched the game. That’s not going to work any more.”


One reason for that is the National Football League doesn’t make it easy on on-premise operators. You know that thing the announcers always used to say? “This telecast is for private, non-commercial use…” The NFL takes that seriously, said several people interviewed for this story, because a big screen in a bar or restaurant is not about private non-commercial use. There are restrictions on TV size and charging admission to watch the game, says Miller, and if the league doesn’t aggressively pursue violators these days, it’s still not unusual for an NFL lawyer to call an operator who boasts in an ad, on social media, or in a media interview that they’re using a TV that’s bigger than what the league allows.

The other reason? Because the Super Bowl has become more than just a game, says Paddy McCarthy, who owns Nevada Smiths, which just moved to its new location in Manhattan on Third Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets—and where, not coincidentally, the slogan is “Where football is religion.” His point? That the Super Bowl is not about a football game on just one day, but an event that lasts the entire week preceding the game.

“The phone is already ringing off the hook,” says McCarthy. “People are looking forward to it so much, and are really excited about it. It’s going to be unbelievable for New York City.”

That means operators need to know how the system works, and that the system includes more than ordering extra chicken wings. One of the most important examples of this are corporate and celebrity parties, which have become even more important as the Super Bowl has changed from a one-day game to a week-long event. In 2013 in New Orleans, for example, the Maxim and Patrón Tequila party featured Victoria’s Secret models, while Lil Wayne performed at the GQ, Lacoste and Mercedes-Benz event.

Not all parties are created equal. The A list events are one thing and involve paperwork and contracts and doing business; the rest can be as simple as paying a celebrity to attend, all the while knowing there is a decent chance the celebrity will show up just long enough to say he or she was there. That happened to a fellow bar owner in Dallas, says Tschetter, and the owner had to mostly grin or bear it. In all of this, say consultants, consider the return on your investment, both in time and aggravation: Will the celebrities boost business enough to pay for getting them in?


This year’s event—Numero XLVIII, in the NFL’s traditional grandiose style—is already destined for history. It will be the first-ever Super Bowl in an open stadium in a cold-weather city, and the first to toggle between two states, New York and New Jersey. NYC’s ability to accommodate an influx of visitors is not so much in doubt (the city is used to handling large overlapping conventions with aplomb), but the weather wild card is certain to add a dose of excitement—or anxiety, as it were. On the other hand, with Super Bowl festivities estimated by the NFL to bring a fresh $600 million into the metropolitan area, inclement weather is a risk businesses are happy to take.

Most of the corporate parties are expected to take place in Manhattan, and the city is already planning to shut down a section of Times Square. Anheuser-Busch is going to dock a luxury cruise liner next to the Intrepid and operate it as a “Bud Light Hotel” entertainment and lodging venue. The 50 Yard Lounge, a grand pop-up complex at 1 Penn Plaza, will feature 15,000 square feet of heated roof decks, tented plazas and restaurants. Lonny Sweet, creator of the project, is counting on it being a true showcase for NYC: “The week leading up to the big game will be historic for New Yorkers, as we show why this city is the center of the food, sports, and entertainment worlds.” With dozens of NYC chefs, mixologists, musicians and athletes on board, the 50 Yard Lounge is hoping to draw an equal mix of tourists and locals.

One of the longest-running Super Bowl events is the Taste of the NFL, made possible through the generosity of partners including E. & J. Gallo. Additional supporting sponsors include Pernod Ricard. The annual strolling food and wine event pairs 35 of the country’s best chefs, each representing an NFL city, with 35 of the NFL’s greatest players. It is the single most successful NFL-sanctioned charitable event at the Super Bowl, having distributed in excess of $14 million to food banks since1992. This year’s event will take place on Super Bowl Eve at Pier 12 of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal; 3,000 guests are expected, and special hosts will include Ted Allen, Gina Gallo, Andrew Zimmern and Miss America.


Even for those who don’t want to deal with a party, there are plenty of options. Because “every bar in New York is after the same person,” notes restaurateur Martin Whelan, who owns Stout, among other establishments in New York City.

A sports bar has an advantage here, since that’s its reason for being, and probably won’t have to do as much as other bars or restaurants. Having said that, no one should wait until the last minute to start marketing:

  • Promote, promote, promote. Social media has made this much easier for operators, says Miller, because it’s mostly free to use. “Leverage your customer base,” he says, “using your Facebook page, email blasts, and newsletters.” The idea, says Whalen is to emphasize why your customers come when it’s not the Super Bowl, and to remind them how much fun they have when they do come.
  • Be creative. One of Brad Miller’s  Synergy clients hired a manicurist one year; wives and girlfriends had their nails done while their husbands and boyfriends were watching the game. Nevada Smiths, which sells NFL merchandise anyway, will feature the two teams playing in the game.
  • Step up the menu. This is a tricky area; no one wants to do something that won’t work on a day like the Super Bowl. But given how many chicken wings will be eaten during the game (1.25 billion by one estimate), it’s at least worth considering adjusting your usual fare. The keys are simplicity and quality—can you add an appealing item without wreaking havoc on the kitchen? One possibility: Name two dishes for the teams playing, and work a promotion out of that.
  • Focus on takeout. This can be particularly effective for bars and restaurants that aren’t sports-themed, allowing them to reach customers who might go somewhere else.

Two things not to do, says Miller: Forget about a cover charge or raising prices. Your customers are too smart for that. In addition, they’ll see through a promotion that isn’t creative or done on the cheap, or a special menu that isn’t particularly special. “The freebies you can get from a distributor probably aren’t enough for the Super Bowl,” he says. Because the last thing anyone wants to do is disappoint customers on one of the most profitable days of the year.


Bars, restaurants and events may score high on the glamour meter during Super Bowl week, but it is actually in family rooms from coast to coast where the real crowds will be hunkered down. The Super Bowl has now passed New Year’s Eve as America’s most popular party occasion. Fortunately, these viewing parties—the NFL considers it “homegating,” an extension of tailgating—provide ample opportunity for wine, beer and spirits purveyors to help party-goers stock up.

Ideally you can showcase products from the regions of the two opposing teams. Northern California or Washington wines would fit the bill if San Francisco or Seattle makes it to MetLife Stadium; otherwise, craft beer or spirits might be the right call. Even still, investing in some team regalia can go a long way. You can also post a daily trivia question in the week leading up to the big game.

Note that you should not expect a slew of official Super Bowl POS materials to be provided by distributors. NFL sponsorship is prohibitively expensive even for large wine and spirits suppliers. You may, however, be able to access materials that refer to the Super Bowl without mentioning it by name. Frontera, a brand in the Concha y Toro Chilean wine portfolio, for example, has a promotion with Mission Avocados to promote the “Big Game.”

Again, no matter who is playing, the appropriate focus for beverage merchants will be on the fans. Don’t just court the party hosts; think about all the guests who will want to arrive with an apropos host gift. Be ready to recommend specific “crowdpleaser” wines, and perhaps some “winter warmer” spirits. Above all, remember that for the vast majority of Americans whose favorite team will not be in the game, the Super Bowl is all about having fun. So don’t be afraid to have some fun with your promotions.

In Anacortes, WA, for instance, Compass Wines has for the past decade hosted a “Junk Food and Fine Wine Tailgate Extravaganza” on the Friday evening before each Super Bowl. Deliciously tongue-in-cheek pairings have included grower Champagne and microwave kettle corn; Cheetos with Aussie Riesling; canned chili and cocktail sausages with Syrah; even KFC extra crispy fried chicken with 1er Cru red Burgundy. It may sound crazy, but, come to think of it, if the game itself turns out to be a dud, the food and beverage menu items may turnout to be the Most Valuable Players of all.

Edrington Group & Barbour Soho Hold Holiday Party

Posted on | December 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On December 5th, Jim Meehan and Jeff Bell, both of award-winning bar PDT, and The Edrington Group partnered with Barbour Soho for a holiday event called ‘Barbour Meets Barber.’ Consumers enjoyed holiday shopping, complimentary shoe shines and shaves, along with whiskies and whisky cocktails featuring The Black Grouse and Cutty Sark’s Prohibition.

Industry Supports Children’s Aid Society With Pre-Thanksgiving Meal

Posted on | December 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On November 27th, the Food and Beverage Association held a Pre-Thanksgiving Meal for the Children’s Aid Society at the Dunleavy Milbank Center in Harlem. Industry members from Southern Wine & Spirits and Empire Merchants volunteered to set up, serve and clean up at the Thanksgiving meal.

Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 Debuts

Posted on | December 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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November 21st was Beaujolais Nouveau Day, and Franck and Anne Duboeuf hosted a media luncheon, with a 1920s theme, at Cercle Rouge to celebrate. Franck Duboeuf opened a magnum to share with guests including Sherry Lehmann’s CEO Chris Adams, restaurateur Jacques Capsouto and importer Peter Deutsch of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits.

13 Resolutions For a Profitable New Year

Posted on | December 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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If, when the ball descended in Times Square to usher in the 21st century on January 1st, 2000, you owned or managed a retail beverage business, you know firsthand how much the business landscape has changed during the first decade-plus of the new century.

The offerings in spirits, wines and beers have exploded in number and diversity. Competition has gotten bigger, broader and more intense. If you haven’t seen changes in state and local regulations, then you’re one of the lucky ones. Moreover, the typical customer in 2014 is not the typical customer who walked through your door in 1999. Most of all, you and your business have changed in many ways—or you wouldn’t still be here. And, of course, you still face many challenges of changes as you enter 2014.

“I see retail sales as being evolutionary,” says Richard Kinssies, who owns Greenlake Wine and the Wine Outlet in Seattle, WA. “You need to keep finding ways to adapt, or you get left behind.” His particular challenge, he says, is finding ways to compete against grocery store wine sales. “I have the attitude that I will learn each year to do what I do well even better,” he reasons.

So we asked a range of wine and spirits merchants what they planned to do, or do more of, in the new year to improve their business numbers and to better service their customer base. Here’s what they told us about their New Year’s Resolutions, circa 2014:

1 Work the deals.
Kinssies, who has been in the wine business as a merchant, writer and sommelier for 40 years, takes advantage of his broad base of contacts he has built up with importers and distributors. “I deal a lot with one importer who sometimes will buy a pallet or two too many of a particular wine,” Kinssies says, “which he can afford to sell it to me at a reduced rate. Recently I had a great $30 bottle of wine that I could sell to my customers for $19 a bottle.” Kinssies has trained his customers to come to his stores looking for bargains on quality wines rather than for, say, mass-produced, cheaper wines available in groceries.

2 Get customers more involved.
The more your customers identify with your store, the more likely they are to be loyal and to increase their spending there. For example, many stores have displays of wines or beers that the store staff recommends. But Gary Burhop of Great Wines of Memphis asked, why not feature customer picks as well? “I want to focus more in the coming year on customer involvement and ‘hands-on’ education,” he vows. One way is to expand his store’s program of blind wine tastings for consumers on Saturdays. “We ask customers to vote for the wines they like best,” Burhop says, “then we tally the votes and build a display of their ‘picks’ near the entry.”

3 Get to know the sources of inventory personally.
Much of retail store merchandising is hand-selling to strike a bond with new customers and to keep old ones engaged. And you can hand-sell better—and more enthusiastically—if you know first-hand where the wine was produced, perhaps even who produced it. Steve Golueke, owner of Cranbrook Liquors in Cockeysville, MD, recently went on a trip with customers to Alsace. “I never knew that much about Alsace,” he says, “but now I know I’ll stock more Alsace wines and sell more of them. It was the same when I went to taste Oregon Pinot Noirs.”

4 Keep ahead of the curve with what’s hot.
Several retailers report they follow trade publications such as Beverage Media to keep current with trends in wine, spirits and beers. One East Coast store owner comments, “I’m opening sub-sections of European wines from regions that 10 years ago I might have carried two or three bottles.” Retailers’ biggest challenge, they say, is keeping up with the deluge of American artisan spirits—especially whiskies—which means in some cases reducing shelf space for established brands. And some retailers who specialize in craft beers now offer growler-dispensing services for popular local brands.

5 Be more imaginative in expanding the customer base.
Theresa Rogers Matthews of Horseneck Wine & Liquors in Greenwich, CT, says, “We are presenting wine and cheese events at the store for the real-estate community once a month, and we are working with charities for wine tastings and sales.”

6 Engage customers where they live,—literally.
Of course, you want customers to come into your shop, but sometimes you have to meet them halfway. Most retail shops on Martha’s Vineyard, for example, have free home delivery for any sizable phone-in order. Frank Pagliaro of Franks Wine in Wilmington, DE, takes the home-service concept one step further. “I’m expanding in the coming year my ‘FranksWine@Home’ tastings program,” he says, referring to his service that customizes tastings for personal home events such as poker nights, book club parties, co-ed engagement parties and small charity fundraisers. Prices start at $240 for a three-hour wine tasting for 12—including the wine.

7 Turn displays that only show products into displays that also sell products.
While price is always a paramount attraction for in-store displays, customers must first be interested in the product before they consider price. Ask yourself if your displays would tempt you to buy your own products. “I want to have more clever windows this year,” vows Teresa Rogers Matthews at Horseneck.

8 Never give up on bigger margins.
Even if your store hums on high volumes at bargain prices, you can still fatten up your margins on exclusive merchandise and special deals. Just because you can sell it cheaply doesn’t mean you have to.

9 Sprucing up a store can make shoppers linger longer,
and possibly spend more and return more often. Consider updating your paint, flooring, lighting—or simply signage.

10 In-store tastings are becoming more and more popular.
Give your wines an edge by offering cheese. As the French like to say: When buying wine, eat bread; when selling wine, serve cheese.

11 Many retailers are embracing the multiplier effect of social media,
not only to publicize special offers, but also to communicate the store’s personality and simply to make it easier for customers to tell friends about their stores and their products.

12 Wines become discontinued in distribution for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with their quality.
Pay attention to monthly distributor close-outs for one-time deals that can generate profits for weeks.

13 Wine and spirits aficionados are using the internet more and more.
Make it easier for customers to see what you carry by making sure your online inventory is up to date. You can also offer more than you have in stock by including “virtual” inventory that can be ordered.

Bordeaux Under One Roof is First Public Event at 4 World Trade

Posted on | December 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On November 21st, the Bordeaux Wine Council (CIVB) hosted Bordeaux Under One Roof on the 54th floor of 4 World Trade Center. Over 100 members of trade and press enjoyed stunning views of New York’s skyline and samples of value Bordeaux wines from 29 importers. The evening consumer portion was sold out, with proceeds benefiting City Harvest.

Canadian Consulate & Spirits Canada Join DISCUS For VIP Whisky Tasting

Posted on | December 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On November 19th, Canadian Ambassador to the U.S. Gary Doer and Canadian Consul-General John Prato hosted a Celebration of Canadian Whiskies with the Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) and Spirits Canada at New York’s Canadian Consulate. The VIP tasting event featured 15 high-end whiskies, signature cocktails created by Jim Meehan and bites from Mile End Sandwich.

Paulaner Beer Opens First Microbrewery Restaurant in NYC

Posted on | December 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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Paulaner International recently opened its first U.S. microbrewery, Paulaner Brauhaus & Restaurant NYC on The Bowery. Authentic Paulaner beers are brewed on-site at this flagship spot and paired with contemporary Bavarian-influenced cuisine. Copper and steel brewing tanks are showcased in the 9,800 square foot space.

Taracapa Launches Gran Reserva In The U.S.

Posted on | December 30, 2013   Bookmark and Share
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On November 14th, Viña Tarapaca held a tasting event to celebrate the U.S. launch of its Gran Reserva wine at Puro Chile. Tarapaca’s chief winemaker Ed Flaherty was on hand to guide the tasting.

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