Smirnoff Ad: The Deconstructed Martini – What do you think?

April 17th, 2014 6 comments

Bartender or Mixologist

Well, it was bound to happen. For some industry pundits and aficionados, the term ‘mixologist’ is another term for a bartender or, as some put it, a bar chef. But, for many in the industry, the term mixologist is off-putting and the preference is for bartender.

Ray Foley, founder and publisher of Bartender Magazine  has this to say about the different terminology:  “A mixologist is a person who really doesn’t know how to tend bar but has the money to get a PR agent.” Whew, that Ray, such a kidder, always holds back his opinions.

The Smirnoff Ad

A friend in the industry alerted me to the Smirnoff ad that seems to agree with Mr. Foley. According to Adweek, “With the tagline ‘Exclusively for everybody,’ Smirnoff spends most of the ad mocking all things VIP, while also taking quite a few digs at the mixology movement, represented by a Stockholm-educated neckbeard who curates his herbs and deconstructs martinis.” (Neckbeard?)

Here is a link to the Smirnoff Vodka Deconstructed Martini ad, in case you can’t view it below.

So, I have two questions:

For Diageo (owner of Smirnoff) – the ad is clever and very well done. But, you’re poking fun at pretentiousness (which is very cool) so aren’t you biting the hand that feeds you? Aren’t you the people who’ve been pushing the term mixology? If the answer is yes, good for you.

And now dear reader – what do you think of the ad?

(My thanks to Robert Lehrman and John Messinger of for bringing this to my attention.)

Booze Business on Facebook

April 4th, 2014 No comments
The Facebook page

The Facebook page

To all my loyal readers:

Just wanted to let you know that we’re also on Facebook, where you’ll find different stories, postings and matters of interest.

If you would like to follow the Facebook page, just click the “like” button to the right or go to and click “like.”

See you there.



Whiskey Madness

April 2nd, 2014 No comments

Bizarre Whiskey products for that special drinker in your life.

Caskers is an online craft spirits purveyor whose mission is to promote and sell some very interesting and unique artisanal brands, especially whiskies.

Online craft spirits purveyor

Online craft spirits purveyor

In an elaborate April Fool’s joke, they introduced Whiskey Life, The Ultimate Guide for the Whiskey Lifestyle.  

The collection (#WhiskeyLife) contains some fun items that every whiskey drinker needs, such as: a drone to deliver your favorite libation no matter where you are; an app that let’s you know whether to pursue a relationship with the person you just met at a bar; a chiller that gets rid of the need for ice, using your smart phone instead.

My favorites are the whiskey flavored toothpaste and mouthwash. It’s billed as: “Enjoy all the benefits of traditional mouthwash with the added flavor of whiskey. No spitting required!”


Toothpaste & Mouthwash


How the idea came about

Based on the years spent watching R&D folks do their magic, I envision this scenario:

DENNIS: (Panting) I got it, I got it… you won’t believe it.

MARION: What do you have? I hope it’s for Project X.

DENNIS: Project X? What I have is far better than that! I’ve been working on it on my own for five years and I had a break through!

MARION: Listen to me. I need those products for a new line of personal care items and I need them soon. Why are you working on anything else?

DENNIS: It’s a great idea and could be a part of Project X.

MARION: (Sighs) Okay, what is it… and it better be good. 

DENNIS: Project X is based on new and unique products. Right? How about this… are you ready?… (Pause) It’s a whiskey flavored toothpaste!

MARION: Are you insane? Why would anyone want to buy that?

DENNIS: (Ignoring her) I can also do it in tequila, gin, vodka… although vodka is kind of tough. People will love it.

MARION: Listen to me Dennis… who the hell would want a liquor flavored toothpaste?

DENNIS: Huh? Are you kidding? Think about the times you’ve been out drinking with friends and when you came home and your spouse or partner said, “were you out drinking tonight?” You say, no, “we went to dinner and I brushed my teeth afterward.”

MARION: Have you lost your mind?

DENNIS: What? You don’t see it?

MARION: I see someone very close to getting canned.

DENNIS: But, boss, I even have the slogan… “Hide your night in plain sight!”

MARION: Get out! Get back to work!

DENNIS:I wonder if Mr. Colgate had a boss without vision…


Casamigos Tequila Joins Sidney Frank Importing Company

March 20th, 2014 8 comments
Suggested price of $44.99 for the Blanco and $49.99 for the Reposado

Casamigos ultrapremium Blanco and Reposado

A celebrity owned tequila joins a beverage alcohol powerhouse

Sidney Frank Importing Co. (known for Jägermeister and the creators of Grey Goose Vodka) has been named the exclusive importer of Casamigos Tequila. The brand is owned by actor/director/producer George Clooney, nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gardner and real estate mogul Mike Meldman.

Usually, I don’t think very highly of celebrity owned or endorsed spirits products but this one sounds to me like a winner.

The previous winners — few and far between

I can only think of a few such products that have made it with dozens falling by the wayside. The top of the list is P Diddy and Ciroc. He has a stake in the brand and works hard at marketing it. Add Dan Akroyd and Crystal Head Vodka to the list – while not a home run, it has a presence and a following. Bringing up the rear is Skinny Girl, which came out of the starting block strong with Bethany Frankle, but seems to me to be languishing.

I can’t think of any other successes and the list of failures and wannabes is very large. (See my January 9, 2013 and August 21, 2010 blogs for the full obituary list.)

Will this one make it?

In my opinion, yes.

First, Sidney Frank Importing Co. (SFIC) is a significant player in the booze business with the infrastructure; sales and marketing players; and distributor network that’s top of the game. The gents running it are seasoned veterans and brand builders and so, put a double check mark next to trade marketing box.

But, the consumer is the ultimate judge and most critical component of brand success. Casamigos will need to challenge some pretty tough top shelf competition including Patron, Don Julio and, strong newcomer, Avión (my personal favorite). Oh, and let’s not forget Mr. Diddy’s new tequila venture, DeLeon Tequila.

What are some of the key elements of successful new entries?  Awareness, curiosity, discovery and willingness to try.

Imagine this… you’re in a bar with friends and someone says, “Hey, let’s have some tequila.” Someone else says, “Great idea, I’d like to try that new George Clooney tequila.” Another says, “Oh, I love George Clooney, great actor and seems like a decent, down to earth guy. Let’s buy a round.”

So… thanks to SFIC’s clout, the bar or restaurant will have Casamigos in stock. And, thanks to George Clooney, the consumer is very likely to try the brand.

In the brand building equation, if there is uniqueness and relevance (Clooney and tequila) awareness will very often lead to trial.

The most important elements in the equation, however, are brand adoption and loyalty (sustained usage). If the quality of the tequila is high and Mr. Clooney helps in the promotion, I think the brand will be around for the long run.

So, move over Diddy, there may be a new player in town.

George Clooney, Rande Gerber and Michael Meldman at the Sidney Frank national sales meeting.

George Clooney, Rande Gerber and Michael Meldman at the Sidney Frank national sales meeting.



Is There a Bubble in your Craft Beer?

March 4th, 2014 No comments

Will the growth of craft breweries continue? Or, will the bubble burst?

There’s lots of press lately (Time, USA Today, Beer Business Daily) with both pro and con as to whether the craft beer industry is here to stay or if the bubble will burst.

Bubble? What Bubble? Take a look at this chart:

Growth in breweries

Number of Breweries over the last 126 years

According to the Brewers Association, the number of breweries at the end of 2013 reached over 2,700, the highest level since the 1870s. Despite the growth, American craft brewers account for only 9% of the beer category in the US. But, Craft beer production was up 9.6% in 2013 while overall beer production fell 1.4% according to CNBC as reported by Buffalo Trace Newsletter.

What’s a craft beer?

Micro beers

Craft Beers — just a few.

According to the Brewer’s Association — “An American craft brewer is small, independent and traditional.” They go on to describe some concepts related to craft brewers such as: small brewers, emphasis on innovation, made from traditional ingredients, among other things.

I’ve got a better definition — craft beers are more flavorful, with more unique styles and brands and just taste better than mainstream beers.

Even the big boys see the “beer handwriting on the wall” and have been getting into that segment with what can only be called “crafty” beers, according to a recent article in Time. Check out these brands and who owns them: Blue Point, Goose Island, Shock Top and Red Hood (AB-Inbev) Blue Moon, Leinenkugel and Killian’s Irish Red (Miller Coors).

Among the definitions of a craft beer, mentioned above, is size. And in this case, size matters — a brewer must be independent, which means that less than 25%of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by an alcohol industry member who is not themselves a craft brewer. In other words a wolf in sheep’s clothing can’t be a craft brewer member of the Brewers Association. But, it can be crafty.

What are the market segments of craft breweries?

Making beer

Craft brewers doing their thing

Here’s where it gets interesting. Half (50%) of the craft breweries in the US are Microbreweries and another 44% are Brewpubs. (Here are some precise definitions.) So, in effect, and by definition, the vast majority of craft brewers are small businesses perhaps akin to Mom and Pop operations.

But, they are much more than that. They are entrepreneurs with a passion for making quality, flavorful beer without the restrictions that large organizations impose. They understand how to meet the needs of changing taste preferences among consumers. In fact, a recent article in Beer Business Daily had this as a headline in their Nov 13, 2013 edition — “Wine and Craft Beer now in Direct Competition.” It’s based on a report by a consulting firm that compares craft beer to wine.

What about that bubble?

The study reported by Beer Business Daily suggests continued growth for craft beers based on: “shifting demographics (the rise of the Millennials), consumers’ desire for quality, diversity and authenticity as well as unprecedented innovation in brewing, marketing and packaging.” They further predict that the craft beer market will double since it is still early days in the “premiumization” of beer.

Hey, what about all those brewpubs that comprise the craft beer market, won’t many of them fail? I suppose many will but I also suppose that there will be others to take their place. According to Business Insider the majority of New York restaurant startups fail in five years. Does that mean that the restaurant “bubble” will burst?

Finally, Bart Watson, Economist at the Brewers Association, has an interesting article that gets at the heart of the so-called bubble issue. His central argument, in my view, is that craft beers at roughly 10% of beer consumption have a long way to go. That is, of course, so long as consumers continue to favor full flavored beers over light lagers. I don’t know about you, but I’m on board for the long run.

Second, remember that earlier I mentioned the inroads into craft by the big multi-national brewers? Here is what Bart has to say on the subject: “The fact that global players are diversifying into their own full-flavored product lines and investing in or buying up regional brewers proves the solidity of the consumer base on which craft sits.”

So far as I can tell, the only bubble in craft beer is in the glass.

(Many thanks to the Brewers Association for allowing the use of the chart and to Bart Watson for his insights.)