A Cordial Summer
Cordials created the colorful
cocktail craze long before flavored
vodkas and rums came along.
Summer’s the season when consumers want cool, refreshing drinks. When you think cordials and liqueurs, you likely think of winter warmers sipped slowly from snifters and pony glasses. Cordials don’t seem to get much respect in the summer, if they’re considered at all.
“The emphasis is so intense on beer and white goods in the summer that cordials are really pushed aside,” said Eliott Fishbein, owner of Town Wine & Spirits, Rumsford, RI. “We’re really focused on moving a substantial tonnage of vodka.”
But summer sipping season can be just as cordial as winter. The flavored cocktail craze that is now fueling sales of flavored vodkas and rums was created by cordials. Innovative bartenders have used the extensive variety of flavors cordials offer to come up with clever and very palatable cocktail combinations. For a generation raised on flavored beverages of all sorts, cordial-based cocktails offer ever-changing taste experiences, and they’re easy to drink.
Customers may come in for the latest coconut rum or raspberry vodka, but what they’re really looking for are products and ideas to create refreshing summer libations. The key to selling cordials is educating customers on what they taste like and how they’re used.
Fortunately, most suppliers have focused on the mixability of their brands in recent years. They offer lots of recipes and materials to help consumers use their products, and we’ve provided a wide selection of different drink recipes here to pass on to your customers. It’s up to you, however, to attract your customers’ attention to the category. Remind them that cordials can help them create cool concoctions that are hot on the bar scene.
Southern Comfort has been successful with sampling programs at summer music festivals.
The category is so large and varied that it’s helpful to think of it in smaller segments. While there’s some overlap, here are some of the key segments and a few of the hot brands in each.
THE TRIED AND TRUE
Traditional, established liqueurs, often called proprietary brands, are the historical cornerstones of the category. Brands like Grand Marnier, Cointreau, B&B and Drambuie have been around a long time. While some are still working on ways to take advantage of trends, brands like Grand Marnier and Cointreau are often used as ingredients in popular cocktails like Margaritas and Cosmopolitans.
2 oz. Southern Comfort
1 1/2 parts Pucker Island Blue
Southern Comfort. A couple of years of concerted effort have helped broaden the brand’s appeal. Sales last year topped 1.3 million 9-liter cases. Television ads, aired for the first time last year, tell more of a story this year. A sampling program puts the brand in front of consumers at summer music festivals.
Fruit flavors have been all the rage for the past few years. Peach is passé, but coming on strong are flavors like mango, passion fruit and melon. This is where cordial lines excel. You can get a full line of fruit flavors from most of the major cordial producers such as Marie Brizard, DeKuyper, Bols, Hiram Walker, Jacquin’s and Dubouchett.
DeKuyper. The biggest cordial brand in terms of volume, DeKuyper is still riding the success of its Pucker Schnapps line introduced a few years ago. Appletinis are still popular, and sales reached almost 2.6 million 9-liter cases last year. The brand recently added Island Blue Schnapps to its Pucker line. And last spring, DeKuyper Tropical Pineapple debuted.
Hiram Walker. The company recently added a Sour Apple and Sour Berry Schnapps to the line.
Marie Brizard. Along with its recent Fruit Bursters line, M.B. continues to introduce new flavors. The Buzz: This summer the brand is promoting two key flavors — watermelon and mango — with Coco Lopez co-packs that let consumers easily make watermelon Margaritas or mango Daiquiris.
1 oz. Fruja Tangerine
Fruja. A new fruit-flavored line from Allied-Domecq, Fruja offers trendy flavors that taste “juicy,” not syrupy sweet. Flavors include raspberry, tangerine and mango. The Buzz: Allied-Domecq is promoting cocktails that cross-promote several brands, such as a Tangerita with Fruja Tangerine and Sauza Hornitos tequila or a Mangotini with Fruja Mango and Stolichnaya vodka.
2 oz. Fruja Mango
1 oz. Midori
Midori. Sales of the melon-flavored liqueur are growing due to Allied-Domecq’s partnership with Midori’s parent Suntory. The Buzz: A new ad campaign broke in June. Ads capitalize on new drinks being promoted, along with a tie-in to a trendy L.A.-based cosmetics company.
2 oz. Hpnotiq
Brandy- or Cognac-based liqueurs have suddenly become a hot segment unto themselves with the addition of newcomers in the past few years. Though brandy-based products like Grand Marnier have been around a long time, this new segment includes brands like Alizé, Remy Red and Hpnotiq.
Hpnotiq. A hot brand, Hpnotiq has shipped more than 280% of its forecast since being acquired by Heaven Hill in January. A blend of Cognac, premium vodka and tropical fruit juices, Hpnotiq is attracting lots of attention with its blue color. [Indeed, blue is really popular as long as it isn’t blue curaçao. Tarantula Azul, a blue-colored tequila and citrus liqueur from McCormick, is also selling well.] The Buzz: Hpnotiq has quickly become celebrities’ drink of choice, creating its own buzz.
Wild Passion Mojito
Muddle mint leaves and sugar
Remy Red. Remy Amerique’s entry into the segment, Remy Red, is seeing robust growth opportunities. The Buzz: The brand is promoting use as a base in sangria both on and off-premise. Its sangria co-pack features a bottle of Remy Red, a pitcher and recipe. Support includes shelf-talkers with tear-off recipe pads.
Alizé. The Cognac-based fruit-flavored cordial line now includes three flavors. Distribution of Wild Passion (pink grapefruit and passion fruit) went national this year. The brand is focusing on teaching people how to use the brand with recipe cards off-premise and promoting participation in lots of neighborhood festivals and events.
Tuaca. A blend of brandy, vanilla and natural fruit essences, Tuaca has been synonymous for some time with drinks like the Hot Apple Pie. The Buzz: Summer brings a push into drinks like the TuacaRita with merchandising materials such as logoed wind vest, shorts and other wearables, golf bags, a “sun survival kit” with sunscreen, lip balm and aloe gel and a Tuaca cooler with built-in radio.