Craft Spirits July 2021

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“I think the spritz trend has been a really positive thing for inspiring consumers to try new things, to look at different sections of the spirits store and branch out.” —Michael Foglia of Wigle Whiskey

was first marketed as a remedy for cholera and menstrual cramps when it burst onto the scene in 1845. Both have since emerged as darlings of the modern bartending scene—the latter of which having achieved mythical status in San Francisco before exploding across the U.S. The relative starpower of those brands—as well as other international herbal offerings like Hungary’s Unicum—is evident to anyone who’s ever attended an international drinks trade fair like Bar Convent Berlin. OFF-PREMISE JUMP Total volume for the liqueur category, which includes everything from amari and fruit liqueurs to nut and cream-based products, grew 3.8% in 2020, according to IWSR —thanks, mostly, to off-premise sales, as COVID-19 sent on-premise channels into a freefall. Off-premise volume was up a strong 15.3%, offsetting the predictably dismal on-premise drop of 44.7%. For comparison to a non-pandemic year, on-premise volume growth actually surpassed the increase in the off-premise in 2019, 3.0% and 2.3%, respectively. As is the case with many spirits categories, products within the super-premium price tier—which includes craft—enjoyed growth of around 7% in 2020 according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States. The pandemic certainly has helped shift consumption habits—where, when and how people drink—at least in the short-term. Since consumers, over the past year and a quarter, had been mixing drinks at home more than they had when bars were at full capacity and generally taken for granted, many may have opted for ingredient simplicity over complexity. From a flavor perspective, liqueurs of many sorts have their own built-in complexity that limits the number of components a drink requires. THE SIMPLE TOUCH But even before COVID hit, minimalism was the direction in which a growing number of bar menus had been trending. “I’d say over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a shift with fewer-touch drinks, cocktails with two or three ingredients,” says Haynes. That could mean taking a basic highball or gin and tonic and replacing the whiskey or gin with a liqueur—not only providing a different flavor experience, but also, in many cases, satisfying a consumer’s desire for a lowerproof cocktail. The orientation toward simplicity may not only be a matter of taste, but one of

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