Flavored spirits have revolutionized the vodka category in recent years. These products have inspired many bartenders to go beyond the basics and create unique cocktails, often with a theme that suits an image, location or season.
For instance, at the Spiced Pear in The Chanler at Cliff Walk hotel in Newport, RI, all of the specialty cocktails on its core drinks list have something to do with pears. As such, the restaurant is a top consumer of Absolut Pears vodka, according to general manager Christine Sullivan.
Flavored whiskies, rums and tequilas are catching on as well. As our cover story “Today’s Flavor” points out, bars and restaurants appreciate the convenience and consistency of commercially flavored spirits.
Guests are also intrigued by flavors—Millennials in particular love to sample original and inspired concoctions. Use of flavored products makes it easier for consumers to experiment with re-creating their favorite cocktails at home, which fuels interest in mixology.
But with so many new flavored spirits coming onto the market each month, the prospect of flavor fatigue is a real thing—especiallly in the vodka category, in which some brands offer upwards of 30 different flavors. While the more novel or unusual flavors tend to generate a lot of buzz when they come out, what typically sells on-premise are the citrus and berry vodka flavors, according to research from our sister company, the Beverage Information Group.
In addition to flavor development, spirits brands need to constantly develop unique recipes and find fresh ways to promote their products to the right audience. For instance, Pinnacle Vodka in July teamed up with chef Claire Robinson, host of the Food Network series 5 ingredient Fix, to create a series of summer food and cocktail pairings. The recipes, which highlight some of Pinnacle’s most popular summer flavors in sides, main dishes and desserts, will be featured on a dedicated Pinnacle Vodka Pinterest pinboard each week.
I sampled some of the brand’s Fourth of July menu pairings at a press event to kick off the program. Somewhat ironically, my favorite cocktail of the night—the Golden Sage, made with dry vermouth, pineapple, lemon and fresh sage—used Pinnacle’s unflavored vodka.
Speaking of Pinterest, we have a great article on social media strategies. Also in this issue we look at innovations in cocktail ice, tips for summer beer celebrations, seasonal wine pairings and much more.
Happy summer, and see you in September!
Melissa Dowling, Editor