StateWays - May/June 2016

StateWays is the only magazine exclusively covering the control state system within the beverage alcohol industry, with annual updates from liquor control commissions and alcohol control boards and yearly fiscal reporting from control jurisdictions

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Page 35 of 59

StateWays ■ ■ May/June 2016 36 O ne of the keys behind making exceptional cocktails is the concept of sessionability, a term used to describe a drink guests can enjoy throughout an evening without it becoming tiresome, overbearing or otherwise unsatisfactory. Ultimately it refers to a cocktail suffi - ciently engaging to keep guests interested in wanting another. Creating a sessionable drink is more challenging than it may seem. Cocktails lacking character and dimension are a bore and guar- anteed to send people packing. On the other hand, cocktails with excessive amounts of fl avor will quickly overwhelm the palate and rankle the sensibili- ties like an accordion. Achieving balance between characteristics such as tart, sweet and savory is the primary mission and a mixologist's stock and trade. Not surprisingly, sessionability is a signifi cant factor in developing a new and innovative spirit. A fl avor erring in one extreme or the other is the so- called "kiss of death." Most people make a judgment regarding the fl avor of a beverage within moments of fi rst tasting it. In essence, the fate of a brand is often decided within moments of launching. How does a company best ensure that their product has the fl avor it takes to win over the consumers' collective palate in that moment of truth? Anthony Pullen, educational and brand development manager for Lucas Bols, thinks succeeding at that moment is all about creating a balanced overall experience. "Flavor is based on people's experiences. We've all heard the saying that some exotic food tastes just like chicken. Our brains are hard- wired to relate the chemical reaction happening on our tongue to a past experience. Color and aroma play a huge role in this, and if you want to recreate a fl avor that matches something that already exists, all of these factors have to be con- sidered and matched." Mark Montgomery, CEO of Fishbowl Spirits, makers of Blue Chair Bay Rum, believes there are other contributors to winning the moment of truth. "There's the visual and tactile experience of the bottle to consider—how it looks and how it feels in the hand. Then there are non-tangible cues that create value in the mind of the con- sumer. After that it's all about the liquid. How enticing are the aromas when the cork is pulled? How does the liquid look when it's poured? And then, yes, the consumers' fi rst impressions of the fl avor set the tone for re-consumption." KEEPING FLAVORS FRESH One of the most notable of beverage trends is that vodka sales of both fl avored and neutral are begin- ning to slow. According to the Beverage Informa- tion Group, the vodka category increased its sales to over 78.2 million, 9-liter cases sold in the U.S. in 2015, an increase of only 1.1% over last year (a far cry from the days of double-digit growth). De- spite the drop in its share of the distilled spirits market—which de- creased from 34 to 33.7%—vodka remains the powerhouse in the spirits world. That decrease still equates to one out of every three bottles of spirits sold in America. Flavored vodkas continue to attract con- sumers and practitioners alike, especially those fl avors that can't easily be replicated at home, or on-premise. In addition to expanding in size and breadth of offerings, the fl avored vodka seg- ment is maturing in quality as well. Increasing numbers of artisanal, small batch vodkas, as well as those produced by large suppliers, are making their way into the American market. These new handcrafted brands sport sophisticated fl avors perfectly in step with contemporary tastes. Flavo Inovatio Keeping consumers wanting more BY ROBERT PLOTKIN

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