Cheers - March/April 2016

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 51 of 59 52 • March/April 2016 anyone," says Caan. "And it may even be a little better than its older brother." Molly's sold 41,000 cases last year, and hopes for 100,000 in the near future. Caan also points to his Irish cream's longer shelf life as a differenti- ator, as well as its less-expensive retail price of $15 per 750-ml. bottle, about $5 less than Baileys. Brady's takes a similar approach. The brand sees itself as a value option with prices ranging from $11.99 to $12.99 per 750-ml. bottle depending on market. The lower price doesn't mean lower quality: Brady's promotes this through in-store tastings, Pena says. 'TIS THE SEASON For brands across the category, Irish cream sales spike during the holiday season. Depletions in December 2015 accounted for 24% of full-year Baileys depletions, according to Heckles. This is up slightly from 2012-2014, when Baileys' December depletions ac- counted for 22% to 23% of the brand's full-year depletions. "The last quarter is a major time for all Irish creams," says Caan of Molly's. Sales of Brady's will jump significantly, as much as 35% to 40% , Pena says. The brand Saint Brendan's Irish Cream sees similar numbers, but "we are also seeing a spike in summer," says its assistant brand manger Hannah Pellouchoud. "It's something we're still researching; we don't have an answer yet for the increase." Part of it could be the interest in boozy shakes and indulgent frozen drinks. Another is the trend of cold- brew coffee in cocktails, which works well with Irish cream liqueurs. ALTERNATIVE FLAVORS To help alleviate the sales slump that can affect Irish cream outside of winter, some brands have released spe- cialty flavors. Saint Brendan's in 2015 rolled out two limited-edition products: Salted Caramel and Peppermint Bark. Customers gravitated more towards the Salted Caramel, Pellouchoud re- ports, making it the more likely of the two to return. "We're trying to tap into a different set of consumers: the young- er crowd, mixologists, Millennials, the craft movement," she says. "You have to keep them in mind. They want what's new and next." Still, Pellouchoud says the compa- ny's major focus remains on the core customer and core product. "We have to remember the basic product first," she explains. For that reason, Brady's has shifted away from flavors. Pena says the brand has found it more effective to stick to its original Irish cream. Molly's has tapped into fall tradition with its pumpkin Irish cream. That sold out quickly and will return next year, Caan says. A coconut Irish cream from Molly's was not as successful, however, and will not reappear. Baileys has more leeway for exper- imentation. The brand now includes four flavors: Vanilla Cinnamon, Salted Caramel, Chocolate Cherry and the newest, Espresso Crème. MIXOLOGY MATTERS These flavors play into another way that Irish cream liqueurs have in- creased sales outside of the holidays. The typical way that drinkers mix Irish cream is with coffee. But the category wants more drinkers to see its liqueur— especially the flavored products—as a fit for the craft-cocktail movement. Molly's has made mixology a core component of its website. Visitors can find a list of craft cocktails, summer drinks and shots, all accompanied by matching images. These drinks include the Espresso Martini, Muddled Raspberry Cocktail and Birthday Cocktail Shot. "There are so many ways to use Irish cream," Caan says. "It's a very versatile liqueur." Brady's has been at work on its own craft cocktails recipes. The company has partnered with world-famous bartender Jack McGarry from the leg- endary Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog in New York to develop new drinks. Baileys has worked with several mixologists to create cocktails. For instance, San Francisco-based Kate Bolton came up with The Smoky Aye with Baileys, Irish whiskey, Campari and freshly brewed coffee, topped with zested orange crème. Los Angeles bartender Michael Lay created The Dude's Breakfast cocktail, with Baileys, Cîroc vodka, cold-brew coffee, Angostura bitters and fresh grated nutmeg garnish. The demographic for Irish cream liqueur has traditionally been mid- dle-aged women. But as the category expands into new flavors, mixology, and uses other than as a holiday treat, many believe it will catch on with younger consumers, namely Millennials. "This category has not even scratched the surface yet in the U.S.," Caan says. CATEGORY CLOSE-UP Brady's, which positions itself as a value option in the Irish cream category, has partnered with noted bartenders to develop craft cocktail recipes. While sales of Saint Brendan's Irish Cream tend to increase up to 40% during the fourth quarter, the brand is also seeing a spike in summer. "We're trying to tap into a different set of consumers: the younger crowd, mixologists, Millennials, the craft movement." — Hannah Pellouchoud, assistant brand manger for Saint Brendan's

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