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Be the RTD You Want to See in the World

Juan, Please: Be the RTD You Want to See in the World

by David Klemt

Pete Flores, the founder of brand-new ready-to-drink cocktail brand Juan, Please, is on a mission to bring the TLT to the world.

And what is a TLT? It’s Tequila, Lemonade, Tea, the first expression in the Juan, Please RTD portfolio.

You may be familiar with a different name for this particular cocktail. Like the John Daly is a vodka-spiked version of the iconic Arnold Palmer, a Juan Daly is an Arnold Palmer made with tequila.

As it turns out, the Arnold Palmer is Flores’ favorite alcohol-free beverage. He explains on an upcoming episode of the Bar Hacks podcast, Flores added tequila to an AriZona Arnold Palmer several years ago.

You’ll learn on his episode that Flores assumed someone would surely bring a Juan Daly RTD to market. However, after a couple of years of waiting, he realized he and his business partners were going to be those someones.

In fact, by the time you read this, Flores and his team will be fresh off the official Juan, Please launch party that took place in Hoboken, New Jersey. And really, what day could’ve been better than Cinco de Mayo to launch this brand?

 

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For now, Juan, Please is available only in New Jersey. However, New York is next, possibly as early as June 1 of this year. With any luck (and interest by you and other operators and bar professionals), major markets throughout the US will follow before year’s end.

Keep your ears out for our upcoming chat with Flores, and keep an eye out for your opportunity to taste Juan, Please.

Cheers!

Introducing Juan, Please Set to Disrupt the Canned Cocktail Market with Tequila-Infused Innovations

Juan Please is poised to redefine the category with its inaugural product: the T.L.T.—Tequila, Lemonade, and Tea Launching May 5th, 2024, in New Jersey.

New York, NY – April 23, 2024 – Today marks the unveiling of Juan, Please, a bold new player in the world of Ready-to-Drink cocktails, set to make waves with its unique lineup of tequila-based beverages launching on Cinco de Mayo in New Jersey. Juan, Please is poised to redefine the category with its inaugural product: the T.L.T. – Tequila, Lemonade, Tea, a non-carbonated drink with only Juan gram of sugar and 7% ABV.

The inspiration for Juan, Please struck when founder Peter Flores, a tequila enthusiast and fan of Arnold Palmers, noticed a glaring gap in the market for tequila-based canned cocktails. After years of waiting for someone to introduce this concept, Peter decided to take matters into his own hands, building a team with like-minded colleagues to embark on this spirited venture.

“Flores emphasizes that ‘Juan, Please’ embodies the essence of joy—laughter, dancing, and life—sealed within each can, reflecting his life’s cherished moments.” “As we embark on the brand’s journey in our home state of New Jersey, it feels like all of the friends we grew up with are on the ride with us.”

Since its soft launch in early 2024, Juan, Please has already gained traction in select venues across New Jersey, including notable Mexican restaurants and prestigious country clubs. The brand is now gearing up for its official launch on Cinco de Mayo, May 5th, 2024, at Pier 13 in Hoboken, promising attendees a taste of innovation and celebration.

Peter Flores, the visionary behind Juan, Please, brings over two decades of experience in hospitality, entertainment, and advertising. His mission is clear: to encapsulate the essence of good times, laughter, and joy into every can of Juan, Please.

“The T.L.T marks the pioneering spirit of our venture. Our upcoming expansion into New York City in June 2024 will debut two exciting new flavors: a Mezcal Old Fashioned and a Tequila Reposado Espresso Martini. ‘Juan, Please’ is positioned to establish itself as the premier choice for those seeking innovative twists on classic cocktails, marking just the beginning of our flavorful story. Says Flores”

The launch event will take place on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, on Pier 13 in Hoboken from 1:00 to 5:00 PM. There will be a Juan on Juan Challenge (game with a giveaway), drink specials, and Juan will be in attendance in the costume for pictures. Attendees will experience the excitement and flavor that Juan, Please brings to the market. Juan, Please is set to carve out its niche as the go-to choice for those seeking a fresh take on classic cocktails.

About Juan, Please

Juan, Please is a dynamic alcohol startup brand reshaping the Ready-to-Drink cocktail market with its innovative lineup of tequila-infused beverages. Founded by Peter Flores, Juan, Please offers a range of premium canned cocktails designed to deliver exceptional flavor and convenience. The flagship product, the T.L.T. Tequila, Lemonade, Tea, is a non-carbonated drink with only Juan gram of sugar and 7% ABV. Juan, Please embodies our commitment to crafting unique combinations that capture the spirit of celebration. Inspired by Peter’s passion for tequila and classic cocktails, Juan, Please introduces a fresh take on familiar favorites, promising unforgettable experiences with every sip. Join us as we redefine the art of cocktail culture, one can at a time.

Image: Juan, Please

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Surf Into Summer with These RTDs

Surf into Summer with These RTDs

by David Klemt

Surfside ready-to-drink canned vodka cocktails 2024 lineup

There’s big news coming out of Philadelphia’s Stateside Vodka, the team that crafts the Surfside line of popular vodka-lemonade and vodka-tea RTDs.

In preparation for summer, Surfside is making two huge strides to establish itself in the RTD space.

The brand, which describes itself as “Sunshine in a Can,” launched in 2022. Interestingly, and possibly surprisingly for some, Surfside RTDs don’t feature carbonation. Moreover, they boast just 100 calories, 2 grams of sugar, and are sessionable at just 4.5-percent ABV.

Currently, there are four variations for consumers to enjoy: Iced Tea + Vodka, Peach Tea + Vodka, Half & Half + Vodka and Lemonade + Vodka.

However, that’s about to change…

Spectacular Growth

Since the brand’s launch, Surfside has racked up accolades and achievements. For example, Market Watch bestowed its “2023 Hot Brand Award” upon the RTD lineup last year.

Of particular note is the brand’s sales growth. With distribution in a mere 17 states, Surfside hit the 1.3-million-case mark by the end of last year. That achievement speaks to one of the brand’s announcements directly: Starting this summer, Surfside will be available in 48 US states.

And the second announcement? A lineup expansion in addition to the distribution expansion. Five new flavors will join the lineup: Green Tea + Vodka, Raspberry Tea + Vodka, Raspberry Lemonade + Vodka, Strawberry Lemonade + Vodka, and Black Cherry + Lemonade.

Driving visibility and brand awareness are partnerships with Minor and Major League Baseball. In fact, the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Guardians, and the Pittsburgh Pirates are on board with Surfside.

Taken the together, these announcements show that Surfside is poised to be the RTD of the summer. That means operators and their teams need to keep an ear out for guests asking if their bar or restaurant carries Surfside. Given the brand’s growth, it’s likely that consumers across the US will try it, like it, and expect to find it on-premise.

Or, put more simply: Guests are going to expect to be able to order Surfside when they’re out at bars, restaurants, dayclubs, and nightclubs.

Will this be the brand to challenge White Claw and Truly for RTD dominance? Only time will tell, but 2024 may just prove to be the Summer of Surfside.

You’ll find the official press release below. Cheers!

SURFSIDE KICKS OFF THE SUMMER SEASON WITH FIVE NEW FLAVORS, NATIONWIDE EXPANSION AND MLB + MiLB PARTNERSHIPS

Premium Canned Cocktail Brand Announces New Fruit-Forward Flavors and Availability in 48 States for Summer as Sales Continue to Skyrocket

PHILADELPHIA, PA (April 24, 2024) – Surfside, the spirits-based iced tea and lemonade ready-to-drink category leader, proudly announces national expansion and the launch of five new flavors just in time for summer: Raspberry Lemonade, Strawberry Lemonade, Black Cherry Lemonade, Raspberry Iced Tea and Green Tea. These fruit-forward flavor innovations along with a new Lemonade Variety 8-Pack are a highly anticipated next step for the independently-owned brand to further fuel its meteoric rise in popularity.

Founded by Philadelphia natives and brothers Matt and Bryan Quigley, and Clement and Zach Pappas, Surfside achieved 1.3 million cases sold in 2023, growing +563% versus a year ago. Remarkably, the brand achieved that volume despite only being distributed in seven states at the beginning of 2023. Surfside was also the highest velocity selling spirits-based RTD per retail outlet in 2023,* averaging at about 2.5 cases sold per minute.

Over the course of 2023 and 2024, Surfside has expanded distribution nationwide to 48 states. With the national expansion, Surfside is also reimagining the baseball experience as the official RTD Vodka Iced Tea and Vodka Lemonade of Minor League Baseball. This partnership is a natural evolution since becoming the #1 selling spirits-brand at Citizens Bank Park in 2023 with the Philadelphia Phillies.** Additional MLB partnerships kick off this season with the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Guardians and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for us as our mission from day one has been to build Surfside into a true national brand,” said Surfside CEO Clement Pappas. “The addition of the three new lemonade flavors, two new iced teas and the Lemonade Variety 8-pack were highly requested by our fans and is our way of showing love and appreciation for those who have helped us get here. We look forward to taking Surfside across the country and introducing to more new fans this upcoming summer season.”

In addition to the new flavors, the Surfside portfolio includes the classic Iced Tea, Peach Tea, Half and Half and Lemonade. Surfside is made with premium vodka, real tea, and has only 100 calories, 2g of sugar and 0 bubbles. “We take enormous pride in crafting the best-tasting ready-to-drink products in the industry. All of our Surfside Iced Tea and Lemonade flavors have been developed in-house with our team, from the formulation to the branding and packaging,” adds Surfside President Matt Quigley. “Everything fun about the summer is even better with a Surfside in hand.”

The new flavors joining the existing portfolio include the following varieties:

  • Surfside Raspberry Lemonade + Vodka (4.5% ABV): A quintessentially summer combination of natural raspberry flavors and lemonade.
  • Surfside Strawberry Lemonade + Vodka (4.5% ABV): A summer staple for enjoyment at any time, Strawberry Lemonade + Vodka brings the good vibes.
  • Surfside Black Cherry Lemonade + Vodka (4.5% ABV): Natural black cherry flavor and Lemonade, the Surfside way.
  • Surfside Raspberry Tea + Vodka (4.5% ABV): A fruit-forward flavor of the Iced Tea + Vodka that put Surfside on the map.
  • Surfside Green Tea + Vodka (4.5% ABV): Made with premium vodka and real green tea with notes of honey and ginseng, this summer sipper will keep you cool all season.

Fans existing and new can continue to enjoy the original portfolio varieties:

  • Surfside Iced Tea + Vodka (4.5% ABV): Crafted with premium vodka and real black tea, for high-quality taste and enjoyment.
  • Surfside Peach Iced Tea + Vodka (4.5% ABV): The first flavored tea from the brand giving the same taste we know and love with a big ol’ punch of peach.
  • Surfside Half & Half + Vodka (4.5% ABV): A refreshing twist on the classic, half iced tea and half lemonade.
  • Surfside Lemonade + Vodka (4.5% ABV): A delicious summer staple made with natural lemon flavors and premium vodka.

The complete Surfside portfolio is available direct-to-consumer in Pennsylvania and in-stores across the United States. Surfside is line priced with an SRP $9.99 for a 4-pack of cans and an SRP of $19.99 for the Variety 8-pack (available in Starter Pack and Lemonade Pack). With Surfside’s national expansion also comes a new website and Instagram handle: visit www.drinksurfside.com for more information and follow along on Instagram @drinksurfside.

*Source: Circana MULO+C L26W ending 11.12.23

**Source: Aramark data, 2023

About Surfside

Surfside is a line of premium iced tea + vodka and lemonade + vodka canned cocktails recognized for its delicious full flavor taste and sunset stripes on the can for good vibes ahead. Founded by two sets of Philadephia-native brothers, Matt and Bryan Quigley and Clement and Zach Pappas, this group of entrepreneurs is also the brains behind the award-winning, independently owned Stateside Vodka (Beverage Testing Institute Gold Medal 2024). Since launching in 2022, Surfside grew from a beloved Philly cocktail to a ready-to-drink brand achieving triple-digit growth within two years, rocketing the category forward nationwide. It has received beverage industry recognition as a 2023 “Hot Brand” in Shanken’s IMPACT Magazine and a 2022 “Rising Star Award ” in Brewbound.

At 4.5% ABV, Surfside is made with premium vodka and real tea with just 2g of sugar, 100 calories and 0 bubbles. Varieties of this “Sunshine in a Can” include Iced Tea + Vodka, Peach Tea + Vodka, Half & Half + Vodka and Lemonade + Vodka. In Summer 2024, the brand will expand to include Raspberry Tea + Vodka, Raspberry Lemonade + Vodka, Strawberry Lemonade + Vodka, Black Cherry Lemonade + Vodka and Green Tea + Vodka. Available in 4-packs (SRP: $10.99) and an 8-can variety pack (SRP: $19.99), Surfside is perfect for a boat day, concert, baseball game or a relaxing day on the beach. To learn more, visit www.drinksurfside.com and follow along on Instagram @drinksurfside.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this post.

Image: Cole Quiqley

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

New RTD Sprinter Kicks off Coachella

New Vodka Soda RTD Sprinter Kicks off Coachella

by David Klemt

In partnership with GoPuff, Sprinter, the new vodka soda RTD founded by Kylie Jenner, is kicking off Coachella with a surprise delivery activation.

Available in four flavorsGrapefruit, Lime, Peach, and Black Chery—Sprinter is one of the newest RTDs to hit the market.

These ready-to-drink Vodka Sodas are made with just three core ingredients: premium vodka, real fruit juice, and sparkling water. Weighing in at just 4.5-percent ABV, Sprinters are intended to delivery bold fruit flavor in a sessionable format.

Sprinter aims to make a splash during Coachella, headlined this year by No Doubt, Lana Del Rey, Tyler the Creator, and Doja Cat. Anyone of legal drinking age in Palm Springs, Coachella, and Indio who places an order for Sprinter could be in for a surprise.

That surprise? A delivery of Sprinter swag in decked-out Sprinter vans, along with GoPuff swag. The delivery platform, which leverages “micro-fulfillment centers” to deliver orders quickly, is Sprinter’s chosen partner for this activation.

Now, if you’re an operator, bar or restaurant leadership team member, or bartender, you may wonder what this Sprinter promotion has to do with you. It’s simple: fulfilling guest expectations.

There’s little question that guests will be on the lookout to try Sprinter this summer. The RTD is owned by Kylie Jenner and will garner plenty of attention during Coachella. This will translate to nationwide (if not international) interest. Adding Sprinter to your menu may prove lucrative.

Check out the press release below for more information. Cheers!

Kylie Jenner Introduces Sprinter, A Premium Canned Vodka Soda

Launching nationwide March 21, Sprinter Vodka Soda features four fruit flavors, no added sugar and only 100 calories

Los Angeles, CA—Today, entrepreneur Kylie Jenner announces Sprinter, the ultimate vodka soda in a can. Made with simple, high-quality ingredients—premium vodka, sparkling water and real fruit juice—and created in four true-to-fruit flavors, Sprinter is a bold and refreshing new entry into the RTD space.

“Sprinter is my answer to the growing consumer demand for quality canned cocktails—we’re adding to a market dominated by only a few players with an incredibly delicious vodka soda in a can,” says founder Kylie Jenner. “Not only does Sprinter have a unique bold branding that captures the feeling of fun with your friends, it is also the best tasting vodka soda I’ve ever tried—and I’ve tried a lot. I can’t wait for people to taste it for themselves.”

Jenner tapped Chandra Richter, a female beverage development expert with over 20 years of beverage alcohol industry experience and a PhD in molecular biology, to serve as Head of Product Development and Operations at Sprinter. After over a year of taste testing, the duo achieved the perfect balance of flavors and Sprinter was born—a 100-calorie, 4.5% ABV canned vodka soda made with real fruit juice and with no added sugar, available in four fruit-forward flavors: Black Cherry, Peach, Grapefruit and Lime.

“It’s been such a pleasure developing Sprinter with Kylie,” says Chandra Richter. “We held numerous tastings over the past year to ensure each of our four flavors are as natural and true-to-fruit as possible. Sprinter is a mouthwatering vodka soda in a can that makes every moment an occasion.”

Bold, vibrant and eye-catching on the shelf, Sprinter will be available in an 8-can variety pack for an SRP of $19.99. Sprinter launches nationwide on March 21. To sign up for more information and to find Sprinter near you, visit @drinksprinter and drinksprinter.com.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this post.

Can image: Travis Rathbone

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Novo Fogo Reformulates Brazilian RTDs

Novo Fogo Reformulates and Redesigns Brazilian RTDs

by David Klemt

Redesigned and reformulated Novo Fogo ready-to-drink canned cocktails

Just before Tales of the Cocktail kicks off, Novo Fogo Organic Cachaça announces the reformulation of their award-winning ready-to-drink cocktail line.

As founder and CEO Dragos Axinte reveals on episode 97 of the Bar Hacks podcast, the RTD series now features key changes.

For example, the RTDs now come in 12-ounce slim cans rather than their original eight-ounce cans. As you can see, the design is also much more colorful and eye-catching.

Of course, the changes aren’t simply cosmetic. Inside the can, each expression represents a new recipe. The last iteration of Novo Fogo RTDs was delicious and showcased their Silver Cachaça brilliantly. However, the new formulation offers even more robust flavor and drops the sweetness a bit.

 

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Most importantly, the new RTDs are truly a pioneering beverage. Novo Fogo’s new canned cocktails are the first RTDs made with Brazilian cachaça ever to achieve USDA Organic certification.

This means that Novo Fogo’s entire lineup, from core expressions to special releases, is USDA-certified 100-percent organic. That’s a huge win for the company, for operators who feature their products, and for operators’ guests.

Operators will be able to introduce these new 12-ounce, nine-percent ABV RTDs to their guests shortly. They’re perfect as a refreshing summer cocktail, served on ice in buckets with limes for garnish.

NOVO FOGO ANNOUNCES NEW BRAZILIAN ORGANIC COCKTAIL

RTD Line Sets Industry Standard as the First-Ever USDA-Certified Organic Canned Cocktail Made with Brazilian Cachaça

SEATTLE, WANovo Fogo Organic Cachaça today announces that they have completely redesigned and reformulated their popular line of award-winning Brazilian canned cocktails, offering consumers a fresh way to experience their carbonated twist on Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha. Novo Fogo Brazilian Organic Cocktails come in three tropical flavors and are USDA-certified organic.

The award-winning, sustainability-oriented cachaça producer makes handcrafted cachaça from estate-grown sugarcane in Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest and is a pioneer in spirit-based ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages. For over six years, Novo Fogo’s canned cocktails have introduced North American drinkers to Brazilian cachaça in an approachable, convenient, and delicious format. The current product evolution represents a giant leap forward in organic ingredient certification, packaging design, and flavor.

Novo Fogo’s Brazilian Organic Cocktails highlight three traditional Brazilian flavors—Lime, Passion Fruit, and Mango—that complement the base spirit of Novo Fogo Silver Cachaça, beloved by bartenders across the globe. The 100% natural ingredients have been reformulated to create a cocktail that is now certified organic by the USDA, a first for any cachaça-based RTD and a big win for Mother Earth. This breakthrough now makes Novo Fogo’s entire product line USDA-certified organic.

The colorful design of the 12 oz sleek cans evokes Novo Fogo’s origins in the Brazilian rainforest and emerged in collaboration with multi-Grammy-nominated dance music duo, SOFI TUKKER, who became co-owners and global ambassadors of Novo Fogo in October 2022. SOFI TUKKER’s vibrant, inclusive, and global perspective on electronic music has attracted legions of adoring fans worldwide, and Novo Fogo’s Brazilian Organic Cocktails are poised to accompany SOFI TUKKER’s music as the perfect concert cocktail.

Novo Fogo Brazilian Organic Cocktails feature new recipes that are full-flavored and not too sweet, each at 9% ABV with 150 calories and 12 grams of carbohydrates per serving. The aluminum cans have grown to 12 oz in volume, with 1.8 proper cocktail servings per can. Although they are new in every way, these updated cocktails continue to combine freshness, deliciousness, and shelf stability by virtue of their organic-certified ingredients that harmonize as balanced, carbonated drinks. Drink ‘em how you like ‘em, as long as they’re cold: straight from the chilled can, over ice in a glass, and with or without an extra squeeze of lime.

Novo Fogo is an award-winning Brazilian cachaça producer that handcrafts their spirits at their zero-waste distillery at the edge of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil’s southern state of Paraná. The purest representation of USDA-certified 100% organic sugarcane, Novo Fogo’s Silver Cachaça is the result of single pot distillation in small batches to maximize the flavors of local terroir in the finished spirit. Silver Cachaça is the base spirit for all three Brazilian Organic Cocktails.

“We have always been committed to genuinely reflect Brazilian culture in our brand persona, while also observing and respecting North American consumer trends. These new organic cocktails are a natural evolution of our understanding of the world and incorporate the positive, colorful, and vivid inspiration that SOFI TUKKER brought to the brand. As with everything we do these days, our new Brazilian Organic Cocktails represent the intersection of integrity and joy,” says Novo Fogo’s founder and CEO, Dragos Axinte.

Novo Fogo Brazilian canned cocktails are sold to distributors nationwide by 375 Park Avenue Spirits and online with a suggested retail price of $3.75 per can and $14.99 for a four-pack. To learn more about Novo Fogo products, please visit www.novofogo.com.

About Novo Fogo

A passionate advocate for sustainable practices in the spirits industry, Novo Fogo is a carbon-negative company that produces USDA-certified 100% organic cachaças at its zero-waste distillery in the heart of Brazil’s Atlantic Rainforest. Its production methods prioritize human and environmental sustainability; the company is proud of its all-female distiller team and its legacy reforestation project, The Un-Endangered Forest, which seeks to restore 44 species of threatened native trees. Extending this ethos to its cocktail audience, Novo Fogo has been a trailblazer for sponsoring health and wellness initiatives for spirit industry members. The company’s product line intersects traditional Brazilian culture with modern cocktail trends of healthier drinking, such as low carbs, low ABV, and low calories. Seeking to build a business that can last 100 years, Novo Fogo has partnered with multi-Grammy-nominated global dance music duo SOFI TUKKER to foster increased awareness towards its brand of conscientious capitalism. Find Your Own Brazilian Zen™ by visiting https://www.novofogo.com.

About 375 Park Avenue Spirits

375 Park Avenue Spirits specializes in the premium- to luxury-spirit categories and their portfolio includes numerous expressions from leading international producers.  Founded as Luctor International, LLC in 1981, 375 Park Avenue Spirits joined the Sazerac Company in early 2015 to act as an independent, yet fully integrated sales and marketing affiliate. The company is known today for creating an environment of growth for supplier partners in the domestic market for renown brands like Van Gogh Vodka from Holland, Sobieski Vodka from Poland, Cutty Sark Blended Scotch, J.P. Wiser’s Canadian Whisky, Paul John Single Malt Whisky from India, Scapegrace Gin from New Zealand, Novo Fogo Cachaça and many others. For more information on 375 Park Avenue Spirits, please visit www.375park.com.

Images courtesy of Novo Fogo Organic Cachaça

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Booze Brands Spent Buckets on Big Game

Booze Brands Spent Buckets on Big Game

by David Klemt

Brown Wilson football on a football field

Super Bowl LVI commanded ad prices of $7 million for just 30 seconds, and several brands scrambled to snap up these record-setting spots up.

But before we get into some of the brands that purchased ads, congratulations to the Los Angeles! And condolences to Cincinnati Bengals fans—that was a heartbreaker.

Personally, I had no skin in the game. However, I was eleven years old when the Bengals last made it to the Big Game in 1989. I wanted to see them win last night.

Speaking of the Big Game, a 30-second ad spot reportedly cost $675,000 during the 23rd championship. In today’s money, that would be $1,530,442.

So, who in the beverage alcohol world splashed out $7 million for ads during the Big Game yesterday? And why do we still have to play this name game when referring to “that” game?

More importantly, what does it matter to you who spent so much on commercials on Sunday? Well, with so many eyes glued to TVs yesterday, it stands to reason that some consumers will be influenced to seek out brands and new products.

In other words, you may find that guests are ordering or asking if you carry certain products. For example, the products below.

Budweiser

Would it be a…Big Game…without a Budweiser commercial? Technically, yes. But I think we all know it would feel weird.

Yesterday’s spot was sparse when it comes to beer. However, it featured a horse and dog best friend duo, and that’s just as good as beer. Perhaps it’s even better, because dogs are dogs and horses are huge dogs.

Bud Light Hard Seltzer Soda

When Guy Fieri shows up you can bet whatever he’s endorsing is big on flavor. So, since the Mayor of Flavortown (who I’m now crowning Lord of the Land of Loud Flavors) showed up in yesterday’s Bud Light Hard Seltzer Soda, operators should count on some guests asking for these five-percent ABV RTDs.

Bud Light NEXT

Oh, you thought Hard Seltzer Soda was Bud Light’s big reveal? Nope!

The brand purchased two spots and one revealed Bud Light NEXT, the brand’s new zero-carb beer. The compelling ad asks people to consider the benefits of eschewing norms

Busch Light

Ya gotta love a brand that leans into having fun in their marketing. Busch Light knows who they are as a brand and, more just as importantly, knows their audience.

I’m not gonna lie, their ad made me want to kick back, pop a top, and listen to the soothing sounds of Kenny G. Outdoors. By a river. At the foot of a mountain.

Cutwater Spirits

People love the “Here’s to the crazy ones” quote from Steve Jobs. Well, Cutwater Spirits is raising a can to the lazy ones.

Just watch it below, trust me. Of the alcohol commercials, this was my favorite.

Michelob Ultra

The sheer number of celebrity athletes that showed up in Michelob Ultra‘s ad spot was breathtaking. Just as impressive is the fact that their spot came in at one minute. So, Michelob likely spent $14 million on their ad.

Of course, as a The Big Lebowski fan, the biggest feature for me was Steve Buscemi’s appearance in a bowling alley. Donny lives!

Samuel Adams

Well, your cousin from Boston got a security gig at Boston Dynamics. In Samuel Adams’ “Your Cousin from Boston (Dynamics)” spot, your cousin introduces the robots to the new Wicked IPA Party Pack. Whaddya wanna bet shenanigans ensue?

There are four beers in the pack: Wicked Hazy, Wicked Easy, Wicked Double, and the brand-new Wicked Tropical.

Image: Dave Adamson on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Volley RTD: Clean, Lean & Green

Volley Tequila Seltzer: Clean, Lean & Green

by David Klemt

Chris Wirth and Camila Soriano, founders of Volley Tequila Seltzer holding cans of Volley

The founders of the world’s first clean tequila RTD, Volley Tequila Seltzer, are on a mission that values transparency and giving back to the planet.

Dynamic entrepreneurial duo Chris Wirth and Camila Soriano are the guests on episode 66 of the Bar Hacks podcast.

The two share the Volley story, including what drove them to create the brand and their mission.

Transparency is Challenging

It turns out that being transparent on your labeling isn’t as easy as it sounds. When it comes to beverage alcohol in the US, there are limits on what a brand can include.

You see, alcohol labeling isn’t the FDA’s purview. Rather, it falls under the authority of the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, or TTB.

A little bit of digging reveals that when the Alcohol Administration Act was passed in 1935—two years after prohibition was repealed—the Federal Alcohol Administration was created.

This federal body replaced the Federal Alcohol Control Administration. The Federal Alcohol Administration had statutory powers and, as the name implies, had authority over the alcohol industry.

Seventy years later, the TTB was created and is the federal agency tasked with alcohol industry regulation. That means they control alcohol labeling.

So, when the FDA implemented nutrition labels, alcohol was unaffected. As far as the TTB is concerned currently, there’s no requirement for the labeling of alcohol similar to what’s required for packaged food.

But David, I bet you’re not asking, just because it’s not required doesn’t mean I couldn’t choose to include transparent nutrition labeling for my bottle of spirits or ready-to-drink canned cocktail, right?

Apparently, no—that’s incorrect. As you’ll hear in episode 66 with Soriano and Wirth, it’s not that simple. In fact, the TTB may reject your information-laden packaging for being too transparent.

Without policy changes, there’s no incentive for alcohol producers to be more transparent—and they may be prohibited from doing so.

Simple Changes are Impactful

All that said, Soriano and Wirth were able to introduce new packaging after just launching in 2020.

You may have seen people wipe off the tops of cans before opening and drinking from them. In fact, you may be one of these people. If so, great—you know why Volley now has foil covering the tops of their cans.

As Soriano explains on the Bar Hacks podcast, the tops of canned drinks are horrifyingly unsanitary. And as far she and Wirth are aware, Volley is the only canned beverage other than San Pellegrino with foil caps (in the US, anyway).

Volley Tequila Seltzer RTD can lineup with new foil packaging

This simple packaging change carries a big impact. Likewise, it fits with the brand’s identity and mission. The brand is driven to be healthier, more thoughtful, and more transparent.

A single 12-ounce can comes in at just 100 or 110 calories, depending on expression (there are four). All Volley RTDs are gluten-free and free of added sugars. You won’t find fermented cane sugar, corn syrup, fake sugars, essences, or “natural” flavors.

In fact, there are just three ingredients in a can of Volley: 100-percent blue agave tequila, 100-percent organic fruit juices (never from concentrate), and sparkling water. And yes, Soriano and Wirth can tell you exactly who their sources are for each ingredient.

Win-Win-Win Mission

That brings us to their drive to give back and be responsible stewards of the planet. Volley is in a partnership with Leave No Trace, a non-profit committed to caring for the outdoors.

If some industry experts are proven correct, 2022 will be the year that tequila dethrones vodka as the top-selling spirit throughout North America. Not only does Volley resonate with tequila lovers, the brand is also at the forefront of other trends popular with today’s consumer: sustainability, ethical business practices, active lifestyles, transparency, and healthier options.

Add the facts that RTDs make for excellent delivery order add-ons and can be served as quickly as a beer and you’ve got a no-brainer for your restaurant, bar, hotel or resort.

We love a brand that offers upside in droves. Volley is a win for consumers, a win for operators, a winning brand, and a win for the planet.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Volley or any other entity in exchange for this post.

Image: Volley Tequila Seltzer

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

2021 KRG Holiday Bottle & Can Guide

2021 KRG Holiday Bottle & Can Guide

by David Klemt

Red and black gift boxes and bows on black background

We’re bringing you new products and gift ideas for the 2021 holiday season for your specialty menus, raffles, and employee incentives.

Whether because they’re unique or leverages eye-catching bottling, labeling and packaging, you can’t go wrong with the bottles below.

In fact, you should probably consider adding some of these to your inventory and seasonal menu. A number of these bottles will attract attention from guests when they spot them on your back bar.

And, hey, we won’t tell anyone if you decide to treat yourself to one of these gifts. You’ve earned it.

Brandy

Few spirits shine more during the holiday season and winter months than brandy.

Château de Breuil Réserve Du Château 8 Year

This is the first entry in Château de Breuil’s “Hors d’Age” range, which means this Calvados is older than six years. The youngest Calvados in this release is eight years old, and there’s plenty of warming, comforting apple on the nose, palate and finish.

Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège x Julien Colombier Cognac

Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège x Julien Colombier 

This striking bottle, adorned with an original design by Julien Colombier, definitely stands out from the standard V.S.O.P Privilège.

Hine Cigar Reserve XO

This blend of 20 eau-de-vie is intended specifically to be enjoyed with a fine cigar. In particular, a fine Cuban cigar. A Cognac meant to help unplug, slow down, and enjoy the moment.

Gin

There is an incredible array of gins available that can sway even the staunchest “I don’t drink gin” drinkers out there.

Glendalough Rose Gin

The Glendalough distillery operates via three mantras: Wild foraged. Fresh distilled. Stand apart. Glendalough Rose Gin hits all those marks, particularly standing apart from other gins.

Hardshore Original Gin

There are a few ways to approach crafting a gin. Hardshore Distilling Company’s approach is to be simple in order to be complex. Just five botanicals are used in the production of Hardshore Original Gin: Tuscan juniper, coriander, rosemary, mint, and orris root.

New Junipero Gin bottle

Junipero Gin

With it’s striking new appearance, Junipero Gin’s bottle is now as bold as the liquid inside.

Mezcal & Tequila

The growth of the agave spirit category doesn’t seem like it will stop anytime soon. In particular, luxury mezcals and tequilas seem to be benefitting from consumers interested in spending more to drink higher-quality spirits.

Código 1530 Artesanal & Ancestral

As discussed on episode 57 of Bar Hacks with Collin De Laval, Código 1530 recently released two mezcals, super-premium Artesanal and ultra-premium Ancestral.

Sombra Reposé mezcal reposado bottle and cocktails

Sombra Reposé

This unique mezcal represents a world first: A mezcal aged in Bordeaux wine casks. It doesn’t hurt that the bottle is also attractive.

Tanteo Navidad

There are just 5,000 bottles of Tanteo Navidad, an ultra-premium añejo tequila infused with the flavors of the holiday season: cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cocoa beans, ginger, and pequin chilis.

RTD

With so many hard seltzer and canned cocktail brands hitting the market, it’s difficult picking just a few standout RTDs.

Karbach Brewing Ranch Water hard seltzers in cans

Karbach Brewing

When it comes to RTDs, Ranch Water was basically destined to end up in cans. As a blend of Topo Chico, tequila and lime, Ranch Water has a legitimate claim to the hard seltzer throne. Karbach Ranch Water is available in Original, Grapefruit, Meyer Lemon, Prickly Pear, and Watermelon. It’s also produced by a brewery in a state that knows a little somethin’ about Ranch Water: Texas.

Speaking of Texas…

Shiner Tall ‘Tails

Texas’ famous brewer has entered the hard seltzer space with four expressions based on classic cocktails: Texas Mule, Mexican Martini, Watermelon Margarita, and Ruby Red Paloma.

WESAKE

Given how easily drinkable sake is, I’m surprised there aren’t more RTD sakes on the market. Four cans of Junmai Ginjo WESAKE equal one bottle.

Rum

It’s always exciting to come across something new in any spirit category. The two selections below are from countries people don’t often think of when the topic of rum arises.

Kasama

How about small-batch rum from the Philippines, aged seven years and produced by Alexandra Dorda. If that last name sounds familiar it’s likely because Alexandra is the daughter of Tad Dorda, co-founder of Belvedere and Chopin vodkas.

Phraya Deep Matured Gold Rum

When’s the last time you sipped a rum from Thailand? The answer is most likely never. A beautiful bottle of Phraya Deep Matured Gold Rum—aged seven to 12 years—can certainly fix that.

Zanj Rum Ak Zanj "with angels" Haitian rum

Zanj Rum Ak Zanj

The name of this expression of Haitian rum translates to “with angels” in Haitian Creole. Made using only pure sugarcane juice (no sugar added) and aged exclusively in Limousin oak barrels, Ak Zanj is characterized by caramel, fruit, vanilla and honey notes. The bottle also looks great on a back bar or home bar.

Vodka

All eyes may seem to be on tequila, mezcal and whiskey, but the vodka category isn’t resting on its laurels. There have been a lot of innovations in this space, such as revisiting traditional processes, playing with flavoring, and even sourcing very specific grapes for production.

Belvedere Heritage 176 vodka

Belvedere Heritage 176

As the name suggests, Heritage 176 is an homage to the old ways of producing vodka. To that end, this expression makes use of malting or kiln-drying rye for deeper, more complex flavors.

Hangar 1 Smoke Point

Produced in partnership with Crimson Wine Group, Hangar 1 used smoke-tinged grapes affected by Norther California’s disastrous Glass Fire to create Smoke Point vodka.

Wild Roots Vodka

This corn-based vodka is made in the Pacific Northwest and infused with more than a pound of real fruit. There are several flavors available in addition to the neutral expression, such as winter-friendly Apple & Cinnamon and Cranberry.

Whiskey

This category isn’t just immensely popular, it’s immense in and of itself. It was difficult to narrow it down to just three selections, particularly when it came to bourbon.

Glenmorangie A Tale of Winter Scotch bottle

Glenmorangie A Tale of Winter

Your guests, staff, family and friends aren’t the only people who wear Christmas sweaters. A Tale of Winter grabs the eye during the holiday season with a label that looks like it’s ready for your restaurant, bar, nightclub or hotel’s holiday party. This Scotch encapsulates the season with notes of cocoa powder, orange toffee, clover, ginger, and cinnamon.

High West High Country Single Malt

It may be an oversimplification to call High Country Single Malt an homage to single malt Scotch but it’s still an accurate summation. When producing the distillery’s latest release, High West uses “on-the-grain” distillation, along with fresh-charred and second-use barrels during maturation.

Redemption Cognac Cask Finish

Bottled at 99 proof, this high-rye bourbon is aged in Pierre Ferrand Cognac barrels. Expect bold but elegant flavors with baking spices, rye and sweetness on the palate.

Woodford Reserve 2021 Holiday Bottle

Woodford Reserve 2021 Holiday Bottle

Every holiday and Kentucky special edition bottle of Woodford Reserve has been a winner. However, I find the artwork on this year’s holiday bottle by Nick Hirst to the best yet.

Wine

Well, in particular, sparkling wine. When it comes to celebrating, it’s hard to beat the craving for bubbles.

Dom Maria

You can’t go wrong with Dom Maria Brazilian Sparkling Brut or Rosé. The packaging is sleek, modern and makes a statement. Both DM expressions are 60 percent Chardonnay, 40 percent Pinot Noir.

 

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Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs

It’s fair to say that most people are most familiar with Perrier-Jouët’s Belle Époque bottles, adorned as they are with Japanese anemone flowers outlined in gold. However, on episode 56 of Bar Hacks, Maxime Lecocq says that when he sees someone order a bottle of Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs, “they know what they’re doing.”

Yarden Blanc de Blancs

Looking for a Kosher blanc de blancs option for the holiday season? Look no further than Yarden Blanc de Blancs produced by the Golan Heights Winery, currently releasing their 2012 vintage.

Low- and Zero-proof

There are a number of high-quality alcohol-free spirts, beers and other beverages out there. With that number growing, the biggest challenge is deciding which brands and expressions to pick as gifts and add to your menu.

The County Soda Co.

Much attention is paid to the spirits in cocktails, and for obvious reasons. However, crafting the best possible cocktail requires using the best possible ingredients. The County Soda Co. crafts “soda pop for adults” by using real cane sugar and juice concentrates, and by eschewing artificial sweeteners. Proudly produced in small batches in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada, County Soda includes flavors such as Root Beer, Cola, Ginger Ale, Blackcurrant Lime, and Orange Cream Soda.

Lyre’s

This innovative brand is named for a bird famous for it’s accurate mimicry of its avian peers, and for good reason. Lyre’s crafts zero-proof expressions that taste like their full-proof counterparts, including sparkling wine and RTDs. You can even purchase cocktail kits that provide everything necessary to make alcohol-free Negronis, Espresso Martinis, and more.

To learn more, fire up episode 28 of Bar Hacks with Tim Rita.

Partake Radler

Ted Fleming started Partake Brewing partially out of frustration. He made the choice to live sober but had no intention of giving up socializing in bars with friends. Unfortunately, the options for alcohol-free beer were incredibly slim. So, he founded Partake Brewing to produce 0.3-percent craft beer. The highly sought-after Partake Radler is back just in time for the holidays!

Learn more from Ted Fleming on Bar Hacks episode 31.

Q Tropical Ginger Beer

How does a tropical take on ginger beer sound? To me, it sounds refreshingly different. I’m a big ginger beer fan, so Q Tropical Ginger Beer, with its agave, mango, passion fruit, and pineapple notes, is intriguing.

Image: Tamanna Rumee on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

How to Use RTDs for LTOs

How to Use RTDs for LTOs

by David Klemt

White Claw Ruby Grapefruit and pizza poolside

The RTD, aka ready-to-drink, category continues to grow and gain greater market share, particularly in the US.

However, the common association with RTDs is that consumers mostly drink them at home.

That begs a simple question: How can operators generate revenue with this popular, in-demand beverage category?

Massive Growth

Unsurprisingly, the RTD cocktail category is still one the rise.

These drinks are convenient. New brands come to market regularly. They tend to fall in line with rising consumer desire for lower-ABV options. And many brands speak to consumer desires—sustainability and outdoor interests, for example—via their visions and missions.

Per the IWSR, the US leads the charge when it comes to demand for RTDs. North America as a whole is driving growth.

However, the category grew 43 percent globally in 2020 alone. According to multiple sources, RTDs are worth USD $782.8 million. Projections have the category more than doubling by 2028: $1.7 billion.

Tequila and gin RTDs appear to be the most popular within the category, but rum, whiskey, and vodka are also growing.

So, what’s the point of all these numbers? Operators need to know what consumers are drinking and leverage that demand for the benefit of their businesses.

Simple LTOs

One of the most obvious ways to deliver on RTDs is to treat it like beer. Add a “Canned Cocktails” section and list your options. Or, hey, do what some venues do and add White Claw and other RTDs to the beer list.

After all, millions of people order canned beers every day in restaurants, bars, hotels, and entertainment and sports venues.

However, there are guests who perceive ordering an RTD instead of a traditional cocktail at a bar as a sub-par experience.

The bartender, after all, is just popping a top and handing over a can.

One way to elevate the experience is via limited-time offers. A great example comes from Nickel City, which has two locations in Texas: Austin and Fort Worth.

The award-winning neighborhood bar offers a monthly Boilermaker, and this month’s was the Rise & Shine:

 

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As you can see, a High Noon Grapefruit Vodka Soda comes with a 50/50 pour of Aperol and Altos Tequila for just $8.

Other restaurants and bars—with vessels large enough—are offering riffs on the Corona-rita with RTDs. The bar team builds the cocktail as usual, then inverts and inserts the RTD.

Such a drink can certainly be leveraged via monthly LTOs.

There are a few keys to succeeding with RTDs: understanding your guests, knowing your market, and getting creative. Guests willing to spend on the RTDs they enjoy at home while at your restaurant or bar? Great. Guests unwilling unless there’s added value? Convene your bar team and tap their creativity.

Image: Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Multi-gen Recipe Becomes RTD

Multi-gen Recipe Becomes RTD

by David Klemt

Fishers Island Lemonade cans and flavors

Not just another RTD, Fishers Island Lemonade is a premium brand that transforms a multi-generational recipe into a can cocktail.

Now, the brand is launching four new expressions, right in time for summer.

Let’s take a look at these craft RTD cocktails.

A Recipe with History

There’s only one place to drink on Fishers Island in New York, the Pequot Inn. The restaurant and bar is known for its signature cocktails.

One intrepid member of the Shillo family, who owned the Pequot for more than two decades, is putting her spin on one of the signature cocktails into cans.

Bronya Shillo tended bar at the Pequot when it was under her family’s ownership. She launched Fishers Island Lemonade (FIL) in 2014.

FIL’s original expression is a 9.0-percent blend of premium vodka, barrel-aged whiskey, lemon and honey. Now, the Original spiked lemonade has four new friends: Spiked Tea, Pink Flamingo, Fizz, and Frozen Spirits Pops.

Brand Expansion

Like Original FIL, the brand’s new lineup consists of signature cocktail recipes. In fact, you’ll find several FIL recipes on the brand’s website.

FIL Spiked Tea and Pink Flamingo both ring in at 7.0 percent ABV. The former is the original recipe with black tea, while the latter is made with cranberry.

Fishers Island Fizz is the lower-ABV version of Original FIL, coming in at a more sessionable 5.0 percent ABV.

Fishers Island Lemonade Frozen Spirits Pops

Perfect for summer, FIL Frozen Spirits Pops are exactly what they sound like: popsicles made with Original FIL.

Finding FIL

Currently, FIL is available in Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

However, the brand is utilizing direct-to-consumer sales to reach consumers across America. FIL is also available on Drizly.

A four-pack of FIL RTDs have an SRP of $15.99. The Frozen Spirits Pops come in ten-packs with an SRP of $27.99.

Images provided by Fishers Island Lemonade

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Summer of White Claw 2.0?

Summer of White Claw 2.0?

by David Klemt

White Claw Surge Blood Orange and White Claw Surge Cranberry hard seltzer cans

White Claw is ready to leverage the surge in pent-up consumer demand to get out and party this summer with their latest innovation, Surge.

The new expressions are notable for several reasons. The most obvious, of course, is that they ring in at 8.0% ABV.

Odds are strong that we may be on the verge of a Summer of Surge.

Summer of White Claw 2.0

Let’s look back at the brief but bold history of White Claw.

Imagine it’s 2016. Hard seltzer isn’t quite the powerhouse beverage category that it is today. There’s no snappy, “Ain’t no laws when you’re drinking Claws,” tagline. Neither is there a “ClawLife” hashtag…yet. However, White Claw launches.

Fast-forward to 2018. Fanatics are sharing their devotion to White Claw all over social media. They’re tagging posts #ClawLife. The memes are everywhere, as are the white cans of hard seltzer.

That leads us to 2019. It almost seems simpler to ask what Big Brands aren’t trying to copy White Claw’s success. Try as they might, nobody dethrones King Claw.

Summer 2019 is the Summer of White Claw. The brand essentially singlehandedly grows hard seltzer into the powerhouse beverage category it is today.

In 2021, the hard seltzer kingpin certainly seems set to take over summer once again with White Claw Surge Cranberry and White Claw Surge Blood Orange.

Surging Forward

White Claw Surge’s higher ABV—a boost from 5.0% to 8.0%—isn’t the only departure from the “standard” Claws.

Surge is available only in 16-ounce cans, whereas standard White Claw comes in 12-ounce cans and tall boy versions are 19.2 ounces.

Another big difference? Standard White Claw flavors in 12-ounce cans contain 100 calories. Surge, with 220 calories, has more than twice that amount.

 

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Should White Claw Surge perform as expected, it will represent an interesting evolution in hard seltzer. For many, hard seltzer is a stand-in for beer and other beverage alcohol options because of its low calorie count. If higher-proof, high-calorie hard seltzer becomes popular, it’s a notable shift in consumer behavior.

#ClawLife 2.0

Surge isn’t the only innovation coming from White Claw in time for Summer 2021.

The new White Claw Iced Tea flavors will likely prove to be a popular refresher as the weather gets warmer. These expressions—Lemon, Raspberry, Mango, and Peach—are 100 calories and 5.0% ABV (in 12-ounce cans) like standard Claws.

There are also three new expressions of White Claw available in Variety Pack Flavor Collection No. 3: Strawberry, Pineapple, and Blackberry.

With all of these new hard seltzers on the market and pent-up consumer demand, it’s difficult to see how we’re not headed toward Summer of White Claw 2.0.

Image: White Claw

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