by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

First-ever Carbon-neutral Distilled Spirit

Novo Fogo Releases First-ever Carbon-neutral Distilled Spirit

by David Klemt

Novo Fogo Bar Strength Silver Cachaça bottle

Novo Fogo is releasing their Silver Cachaça in a one-liter bottle with a fresh new design, strength and trade industry focus.

Clearly, the Brazilian distiller is concentrating on bar owners and bartenders for 2021.

Of course, Novo Fogo is also focusing on their relationship with the planet.

Reducing Environmental Impact

The Novo Fogo distillery calls the Floresta Atlântica home. And the brand is fiercely protective of this location.

Also known as the Atlantic Rainforest, the distillery operates within the second-largest UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Novo Fogo’s home is pristine, surrounded by untouched nature—there’s no pollution. Operating in harmony, Novo Fogo goes to great lengths to impact their surroundings—and the planet—as little as possible.

Fans of the distillery’s handcrafted, small-batch cachaça will attest to the liquid’s terroir. Tasting Novo Fogo is like standing in Floresta Atlântica and breathing in its pristine nature.

The company is carbon negative (absorb more carbon dioxide than they emit); uses minimal water; utilizes organic production methods; and manages reforestation efforts.

World First Spirit

Novo Fogo’s mission includes a relentless, meticulous approach to saving the Amazon rainforest. The reasoning is obvious—sixty percent of Brazil is rainforest.

Also, rainforests absorb carbon dioxide; release oxygen and water into the atmosphere; are home to indigenous people; and are habitats full of animal and plant life.

So, it’s with great pride that Novo Fogo Bar Strength Silver Cachaça is the world’s first carbon-neutral distilled spirit.

This accomplishment is no small feat. To achieve this goal, Novo Fogo had to take into account the impact of their partners.

That means the brand calculated:

  • production of their glass bottles (recycled glass, neck wraps made from plastics found on the streets of São Paulo), corks, labels, and cases;
  • utilities and fuel used by their distributor’s warehouses;
  • the resources used by land and sea freight partners; and
  • the impact of sales and delivery efforts.

After calculating the entirety of Bar Strength Silver Cachaça’s impact on the Earth, Novo Fogo purchased carbon offsets through Native. The offsets will save trees by providing 2,000 families in Honduras that produce coffee with water filters. Ultimately, this will save trees as the families won’t need to cut any down to boil water.

Bar Owner and Bartender Friendly

While things are improving, it can still be cost-prohibitive for people to choose products that are good for our planet.

To that end, Novo Fogo also aims to reduce the financial impact for bar owners who purchase Bar Strength Silver Cachaça.

Per the brand, the average wholesale cost of the new one-liter expression is $24. That translates to 22 1.5-ounce pours, a cost per ounce of $0.71, and a cost per cocktail of $1.06.

However, this new expression also takes the practical into mind.

Bartenders will appreciate Novo Fogo’s new bottle design:

  • The neck is taller while the midsection is has been slimmed down.
  • Regarding the footprint, the bottom of the bottle is now circular.
  • Novo Fogo shrunk the bottle’s footprint.

Ultimately, the redesign results in a one-liter bottle that’s easier to handle and fits better in a well.

Of course, boosting the ABV from 40 percent to 43 percent means this cachaça’s flavors are more intense. Obviously, that makes for a bolder drinking and guest experience.

Consumers are growing increasingly concerned about the health of our planet. Many seek out brewers, vintners and distillers who operate responsibly. The same goes for the restaurants, bars and hotels they’ll support.

Novo Fogo just made it that much easier to make cocktails that are better for the planet.

Image: Novo Fogo

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Fever-Tree Cola: Set Aside Your Soda Gun

Fever-Tree Cola: Set Aside Your Soda Gun

by David Klemt

Fever-Tree Distillers Cola bottle and cocktail

Fever-Tree, the company elevating mixers since 2005, is now focusing on producing the finest cola.

Like the entirety of the Fever-Tree portfolio, Distillers Cola honors spirits and enhances cocktails.

And, like its mates in the lineup, the newest Fever-Tree product is made only with premium ingredients.

Commitment to Quality

Fever-Tree’s founding principle has always been producing high-quality mixers with high-quality and exotic ingredients. Co-founder Tim Warrillow and CEO of Fever-Tree North America Charles Gibb search the globe to find and partner with the best producers possible.

Much of that drive is down to the brand’s focus on honoring distillers and their spirits along with cocktail programs and bars.

In the mid-2000s, Warrillow and Gibb made a stark realization about spirits and cocktail. Distillers were crafting incredible spirits but most mixers were either standard or substandard.

Obviously, that changed with the launch of Fever-Tree, undeniable leaders and innovators in the mixer category.

Exotic Cola

For years now, today’s consumer has been drinking better. With unfettered access to information, social media and brands, they’ve been learning more about spirits and cocktails.

Intriguingly, the pandemic didn’t change that, and all signs point to a continued dedication to quality drinking.

Also, great bartenders want to tell, as Gibbs says, the best stories through the best cocktails. In doing so, they’ve taught their guests how to drink better.

Of course, part of improving one’s drinking is seeking out products produced with quality ingredients.

According to Warrillow, Fever-Tree is excited to finally take on “the biggest mixer of them all, cola,” the most-popular soft drink flavor in the world. He says people have been asking for Fever-Tree to craft their own cola for quite some time now.

It should come as no surprise to any Fever-Tree fan that Distillers Cola is produced with a commitment to craft.

The kola nuts are grown wild in the Caribbean sweet, earthy, and a natural source of caffeine. Large Tahitian limes from Mexico—the Yucatán province specifically—are bold but not overwhelming. Jamaican pimento berries (allspice) imbue Distillers Cola with flavors of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg and pepper. Madagascan vanilla—the “most prized” vanilla, per Warrillow—is intense, sweet, and lends to a creamy mouthfeel.

Distillers Cola, being a mixer and not a soft drink, is high in carbonation but reins in its sweetness.

A Mixer with Intent

Now, Fever-Tree Distillers Cola is meant to elevate bourbons and dark rums. Of course, that doesn’t mean its use is limited.

In fact, Speed Rack co-founder Lynnette Marrero suggests mixing up a Gin & Distillers Cola. Certainly, that’s a much different direction than Rum or Whiskey & Colas.

And Marrero’s Going Back to Kalimoxto, which she describes as “the spritz meets sangria,” calls for 0.5 oz. Cognac, 0.5 oz. Fernet, 3 oz. red wine (nothing too tannic: think Pinot Noir or Beaujolais), and 3 oz. Fever-Tree Cola. Simply stir and serve with a lemon wheel.

Indeed, this brand-new Fever-Tree product is practically begging for cocktail experimentation.

Reposado, añejo, and extra añejo tequilas, some mezcals, amaros, Scotch and rye whiskeys… A new mixer opens up a world of menu possibilities.

However, the best place to start is likely two of Fever-Trees intended cocktails: an elevated Rum & Cola or Whiskey & Cola. In fact, Warrillow and Gibbs say it was developed with Bacardí Cuatro in mind.

Interestingly, Allen Katz of New York Distilling Co. tasted “about 15 barrels” of their Ragtime Rye with Distillers Cola. According to Katz, the cola pairs very well with a whiskey with more fruit, less cedar and spice. In fact, he likes it so much he has committed a single barrel to a special Distillers Cola release—be on the lookout, whiskey hunters.

Also, since Governor Andrew Cuomo has lifted Covid-19 restrictions, people can visit New York Distilling’s Shanty to try a specialty cocktail made with Distiller’s Cola.

Holster Your Soda Guns

Yes, soda guns have been de rigueur for decades. They’re convenient in terms of service, particularly in a high-volume setting.

They’re also often perceived as being perpetually dirty. And, in many cases, that perception is reality.

Of course, in other cases it’s simply what guests have been taught from myriad articles and blog posts.

When I asked Gibbs how he expects to convince operators to hang up their soda guns and choose Distillers Cola instead, his answer was compelling. On the bar side, he points to the fact that bartenders want to craft and serve the best possible cocktails. To do that, they need high-quality ingredients. Along with that, many guests know Fever-Tree and seek it out.

That’s all well and good, but what about the operator side? Gibbs notes that bars across the country are ripping out their soda guns. Clearly, this is a response to health-conscious guests who perceive what comes out of the gun to be unhealthy or subpar in quality.

Those same operators, therefore, aren’t buying and storying bags of syrup. Instead, they can purchase higher-quality ingredients that deliver on consistency. Consistency and quality are key elements of the guest experience. Gibbs also says that operators can charge more for a drink made with premium ingredients like Fever-Tree.

Of course, the next step is for operators and their front-of-house teams to try Fever-Tree Distillers Cola for themselves. Not only will it elevate their bar programs, it certainly enhances to-go cocktail kit options.

Image: Fever-Tree

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Next Spirits Billionaire?

The Next Spirits Billionaire?

by David Klemt

Close-up of one hundred dollar bill

A recent deal involving a whiskey brand is set to help welcome another member to the exclusive Celebrity Spirits Billionaire’s Club.

Three-division UFC fighter. Two-division champion. Entrepreneur. Billionaire? Conor McGregor may add another comma to his bank account.

Proximo Spirits and Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey will continue their relationship long-term after agreeing to a nine-figure deal.

The terms of the Proper-Proximo agreement are confidential. However, the consensus is that Proper No. Twelve is going to make MMA star Conor McGregor a billionaire.

Money McGregor

One detail that isn’t exactly confidential is the overall value of the Proper-Proximo agreement.

McGregor and his business partners sold their majority stake in the popular Irish whiskey brand. It’s believed the deal is worth up to $600 million, or nearly €500 million.

However, how much of that $600 million is going to McGregor is unknown at this time.

To be clear, McGregor has a ways to go before he becomes a billionaire. Of course, he’s closer than most of us

Per reporting from The Irish Post, Proper No. Twelve is going to make McGregor the first billionaire Irish athlete.

“The terms of the agreement are confidential, however, the most important thing is Conor McGregor will remain a stakeholder of Proper No. Twelve, the brand that will make him a billionaire,” says Karen Kessler, a spokesperson for the former MMA champion.

Rapid Growth

It’s important to remember that Proper No. Twelve is just a few years old. That detail highlights the impressiveness of this deal.

Remember, Proper No. Twelve only launched in 2018. Since then, the brand has shipped over six million bottles. Proper No. Twelve is set to enter additional international markets moving forward.

Mike Keyes, president and CEO of Proximo Spirits, certainly seems to believe Proper No. Twelve isn’t “just another” celebrity spirits brand.

“It is rare to see a celebrity impact a brand the way Conor McGregor has Proper No. Twelve Irish Whiskey, and I have not seen many brands in the spirits industry catapult to this level of success in such a short period of time,” says Keyes. “This agreement is a vote of confidence in the incredible potential of this brand and a testament to the incredible work of Conor, Audie, Ken and the Proper No. Twelve team, as well as the efforts of Proximo and its distributors, who have all made this success possible.”

Celebrity Spirits Billionaire’s Club

Before proceeding, it must be mentioned that McGregor doesn’t consider himself a celebrity. According to him, “I’m not a celebrity. I break people’s faces for money and bounce.”

Regardless, the face-breaker money-maker is among an elite group of celebs with stakes in lucrative spirits brands.

We’re all well aware of George Clooney’s success with Casamigos, the brand he and his business partners sold for $700 million. There’s another $300 million in it for them if the brand hits performance goals over the next several years.

Diddy’s collaboration with Diageo, which includes CÎROC Vodka and DeLeón Tequila, is pumping up the artist and entrepreneur’s net worth. It seems quite likely that when he reaches billionaire status, it will be in no small part to the success of the Diageo brands.

Like McGregor, Ryan Reynolds got involved in spirits brand ownership in 2018. Retaining his ownership stake in Aviation Gin may catapult the actor, entrepreneur and social media slayer to billionaire status.

Jay Z is a wildly successful entrepreneur. In 2019, the empire he built made him a billionaire. Ace of Spades (Armand de Brignac) reportedly made Jay over $300 million midway through June 2019. D’USSE scored him an estimated $100 million. Jay Z launched luxury cannabis brand Monogram, sure to add much more to his net worth.

Why Should You Care?

Operators, their employees, and their friends and families continue to struggle in 2021. Our industry has fought endless battles. America’s operators just began the process of receiving specific relief yesterday.

So, it can be difficult to discuss the net worth of celebrities given what people are going through. The topic can come across as insensitive. That is by no means lost on me.

Were any of the brands in this post reliant solely on celebrity endorsement, I wouldn’t bother including them. The fact is, the success of these brands relies on consumer demand.

Celebrity endorsement only goes so far—if the product sucks, the shine will wear off and consumers will move on. And today’s consumer moves on quickly. There’s always something shinier, always a celebrity name with more gravitas.

Proper No. Twelve, Aviation, Casamigos, DeLeón, CÎROC, D’USSE, and Ace of Spades are past the honeymoon phase of brand adoption. Consumers have spoken, and these are among the brands they want and expect to see on menus. Your menus.

You certainly don’t need to stock these or any other celebrity brands. Just don’t be surprised if guests become frustrated if they can’t get them at your restaurant or bar.

That goes for any brand. Listen to your guests and what they’re asking for from you. Charge your front-of-house team with doing the same and encourage them to report back to you what they’re hearing from guests. One of the easiest ways to inspire repeat visits and refresh your menu is to simply listen.

Image: Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash