A Very Good Month

Fionnuala Carolan

Fionnuala Carolan, editor of Drinks Industry Ireland

From a pretty gloomy start to the year dealing with sky-high energy prices, soaring inflation and food and drink suppliers price hikes, things took a turn for the better in March. Yes, we’re still dealing with the same high costs but thanks to St Patrick’s Day, Cheltenham and the Six Nations, pubs have had a very good month. Well that’s according to Dublin publicans at the LVA annual dinner held last week. While Dublin pubs benefit massively from St Patrick’s Day visitors to the city and the home Six Nations games, pubs and off-licences around the country would have also felt the lift from these occasions. CGA’s new On Premise User Study (OPUS) shows three quarters of Six Nations fans typically watch live sports in pubs and bars and two thirds do so at least monthly.

March was also Oscars month and the Irish were well represented across the pond this year. However, it was disappointing to see that the outdated stereotype of the drunk and brawling Irish is still alive and well in the US. The popular comedy show Saturday Night Live touched a nerve with its skit of Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson and a gag about not being able to understand them and ‘that’s before they get drunk’, followed by host of the Oscars, Jimmy Kimmel throwing in a joke about the odds of a fight being high due to the amount of Irish actors in the house. Both gags went down like a lead balloon with calls for the writers on Saturday Night Live to try harder and question’s arising about Kimmel’s suitability as host of such a high-profile global event.

We’ve come a long way in addressing problem-drinking and offering alternatives for non-drinkers here in Ireland. A recent case in point, when Guinness 0.0 took centre stage over the St Patrick’s Day weekend by launching in a number of high profile pubs across the country with Brian O’Driscoll at the forefront of the campaign. Although it’s been said that advertising a brand’s non-alcoholic version is just a way to get around advertising restrictions and there may be some truth in that, it is still a positive move that these brands are investing and promoting NoLo drinks and it feels like it’s okay to go into a bar and ask for a non-alcoholic drink for whatever reason that may be. Giving people alternatives is key to keeping the pub at the centre of our social scene while taking the focus off over-consumption of alcohol so I think it should be commended and supported.

Cormac Healy, director of Drinks Ireland believes that zero alcohol products have a clear role to play in supporting moderation. He says, “The growth of this category is something we should all be encouraging, not discouraging. They enable people to make positive choices, and consumers have the right to be informed about these choices.”

Highlights of this issue of Drinks Industry Ireland  include our cover feature with Brian Nation, master distiller of Keeper’s Heart whiskey which is launching in Ireland this month. He talks about taking the leap from his very high-profile and coveted post with Jameson Midleton Distillery to moving to Minnesota and launching Keeper’s Heart whiskey.

Also in this issue and as part of a new series of bar profiles, we kicked things off with Quay 14 in the Morrison Dublin and spoke to Rory Rooney, deputy general manager and Simon Smyth, food and beverage operations manager, Morrison Dublin about the change in customer behaviour since the pandemic and how they are making top shelf drinks more accessible to all.

We are delighted to still have Pat Nolan as a contributor to Drinks Industry Ireland. Pat has led the magazine over the past 24 years so we lucky to still have his very valuable input.

And finally, I am really look forward to meeting new colleagues and friends in the trade over the next few months and please don’t hesitate to contact me regarding any industry related news or issues that you would like to see highlighted or debated in the magazine.




Fionnuala Carolan
Editor, Drinks Industry Ireland
Twitter: @drinksind_ie

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