Especially in mid-Winter, whiskey-based cocktails should have featured high up on any publican’s promo board – it’s not even going too far to suggest that ‘whisky’-based cocktails should have found themselves featuring as a special on your pub’s heavily-promoted Burns Night this year (you did run a Burns Night on January 25th didn’t you in what amounts to the quietest month of the year for the on-trade?).
With such a diverse range of product now to choose from, it seems that whiskey-based cocktails are once more on the rise. In the UK on-trade, over one in five consumers drink whisk(e)y cocktails yet they merit but a brief mention in most cocktail menus according to drinks market researchers CGA Strategy.
Jim Flynn, a consultant to the Irish drinks industry, believes this to be the case too for the majority of bars here, many of whom have their menus printed by their suppliers featuring a ‘category plan’ accountant-driven approach.
But he feels that this is changing quickly in the more specialised bars.
“Some suppliers and distributors – including drinksGenius and The Celtic Whiskey Shop – have done fantastic work in offering the trade the diverse raw materials to develop and create whiskey cocktails outside of that standard offer,” he states, “Bourbon and Rye have taken shelf-space alongside major brand Tennessee whisky. Bartenders like Paul Lambert and Gareth Lambe in the likes of the Blind Pig and The VCC et al have taken the baton and run with it. These guys have empowered a new breed of bartenders who’re re-inventing classic cocktails with modern techniques and ingredients.
“Whiskey-based cocktails offer an access point into the wide range of expressions and finishes available in the Whisk(e)y category without the express need for vast or extensive knowledge of individual whiskeys,” points out Jim.
But will this be at the expense of other spirit categories?
“I think we’ll see an overall decline in actual volume – particularly in vodka – but an increase in value through differentiation and premiumisation,” he believes, “As historically in Ireland, a red or white quarter bottle of wine was the only choice afforded to the customer, this grew to an extensive choice of glass and bottle availability and a diverse portfolio, something which I think actually grew the overall volume and value of on-trade wine.”
He concludes, “In the longer term, I believe that classic whiskey expressions will always win out and modern twists on these drinks in the form of whiskey cocktails will provide a value-added proposition to an unsure drinker or someone willing to try something for the first time – a Manhattan or a Sour for example”.
This impression of on-trade mixologists helping drive the whiskey cocktail sector is reinforced in IDL Chairman and Chief Executive Christophe Coutard’s comments accompanying Pernod Ricard’s H1 statement when he said, “In spite of two successive duty hikes we are now seeing our Irish whiskey portfolio growing market share: value share increased by 1% on the same period for last year with sales volume up 5%. This growth is a tribute to our incredible domestic team who’re helping to fuel Ireland’s growing appreciation for quality cocktails created by Ireland’s world-beating bartenders”.
While some might still consider mixing premium whiskeys into cocktails to be a treasonable offence, others see it as a quality enhancement to their premium cocktail order and the publican’s use of such craft whiskeys in this manner can lead to a far more favourable margin.
Premium Irish whiskeys have witnessed significant growth in the on-trade here as a result.
According to IDL’s On-Trade Director Michael Maguire the last three years witnessed growth of the order of 40% in premium whiskey sales in the on-trade.
And as we report elsewhere, Diageo is getting back into Irish whiskeys with the launch of Roe & Co, aged in Bourbon casks, which has a focus on making Irish Whiskey more prominent in Europe’s booming cocktail culture.
Tanya Clarke, Diageo’s General Manager of Reserve Europe, admitted that the brand was created to explore the demands of today’s consumers for more premium drinking experiences and “the desire of bartenders for an adaptable, flavourful whiskey that works in both traditional and new cocktails”. It will be primarily aimed at the on-trade.
Jack Daniel’s ‘Bar Slide’ on tour
In celebration of the founding of Jack Daniel’s Distillery in 1866 – making it the oldest registered distillery in the US – Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey recently announced details of the Jack Daniel’s ‘Bar Slide’ promotion in Ireland.
The bar slide experience is travelling to a series of different bars around the country. The first event took take place in The Bowery, 196 Rathmines Road Lower, recently, with whiskey-lovers trying their luck at the Jack Daniel’s custom-made bar with the bar slide while enjoying a complimentary Jack Daniel’s. Hundreds of prizes are up for grabs in the promotion with a grand prize worth €800 (including a Woburn Marshall speaker system).
Taking inspiration from the shuffleboard phenomenon sweeping the US at the moment, Jack Daniel’s is inviting Irish pub-goers to slide their puck along the Jack Daniel’s hand-crafted bar and try to land in a high-scoring zone to win prizes. As the puck travels across the bar it will journey along a Jack Daniel’s Distillery history timeline, allowing players to take a trip through years of authentic taste and experience. Those who land their puck in the ‘150 Year Prize Zone’ will win an exclusive Jack Daniel’s prize as well as being entered into the draw for the grand prize.
The promotion began visiting locations across the country in February and these are listed on Jack Daniel’s Ireland facebook page each week.
For more information and details on locations and upcoming dates visit:
The Irish Rose
The foundation for a good cocktail is the right whiskey. For this month’s whiskey cocktail, Dalcassian Wines & Spirits presents The Irish Rose featuring The Irishman Founder’s Reserve from Walsh Whiskey Distillery.
This premium whiskey is a unique blend of single malt and single pot still whiskey, aged in American oak bourbon barrels. The resulting array of flavours includes butterscotch, cinnamon and a hint of vanilla, which come together with the tart lemon and sweet jam in this cocktail to make for a sublime combination.
The Irish Rose
20 ml The Irishman Founder’s Reserve
30ml Rosehip syrup
20ml Raspberry jam
20ml Lemon juice
20ml Egg white
Dried rose buds to garnish
Combine all ingredients in a shaker.
Dry shake, then add ice and shake again.
Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with dried rose buds.