Three times lighter in alcohol than standard equivalents, Dublin’s expected to join Berlin, New York and London in having these as menu highlights this Summer.
The vermouths hail from the Southern Baden region of Germany and Sebastian thinks the light long alcohol drinks trend stems from the kitchen where demand is for lighter food.
“Like food, the drinking culture is changing,” he explains, “People who might want to have a drink during the day want less alcohol – thus the demand for ‘sessionable’ cocktails. People also stay longer in a bar with sessionable drinks on offer. They’re more interested in quality and product provenance too,” adds the man who launched the Thomas Henry range of mixers in 2010.
Belsazar drinks like its Rosé with dry tonic or its Red & ginger have an ABV of about 4%, making them a lighter alternative.
Vermouth, fortified wine, has always been an essential ingredient of classic cocktails and Belsazar vermouth from Germany’s Black Forest region uses high quality, regionally-produced wines.
Each variety of Belsazar has its own macerates, extracts from herbs, spices, blossom, husks and peels. Belsazar’s finishing touch comes from a dash of fruit brandy before the vermouth is stored in stone casks to allow its complex aromas and flavours to develop.
“As in bottle aging, something happens with the maceration and the wine in a stone cask that suits our purposes perfectly,” he says, “We get a product that tastes fresh without wood affecting the taste.”
Vermouth with a twist
Balsazar offers the on-trade an opportunity to use a quality vermouth, he says, “For mixologists, the major point is that we’re different to other vermouths as Belsazar’s inherent fruitiness can be used not only for classic cocktails such as the Manhattan and Negroni but we’ve changed the game a bit for the mixologist by bringing vermouths with a twist to the market.
“The mixologist searching for a dry vermouth can find it thanks to Belsazar’s wider range of product.”
Belsazar in cocktails
The company began in 2013 and the very first bottle of Balsazar was sold in April 2014.
“In Germany we started out supplying around 96 bottles a year per outlet in 2015,” says Sebastian, “In its first year the company sold 22,000 bottles and last year this figure had risen to 60,000. Today it’s selling 240,000.”
Germany remains Belsazar’s key market but the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia are seeing increased sales now, he says. It will begin selling in the US after the Summer.
“We wanted an exclusive product for the bar and restaurant and so we’re seeking fine food occasions and are not interested in the multiples or discounters,” says Sebastian.
“Organic drinks are also important to this new market demand. I believe that the future is light and organic”.
Through distributors here Dalcassian Wines the company intends to focus on some key accounts in Dublin, those with good restaurants, rooftop bars, terrace bars etc.
“We hope to have it as a mainstay on aperitif menus,” says Sebastian.