Liqueurs: Twist the classics

06 December, 2018

Then there’s the growing consumer demand for low-abv cocktails, which St-Germain’s Vidal sees as a positive. “Spritzes are on every table and this is great for the brand, as St-Germain is low abv and makes a delicious spritz à la Française,” she says.

Similarly, interest in ingredients helps the brand, according to Vidal. “It’s a natural liqueur made with freshly handpicked elderflowers, with no artificial colouring or preservatives – these talk to today’s consumer.”

There’s a flipside to these health-conscious consumer trends, however, and they can present something of a challenge for liqueurs brands, making innovation all the more important. First and foremost among these is growing awareness of both sugar and alcohol consumption.

“It’s a difficult one,” admits Griffiths. “But because Chartreuse is such a potent flavour, people can incorporate it into drinks just by using a barspoon of it.”

Luxardo Maraschino is in a similar position, according to Franklin. “Maraschino has a most distinctive floral, grassy, fresh flavour, and is used in relatively small quantities, unlike some liqueurs which are designed more to add sweetness, texture or colour,” he says. “When it comes to a health perspective, we have been developing new cocktail recipes to reflect the trend in consumers seeking lower-abv cocktails and aperitivo serves which can be enjoyed from early until late.”

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

Of the various factors – both positive and negative – impacting the liqueurs market, the influx of new products looks to be predominantly a force for good, even for established classic brands – reinvigorating the category and inspiring innovation.

“If anything it’s kind of given the category more awareness,” says Griffiths. “Because it’s such a broad spectrum of products with so many differences, the vast majority of people – consumers and bartenders alike – don’t necessarily have as much knowledge of liqueurs as they would of rum or tequila, for example. So people are starting to look at the story and history behind liqueurs, and that’s the biggest USP for Chartreuse.”

Monaghan, too, is optimistic. “The growth of the liqueurs category is great for all liqueur brands, and the growth of coffee liqueurs is obviously fantastic for Tia Maria,” she says.

For Franklin, there’s still something that separates the classics though. “We are in an era of product innovation. But alongside brilliant new creations there are many entrants that vary in quality and still need to prove themselves if they are going to be genuinely useful in a bartender’s line-up of essentials,” he says. “Classic products that have a track record of being made with integrity and pride will always have a place.”

The same way the passage of time made today’s classics what they are, it seems time will tell which will remain, and which trendy new releases will one day be held in the same regard.

GIN AND COFFEE LIQUEURS

When it comes to new additions to the liqueur market in recent years, two sub-categories stand out. There has been a steady stream of new gin liqueurs and coffee liqueurs – creative and often more premium takes on these classics, all competing for space on liqueur shelves and back bars. Both have their origins in some strong global drinks trends.

Fledgling gin liqueurs might not directly compete with any of the established liqueur names, but they’re certainly competing in the same space, joining sweet offerings from many of the major gin brands, as well as potentially taking on established light, botanical-led liqueurs. They’re a natural progression of the juniper-flavoured mania that’s been sweeping the globe over the past few years, and have emerged alongside fruit-flavoured gins, as well as the recent pink gin trend.





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