Herbal Hotspot

28 October, 2013

Unlike most of its competitors, Becherovka is relatively pale in colour, making it more versatile when it comes to the cocktail circuit. The status of bartenders in the Czech Republic is very high and Becherovka now lists 60 cocktails on its website, some of which have been created by the country’s leading mixologists. 

“To be a bartender here is considered a good profession,” says Schofield. “And its golden colour makes Becherovka an unusual brand which is very versatile. Czech bartenders love to get behind the brand on the international circuit – and that’s a good development.”

Cocktail lifeline

The cocktail per se is proving something of a lifeline for Italian bitters brand Averna. The bitters market in Italy – like the Czech Republic – has been in decline for some years and there are signs that the downturn is much “keener in Italy that in many other European countries”. As a result developing exports and broadening a brand’s usage are paramount.

 “We are still developing in a healthy way in our export markets,” says Averna export director Michel Jordens. “We have experienced modest growth in Germany and double-digit growth in the last years in Benelux, Austria and the US.”

However, salient to the company’s strategy is the repositioning of the brand and this has been underway in the US. “We have started a process of positioning more and more our product as a nice ingredient to work within the bartender community,” says Jordens, “in the first place in the US, where we have been holding seminars in Tales of the Cocktail and have started to put ‘amaro’ (the Italian word for bitter) on the map and in the mindset.”

It was back in 2010 that Averna staged its first cocktail challenge Stateside and since then interest has been growing not only for Averna but for amaro in general. 

“Bartenders have been discovering the excellent mixing possibilities offered for a product like ours with its natural ingredients, and it has become like a challenge to them to discover all sorts of directions the product can evolve in mixing it,” says Jordens. “Indeed, it has become a new frontier – the exact opposite to what the more neutral vodka offers in a cocktail.”

As a result volumes have grown “substantially over the last few years”. Jordens adds: “But we still think we are just at the beginning. There are now amaro cocktail lists and more and more amaro bars are opening.” says Jordens.

Up until the move into the cocktail arena Italian restaurants the world over were – and indeed still are – vital hubs for popularising Italian brands. “We consider that the Italian restaurants are still good ambassadors for us in the world and they are a nice platform to work from,” says Jordens. 

“But a totally new world for us lies open within the cocktail field. Definitely a brand such as Averna, with authenticity and craftmanship behind the product, is well respected and of interest for the bartender community internationally.”

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