Liqueurs: Sweet Dreams

30 April, 2019

Nonetheless, fully a third of the world’s 50 bestselling cocktails contain a liqueur, and just about every major brand counts the pole stars of the UK and US as their biggest current markets. Thomas Bennett, customer marketing controller at Global Brands, is buoyant about prospects for its Teichenne range: “Generations Z is four times more likely to spend £15 on a cocktail, and the market for cocktails has grown 7.5% year on year.” De Kuyper CEO Mark de Witte relies similarly on the UK and US, but asserts that future growth will come from Asia. “Standalone liqueurs will have stronger traction in more mature markets such as Europe and North America, riding the wave of authenticity and premiumisation.” This is echoed by Philippe Jouhaud, marketing director for Benedictine: “Obviously, in terms of regions, North America with its strong cocktail culture is a major market, as is western Europe, but what’s going on in eastern Europe, and in a lot of Asian countries, is extremely promising. [In Kuala Lumpur and Singapore], Benedictine is one of the bestselling brands in travel retail.”

De Witte also sees life for liqueurs beyond the cocktail: “With our successful classic liqueurs like Cherry Heering, Mandarine Napoléon and Italicus, we are addressing the premiumisation trend of the category. [These] brands can be perfectly consumed neat or on the rocks.”

And so to the crystal ball. Whither liqueurs? Persson is adamant that new drinkers can best be introduced to liqueurs through cocktails – and premixes, such as the RTDs Pernod has for both Kahlua and Malibu. There is even Malibu Beer in some US states – hey, if Smirnoff can do it with Smirnoff Ice, why not? We can expect to see low-sugar liqueurs, a whole lot of responsible sourcing, and perhaps even the holy grail of liqueurs, fresh juices. For a lot of liqueurs, the flavour is derived from fruit juice – strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, et al. But juice goes off eventually, so liqueur firms typically don’t use it, instead boosting flavour by adding more sugar.

But a liqueur with a best-by date, a liqueur that contains real juice… well, that would be a game-changer. We’ll see standalone brands that do for unexploited range liqueur stalwarts such as banana, apricot, cacao and cassis what St Germain did for elderflower. Asia and Africa will boom. Europe

and the Americas will require constant innovation to tickle our jaded palates. It’s been good times for liqueur producers for centuries, and if they remain as flexible as they have been in the past, there’s no need to call last orders just yet.

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