The Booze Bin

How the Media Influences What We Eat, Drink and Crave

Man photographing plate of food at restaurant table

Recently, the New York chapter of Les Dames D’Escoffier hosted The Next Big Bite, a discussion at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), which explored how the media is shaping public conversation and consumption of food and beverages.

Moderated by Martha Teichner, Emmy Award Winning CBS News Correspondent, panelists Chef Carla Hall (ABC’s The Chew, Bravo’s Top Chef, Southern Kitchen Restaurant), Kate Krader (food editor, Bloomberg Pursuits), and Talia Baiocchi (editor-in-chief of punchdrink.com) frankly discussed fads, trends and what they believe to be significant in food and drink.

Trends versus Fads

Let’s start with a quick quiz (as Martha did).

Question: For each of the following, please categorize if they are a trend or a fad?

Gluten-Free
Vegan
Bitter
Casual Dining
Small Plates
Lower-Alcohol Drinks
Specialty Burgers
Corn Ice Cream
Cronuts

Answer: All but the last three were deemed “trends” by the panel. The last three, “fads.”

The consensus was that a trend has a longer curve. There’s a critical mass and a momentum supporting the trend, and it has “legs,” or can grow and evolve into something else – it can be repeated or iterative in slightly different ways. A fad is a “flash in the pan,” something

Branding

Little Brown Lies: Craft Whiskey’s Dirty Little Secret

Distiller Dave Cuttino leaned back in his stool and pushed a short pour of bourbon in my direction. Yet, the way his words punctured my perception of reality, he could have been Morpheus, extending a handful of red pills.

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Dave Cuttino of Reservoir. Basking in artisanal opulence.

Cuttino and his partner Jay Carpenter are the owners, distillers, managers, and pretty much the everything else-ers behind Reservoir distillery in Richmond, Virginia. A tiny operation that has found big success by defying a dirty little secret at work throughout much of the whiskey world.

The craft whiskey renaissance that we appear to be living through, is in many ways one big hand-crafted lie. Or at least, an act of artful artisanal misdirection.

Most of the whiskey brands on the market today don’t actually distill their own stuff. Odds are your favorite “small batch” whiskey actually originates from a company like MPG in Indiana, where oceans of bourbon, rye, vodka and gin, are distilled for dozens, if not hundreds of brands. If that doesn’t take the wind out of your flannel, know that, at the same location, they’re producing “food grade industrial…

The Booze Bin

Halloween 2016: Trick or Booze

Good ol’ October… the most magical time of the year for costume enthusiasts, candy enthusiasts (a.k.a everybody) and, unfortunately for 2016, creepy clowns.

giphyIf Halloween is your thing, and you’re a booze aficionado, alcohol with a spooky slant should make an appearance during your celebrations. And if Halloween’s not your thing, booze can certainly help pass the time while you hide from trick-or-treaters.

To ramp up for the holiday, here are some tipples that will fit in perfectly with your terrifying (or, you know, sort-of scary) decorations.

1. Dawn of the Red

dawn-of-the-red-beer

Look, try not to judge, but I first tried a bottle of this because I’m a fan of puns. I tried the second bottle because I was a fan of the taste. An India Red Ale brewed in Oregon, it has citrusy hop notes and a blood orange color. Enjoy one while sporting zombie attire or being actually undead.

2. The Velvet Devil Merlot

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This Merlot from Washington State is great for the mischievous among us. Notes of dark fruit, cedar, and tobacco are great…

The Booze Bin

What Does the Premiumization Boom Mean for Wine Marketers?

Woman drinking white wine on patio

Though this change had been sneaking up on us ever since the U.S. economy got back on its feet, 2015 marked the official start of the wine industry’s “trading up” trend, which I optimistically viewed as a sign that the ever-maturing American palate had no turning back. Finally!

What the wine trade calls “premiumization” (or, in jargon-free terms, increased sales of more expensive, less entry-level wine) is now the new normal in the U.S., and that means we can no longer be viewed as the uncouth drinkers of the world. Sorry, Two Buck Chuck!

Americans are drinking better wine than ever and brands have certainly taken notice. Sure, case stacks of character-free $6.99 Pinot Grigio still fly off the floor at a supermarket near you, but the sweet spot that hovers around $15 is one of the most consistent growth segments in the wine business. What does this mean for the those of us who spend most of our time telling everyone what they should be drinking and why?

First, encourage your wine clients to rise to the occasion.

The global wine industry is not known for being swift and changeable. Changes to the font size

PR Industry Trends

What You Should Be Drinking This Fall: Five Trend Predictions

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The very definition of the word trend means to veer in a general direction or to show a tendency. Below are five beverages on my radar for the coming months, rooted in hard data but sourced from what I’m seeing and hearing in the New York scene.

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Fresh cocktails

The surge of nutritionally-aware (if not nutritionally-balanced) cocktails is imminent. You read it here first. We’ve seen this theme gain momentum in the culinary community with fresh, season-driven menus. This philosophy is extending into beverage programs as well. Two examples:

-Mixologists are increasingly using natural natural sweeteners like maple syrup as a healthy and tasty alternatives to refined sugar in cocktails. Here are 27 examples, courtesy of Eater and bar programs around the country.

-Opening next week, Rouge Tomate Chelsea, with its avant-garde SPE-certified food and beverage program, is featuring cocktails (and mocktails) with fresh ingredients like carrot and cucumber juice and chia seeds.

Image result for magnums of wine

Big Bottles

Whether high-brow or low-brow, large format bottles are showing up on more home and restaurant tables. There are also restaurants who are…

The Booze Bin

Sweet, Sour and Savory: 8 Fruity Beers to Please Your Palette

When you think of kicking back and relaxing with a delicious, cold craft beer, “fruit” most likely, is not the first word that comes to mind. However, if you’ve been testing out the craft beer scene this summer, you know that fruit-infused beers are HOT. Although summer is winding down, rest assured, fruit beers are not going anywhere. You will likely find beer flavored with all types of fruits, from apple to mango to sour cherry, throughout the year. Not only do I encourage you to try these beers for the unique flavors, I am choosing to assume that you at least get one serving of fruit with each beer, so it’s good for your health too!*

 *Not a scientific finding. 😉

hardywoodBlackberry

Hardywood Brewing Virginia Blackberry

I love Belgian wheat beers. They are crisp and refreshing and pretty much pair with any type of food. Hardywood adds in some rye and blackberries grown at a local farm to create a pink-ish tinted, tasty beer that I could drink every day.

Photo: Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post

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Wachusett Brewery Blueberry Ale

This is THE

PR Industry Trends

Asturias Sidra – It’s all in the pour!

I have long wanted to write about Asturias, the place of my birth and more specifically about our regional drink: Asturian Sidra (Cider). Photo #1

Asturias is a hidden gem of a region in Spain. It is absolutely stunning.  Snowcapped mountains tower over rolling green pastures dotted with stone houses and terra-cotta roofs. The rugged Cantabric coast line is breath taking. The lush country side edges right up to the sea and is lined with quiet, little fishing villages each with their own unique allure. The culture is warm, friendly and inviting.

Asturias is as authentic as Spain gets, in my unbiased opinion, and history backs me up on this. It’s the one area of Spain which the Moors were unable to conquer, and in fact, it is where they were turned around. As a result, Asturias was able to hold on to it strong Celtic roots: from folklore, mythology, Celtic symbolism, traditional kilts, boisterous bagpipes, thick bean stews (fabada), stinky cheeses that melt in your mouth and a love of camaraderie and meeting up to share sidra with friends at a local sidreria (cider bar).

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Why Everything Tastes Better on Vacation (and what that means for your brand)

photo: highstyllife.com

photo: highstyllife.com

We’ve all had that moment.

While on vacation you eat or drink something that is so transcendentally delicious, it instantly ranks among the best things you’ve ever had. The pleasure is so deep and complete it’s like your taste buds are hard-wired to your very soul. “Do I detect a hint of fresh mint, or is that MDMA? Either way, I want more.”

So you buy up as many cases as you can get through customs, or obsessively hunt down the recipe to recreate it a home. But, despite your best efforts, it’s never quite the same. Sure, it’s good, but it’s not as good as you remember it.

What’s going on here? A temporary insanity of the taste buds?

Well, sort of.

Consider this: In 2008, a group of neuroscientists in California conducted an experiment that shed new light onto how we taste. Twenty volunteers were strapped into an fMRI scanner and given samples of wine. Among them were tastes from a “$10” bottle and a “$90” bottle that, in reality, were the exact same wine. It should come as no shock that the…

PR Industry Trends

Cachaça, Don’t Call it Rum: Learn More About Brazil’s National Spirit 

With temps nearing 100 degrees, a West Village bar invites patrons in for Caipirinhas

Brazil possesses a unique style that effortlessly excites all the senses. We see it in the graceful footwork of Brazilian soccer players shimmying around in bright uniforms. We hear it in the jazzy sounds of Bossa Nova. We feel it as we watch Samba dancers in their exotic costumes. We smell it in the flame-broiled churrasco and chimichurri slowly cooking inside cast-iron skillets. With all of that excitement and flavor, it’s no mystery that Brazil’s staple alcoholic beverage, cachaça, holds that same elegant yet unpretentious fashion and charm. That is what you taste when you sip cachaça, pronounced ka-SHAH-sa, a product of denomination that is typically exclusive of Brazil.

Many call it the Brazilian rum, but that’s pretty far from true. In spite of having a similar “DNA”, rum and cachaça are produced with great differences in method, origins, and flavors. Yes, they’re both derived from sugarcane but the cachaça of Brazil and rum of the Caribbean are not the same spirit.

not rum

Cachaça is a spirit distilled from fermented sugarcane juice, where sugar may be added only up to six grams…

The Booze Bin

Telling the Tale: Two Beverage Brands That Get it Right

Today’s consumers are savvier than ever, with ever-increasing access to their favorite brands via social media. Marketers are tasked with identifying their target customer and developing a strategy that tells the authentic story of their brand. From gender-specific marketing to retelling a historic tale of an iconic brand, below are two examples of beverage brands that tell their story well.

Should brands segment their marketing based on gender? We know that  females account for 55% of American wine drinkers. Additionally, women are directly responsible for over 80% of wine purchases by volume in the US, according to Beverage Media.  If that’s the case, certainly beverage brands want the attention of the female consumer.

The question is not why to market to women, but how?

But, the question is not why to market to women, but how? It’s obvious that marketers want to target women, but one must be careful not to be too kitschy and alienate segments of their female consumer group. Do not underestimate your customer. According to Ed Barden, Director of Marketing at Excelsior Wines, “Women don’t want to bring a stereotype to the table.” Brands like