BRANDY IS DANDY......AND COGNAC IS DOING VERY WELL, TOO, THANK YOU.
As the economic boom times continue, the good news in the sprit business is not limited to the double-digit growth in imported vodka and tequila. And it's not being driven by the cocktail craze alone. The grape-based liquors, brandy and its best-known premium French version, Cognac, are surging as well, and depending on where you stand, they're doing better, than might be expected.
After all, while much attention has been paid to the ultra-premium end of the brown spirit business, the core story is hard to avoid: whiskies, whether made in Scotland, the U.S. or Canada, are struggling to stay strong in the face of historic lows. Connoisseurs may be willing to indulge in single-barrel and multiple-wood aged brands, but the impact on the general market has arguably been mixed.
But the brandy and Cognac category has continued a steady growth rate since 1994; in fact, growth in Cognac has dramatically outpaced other distilled spirits for the last decade, and last year the top five brands posted an 8.5% increase. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the Cognac Bureau, the U.S. is the largest market worldwide for Cognac for the sixth consecutive year, consuming 27% of the global market.
"Americans have realized that served straight, over ice, with soft drinks or fruit juices, or as a splash in coffee, Cognac is truly a drink for their lifestyle," said Claire Coates, the Bureau's director of communications Director of Communications is a position in the private and public sectors. The Director of Communications is responsible for managing and directing an organization's internal and external communications. .
Brandy sales growth has been more modest (3.4% last year, according to Adams Business Media Liquor Handbook 2000), but it's still a bright spot compared to shrinkage in Canadian, straight, blended and Scotch whiskies.
HIGH ROLLERS High Rollers was an American television game show which aired on the NBC network from July 1, 1974 to June 11, 1976 and again from April 24, 1978 to June 20, 1980. Two different syndicated versions were also produced, the first a weekly series from September 8, 1975 to
The growth is at least partially fueled by Cognac's luxury mystique, and nowhere is that more relevant than in Las Vegas Las Vegas (läs vā`gəs), city (1990 pop. 258,295), seat of Clark co., S Nev.; inc. 1911. It is the largest city in Nevada and the center of one of the fastest-growing urban areas in the United States. .
"Obviously, we're fortunate enough to get the kind of guests who are not at all concerned about the prices of say a Hardy Perfection or a Remy Louis XIII Louis XIII, king of France
Louis XIII, 1601–43, king of France (1610–43). He succeeded his father, Henry IV, under the regency of his mother, Marie de' Medici. He married Anne of Austria in 1615. ," says the Bellagio Hotel's beverage specialist Tony Abou-Ganim. And while even in such a pleasure palace as the Bellagio, not every single bar and restaurant stock Cognacs that sell for $375 per glass or more (some are much more), such restaurants as Picasso and Le Cirque Le Cirque is a famed French restaurant in Manhattan owned and operated by Sirio Maccioni. Currently at One Beacon Court (151 East 58th Street), it is a 16000 square foot restaurant designed by interior designer Adam Tihany, architect Costas Kondylis. do tend to offer the rare, highly-allocated and expensive Cognacs and brandies.
"Our guests like to call for a brand, to pick something special, and there is a lot of trophy ordering," he says. Even though an XO Cognac from a quality producer may be a great beverage and available at a much more favorable price than the ultra-premium marques Marques may refer to:
streak, run - an unbroken series of events; "had a streak of bad luck"; "Nicklaus had a run of birdies" and with a wad of cash will likely opt for the highest prestige, says Abou-Ganim, much the way other customers looking to celebrate may order Dom Perignon Dom Perignon
renowned vintage French champagne. [Western Cult.: Misc.]
See : Luxury champagne and bypass good or better selections listed at lower prices.
But Cognac's mystique is something not generated by many other spirits, and that sometimes generates odd behavior. Abou-Ganim recalls the day a bartender approached him with an odd question; how much should he charge for a partially full 1.75 liter bottle of Louis XIII? At the bar sat a man pleased with his luck sat , sipped and grew more and more enamored en·am·or
tr.v. en·am·ored, en·am·or·ing, en·am·ors
To inspire with love; captivate: was enamored of the beautiful dancer; were enamored with the charming island. of the beautiful bottle. He decided he must have it then and there, even though Louis XIII was available at a retail outlet retail outlet n → punto de venta
retail outlet n → point m de vente
retail outlet retail n → in the hotel, and the restaurant would charge him a by-the-drink price. Quickly calculating the cost, Abou-Ganim suggested $5,000 or $6,000. The bartender thought he could do better, and was right; he soon returned with $7,500 of the high-roller's wad.
But for most operations not operating in the midst Adv. 1. in the midst - the middle or central part or point; "in the midst of the forest"; "could he walk out in the midst of his piece?"
midmost of such opulence, Cognac will always, be a hand-sell. Peter Salchow sal·chow
A move in figure skating in which the skater jumps from one skate, completes a full rotation, and lands on the other skate.
[After Ulrich Salchow (1877-1949), Swedish figure skater.] , owner of Chicago's swank mahogany, brass and marble mansion Biggs, stocks numerous Cognacs, but says customers in this category are being steered mostly by the big-time marketing spenders. "Most Americans are driven by advertising dollars," he says. And with Hennessy, Courvoisier and Remy Martin dominating the spending in the category, they're the brands that get the most calls.
Competitive Media estimates Hennessy spent more than $15 M in 1999 on advertising; Remy neared a $4M spend, while Courvoisier came in third with $2.6 M. By contrast, Hine, a well-respected Cognac, spent only about $73,000.
Courvoiser has targeted women as a potentially lucrative marketing target, but at Biggs, Salchow said, he sees few women interested in Cognac But does see more younger customers willing to experiment as their tastes change. Cognac cocktails don't seem to be making any impact at Biggs, though, he says.
"Cognac is something that people don't order casually; they don't see it like a cocktail, which a bartender can suggest to them something," he says. And consequently he doesn't stock an trophy array of brands. While he likes such under-noticed brands as Delamain, A.E. Dor, Frapin and Camus (a major player in Europe), these brands are hard sells in the US. "You can't go crazy and stock them all. You need to be practical about your inventory."
But with Cognac so strong, new brands have followed recent line-extensions into the U.S. market. Most notable may be a sort of retro-introduction; based on the success of Alize and Alize Passion Fruit, Kobrand has created and introduced Alize VS and VSOP VSOP very special (or superior) old pale: used of brandy or port Cognacs recently in a big move to expand their market.
They'll need to fight hard to make a dent; the astonishing a·ston·ish
tr.v. as·ton·ished, as·ton·ish·ing, as·ton·ish·es
To fill with sudden wonder or amazement. See Synonyms at surprise. growth of Hennessy (up more than 100% since 1994) and the continuing concentration on marketing to African-American, Hispanic and other "ethnic" markets has encouraged other brand marketers. Recently, for instance, Courvoisier has hooked up with entertainment and fashion entrepreneur Russell Simmons Russell Simmons (born October 4 ,1957 in Queens, New York), is an American entrepreneur, the co-founder, with Rick Rubin, of the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam, founder of another label, Russell Simmons Music Group, and creator of the clothing fashion line Phat Farm. of Def Jam Records and with such stars as Missy Misdemeanor to promote the brand.
BRANDY MAKES A MOVE
While much of the growth in American brandy has been assumed to come from off-premise, clearly not all the growth can come from stores and supermarkets.
In fact, Susan Overton, director of marketing, Heaven Hill, says brandy drinkers have a remarkable brand loyalty that carries through wherever the venue. "Brandies in general are very popular, and consumers are very, very loyal, whether they are drinking at home or at restaurants and bars."
Since taking over Christian Brothers Christian Brothers: see John Baptist de la Salle, Saint. from UDV more than a year ago, Heaven Hill has found that the brand has a strong following in classic cocktails A Classic cocktail is defined here as a cocktail which appeared after the publication of Jerry Thomas' 1887 Bartender's Guide but before the end of Prohibition in the United States in 1934. in some regions. "In Wisconsin, where brandy is so strong, if you order a Manhattan or an Old-Fashioned, it's made with brandy; you have to call for bourbon or Canadian if that's what you want the drink made with."
(While the midwest is traditionally a strong brandy market--Wisconsin and Minnesota are the second and third largest per capita [Latin, By the heads or polls.] A term used in the Descent and Distribution of the estate of one who dies without a will. It means to share and share alike according to the number of individuals. markets, headed only by Washington, DC--the African-American and Hispanic consumers continue to be a major focus for marketers, especially in such urban areas as Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, and much of California.)
Overton said she's hearing from many on-premise accounts interested in building their brandy business through classic cocktail promotions, and says Heaven Hill has customized promo programs available and is trying to grow Chrisitian Brothers VSOP. "It's probably our biggest growth brand on-premise," says Overton.
Overton, like others busy in the brandy business, says it's important now for operations to check their shelf selection practices, as the category continues to grow; even small places which may have stocked only one or two brandies and Cognacs may need to expand their offerings to keep up; that's where the marketing battle will take place. (While not a Cognac powerhouse, Heaven Hill with four brandy brands, is the second-biggest distributor in the brandy/Cognac category, behind powerhouse E&J Gallo with 21.8 percent, and just ahead of Hennesey importer Schieffelin & Somerset at 16.8 percent.)
Peggy Fox, marketing director, brandies and desserts for Canandaigua, says while some trade-up and -off is found between brandy and Cognac consumers, the two markets seem distinctly different. With brandy holding lower price points, and Cognac often seen as a celebratory beverage, the two sub-categories seem to be aiding each other rather than competing, as consumers switch back and forth because of life-style changes, economic considerations and other factors, most marketers say.
Meanwhile, Canadaigua's Paul Masson
Paul Masson (1859–1940) was an early pioneer of California viticulture and the most successful popularizer of Californian sparkling wine. Grande Amber will likely top 1 million cases this year, closing in on second-place Christian Brothers; category leader E&J (E&J Winery) has fallen back to pre-1994 levels, although it still nears 1.8 million cases annually. Canandaigua (soon to become Constellation Brands Constellation Brands, Inc., headquartered in Fairport, New York, is a leading international producer and marketer of beverage alcohol brands with a broad portfolio across the wine, imported beer and spirits categories. ) is doubling down with the introduction of the just-released Grande Amber VSOP--a blend of American brandy and French Cognac that can be seen as a bridge product between the two, says Fox.
The new brand is meant to give strict brandy drinkers a chance to play the same game Cognac drinkers do, says Fox. "People like to impress other people, and one way they can do it is to show that they have money in their pockets." Grande Amber VSOP, with a higher price point, is meant to give loyal brandy drinkers a chance to do just that. Some initial on-premise support, like back bar glorifiers, are planned, but the major support is coming through strong ad placements in Esquire, GQ, Playboy, Sports Illustrated Sports Illustrated is the largest weekly American sports magazine owned by media conglomerate Time Warner. It has over 3 million subscribers and is read by 23 million adults each week, including over 18 million men, 19% of the adult males in the country. and other male-focused magazines.
SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
While in Cognac, locals are as likely to drink their VS spirit with a bit of ice and some tonic water, there are other ways to make brandies and cognacs and a bit more accesible to those put off by the traditionalist's snobbery. At the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, for instance, the annual cocktail competition among bartenders was won in a surprise by a cocktail using Hennesy Cognac. Here's the drink, created by the Bellagio's Darren Wes, along with some old-favorites.
1 1/4 oz. Hennessey VS Cognac
1/2 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. fresh ornage juice
1 oz. fresh sour mix Sour mix is a mixer used in many cocktails, notably the Long Island Iced Tea family. It is made from approximately equal parts lemon and/or lime juice and simple syrup and shaken vigorously with ice. This produces a pearly-white liquid with a pronounced flavour.
2 dashes orange bitters Orange bitters are a cocktail flavoring agent. Many cocktails traditionally contained orange bitters, but are presently excluded. Orange bitters are currently enjoying a resurgence among cocktail enthusiasts .
splash raspberry syrup
Shake the first five ingredients over ice. Strain into a Martini glass and gently add the raspberry syrup so that it sinks to the bottom. Garnish with lemon and orange twist.
1 oz. light rum Light rum (also known as "silver" or "white" rum), is a dry, light-bodied rum, light in color and lightly sweet in flavor. It is produced from sugarcane juice and molasses, and normally has a short distillation period.
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. brandy
1/2 oz. lemon juice
Shake all ingredients over ice. Strain and serve in a Martini glass.
Sidecar 1. sidecar - Synonym slap on the side. Especially used of add-ons for the late and unlamented IBM PCjr.
2. sidecar - The IBM PC compatibility box that could be bolted onto the side of an Amiga.
1 1/2 oz. cognac
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. Cointreau
Shake over ice. Strain and serve in a sugar-rimmed Martini glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
2 oz. brandy
1/2 oz. white creme de menthe crème de menthe
A sweet green or white liqueur flavored with mint.
[French : crème, cream + de, of + menthe, mint.]
Shake with ice. Strain and serve in a cocktail glass
A cocktail glass, martini glass, or champagne glass, or stem cocktail glass, is a drinking glass with a cone-shaped bowl (the tip of the cone forming approximately a 90 degree angle in the cross section) on a stem above a flat base, used to .
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. cognac
1/4 oz. green Chartreuse chartreuse (shärtrz`), liqueur made exclusively by Carthusians at their monastery, La Grande Chartreuse, France, until their expulsion in 1903.
1 dash Angostura bitters
Shake all ingredients over ice.
Strain and serve in a Martini glass or on the rocks. Garnish with a lemon peel.
2 oz. brandy
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. lemon juice
Shake the ingredients over cracked ice. Strain and serve in a Martini glass with a lemon twist.
2 oz. brandy
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. lemon juice
Shake Campari and lemon juice with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Heat brandy and when warm, ignite it and pour in a flaming stream into the glass.
COGNAC BY THE LETTERS
While Cognac makers are expanding their high-level bottlings and are creating special blends that are not age-designated, most Cognac production sold in the U.S. is delineated by age or region. Cognacs tend, with few exceptions, to be blends of eaux-de-vie of different ages, and the letter, star and name designations are connected to the age of the youngest ingredient.
VS (Very Superior), also sometimes known as Three Star, indicates that the youngest eau-de-vie in the blend is not less than 2.5 years old.
VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), VO (Very Old) and Reserve, indicates that the youngest eau-de-vie is at least 4.5 years-old.
XO, Napoleon, Extra and Hors d'Age indicate that every eau-de-vie in the blend is at least 6 years old.
Fine Champagne indicates that the finished Cognac is a blend from the two premier Cognac districts: Grand Champagne and Petite Champagne. At least half of the blend most come from Grand Champagne.
CALIFORNIA, HERE THEY ARE
For some brandy aficionados, the excitement isn't all in France; it's in California. The Bellagio's Tony Abou-Ganim favors some of the hard-to-source Germain Robin efforts, like Perfection and the 17-year-old Anno Domini ANNO DOMINI, in the year of our Lord, abbreviated, A. D. The computation of time from the incarnation of our Saviour which is used as the date of all public deeds in the United States and Christian countries, on which account it is called the "vulgar vera." , both of which he carries at some of the hotel's better bar and restaurant locations. But as good as hand-made brandies--such as the California boutique brands and small distillery Cognacs with cult followings--are reputed to be, the service problem is making the match between educable educable /ed·u·ca·ble/ (ej´u-kah-b'l) capable of being educated; formerly used to refer to persons with mild mental retardation (I.Q. approximately 50–70). customer and the spirit. "A lot of times, cognacs are a trophy purchase, and customers want to spend on the most expensive rather than try something that we happen to be able to get because of our position in the market," he says. As usual with new, rare or unsupported products, hand-selling is required to make the sale, says Abou-Ganim.Beside Germain Robin, the better-known California boutique brandy makers include Domaine Charbay, Jepson and RMS Distillery. The boutique distillers are creating single-still co pper alembic brandies, and some use Pinot Noir and other premium grapes in addition to the traditional Ugni Blanc, Folle Blanche and Columbard. RMS, for instance, distills Chenin Blanc, Muscat Muscat, Maskat, or Masqat (all: mŭs`kăt, mŭs`kət), city (1993 pop. 533,774), capital of Oman, SE Arabia, on the Gulf of Oman. It is flanked by rugged mountains. and Palomino Palomino
Colour type of horse distinguished by its cream, yellow, or gold coat and a white or silver mane. It is popular in pleasure and parade classes. Palominos may conform to the breed types of several light breeds, including the Arabian horse and the American Quarter Horse. as well as Pinot. Germain and RMS, like the other distillers, have reasonably priced brandies but they are hard to get in many markets. Other options for operators looking to build niche brandy business include single-distillery Cognacs by Hennessey, and single-region products from Louis Royer and Pierre Ferrand.