A Cordial Holiday Season

With the holiday shopping season on the horizon, the cordials and liqueurs category continues to provide a great opportunity for retail stores to add on incremental sales. With interesting product introductions, new flavors, and innovative approaches to creating scores of exciting cocktails and other drink recipes using their products, cordial suppliers are giving retailers the ammunition they need to spur consumer interest.

With an 11.7% share of the overall U.S. spirits market in 2007, cordials and liqueurs have a large following of consumers seeking new flavor profiles and a willingness to experiment.
“Cordials and liqueurs cover a wide range of products, with flavor components such as herbs, fruit, mint, anise, chocolate, nuts, berries,” said Bill Applegate, product manager for the Idaho State Liquor Dispensary. “You name a flavor we probably have a cordial to match the flavor.”

New Kids on the Block

While many brands have opted to continue developing already established products, others are adding new flavors before wrapping up 2008.

Take Cointreau, which just introduced Cointreau Noir, a blend of Cointreau’s sweet and bitter orange flavor with Remy Martin cognac. In a departure from many liqueurs in the category, Noir is meant to be consumed without adding other flavor profiles. “Cointreau Noir can be appreciated either neat or on the rocks and offers the ideal solution for those who find cognac a bit strong and liqueurs too sweet,” said Dana Nicholas, U.S. brand director.

While the bottle itself harkens to the recognizable shape of Cointreau, Noir’s opaque golden tint separates it from other brands sitting on the shelves. Its flavor profile follows suit, offering a distinct taste combination of fruits, wood and vanilla when served neat and on ice.
For the No. 2 imported cordial, Baileys Irish Cream, having three flavors to select from wasn’t enough. Baileys with a hint of Coffee is arrives this fall to join Baileys Original, Baileys with a hint of Mint Chocolate and Baileys with a hint of Crème Caramel. Among the control states, Baileys saw a sales increase in 2007, up 2.8%, second to the leading Jagermeister.

Following in the footsteps of its limited release Pumpkin Spice in 2007, Hiram Walker Liqueurs unveils Gingerbread this holiday season for its one time bottling. Cort Kinker, marketing director for Hiram Walker Liqueurs, explained that when deciding on flavors for this year, eggnog was a possibility, but gingerbread won after it became obvious it could blend itself to several pairings.
The company will once again offer Pumpkin Spice to consumers while pairing it with Gingerbread on point-of-sale pieces. Sales of these products have worked for the brand because the limited release has consumers and merchandisers looking for it early, knowing that it’s going to run out, according to Kinker.

A Packaged Deal

When DeKuyper added new flavors to its arsenal in 2007, it already had plans for more in 2008 as it aimed to remain the leader among domestic cordials. From March’s introduction of new packaging to recognize the brand’s organization of flavors into five product families – Luscious, Burst, Pucker, Signature and Flavored Brandies – to a refreshed website showcasing these families, DeKuyper makes a concerted effort to add organization to the oftentimes confusing cordials category. For consumers this means simplifying shopping based around product use, and for retailers it becomes easier to sell and display products, said Chris Mahoney, DeKuyper’s senior director.
“It will be interesting to see if the new brighter packaging strategy and product segmentation being employed for the DeKuyper cordial line will help distinguish products and generate additional sales,” Idaho’s Applegate said.

But beyond new packaging and categories, flavors that pack a punch and simplify mixing drinks come into the market for the latter half of the year. Burst Bar Shots fall into the Burst family created by DeKuyper, but unlike other Bursts that are mixed to create a variety of cocktails, Bar Shots come pre-mixed in unique flavors of Red Headed Burst, Kamikaze Burst and Washington Apple Burst. In this case, consumers no longer need to worry about recipe accuracy – it’s done for them.

Shelf space at the store needs to keep packaging in mind although in a different sense. Retail stores in Idaho maintain a separate section devoted to cordials – with similar products or flavors typically grouped together – and carefully monitor the selection process of products offered in the section. “Cordials make up 9% of the total number of products, yet produce only 6% of bottle sales volume, so care needs to be given when products are selected,” Applegate said. “Adding more cordials products doesn’t necessarily increase sales or service opportunities.”

All in the Display

Eye-catching, appealing, oddly drawing in your attention, two of the leading cordials use their displays as the focal point. Both Jagermeister and Southern Comfort – No. 1 and No. 3 respectively – opted to showcase special displays during the holiday season as opposed to creating new gift packs.

Jagermeister returns with its tap machine for consumers, albeit the latest model was redesigned for 2008 delivery. While it’s now only 15 inches deep, the new model is lighter, more energy efficient, 10 degrees cooler, cools up to 50 ounces of product at one time, creates less noise, and uses a gravity-fed system, LED backlight and working tap.

Southern Comfort aims to grab attention with a mass display unit featuring a house characteristic of the holidays, both Halloween-themed and winter-themed. The house display can be set atop cases of SoCo or stand alone nearby with its blinking lights above the windows and on snowflakes to draw attention for purchasers. For Halloween, the house, reminiscent of the plantation house on SoCo’s label, goes haunted.

It’s floor displays like these that find their way into control state stores during the holidays. Rick Gerrish, New Hampshire’s Spirits Marketing Specialist, explained, “Stores are given direction to feature the better selling cordials with floor displays during October, November and December.” In the past this has also included cross promotions between brands, such as displays with both Grand Marnier and Champagne Moet, or combining the Bacardi products Drambuie, DiSaronno and B&B in a single cordial display.

Extra Value

Gift packages remain a mainstay among several cordials, although it should be noted that some brands decided not to offer special holiday packages this year to focus on other efforts. In addition to holiday-themed recipes, Starbucks Coffee and Cream Liqueurs offers a Starbucks Coffee Company mug paired with its 750 ml bottle of coffee liqueur.
Similarly, other brands offer pairings with popular bottle sizes. Tuaca pairs its 750 ml bottle with two shot glasses in a holiday pack that will be available nationwide.

For Chambord, its Black Raspberry Liqueur is the highlight of the ’08 holiday season. With a 750 ml or 375 ml bottle paired with two champagne flutes, this gift pack can be purchased in 39 states including Washington, D.C. Some control states such as Idaho, Ohio and Wyoming have opted to offer the set while others like Iowa and Michigan will not be offering it.

Be on the watch for a late September or early October release of the gift pack from Agavero. Each pack features a 12-ounce hand-crafted, hand-painted cocktail glass based on a design by artist Debbie Arbizzani. The design mimics Agavero’s bottle design and reminds consumers of Agavero’s roots with its damiana flowers and blue agave plants.

Navan rolls with a vanilla theme with its new holiday gift pack. The set includes a 750 ml bottle of Navan Natural Vanilla Liqueur along with two stemless Martini glasses and a selection of recipes for vanilla-inspired cocktails. Also look for a holiday sparkling cocktail currently in the works involving champagne and Navan.

With a heavy focus on off-premise promotion, Alize plans the return of gift packs for all five flavors. Each pack is paired with a 750 ml bottle and two Martini glasses appropriately colored to match the flavor: red, gold, pink, blue and orange. The gift packs are designed to drive retail merchandising in addition to in-store sampling across the country.

For the leading amaretto brand in the U.S., DiSaronno welcomes a unique package in time for the holidays. With the option of a 375 ml or 750 ml bottle, the package includes a hand-blown Venetian glass ice bucket.

Meanwhile the leading coffee liqueur, Kahlua offers a few special packages. One includes a 750 ml bottle with coffee mug, and another adds three flavors in 50 ml sample sizes to the mix. Or for those purchasing a bottle, it can be wrapped and toted away in a velvety gift bag with an embroidered Kahlua logo and gold tassel.

Celebrating 70 years of existence earlier in the year, B&B continues its momentum of special features straight through the holidays. Offering two unique co-packs, B&B forges into 70 more years. One package features a 750 ml bottle of the liqueur with a stainless steel thermos, while the other features a 375 ml liqueur bottle paired with two snifters.

While several brands experiment with new flavor profiles, Frangelico fits into the mix by staying with the tried and true. The brand continues to showcase its hazelnut flavor and has created a recognizable brand by using the monk-shaped bottle. Frangelico goes unique with its uses – recipes not only include cocktail mixtures but ways the consumer can incorporate the liqueur into savory food selections. The company asserts that it educates bartenders about the liqueur’s versatility across the cocktail spectrum and that it offers hands-on training to show that liqueurs are needed in cocktails.

For the holidays Frangelico features a value-added package that calls to its iconic packaging. The boxed set focuses on the bottle with the addition of two drink glasses emblazoned with the Frangelico name.

Holiday Trends

For Heaven Hill Distilleries, its Hpnotiq and Pama brands pair point-of-sale pieces with gift sets for the holidays. Hpnotiq’s gift set includes a bottle matched in color with two glasses, while Pama’s gift set pairs a bottle with a smartly designed and shaped cocktail glass.
To draw attention to the brands, Heaven Hill created a pomegranate as a Christmas tree ornament. That’s just part of Pama’s use of its flavor in shelf talkers and case cards. Need a red drink for a holiday party? Recipes include pairings with champagne and rum as well as a sparkling cocktail.

Enlarge a Christmas tree ornament and encase a bottle of Hpnotiq and you have a unique topper for store displays. Hpnotiq’s motion pole topper revolves above floor displays. Paired with the mesmerizing shimmer of the case cards and shelf talkers and merchandisers have an easy way to attract attention to the brand.

Kahlua boasts king-sized sales increases specifically during the holidays. At off-premise sites, Nielsen research shows spiked increases in 2007 around Thanksgiving and again from December through New Year’s. The brand has sales success by utilizing both features and displays, where it sees a 191.6% increase. And this holiday the brand can promote the mocha flavor, released earlier in the year.

With a focus on flavor, both Domaine de Canton and Ty Ku concentrate on unique tastes.

Ty Ku’s Asian Citrus Liqueur features a lighter profile that’s not sweet and syrupy. Made of all-natural ingredients like mangosteen, yuzu, honeydew, goji berry, ginseng and damiana, it also include the antioxidants of green and oolong tea and yerba mate.

After only hitting national distribution this summer, Domaine de Canton embraces a new flavor among liqueurs and experts are recognizing it. Domaine de Canton infuses cognac with baby ginger to create the first superpremium ginger liqueur. Not only does the flavor garner attention, but the bottle captures the eyes with a pagoda shape and satin-like glass playing into the French Asian flavor characteristics.

While Café Boheme entered the marketplace last September, it added some competition among the coffee-flavored liqueurs, yet also called out to a new audience. The brand is perfect for those seeking a smooth flavor combining coffee, crème, vodka and a hint of vanilla.

Still, whatever the brand or flavor, there are plenty of opportunities for retail outlets to highlight these products during the holidays. Special displays, value-added packaging and a plethora of holiday drink recipes to spur consumer interest are certain to make your holiday bottom line bright.

Molecular Mixology

Just in time for the indulgent season and special splurges when it comes to sweet treats, Grand Marnier teams up with international pastry stars Francois Payard and Nicolas Boussin for the creation of cocktail macaroons. These macaroons that are cocktails will be available in September in four flavors inspired by Grand Marnier cocktails: Grand Cosmo, Grand Margarita, Grand Mojito and Orange Crush. These flavors can be purchased exclusively through Payard Patisserie & Bistro in New York or online at payard.com.

Cointreau is also experimenting with molecular mixology with the help of Fernando Castellon. With the introduction of Cointreau Caviar, liquid Cointreau has been turned into solid pearls and can be added to an array of cocktails for a flavor punch. One such double whammy can be found with Cointreau’s Strawberry & Pearls developed by Xavier Herit, head bartender at Daniel, and featuring a strawberry margarita served with strawberry-infused Cointreau Caviar Pearls.



Drambuie and Licor 43 have tried to keep the buzz going throughout the year by combining brand identity with travel contests. In July and August, Licor 43 harkened its Spanish ties by running a sweepstakes where the winner and three friends win a trip to Ibiza, Spain, for the World DJ Awards.

To recognize the brand’s history and spirit of adventure in its origins, Drambuie continues to develop its Pursuit contest. First introduced last summer for an April 2008 expedition, the campaign returns with a dedicated Web site and by-invitation den events in U.S. cities where competitors can register for the chance to be selected for the 2009 Drambuie Pursuit, a 100-mile all-expenses-paid adventure race in the Scottish Highlands retracing the escape of Scotland’s Bonnie Prince Charles.


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