A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) conference in Orlando, FL. It was my first time attending, and it was an eye-opener, to be sure.
I’d been warned ahead of time: “It’s not a craft cocktail conference;” and “It’s not Tales of the Cocktail.” Which is is code for, “hey, liquor snob, don’t expect anyone to debate the merits of which vermouth is best in a Negroni.” Which is fine by me: there’s a whole world out there beyond the speakeasy set.
But I wasn’t quite prepared for some of the products I’d find on the WSWA conference floor. Some have me outright baffled — why is there a need for cognac-flavored moonshine? and others have me scratching my head, but I can see the market. Take a look:
Penthouse-branded cherry-flavored vodkas infused with herbs intended to enhance libido, “for him” and “for her.” I learned later that the magazine has nothing to do with the product, by the way, it’s just a licensed brand.
Sinfully THINN whiskey: There’s been a lot of hand-wringing in the media about how this is being marketed as a “diet whiskey” and isn’t that just awful. I have to be honest, no one said a peep to me about diet anything. Rather, they harped about how this is “light whiskey,” which is a new category no one has ever tried before. (C’mon, I can’t be the only one who remembers Kansas whiskey.) “It’s like white dog and we clean it up,” chirped the marketing rep. It tasted like vodka.
Chilled Dills pickle flavored vodka! I liked this one – had me thinking Bloody Marys and Picklebacks.
Jevo: Described as a “Keurig for jello shots.” It’s created by someone who has a background in technology rather than the hospitality industry. It has a big old electronic ad slapped on the front and they were already marketing this as a vehicle for Pinnacle flavored vodka. I suspect this is going to do very well. You can watch it in action here.
It’s alcohol butterscotch pudding. IN A POUCH. “It’s like Go-Gurt for grown-ups,” I was told.
These are BuzzBallz. Premixed cocktails in ball-shaped cans. The container floats. The juice wasn’t bad, if a little sweet – they do both wine- and liquor-based versions. I can see this doing very well.
Cream liqueur in a sperm-shaped package. Tasteful, no?
Tequila, in a bullet-shaped bottle.
Vodka, in a grenade-shaped bottle. I just don’t understand the weapons-hooch connection or why anyone thinks this is a good idea.
And finally, presented without comment: Cognac-flavored Moonshine.