How To Promote Your Distillery at Top On-Premise Accounts

BISC looks at how to boost sales by understanding VIP bartender needs at top on-premise accounts.

As a new brand entering the European market, it can be a long road to establishing your label as a staple bottle on bar rails in restaurants and bars in new territories. One way to ease market entry is getting your distillery’s spirits featured as a key ingredient in trendy, innovative cocktails. The brand recognition alone that you can generate from finding a place on premium bar cocktail lists can boost your distillery’s position in new markets. Once you establish your spirits as staple ingredients in popular cocktails and build a strong market position in one territory, the ability to leverage your popularity and ease your transition into new markets becomes almost seamless.

Even better, finding a home in a VIP bartender’s favorite cocktail is a sure way to tag along on the fame of influential market makers.   The knowledge that they have about the industry and power that their opinion has on developing word-of-mouth movements is a great brand building tool that shouldn’t be overlooked. As they grow their reputations as top bartenders, so too will the exposure your drinks get as part of their cocktail repertoire. Best of all, as they move from bar to bar, chances are you will be able to find new homes alongside them. So, how can you gain influence in the bartender community?

What do Bartenders look for in new distillates to create original cocktails?

How can you position your brand to be an easy favorite with bartenders?

BISC interviews Laura Schacht, World Class Bartender of the Year for Switzerland, on how distilleries can encourage VIP bartenders to use their spirits in their cocktails.              

Originally from Hamburg, Germany, Laura has worked at some very impressive venues across Europe. Early on in her career, Laura became a bartender in her hometown and then headed on to Berlin where she was trained by famed bartender Mike Meinke. Laura moved to Switzerland in 2009 where she solidified her reputation as a premiere bartender at Monkey Bar Fumoir, Tao’s and Clouds before representing Switzerland at the World Vlass Bartender of the Year in 2013. Today, you can find Laura in Amsterdam where she continues to work as a bartender at one of Amsterdam’s premiere bars.

BISC: What do you look for when you select your spirits to make the perfect cocktails?

Laura: Mostly I try to look for something unique, a flavor combination that balances the known and the unknown well so that guests feel comfortable with their choice, but in the same time get a unique and new experience. When I chose new spirits I try to look for either something new or something old, so I can highlight them as essential components of either one, or the other.

BISC: How can brand owners encourage bartenders to use and talk about their drinks?

Well the best is education. A lot of (especially bigger) brands have been doing this for years and are always trying to expand on their message. To be honest, some bartenders get tired of hearing about how the Gin is made from “this special technique,” but in the end we always can learn and the more we know the more comfortable we feel talking about the product. So, try and make the process as fun as possible. Bring us to your distillery, show us real samples of your ingredients – find ways to make the process innovative and engaging. When we know about the ingredients of the product it is also easier for us to use it in our own creations.

BISC: How can brands exhibiting at BISC use the event to boost their recognition in Germany and Europe?

Laura: First of all, a lot of well-known people participate in this event and they spread the word. The event is known for a good and qualitative review that is close to reality (taking the price into account).

I also trust my own profession more than others, so it has another value for me when a bartender rates a product high instead of a person that has little idea of how bars work.

BISC: What are 5 tips you can give brand owners looking to give their spirits a permanent place in a bartenders cocktail portfolio?

Laura: I think that the biggest thing is to be original and offer your fans, whether it’s bartenders or consumers, an honest look at what your company really represents. If you are a ‘party drink,’ you shouldn’t be trying to fool your consumers into thinking you are an after dinner special. Here are my five top tips:

  1. Fair price

As a new brand on the market, people want to know they are getting value. From taste to finish, if you are a premium drink then your marketing and your product should reflect it. You won’t have any success if you aren’t bringing competitive offerings to the market.

  1. Quality Product

Bartender’s love to find new, top quality products that outperform the offerings already available. Try to always represent your category to the best of your ability and show us that you have something special.

  1. Be Honest

As I said before, you need to be ‘transparent’ with what your company is trying to represent. Take the time to get to know your bartenders, talk to them about who you are and give them every opportunity to see you and your company as working towards building a healthy space in the industry.

  1. Don’t Bash Other Products in the Same Category

No bartenders want to hear about how your competition isn’t as good as your product. We take pride in what we like so if we hear you talking about how bad a whisky is, when we use it all the time for one reason or another, then we won’t be very likely to switch over to yours. Also, nobody likes bad blood in the industry, so don’t start fights.

  1. Always Keep Good Relations with all Bars and Bartenders.

The industry is like a big giant community. We talk about drinks together, bounce new ideas off each other and go out together. If a company is deplorable, in terms of the way they are treating bartenders or our establishments, we’ll all be sure to hear about it.