According to the Spirits Business, after years of stagnation the liqueurs market could be about to turn a corner. Taking its cue from gin and whisky, the liqueurs sector has recently started using natural ingredients with provenance and small-batch production methods.
As Pete Carr, regional president of Bacardi North America reports to SB “What excites me now are flavour modifiers, cordials and liqueurs. There’re a lot of people making whiskey, vodka, and gin. But modifiers are where you can get really creative and can really break through”
Bartenders, are always seeking out new, interesting flavours for their cocktails and one of the big developments in liqueurs has been this shift to natural ingredients and premiumization.
According to SB
“With the rapid evolution of the mixology phenomenon, it is essential for a liqueur maker to inspire bartenders and allow the cocktail world to continue to evolve – in the same way as chefs in gastronomy.”
Even the world renowned trio of Alex Kratena, Simone Caporale and Monica Berg just now created a new craft liqueur range, Muyu. “Liqueurs is one of the last remaining categories which hasn’t become premium yet, they’re so stuck in the past,” says Alex Kratena at Cocktail Lovers, “we need to bring back sexiness to liqueurs”.
Dimitrios Elias Zahariadis, USBG co-founder and President of the United States Bartenders Guild (USBG) New Haven Chapter and Roots ambassador on the US East Coast continues:
“I believe that liqueurs especially have really come a long way from those overly sugary neon coloured messes we used to mix with since I started bartending in the mid 90’s. Now we have a vast amount of options for liqueurs that are made with amazing ingredients from all corners of the globe.”
Light & Low Alcohol
A trend we will see more of is low alcohol offerings in bars and restaurants. People become more conscious of over-consumption of alcohol and this is where liqueurs can be useful, as they pack a lot of flavour in, but are lower in alcohol than brown or white spirits.
Camille Ralph Vidal, global ambassador for elderflower liqueur St Germain, believes that there is still a long way to go before liqueurs get rid of the “old dusty bottle in grandmother’s cabinet”, but says one trend in particular – low-abv cocktails – is becoming more mainstream. “The low-abv trend started with bartenders getting excited about liqueurs and fortified wine and now the distribution of smaller brands is getting bigger and bigger,” says Vidal to Drinks International.
Mediterranean Soda, a low abv long drink with Roots Mastic & grapefruit soda, at the Connaught Bar in London
Mihai Ostafi, head bartender of Oriole bar in London, one of the world's 50 best bars since its opening, and Roots UK Brand Ambassador explains also
"Simple, and lower abv, serves are getting more popular and premium quality liqueurs like Roots are a tool in a bar which is extremely useful for such serves”, he continues
“just like a twist on a spritzer, you can add bubbles to any Roots expression and it’s a winner”
Craft with provenance
As consumers and bartenders show more interest in provenance, new age liqueurs are communicating unique artisanal narratives and assuming an altogether more premium image.
This makes the category cool again, and Roots have pioneered in this direction.
“consumers are paying more attention than ever to where ingredients come from – which means they’re trading up when it comes to spirits selection to ensure their cocktails are always prepared with clean, naturally sourced ingredients. This has caused an interest in lowerabv/feel-good choices.”
Roots is a family of four craft liqueurs, based on age-old herbal remedies, a family legacy of distilling dating back to 1850, and the 100% natural, native ingredients of Greece.
Nikolas Smyrlakis of Roots says:
“We chose these particular flavours because they have a strong heritage in Greece, unique ingredients, like mastiha resin, Greek honey and diktamo (dittany) among others, and we believe it is a pity Greek liqueurs are loved only inside Greece and so much history and provenance is hidden, whereas so many people could love them like we do.”
Some of the Roots ingredients are incredibly unique. For example mastic is an almost “magical” resin, produced only on the island of Chios island on the north east Aegean in Greece, because of the unique microclimate of the island alongside a 2500 year old tradition of cultivating it inside a closed ecosystem and cooperative of mastic tree growers. Additionally the quality and texture of greek mountain honey is incredible whereas dittany is a therapeutic and aromatic perennial plant indigenous on the island of Crete and growing wild on its mountains and gorges and difficult to harvest.
"The philosophy of Roots fits perfectly into the lifestyle and philosophy of a very multicultural and dynamic metropolis like NY",
Hector Videla at Bathtub Gin, New York
Hector Videla, from Bathtub Gin in NYC and Roots Brand ambassador, stresses that
“the philosophy of Roots fits perfectly into the lifestyle and philosophy of a very multicultural and dynamic metropolis like NY, where everyone is constantly looking for new experiences, new opportunities and new horizons, however a compass for anything new is knowing where you come from and your heritage. This is what Roots is about and this is why they are so unique in different ways.”
Simple & Versatile
A sour twist with Roots Rakomelo at Saxon & Parole, New York
Another question asked at SB is
“do consumers actually know what to do with liqueurs? Everyone’s experienced the same thing – they find something they like on holiday, they bring a bottle home, and then they realise two years later that the bottle is still closed and getting dusty in their cupboard.”
Simplicity and versatility is the answer, as liqueurs can meet a multitude of “simple” tastes and “versatile” drinking occasions. Cocktails can be a little overwhelming – people don’t know what to drink or when to drink it. In the future we could see this simplified approach defining the boundaries even for cocktails at home.
“I believe that simple cocktails make great classics"
Hector Videla, from Bathtub Gin in NYC and Roots Brand ambassador agrees:
“I believe that simple cocktails make great classics, and I love the type of drink that anyone can make anywhere. Simple ingredients and low abv cocktails are in my opinion a great way to experience new flavours, and create good cocktails that can be made for different occasions such as an aperitif, a dessert cocktail, or a light drink after work. Roots offer great opportunities and are a great base for such cocktails. The unique ingredients and tastes of Roots, and also the fact that they are lower abv than a gin or a vodka for example, give me the chance to create uniquely tasting spritzers or simple classic twists.
And also there is the storytelling factor at the bar about the terroir and the heritage of Roots which can engage even the most demanding client.”
Mixing Liqueurs in a highball is one of my preferred low abv completely cocktails
Dimitrios Zahariadis continues:
"I’ve always been a proponent of a simplified cocktail, I want my guests to be able to pick apart the cocktail and taste different ingredients and notes in different stages of drinking the cocktail. With many cocktails that are 6-7-8 ingredients that’s not usually the case. Mixing Liqueurs in a highball is one of my preferred low abv cocktails. I see them popping up in more and more American bars, including my own, as many guests are looking to enjoy a nice cocktail without getting too intoxicated.
However Roots is even more than that. Roots represent a philosophy of simplicity and heritage at the bar or at home. Roots presents a range of liqueurs, unique flavours to mix easily with 1-2 ingredients and enjoy a world class cocktail at the bar, or take this experience at home and sip Roots neat or on ice topped up with a soda."
A highball with Roots Diktamo and tonic water at Oriole London, credits Mihai Ostafi
Mihai Ostafi adds the final and most important note, the (hi)story behind:
“Roots Rakomelo with mountain honey, Roots Kanela with cinnamon or Roots Mastic with Chios Mastic immediately hook you up and you can somehow discover your own roots through them. This is also how I embraced the philosophy of Roots:
"they took me back to simple, natural flavours through their wonderful history"
Oriole is a place where the various flavours create an experience. This is how Roots matched our pattern. As special products, with unique ingredients and heritage, Roots help us create memorable experiences for our guests, simple, with a wonderful story they can always remember.”
If you are bases in NY or Boston, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and get a tasting with one of our reps !