Now trending at the 74th Annual WSWA Conference

Francine Cohen | May 16, 2017
The last thing the New Orleans French Quarter bartender said to Cocktail & Sons co-founder Max Messier as he headed out the door? “Do you want anything for the walk?” Ah, New Orleans; home of the go cup, how unique you are.

Or were. Though it’s still just a few cities like New Orleans, Memphis, Savannah and Canton, Ohio that allow walking and open drinking on its streets, one of the biggest trends spotted at this year’s WSWA was a nod to portability.

More and more suppliers are offering, and distributors know they need to be carrying, these wines, spirits and cocktails now readily available in totable vessels. As a law-abiding industry, this growth in the take it on-the-go beverage sector is not about flouting open container laws. Rather, the industry is tapping the intersection of convenience and entertaining and finding a newly popular delivery method for the wine and alcohol to take center stage.

At the 74th annual Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America Convention & Exposition (WSWA) 2017, which housed 210 exhibitors across two exhibit halls at Grande Lakes Orlando, a joint JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton property, numerous brands turned up to launch their products and introduce themselves to a wider audience with hopes of gaining a bigger distribution foothold. The spectrum ranged from canned Bloody Marys to wine in a can, wine in a pouch – dubbed by one industry insider as “Capri Fun!” – and whisky and vodka in a box.

Though every day over the last decade carefully crafted cocktails have taken a star turn in cocktail dens around the country, the truly delicious and well balanced ready to go canned cocktail has been mostly elusive. But, after four years of R&D Dragos Axinte, founder of NY International Spirits Competition award winning Novo Fogo Cachaça, is certain they’ve cracked the code with their carbonated cocktail in a can which offers an opportunity to bring large audiences into the world of craft cocktails. He explains, “Historically, there has been a major conflict between shelf stability and freshness in pre-bottled cocktails, so the category has not taken off. After years of work, we believe that we have reached this nirvana intersection of deliciousness and stability that has been elusive to others. Our Sparkling Caipirinha may be someone’s first cocktail and they will likely become loyal to the brand and category for some time.”

Loyal drinkers appreciate vessels like cans, pouches and boxes because they are great to grab and go for entertaining and hostess gifts. And, as the strong traction Veysey has seen in the fast-casual sector proves, there’s also room for lighter packaged products at golf courses and stadiums. Axinte concurs, “The can format offers many portability and convenience benefits and is a great alternative to beer at large gatherings of people in an entertainment context, such as sports games and concert venues.”

After the concert, there’s somewhere else to enjoy the music, and that’s also where canned wine and alcohol sales can benefit — at home. Statistics from Mango Bottling Inc. show, for instance, that 55% of women 25 to 40 are entertaining at home hosting cookouts, pool parties, etc. which means those opportunities for portable potables are increasing.

Making taking it to go a great idea to run with.

Portable Potables
The Alcohol Professor, May 16, 2017