by Franka Philip
Global drinks giant Diageo doesn’t want you to drink more, it wants you to drink better.
The company which boasts a wide portfolio of popular spirits like Johnnie Walker, Ciroc and Smirnoff has embarked on a worldwide campaign centred around its Reserve portfolio – premium spirits Don Julio tequila, Tanqueray gin, Ron Zacapa rum, Johnnie Walker Gold label and Ketel One vodka.
The campaign recently touched down in Trinidad with the celebration of World Class cocktail month. During that time, bartenders at several leading bars created cocktails based on spirits from the Diageo reserve portfolio. Twenty-five bartenders and bar staff also had the opportunity for some intensive training from Rafael Reyes, Diageo’s brand ambassador for Central America and the Caribbean.
Chaud Cafe at One Woodbrook Place, Port of Spain provided the perfect backdrop for a reception hosted by Diageo’s local distributors AS Brydens. Guests were spoilt for choice with five new cocktails made from Diageo’s premium spirits – Tanqueray No Ten & Tonic (Tanqueray gin), Dutch Mule (Ketel One vodka), Zacoco (Ron Zacapa rum), Gold & Apple (Johnnie Walker Gold Label) and Tommy’s Margarita (Don Julio tequila).
At the reception, TGM caught up with Rafael Reyes and he spoke about Diageo’s latest thrust.
“Globally, premium brands are the fastest growing sector in the spirits industry,” Reyes told TGM. “What we’re trying to do with our reserve portfolio and World Class platform during the training sessions is to create awareness among consumers and with bartenders about this trend.
“We aren’t trying to make them drink more, we’re trying to make them drink better by having better quality ingredients, better quality service and better techniques. There’s a growing demand for this kind of service and that’s what we’re aiming for with our reserve portfolio at Diageo,” he said.
Reyes also spoke excitedly about the company’s determination to make the bar industry more sustainable and bar staff more efficient. The Panama-based mixologist said he demonstrated techniques for recycling, reducing the consumption of water and electricity, reducing wastage, and making better use of things that normally get thrown away – like limes.
“Very often we buy limes that have very little juice but we can get more out of the lime before just throwing it away. For example, dehydrate them and we can those limes preserved instead of having to buy again and again.”
Reyes also said the drinks industry need to demonstrate a committment to the environment. He pointed to single use drinking straws, one of the main culprits in the storm of plastic that’s clogging our oceans and landfills.
“We’re presenting different options to the one use straws. You have a soda, discard it and then it’s going to be in a landfill for more than 250 years. They are on your beaches, your land, your forests. Reyes said. “We need our tourism here in the Caribbean so we need to take care of our heritage for our future generations and keep our tourism sustainable.”
He was also particularly impressed with an initiatve started by a popular Woodbrook establishment in the fight against plastic.
“I’m really happy to see a good example of this in Trinidad. There’s a bar called Drink Lounge and Bistro and they are using macaroni straws, which is awesome because it’s not compromising the experience of the guest and it’s taking care of the environment,” he said. “This is something I’d love to see more of. It’s something we’ll be pushing for and educating bartenders on this.
“I took a picture and shared it with the other brand ambassadors and I said, ‘this is what they’re doing in Trinidad why can we not do it in the other islands in the region? This is a very good example.'”
One of the key elements of the Diageo message is to drink responsibly. It’s a message that local beverage distributors are prioritising as well. Bryden’s director of premium beverages Nicholas Hospedales said the company has been very careful in their messaging so as not to send the wrong message about alcohol consumption.
“We all subscribe to the T&T Beverage Alcohol Alliance and a part of our promotion is specifically responsible consumption. We have consumers today, we want consumers tomorrow,” Hospedeles said. It speaks a lot to who you’re attracting in your advertising and how your message goes out there, so things like the use of sexuality. Who am I appealing to? We always try to avoid that kind of communication and our message is always about responsibility.”
- Franka Philip is the co-founder of Trini Good Media. She is also an avowed lover of single malt Scotch whisky.