First Liquor Tastings Since Prohibition Celebrates Hospitality
NEW YORK, NY, Dec. 6, 2001 – Representatives of the New York hospitality industry, elected officials and all of the major distilled spirits companies gathered today at Union Square Wine & Spirits to celebrate the first liquor tastings event in New York since Prohibition, under a new law supported by the distillers. “Cheers to New York, the cocktail and hospitality capital of the world,” said Frank Coleman, Senior Vice President of the Distilled Spirits Council. “This historic event is really about celebrating New York’s hospitality industry and offering adult consumers the opportunity to sample the world’s finest premium spirits products in tasteful and responsible retail settings.” He added, “In the city that has led the resurgence in high end cocktails, adults will now be able to sample the finest spirits products just as they have been able to sample wine for years.” The new tastings law, which went into effect yesterday, allows adult consumers to sample up to three one-quarter ounce distilled spirits products at preplanned tastings events in liquor stores throughout the State. The new law, sponsored by Assemblyman Joseph Lentol (D-Brooklyn) and State Senator Ron Stafford (R-Plattsburgh), makes New York the 22nd state to allow tastings events and the 7th state to pass such legislation since 1999. For distillers, the tastings trend represents a new marketing opportunity to showcase their premium brands to consumers as well as an effort to level the market access playing field with beer and wine; for consumers, it offers the chance to sample these spirits products before making the buying decision. Tastings were provided by Austin, Nichols & Co., Inc.; Allied Domecq Spirits, USA, Bacardi U.S.A., Inc.; Guinness UDV; Brown-Forman Corporation; Jim Beam Brands Co.; and The Seagram Spirits and Wine Group. Other attendees included Bill McDevitt, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Package Store Association; Cynthia Crawford, President of New York Minority Beverage Inc. (NMB); and John Burcham, Executive Director of the National Association of Beverage Retailers. “No one can beat New York’s hospitality. It’s better than ever!” said Assemblyman Joseph R. Lentol. “This year when you buy that special holiday gift for your boss, you’ll have a chance to know what you are buying.” Lentol continued, “I think this law is great, especially if you’re like most of us who don’t know a good Bourbon from a bad; or the difference between Scotch and other whiskies. In New York we say, ‘Try a little, if ya like – buy it! And, buy it here in New York!’” “This law comes at just the right time and will have a positive impact on the entire New York hospitality industry,” said Dennis J. Sweeney, a partner in the team that opened Windows on the World and a representative of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration. “Once consumers have had an opportunity to sample premium distilled spirits products, they may choose to order one when out for lunch or dinner at their favorite restaurant,” Sweeney added, “For as long as I can remember, our customers’ noses and palates have long been curious about the bottles on our shelf. It’s very hard for us to help a consumer make a decision without allowing them to experience and appreciate the spirits,” said David Braff, co-owner of the Union Square Wine & Spirits Shop. “These tastings events will definitely be valuable to our customers as well as to our retail business. Especially in today’s economy, you need to provide a store environment that is both exciting and interactive.” With more than 800 brands of distilled spirits in the New York marketplace and more than 4,000 brands available nationwide, tastings are an effective way to encourage responsible adult consumers to try new spirits products as well as existing brands that may be new to these consumers. The distilled spirits industry generates $3.6 billion in retail sales and contributes $290 million in excise and sales taxes to the State of New York. “As with all other distilled spirits marketing and promotional events, the distillers ensure that these tastings events are responsible and for adults,” said Coleman. “Responsibility always has been the keystone to distillers and the New York tastings events are no exception. They are structured events that follow all other New York beverage alcohol laws including the State’s laws against illegal purchases and sales.” The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is a national trade association representing producers and marketers of distilled spirits sold in the United States.