Liqueurs: Forever Young

From their traditional role in the cocktail firmament, liqueurs are now being used to make spirits more accessible to the younger generation, says Patience Gould

Easy to drink, usually fruity and relatively low in alcohol, and that’s just for starters. One would be forgiven for thinking that liqueurs were invented for today’s drinking environment. Indeed, with their versatility and mixability, liqueurs also play a vital role in the expanding cocktail arena and the growing popularity of the cocktail is aiding and abetting progress. As a result innovation is central to liqueurs’ ongoing success.

To this end De Kuyper has poured significant investment into expanding its distilling capacity and the state-of-the-art production unit – fondly referred to as the ‘creative kitchen’ – is also going to be used for developing and testing new flavours using fruits, herbs and spices, as the company looks to expand its already impressive range. 

Last year was something of a watershed for the Dutch company as it repackaged its liqueurs range, which is now divided into four groups – Essentials, Traditionals, Fruits and Distiller’s Signature. Bigshot joined its original shots family, Dropshot and Hotshot, while the classic liqueur Elderflower was added to its Traditionals range.

Pioneering launch

Innovation has also been at the heart of Bols’ progress over recent years, which have seen the pioneering launch of Bols Yogurt, Bols Foam and, most recently, Bols Honey. This is a blend of honeys including acacia and sunflower and is the result of an extensive consultation with 20,000 bartenders. The brilliance though of this introduction is that at a stroke it overcomes the difficulties of using honey in cocktails – as such it is the first of its kind.  Priced in line with the other Bols liqueurs it is available in 50cl and 70cl bottle sizes and has debuted in selected markets around the world.

Bols has also geared its annual cocktail competition, Bols Around the World, to innovation as this year the aim is to find “the most visionary” barman “who is not afraid to take risks”. Now in its eighth year the contest regularly attracts participants from 70 countries, and this time around competitors are invited “to develop a new drink concept – a twist on an existing trend, a fusion of trends or a completely new idea”. 

It must inspire, be innovative, yet easy to replicate. Bartenders will then be asked to develop a drinks menu inspired by their creation. The final will be staged in May this year and will be live-streamed around the world for the first time.

“Innovation is very important,” says Richard Ridley, export director at family-owned Dutch company Wenneker. “Bartenders are always wanting something new. And this year we are looking to increase our range with new flavours brought about by popular demand.” Currently the company’s Melon liqueur, launched in 2012, is proving “very successful” and is the fastest growing on the flavour front, though Triple Sec, Blue Curaçao and Amaretto remain the staples in the 40-plus strong range.