Parting shot

In Italy, Antica marketing manager Anna Capuzzo from Antiche Distillerie Riunite believes there is a passion for original recipes and brand discovery but with a 21st century twist. 

“We can’t ignore the origin of a product, and there’s a trend to rediscover the classic, but with revision. Consumers are always asking for new ideas and new ways to consume. The mission of the company is ‘to refine an old category and make it cool again’.” 

Initiatives include masterclasses from the Antica brand ambassador at events such as Expo Milano. 

Meanwhile, in Germany, where Antica launched in 2013, the company has been working to expand drinking occasions for sambuca so that “it’s not only drunk as a digestif”. 

Perhaps one of the most significant changes has been through Molinari’s development of a dedicated cocktail competition in the Canadian market. 

The inaugural 2015 final saw six bartenders create their own original cocktail featuring Molinari sambuca and judges included acclaimed Vancouver bartenders Shaun Layton of L’Abbattoir and Lauren Mote of UVA Wine & Cocktail Bar, as well as Tom Doughty of Molinari distributor Stile Brands. 

The winner was Sabrine Dhaliwal from West Restaurant in Vancouver. She says: “By engaging and educating bartenders, we are able to pass on this information to our guests. Bartenders are the faces to many great products that guests otherwise wouldn’t normally try. 

“Brands engaging bartenders is a great place to start since we have the tools and the skills to create sambuca cocktails and help change the perception of this delicious liqueur.”

Favoured flavours 

Despite talk of provenance and complex cocktails, sambuca will always be a party spirit and with that comes flavours. 

Craig Chapman, marketing manager for Luxardo at UK distributor Cellar Trends, says: “Flavours continue to be a very important part in developing the Luxardo range as they introduce many people to sambuca who may otherwise have ordered a more mainstream vodka or gin.  

“Flavours also give the opportunity for bars to serve a fast round of different flavours to a sociable table of customers who may want to share the same type of drink but with something different as a talking point.” 

Recent additions to Luxardo’s portfolio include Chilli & Spices, Cola, Pear and Mint.  

For summer 2015, UK Antica distributor Hi-Spirits is launching a campaign which features the most popular on-trade flavours in the company’s range – Classic, Raspberry, Apple, Chilli and Liquorice. 

Using the strapline Summer Starts with Antica, the promotion will encourage customers to try the flavours either as a shot, or as a long drink under the Antica Long Shot name. Serves include Chilli Fizz – Antica Chilli with lemonade; Raspberry Spritzer – Antica Raspberry with lemonade; and Midnight Memories – Antica Liquorice with cranberry juice.

Dan Bolton, managing director of Hi-Spirits, says: “Sambuca has moved over the past decade from being a novelty spirit, served either flaming or with coffee beans floating in the glass, to become part of many consumers’ core drinking repertoire. Much of that has been driven by the success of Antica, which was the first flavoured sambuca range, and the brands which followed, in creating a ‘party’ feel.