December 2009

Making Connections with Baileys

By: Anthony Head

As Vice President of Marketing for Baileys, Bill Topf travels from the U.S. to the brand's country of origin on occasion to meet with his global colleagues. He says it's no surprise that Baileys Original Irish Cream and its other flavors do really well in Ireland.


At Draeger’s Market in San Mateo, CA, the Baileys Mousse Cake can be special-ordered.
PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG


"The Irish people are very proud of this true Irish brand. Of course, everyone over there is also drinking Guinness, but you have to drink something else sometime," Topf joked in mid-November, after returning from his latest trip to the Emerald Isle. "They're very proud of their heritage, and they know we're important to their economy. It seems that just about everyone over there knows someone who runs a farm with cows that sell their cream and milk to Baileys."

Topf says that, backed by the power of international distributor Diageo, Baileys is the seventh largest brand in the world and one of the few that can be found just about anywhere. The U.S. is Baileys' largest market in volume and saw another strong year in sales; the brand's numbers were up more than four percent, according to the Adams Liquor Handbook for 2009.

Having returned to the States at the onset of holiday season, Topf says consumers here will find bows on millions of bottles of Baileys: "We're just helping people to find us and reminding them that Baileys is a great drink with great taste. It has a role inside the house and out. We've also done a lot of work to make sure we're in the right venues-such as on the dessert listings in great restaurants and hotels."

But November saw the launch of a much more innovative marketing campaign for the brand: One-of-a Kind Baileys Original Irish Cream Inspired Shoes. The company commissioned five well-known shoe designers to each create a unique pair of shoes based on their own impressions of Baileys. Clothes Off Our Back, a foundation that supports a variety of charities around the world, then unveiled the footwear. Through December 2, interested shoe-lovers have the opportunity to log in their bids at the organization's website, www.clothesoffourback.org.

Additionally, between November 11 and 13, Baileys opened "pop-up" shoe stores in New York and Los Angeles, where designer shoes (some of which have retailed for up to $1200 a pair) were sold for $75. All proceeds from the online auction and the bi-coastal shoe stores benefit Clothes Off Our Back.

Despite this particular campaign being obviously targeted towards women, Topf says Baileys demographics continue to be women and men ages 25-49; and his numbers bear out that the consumer base is pretty evenly split. "Most of our marketing activity is actually gender-neutral. The brand isn't really associated with one sex or the other," he says.

Therefore, Topf continues, the focus of much of the brand's outreach remains occasion-oriented: "During the holiday season, a lot more people are out celebrating, sitting a little longer, talking a little longer, hosting more people at their homes and having desserts. Baileys has historically been part of all those occasions. So we can target for the reason of the purchase, rather than the gender of the purchaser. I think we're one of the few spirits brands that can do that."

Over the past few years, Baileys has sought to broaden its everyday appeal and extend its attraction to as many occasions and seasons of the year as possible. This has included introducing new flavors, such as Baileys with a Hint of Caramel and Baileys with a Hint of Mint Chocolate. Launched in 2008, Baileys with a Hint of Coffee furthered the company's drive to take the brand into more situations where consumers are looking for unique flavors.

"Innovation has been a great way to stay connected to our consumers," Topf says. "I'm especially proud that Baileys is a brand that consumers love to engage with. In fact, the first Baileys Facebook page was actually started by an adoring fan. It's wonderful to see how passionate our consumers are about the Baileys brand."

He also applauds his sales and marketing teams for their internal research, as well as for spotting the trends by staying in touch with bartenders, mixologists and retailers. Topf has gleaned that there are a number of qualities that spirits professionals are looking for in a product, one of them is ease of use. Two of the most common ways of enjoying Baileys, he says, are on the rocks and in coffee; plus, this past summer the brand pushed the "Baileys Shiver," which is any Baileys flavor simply blended with ice.

For both professionals and consumers, quality of the product becomes a selling point, too. Although the Baileys brand was introduced in 1974, the sudden interest in vintage cocktails, which are typically made with fresh, high-quality ingredients, may have spurred some additional interest in Baileys, which is made with all natural ingredients and no preservatives.

"That interest [in vintage cocktails] has been good for the industry as a whole. And anywhere that such exploration is taking place by consumers, Baileys is surely considered," says Topf. "It's not as historical as the really old brands, but it does play into exploration. Bartenders know it can be used in many ways and they can say it's the original Irish cream liquor."

As for the future—no, Topf won't reveal any of the products in development. Overseas media report on Baileys Gold, which would be the brand's first luxury product, composed of deluxe Irish cream, Irish whiskey and other spirits-but Topf is tight-lipped on it. "What I can say is that in 2010, we're going to continue to find what people love about the brand. It tastes unlike anything else on the market, and it's all about the connections people make over the drink."


On-Premise Connections

You, Me and the Baileys Makes Trois

 
Ryan and Jeremy Crone are the Stout Brothers.
PHOTO: RYAN LELY
 

Though it's about as authentic an Irish pub experience one can enjoy outside of the Emerald Isle, Stout Brothers Irish Pub and Restaurant presents a bit of misnomer. It's named not for its proprietors, brothers Jeremy and Ryan Crone, but rather their favorite brew.

They've come a long way for a pair who didn't even enjoy their first taste of the dark ale until their twenties. Now 36 and 32 respectively, the Brothers Crone have also come to enjoy the taste of success as their venture enters its third year.

"We've always gotten along. We played well together and we work well together. I couldn't have a better business partner," says co-owner Jeremy Crone. "As the chef, my brother takes care of the back of the house, and I take care of the front of the house. It's a great relationship." Ryan, the chef, concurs. The brothers' bonhomie is likely contagious as Stout Brothers Irish Pub and Restaurant is something of a social center in downtown Santa Rosa, California.


With the amount of the volume the pub generates over a weekend, the brothers frequently face storage issues for all the booze-at least temporarily. "It's always a challenge. Every time we get a shipment, we've got to shuffle things around to make it fit; we don't have a lot of storage," explains Ryan. "Just to get through a weekend, our keg fridge is full-front to back-and by the end of the weekend it's empty."

Also popular at the pub is the "Baileys à Trois," an admixture of Baileys Irish Cream, Baileys with a Hint of Caramel and the latest Baileys creation, Baileys with a Hint of Coffee. Fortunately, Baileys doesn't require refrigeration, so the brothers can save some their precious refrigerator space.

"I'm always up for something new," said Jeremy, referring to the drink, which uses all three Baileys expressions as well as French-made grape vodka Cîroc vodka. "It's been a hit." If traditional Baileys invokes the notion of snuggling up to someone you love, the Baileys à Trois is snuggling up to someone you love and their hot friend. The cocktail is like a form-fitting parka, cozy and surprisingly lean on the palate thanks to the vodka finish.

If the demand for the cocktail in the first week is any indication, the brothers have created both a seasonal and a family tradition. —Daedalus Howell

 

Baileys à Trois

 Add equal parts Baileys Irish Cream, Baileys Coffee and Baileys Caramel to one part Cîroc vodka. Add a splash of cream and shake vigorously. Pour into a chilled glass and top with chocolate shavings.

 
PHOTO: RYAN LELY



Ain't That Just the Dickens?

 
Prima's mixologist, Gwyn Hogarth.
PHOTO: RYAN LELY
Though cartographers may disagree, one way to get to the cuisine of central Italy is to take a jaunt down North Main Street in Walnut Creek, California. There, on the 1500 block, you'll find Prima Ristorante, an award-winning and critically-lauded pairing of cucina and vino under a single roof.

Founded in the '70s by Executive Chef and owner Peter Chastain, Prima Ristorante prides itself on having been at the forefront of the wine and epicurean movement that has come to define the California dining experience. Chastain also proved he has an eye for talent when he brought in mixologist Gwyn Hogarth three and a half years ago.

"In the bar, Gwyn has really made a point of following the seasons. In the fall, you'll see things made from pumpkin, pomegranate and persimmon and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice to give accent to that type of weather," Chastain explains. "In the summer, there are cucumber gimlets and fresh peach cocktails and all the stone fruit of summer. She's really into it. She even gets into herbal things, especially in the spring. She'll do things with chervil, basil and tarragon. She's very adventurous."

Inasmuch as Hogarth is adventurous, she is also something of a sentimentalist, at least when it comes to Baileys Irish Cream and Irish whiskey. "Baileys and Irish whiskey on the rocks is a Hogarth women's tradition," the mixology maven says with a laugh. "Every Thanksgiving or Christmas morning, we'll have a cup of coffee with Baileys in it; then it just evolves into straight-up Baileys and Irish whiskey all day long. I took that idea and ran with it."

Hogarth apparently ran all the way to 19th-century England, where one might experience "Christmas pudding, Cornish pasties, rush on the floor and the smell of nutmeg and cinnamon in the air." Hogarth likely inherited her anglophile's sensibility from her English father, and family lore maintains she is also related to Charles Dickens through marriage. The relation is evident in her creation, the Baileys Dickens, in more ways than one.

"My whole idea was to have you drink it, smell it, taste it and sort of recall that idea of sitting around a fire Christmas night, full and fat and happy. It's cold outside, but you have this going on," she offers.

Hogarth first plied her trade pulling pints at a Brit pub, which eventually led to her interest in mixology as a means of reclaiming what it means to create cocktails. "I really want to continue this relatively new movement of heading back to what cocktails were prior to Prohibition-back when being a bartender was a respected and graceful occupation, when the drinks they were creating were artistic rather than using ingredients merely to cover up bathtub hooch," says Hogarth.

As for Chastain, if that means welcoming a bit of a seasonally appropriate Brit-bent to his little slice of Italia, he is happy to accommodate. "One of the great things about Gwyn is that she really understands that the cocktail is really a medium for delivering hospitality," observes Chastain. "Gwyn has a unique sense of how not to go over the top and create something that's pleasant and makes people feel comfortable but also has accents that follow the season or the market or a particular occasion." —D.H.

 

Baileys Dickens

Combine 2 oz. Bushmills Irish whiskey, 4 muddled cloves, shaved nutmeg and cinnamon. Add 2 oz. Baileys Irish Cream, shake vigorously and garnish with a cinnamon stick and small amount of shaved nutmeg (too much will cause bitterness).
 
PHOTO: RYAN LELY



Getting Raucous with Baileys

 
Trinity Amador, pictured with her Baileys cocktail, Tickle Misu, describes her Modesto restaurant Bacchus as "wild."
PHOTO: RYAN LELY
 When it comes to the Roman god of wine and good times, Modesto, California, is not likely to leap to mind as one of his habitués. Restaurateur Trinity Amador, however, thought otherwise and named her downtown eatery and bar after the drunken deity. True to its namesake, Amador describes the scene at Bacchus Food and Spirits as simply "wild."

"I swore I'd never move back. They only way I would ever do is if I opened my own place-and here we are," recalls the Modesto native, who opened Bacchus three years ago but insists, however, that hers is not a "local does good story" so much as a "local girl gone crazy enough to open a restaurant" story. Insanity, at least in Amador's case, has had its rewards.

"I love it," said Amador, who launched the popular restaurant with her aunt and business partner, Patty Amador. "She's great. She only comes in to dine and have cocktails," Amador adds with a laugh. "She's behind the scenes; she's the smart one, and I'm the crazy one."

 

 

Continuing with the Roman roots of Bacchus, Amador proffers a Baileys Irish Cream-based cocktail inspired by the delectable Italian dessert tiramisu. Amador does away with the egg yolks and mascarpone of the little crème cake but keeps its signature espresso and cocoa. Baileys Irish Cream does the rest. Of course, in keeping with the rest of her cocktail menu, Amador christened the drink with a pun- hence the "Tickle Misu."

"Baileys makes me think of wintertime and that warm, fuzzy feeling. It's a winter cocktail, definitely," explained Amador, who annually observes an up-tick in Baileys sales during the winter months, and not just as Tickle Misus. "We sell a lot on the rocks and over coffee," reports Amador, who keeps her cache of liquors tastefully displayed on shelves reminiscent of a law library, replete with a rolling ladder. "Sometimes people order drinks just to watch us go up the ladder." D.H.

 

Tickle Misu

To one shot of espresso add 1½ oz. Baileys Irish Cream, a splash of dark crème de cacao and 1 oz. Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum. Top with real cream whipped with vodka and milk and garnish with dark chocolate shavings.
 



Down the Aisle with Baileys


Year Round with Baileys

 
Dan Taggart selects wines and spirits for Draeger's in San Mateo.
PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG
Wine and spirits buyer Dan Taggart has always enjoyed sharing his considerable expertise with consumers at Draeger's. As a cooking instructor and co-author of no fewer than six cookbooks with his wife, Kathleen, who directs the Cooking School and home department for the San Mateo, California, food and wine store, Taggart knows a thing or two about quality products. Top that with 40 years of gourmet and gift retail buying experience, and you have a level of expertise that is truly exceptional.

The Taggarts relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1999 to join the upscale grocery chain where Dan participates in a collaborative buying process in selecting wine and spirits for the San Mateo store, and writes both the twice-yearly wine newsletter and the wine-of-the-month club information letter for the company.

"Of all the Draeger's locations, the San Mateo store is more conservative," observes Taggart, who notes that original Baileys performs extremely well year-round. "Being a natural product that doesn't require refrigeration after opening, it's a must have for every well-stocked bar." Customer service is a priority for Taggart, who spends much of his time on the floor hand-selling products and helping consumers discover enjoyment in wine and spirits. "Baileys is excellent in a stand-alone cocktail, either shaken and served up or poured over ice, but at Draeger's, our bakery department goes one step further; they use it to flavor a Baileys Irish Mousse Cake that is available by special order."  —Deborah Parker Wong



Seasonal Plus

Steven Johnson remembers the very day that Baileys first made its debut on the shelves of U-Save Liquors in Santa Cruz, one of two Central California retail stores (with Leo's U-Save in Scotts Valley) that he has owned with his business partner since 1978. Original Baileys was introduced in the United States in 1974, and in 2006 the company launched their Mint Chocolate and Caramel flavors. Based on the success of those versions, they introduced a Coffee version to the shelves in 2008.

Johnson learned the off-premise business from the ground up has seen many changes in the competitive landscape and the retail economy over the last 31 years. "Our businesses have a very loyal customer base; we cater to a diverse clientele that includes the traditional Italian community and we're keeping an eye on the buying habits of the Millennials as well," he reports.

 
Ribbons set a festive mood for Baileys POS displays.
PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG

"One of the best things that Baileys has going for it is year-round marketability, but during the holidays, the product literally flies off the shelves." Johnson has an impressive point-of-sale display near his cash wrap that clearly positions Baileys as a gift item. Festive gift boxes that bundle Baileys with two Old Fashioned glasses represent a holiday best buy for the store. "Our approach to marketing is simple: We offer our customers value, a very high level of customer service and an attractive store."  D.P.W.



When Only the Best Will Do

 
John Akeley is buyer and manager of Robert's of Woodside.
PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG
John Akeley worked in a wine shop while he studied economics in Delaware, and when it came time to choose a career, the wine shop won out. Akeley is a veteran retailer who worked with Beltramo's and Draeger's prior to joining Robert's of Woodside as buyer and manager of their wine and spirits department in 1994.

 

With more than 2,500 SKUs to manage in the wine and spirits department at the single-location store, Akeley has seen a shift in consumer buying habits over the last 15 years towards ultra-premium spirits like blue agave tequila, high-end rum, single malt scotch and whisk(e)y. "Baileys has always been a solid performer," he tells THE TASTING PANEL. "Customers like the fact that, at 17 percent ABV, it's relatively low in alcohol."

The idyllic town of Woodside was once a summer destination for San Francisco's elite and is now home to a highly sophisticated and well-traveled clientele who know and demand quality. "Quality is a Baileys hallmark; it's a natural product that doesn't require any preservatives-something that is evident in its taste." With a customer-service-first policy Akeley strives to please. "Baileys is on my short list of must-have bottles in your bar," notes Akeley; "it's one product that has been consistently good both in quality and in sales for over 30 years."  D.P.W.



Niche Market

 
Peter Tannous of Roxie Market.
PHOTO: DEBORAH PARKER WONG
Since 2002, Peter Speero Tannous has owned the Inner Sunset location of Roxie Market, a mid-sized, family-owned chain of full-service markets with locations across the Bay Area. Copies of the Irish Herald and fresh loaves of Irish potato bread are clues that Tannous's location caters to a largely Irish clientele.

With wines and spirits, specialty deli items and wide selection of tea-a staple in every Irish household-Tannous has established just the right product mix for one-stop shopping, and he understands the importance of marketing to his audience as well. In 2009, he sponsored the Gaelic Games, an event that attracted not only his customers but athletes from around the country and the world.

Tannous stocks hundreds of imported products and beverages, one of the most popular being Baileys Irish Cream. "Baileys is very popular with the ladies," says the retailer. "We've carried almost every cream liqueur that has come onto the market, and Baileys is by far the best; they continue to be recognized as the category leader."  D.P.W.

 

 

 

 

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