In 1999 I was doing marketing for Gatorade and NASCAR when my company was hired to produce Scotch-tasting dinners for Chivas Regal, a brand I loved. We only had the budget for one full-time staffer, but I was so eager to get into spirits, I volunteered to assist on my own time, setting out glassware and tasting mats and pouring Scotch. This eventually led to me taking over the entire program. For the first few years I was still setting out glassware, tasting mats and pouring Scotch. But I was actually getting paid to do it, a dream come true!
Early on, we saw an opportunity to market whiskey to women. That wasn’t happening at the time. Our competitors focused only on affluent, professional males for brown spirits. Every bourbon, Scotch and Irish Whiskey networking dinner was targeting men. We knew there was an equal number of affluent, professional women who wanted to network, who didn’t want to be left out of meetings that took place on golf courses with a Scotch and a cigar in hand. We also knew our whiskey brands, particularly Jameson, Chivas and The Glenlivet, were very approachable for women. We knew we could create delicious cocktails that would appeal to both genders and we knew we could create memorable events and experiences that would resonate with men and women.
Now there are Women in Whiskey societies; more and more Scotches are tailoring campaigns to females. And brands are not just targeting women with Cosmos and fruity cocktails. Women drink shots, women like their whiskey neat too. Forward-thinking brands have recognized this and evolved their marketing approach to include women across the spirits category.
It’s interesting because the sales force, liquor distributors and bar owners we work with are almost all male, yet my team and my spirits clients are increasingly female. While there are certainly still some ‘old school’ sales attitudes and tactics, things have changed quite a bit in the last decade. This business is largely about relationships, trust and respect. Women must be confident, strong, and never afraid to share their ideas, passion or voice. I believe our male counterparts appreciate and respect what women bring to the industry today. We’re seeing more and more female leaders in our business — from the bar to the boardroom.
Work with people you like and brands you truly love, because when you’re in the spirits industry it’s not a 9-5 desk job. It will inform what you do with your nightlife, your social life, your meals and entertainment. Think big, be bold, trust your instincts and focus on experiences. Traditional advertising will soon become irrelevant, but unique experiences will always resonate. There’s no commercial or billboard as powerful as a one-on-one engagement or a recommendation from a trusted peer or a bartender you know.
A big spirits program of ours won “The Grand Ex” [best experiential marketing campaign of the year] and multiple industry awards. Being on the agency side, you tend to defer to your clients for things like accepting awards or making speeches. Our main client at the time was a strong male I’d worked with for a long time and respected tremendously. He was never one to shy away from the spotlight and I say that with love. When they announced our name, I waited for him to go up to the podium, but he gestured for me to take the stage and accept the award on our behalf. The ‘made it’ moment here wasn’t winning the big award, it was the moment when a very senior male in the industry, and a client no less, acknowledged that my contributions — and particularly those of my mostly female team— were what got us there.
Jameson & Club Soda with a lime—refreshing, delicious, and perfect for every occasion. I enjoy it so much I named my firstborn son “John Jameson,” after the whiskey. True story!
Camille Ralph Vidal, Global Ambassador, St-GermainSt. Germain
Camille Ralph Vidal, Global Ambassador, St-Germain
How did you get your start in the spirits world?
I’ve worked in hospitality pretty much my entire life. I started with pouring glasses of wine and pints of beer over my dad’s theater bar when I was young. I then worked in bars and restaurants during University, but it wasn’t until I moved to Australia 10 years ago when I officially started working in cocktail bars that made it all click together.
Growing up in an artistic family, I was always looking for ways to express my inner creativity and the day I started experimenting with different flavor profiles and ingredients, I knew that creating cocktails was something I truly felt passionate about. It brought together everything I loved — hosting and true hospitality with beautifully crafted cocktails made with thoughtful and quality ingredients. It sparked something in me and I still love it to this day. I have the utmost respect for the service industry, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
What would people find most surprising about your role as Madame St-Germain?
I guess, for people, it was hard to understand the nature of my role sometimes. I often hear, 'wait do you travel around the world to drink cocktails?!' Of course, there is way more to it. I have always seen being a global ambassador as an opportunity to help grow and support the industry, especially bartenders. I’ve learned so much working for St-Germain for nearly 8 years, and it’s been an incredible journey thus far.
What's the inspiration behind your upcoming book, How to Spritz French Fluently?
My inspiration was to share the French aperitif culture with readers, which is often focused on spending time with loved ones, having interesting conversations and sharing stories over easy to drink cocktails like the Spritz. The Spritz category has really evolved throughout the years, and I wanted to share a curated collection of creative, inspiring, and of course delicious French Spritz recipes including St-Germain elderflower liqueur.
Created by some of the world’s top bartenders, the featured recipes are perfect for readers to recreate and enjoy at home with their family and friends. Often referred to as the bartender’s butter, St-Germain is extremely versatile and can be used to elevate and enhance a variety of cocktails.
One of your goals is to redefine the bartending industry by incorporating health and wellness within the community. Why is this important to you?
Working in the hospitality industry for most of my life, and as a true advocate of the community, I’ve seen how challenging and grueling it can be, and how often people come and go; it’s hard to find balance in such a fast-paced industry.
It’s always been a goal for me to help make progress and improvement in this industry. Supporting women in hospitality has always been a big focus for me. And after a few years working in the industry and traveling the world, health and wellness have become part of my daily lifestyle and a personal passion. I am hoping to help this industry become a healthier, happier and more sustainable one.
My mission is also to bridge the gap between food and drink + wellness, offering a more Healthy Hedonist lifestyle. Just living day-to-day isn’t enough; I want people to “Drink Well, Eat Well, Live Well and Be Well” as we say at La Maison Wellness, the online home of wellness I’ve recently launched.
Talk about your “made it” moment, has there been one?
There have been many moments in my career when I felt vibrantly alive and deeply grateful to be where I am. From building a team of ambassadors around the world and having the incredible opportunity to mentor them; to launching books; inspiring women around the world; supporting and helping to grow amazing bartenders; and to, of course, winning Best International Ambassador during the Tales of the Cocktail 2017 Spirited Awards in New Orleans – I am truly in awe of everything I’ve learned over the years from some of the most remarkable people I’ve met around the world.
These days, though, more than the “made it” moment, I try to focus on 'knowing it’s good when it’s good'. A dear friend of mine told me this one day and I found it very powerful. We often focus so much on reaching high goals, we forget to celebrate the steps of our journey. St-Germain is all about savoring the moment and enjoying the company you have, so I take this mantra to heart.
Favorite cocktail and why?
There is a cocktail for every moment, it would be hard for me to say what’s my favorite as I believe it depends on the time of the day, the season, the place, the mood, the vibe... But I would say, these days I’m more of a light and refreshing low abv (low alcoholic) kind of drinker. A beautiful and simple Spritz such as the St- Germain Spritz, vermouth on the rocks, a well-made glass of wine or even a beautifully- crafted non-alcoholic cocktail. A healthy hedonist celebrating life and mindful drinking.
Kaitlyn Callaluca Skloss, Co-Founder, Frontier Spirits CompanyFrontier Spirits Company
Kaitlyn Callaluca Skloss, Co-Founder, Frontier Spirits Company
How did you get started in the tequila world, is it something you’ve always enjoyed drinking?
Yes, I absolutely love smooth tequilas! My lifelong passion for travel introduced me to the world of fine tequila in Mexico years ago, but it wasn’t until I met the man of my dreams that I found myself living the life of a true “Tequila Connoisseur.” I often joke about my title, “CMO,” it’s Chief Margarita Officer around here! Seriously though, being an entrepreneur is more than just a job, or even a career, it truly is a lifestyle choice for the both of us. We’re a husband and wife team and we build our lives around our passions, our family, and of course, tradition.
Do you see the way people drink tequila evolving?
Without a doubt! For years people thought of tequila as the bad memories they had from college; cheap sugary swill and unbearable hangovers, but times have changed. A number of high-quality tequilas are finally on the market and when you find a 100% Blue Weber Agave tequila with Pura Vida’s flavor profile, you’ll know why the tequila category is the fastest growing spirit in the entire industry. Whether you love mixing cocktails or prefer the simple pleasure of a perfect A̭ñejo, it’s not your college yearbook tequila anymore.
What are the challenges of being a CMO of a smaller craft brand?
Marketing a small, batch craft brand is both the easiest and the hardest thing to do. Going head to head with the big boys and earning your place among the finest tequilas gave us a devoted following, and building on that base is a challenge we tackle every single day. Educating people was the first hurdle, getting them to understand how delicious and versatile top-shelf tequila really takes some doing, but the wave of enthusiasm for batch craft, fine spirits means a new set of challenges for Pura Vida. Now we’re finding untapped markets and new consumers who’ve yet to experience the wonders of truly premium blue agave tequila.
Talk about your “made-it” moment, has there been one?
I wouldn’t say there was a “made it” moment, per se, but I’ve certainly had those moments where I felt the rush of steering the ship of an award-winning international success story. And then again, I’ve also felt the sting and frustration of things not going to plan, but I believe in myself and my team, and we know we have a winning recipe. Each day we take steps to achieve our next goal, and our mindset here is there is no end to what we do. We’ll continue to make the best tequila you’ve ever tasted and as long as we do that we know it’s a job well done. I just have to get more people to give it a taste, the tequila will do the rest!
What’s your favorite cocktail and why?
Easy, the original Mexican Margarita, made with only the amazing Pura Vida tequila, of course! A little Naranja, the orange liqueur that gives it that authentic Mexican flavor, a twist or two of fresh lime, and some agave nectar to taste, yum, so good! It’s a classic that never goes out of style. The only other favorite I would mention is my low-calorie alternative to my beloved margarita, we call it the “T&T “– Tequila and Topo Chico. Topo Chico is Mexican mineral water and we mix fresh lime and lemon wedges with Topo Chico and Pura Vida Reposado, it’s unbelievably refreshing, so tasty, and next to no calories!
Karen Hoskin, Co-founder and Owner, Montanya DistillersNathan Bilow
Karen Hoskin, Co-founder and Owner, Montanya Distillers
How did you get your start in the spirits world?
I got my first bartending job thirty-two years ago in a busy coastal town in Maine. I had full run of the bar program at a classy lounge that was part of a fine dining establishment. I knew nothing about cocktails yet but you could say I was a go-getter even then. I taught myself how to make cocktails like the Amaretto Sour and Gin Fizz, and thereby created my first cocktail list.
I worked my way through college and grad school waiting tables and managing bars. In college, because I wasn't a beer drinker in the age of keg parties my dorm room became well known for the caliber of my cocktail game. Eventually, when I discovered that rum was my first and forever love, I began to learn more about the classic Daiquiri, the Jungle Bird, Ti' Punch, all still favorites of mine.
You built one of the country's first green craft distilleries, Montanya Distillers. Talk about the challenges that came with that. Were any of those more apparent due to your gender?
When I chose a sustainable business path, growth and profits came more slowly. Every decision was being made with great consideration for environmental impact and I was pioneering many of the solutions. In a business environment in which female founders were already accessing less than 2% of venture capital and less than 4% of bank loans, I might as well have been tying my own hands behind my back. But I needed to be able to sleep at night and knowing that I was being a good steward helped. Seriously, I don't know how some of my colleagues can have a clear conscience about the trail they leave.
What is the Women's Distillery Guild and how did it come about?
Eleven years ago, I was most often the only woman in the room. I didn't know other female distillers or distillery owners and I didn't have a female mentor or even someone I could call with a question. Much of the advice I received from my steady male mentors didn't resonate with my intuition, which meant I ended up forging my own path anyway. About eight years ago, I discovered a new organization called Ladies of American Distilleries, but it wasn't evolving. I was craving a network and community of women in the business.
The founder of LOAD (an unfortunate acronym) offered to hand me the reins and I jumped at the chance. I started with participant surveys and found that it wasn't evolving because women objected to the name. It didn't feel inclusive of the diverse group of often not-so-ladylike women in the business. I changed the name to The Women's Distillery Guild, formed an amazing Board and incorporated it as a non-profit.
At the same time, Women of the Vine, an industry group for women working in the wine world, was evolving to add a spirits focus. It was so clear that we could benefit from their established organizational structure, the deep experiences of women in wine, and four full-time staffers. We merged into WOTVS last fall and I now lead the Women in Distilling group. It is as if someone waved a magic wand and everything I dreamed we could do is now happening — training webinars, online job board, scholarships, global symposium, etc. It has been deeply rewarding to be part of.
Talk about your "made it' moment, has there been one?
It may have just happened in February!
I have spent a decade defending my actions and decisions to almost everyone. My company was just too much of an anomaly — a premium rum distillery at high elevation in the mountains, owned and distilled by women, American sugar cane, dedication to green practices, leading an often tough discussion about lacking diversity in the industry, with venture doors staying closed as we grew. I always felt like I had my fists raised at a rally.
Until February 2019. I was invited to speak about both sustainability and gender at the inaugural Miami Rum Congress, about which there was so much buzz. I jumped at the chance to go. It was clear from the moment I arrived that the appreciation for premium rum finally arrived. American rum? Yes! Mountain rum? Of course! Sustainability in rum? Absolutely, you are a leader!
Talk openly about the lack of gender diversity and the differential opportunities offered to women in the spirits world? Heck yeah, let's put it first on the agenda, in front of a packed audience— let's take this very seriously. It suddenly seemed like everything I have been advocating for was suddenly not the oddball exception. It was all the rage. I could feel premium rum's ascent.
Favorite cocktail and why?
I am a bit obsessed right now with aged rum as it mingles with traditional Italian bitters and fresh pineapple juice. I had an incredible Jungle Bird cocktail at Momofuku Saam Bar in New York recently, using a traditional Concerto bitter from the Amalfi Coast of Italy instead of Campari. This approach beautifully compliments our Montanya Oro rum, which is well loved in Europe because it is a touch more bitter than most Caribbean styles.
Know a badass woman in the spirits industry? Or better yet, are you one? Send an email to email@example.com with a bio for a chance to be featured in the next edition of Women Running The Liquor World.
Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/chelseadavis/2019/02/24/women-running-the-liquor-world-edition-five/