COGNAC EDUCATORS SHARE 2021 TREND PREDICTIONS
More At-Home Drinkers, Younger Drinkers and Cocktails at Bars
With 2020 taking an unforeseen turn, cognac became even more of a spirit to be enjoyed at home, rather than at a beloved, craft-cocktail bar. Still, cocktail bars continued to feature cognac as a base in classic cocktails as well as in new and innovative ones, meant to attract a younger drinker.
Consumers also took the time in 2020 to educate themselves on the category, willing to try smaller producers with authentic stories in addition to the well-known names. And, the category as a whole is broadening its diversity.
These are trends that Cognac Educators from around the country saw during this unprecedented year, and they predict 2021 will trend in the same direction.
ENJOYING COGNAC AT HOME
“As many of us shelter at home, more people are interested in making their own cocktails,” says Dan Nicolaescu, beverage director of Brandy Library and Copper and Oak (New York, NY). “With a drink in hand and a different prism of the situation, maybe the light at the end of the tunnel is brighter.”
“Cognac has been doing very well in online retail, and I expect that to continue,” says ms. franky marshall, Modern Bartender (New York, NY). “There are currently a wide variety of expressions available for purchase online – representing not just the big houses, but lesser known ones as well. That’s encouraging, as it gives consumers ever increasing options to continue supporting the brands they love without leaving home, while giving the smaller brands a chance to compete.”
EAN INCREASE IN MILLENNIAL DRINKERS
“One thing I’m seeing is that a larger population of younger guests are enjoying and specifically asking for cognac drinks,” says Ezra Star, former general manager of Drink (Boston, MA). “I’ve also seen a huge change in how it’s ordered, it is no longer just the big names being called for, but consumers are looking to explore the category itself.”
“The VS category will continue to lead USA sales, introducing a wider audience to highquality eaux-de-vie, and open up the aged and terroir-specific expressions,” says Linda Pettine, Associate Professor, Johnson & Wales University, College of Food Innovation Technology. “Millennial consumers will embrace cognac as an affordable luxury spirit and seek out limited and distinct offerings.”
“I would predict, if one can be so bold, that sales will increase with the younger audience both on premise and off premise,” says Nicolaescu. “The history of cognac is very fascinating for many people and the younger audience seems far more comfortable exploring the category.”
CLASSIC AND INNOVATIVE COGNAC COCKTAILS AT BARS
“Aside from more at-home drinkers, the current cognac trend I’m seeing is a large surge in cognac cocktails in bars,” says Star. “It seems as if every bar I visit has at least one cognac cocktail on its menu.”
“I reopened Barmini, with a flight experience and a classic-cocktail menu on the side,” says Miguel Lancha, beverage director of José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup. “Two of the cocktails on the classic’s list are cognac-based and work well. And, using cognac in drinks that seem innovative is how to bring the spirit more to the forefront.”
“The cocktail culture will continue to embrace the younger expressions (VS and VSOP) as a versatile mixable spirit,” says Pettine. “Its affinity to teas will increase its position on cocktail menus.”
“As for on premise business, as everyone else, I don’t have an exact idea of how it will evolve,” says Nicolaescu. “I do know bars and restaurants will always exist, as everyone needs a ‘third home,’ and cognac will always have a place behind the bar!”
“Cognac will continue to be one of the de rigueur (aka “must used”) spirits as a base for cocktails on menus,” says marshall. “It’s a sign of a good bar program to include cognac—along with the usual suspects—in house cocktails as well as the classics.”
ABOUT THE BNIC
The BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac) represents, fosters and protects the Cognac Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée in France and abroad. In the 150 countries where Cognac is sold, this AOC assures consumers a product of exceptional quality. With a membership that equally represents the agricultural and commercial interests of Cognac, the BNIC is the consultative and decision-making body for the 4,260 winegrowers, 120 distillers and 280 merchants of the Cognac appellation.