The Great, New Opportunity for British Booze21st January 2019
Brexit is shit. I might never believe anything written on a bus again. Every time I buy Viennoiserie I worry that a group of old, white men will accost me, throw my pastry to the floor and force scones into my pockets. At least it’s kept our politicians too busy to do anything political.
Let’s look for positives, shall we? Can’t go around all day moaning about our impending civil implosion and demotion from international relevancy, can we. Best to maintain that stiff upper lip, keep calm and…ugh…kill me…
In times of crisis, entrepreneurial types see opportunity. And, for those that make booze, one of the great opportunities that Brexit has thrown up is to replace mainstays imported from the continent.
Wetherspoons, the Brexit-iest of bars, decided to swap out anything European for British non-European equivalents in June 2018. Here’s one of my favourite quotes from that press cycle, courtesy of Wetherspoons CEO and imaginatively myopic impresario of all things isolationist:
“This move helps us to broaden our horizons so that we create an improved offer for the two million customers who visit our pubs each week.”
“All EU products have UK or non-EU replacements, often at equal or better quality and price.”
"Brexit is a disaster. But not everyone is going to lose out"
Irrespective of your political leanings, there’s a good chance that imported alcohol will be subject to price hikes post-Brexit which, coupled with a likely, media-lead shift in sentiment towards all things British, could very well reset the marketplace.
Plenty of maybe’s in there. But there’s more than enough there to seduce a speculative mind.
I’ve long-wondered how half the bottles on the average back bar found their way there; daydreamed about a travelling Cointreau salesman, or a rarely-seen vermouth advert that prompted publicans up and down the country to order a case or three of the stuff. Yes, Aftershock is still a thing. No, I don’t know if where the market for flavoured Sambuca is.
Let’s forget EU-products for now and focus on non-British drinks. And we’re ignoring wines and spirits in favour of fixing on liqueurs (and bittersweets / Amaros). Here’s a list of regulars that populate British drinks lists:
– Aperol (Italy)
– Baileys (Ireland)
– Benedictine (France)
– Campari (Italy)
– Chambord (France)
– Chartreuse (France)
– Cherry Heering Netherlands)
– Curacao (Varied, Curacao historically)
– Cointreau (France)
– Disaronno (Italy)
– Dubonnet (France)
– Fernet Branca (Italy)
– Frangelico (Italy)
– Galliano (Italy)
– Grand Marnier (France)
– Jagermeister (Germany)
– Kahlua (Mexico)
– Krupnik (Poland)
– Maraschino (Italy)
– Malibu (Barbados)
– Midori (Japan)
– Mozart (Austria)
– Southern Comfort (USA)
– St. Germain (France)
– Tia Maria (Italy, Jamaica historically)
There’s more, of course. And a few of those should be safe from any remodelling of public opinion, but it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see many of these back bar mainstays replaced within the next decade.
What will they be replaced with? British-made equivalents. Adios Kahlua, Hello to Conker Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur; Tot ziens Cherry Heering, Bring on Ableforth’s Cherry Brandy. There’s English Limoncello, English Pastis, English Triple Sec. There’s whatever Unicorn Tear’s is.
There’s no lack of options on the market, but few have made significant strides into the mainstream. Pimms, Archers, King’s Ginger, whatever Sipsmith are up to these days, Hayman’s do some fun stuff, so do Chase. Wait, is that it?
Like it or not, more brands will break their own ties with products from the EU. When they do, they’ll look to introduce items that have ready-made demand and a current comparable. I’d imagine someone is already scurrying to develop replacements for the anachronistic members of yesteryear’s back bars. Yes, that means you Galliano.
Brexit is a disaster. But not everyone is going to lose out.