All Articles Tagged "liquor"

Just Spend The Extra $10! A Few Things You Shouldn’t Even Think About Going Cheap On

November 13th, 2012 - By Brande Victorian
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Source: iStock

I enjoy a good deal just like the next woman on a budget, but after living and learning the hard way I’ve come to accept that there are just some types of items where going cheap is just not going to get it. A lot of people have grown accustomed to asking for the generic versions of prescription medications at the pharmacy or comparing the ingredient list on a bottle of NyQuil and the drug store’s Nite Time, but going the bootleg, discount, get it for the low-low route on a lot of other things will end up costing you a whole more than you thought you saved.  Think it won’t? Check out this list of products it’s better to just spend the extra cash on.

Drop That Drink! Hidden Calories That Can Ruin Your Diet

March 18th, 2012 - By Samantha Rumph
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"Women drinking and laughing"

With spring fast approaching, there will be many more party invites, and with that comes sneaky calories….liquor. If you haven’t heard, we consume a plethora of calories every time we drink something; from a can of soda to a glass of vodka and cranberry juice.  So in the spirit of sharing, we’ve provided you your very own go-to guide for drink swaps. For example, instead of having Baileys Irish Cream which has 175 calories, why not try Sambuca with only 100 calories?

(Note: All drink swaps are provided by the cookbook, “Cook Yourself Thin”)

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Don’t Play Yourself: Office Holiday Party Etiquette

December 13th, 2011 - By Grace N. Edwards
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"Holiday" "office"

It’s that time of year again. Holiday cheer is in full effect and your company is throwing the annual holiday celebration complete with food, fellowship and an open bar. It’s rewarding to celebrate a long year of putting in work with your co-workers, but beware. When liquor is flowing freely in a festive atmosphere, it’s very easy to let professionalism slip away. A 2010 poll by human resource firm Adecco reveals that 40% of Americans have seen or suffered a major indiscretion at a work-sponsored holiday event. That’s a shocking percentage of messy behavior. Nearly a quarter of folks surveyed admit to drinking too much and a full 14% of holiday partiers have behaved so badly they lost their jobs. In this economy, that’s not a game. Here are some tips to avoid common holiday party faux-pas.

How A Splash of Premium Vodka and 2 Parts Diddy Catapulted Cîroc

April 11th, 2011 - By TheEditor
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By Joshua G. Thomas

Household names such as Absolut, Grey Goose, Smirnoff and Ketel One have reigned supreme as the premiere vodka brands for quite sometime. Yet, recently, a newcomer has stepped up to the plate to challenge the champions for the title. Since its American debut in 2003, Cîroc Ultra-Premium has become one of vodka’s hottest brands and one of the top ultra-premium vodkas.

“I would put it in the top five most requested [vodkas],” said Faruq Hussein-Bey, a bartender for a national hotel chain. “More people are ordering it across the board, putting it right up there with Grey Goose, Absolut, Ketel One and Stoli’s (Stolichnaya).”

The numbers tell a similar tale. After less than a decade in the business, Cîroc has become one of the most recognizable and sought after spirits in the liquor industry. Ciroc sales jumped to $8.8 million for the year ending January 23rd and earned the brand the number two spot on the list of top-selling ultra premium vodkas, according to SymphonyIRI.

So what has set Cîroc apart from its more established competitors? To what do we attribute Cîroc’s success in such a short period of time?

The finely produced vodka is a selling point in its own right. The process of making the vodka, more accurately categorized as an eau de vie, is unique in that it more closely resembles that of winemaking. It begins with its signature “snap frost” grapes and the entire process takes place while the base product is kept chilled. First, there is the cold maceration (when crushed grape skins are left in the juice until the desired color is reached), then cold fermentation and cold storage. Finally, it is distilled five times before completion.

This unique process has raised eyebrows among vodka purists. Although Cîroc meets the vodka criteria of being colorless and odorless, some make an argument that it falls short because it is not “made like traditional vodka from grains or wheat, but from snap frost grapes,” said Hussein-Bey.

In its earlier years, Cîroc lacked the status and the market share that it now boasts. The turning point came in 2007 when Cîroc’s parent company, London-based Diageo, brought on Sean “Diddy” Combs to take the reigns of all marketing and branding for Cîroc. As a result of this deal, Combs would acquire half of all profits in an equal-share venture, according to Bloomberg.

New Sparkling Liqueur Brand Taps Into African-American Drink Preferences

December 29th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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Does the new drink concoction Nuvo seem familiar to you? If it does, it probably reminds you of the drink Hpnotiq, the electric blue colored fruity drink which made a splash in the early 2000s with its name and appearance. Raphael Yakoby created and sold the Hpnotiq business for $60 million in 2003 and hopes to repeat his success with Nuvo,  a sparkling liqueur that blends French vodka, white wine and fruit nectar.

Although the brand was targeted and marketed towards women, as evinced by the ads that will soon be rolling out featuring the actress Eva Longoria, the company found another interestering trend to capitalize upon; Blacks and Latino men also enjoy sweeter drinks. According to the New York Times, “ African-Americans of both sexes who drink liquor are more likely on average to like alcohol mixed with juice, with 54 percent stating such a preference compared with 47 percent of imbibers over all, according to Mintel. Hispanic liquor drinkers, meanwhile, have a predilection for fruit-infused alcohol, with 60 percent liking it, compared with the average of 50 percent.”

Upon these findings, Nuvo has molded its marketing campaign to be less narrowly focused on women and more generally appealing. For starters, they changed the url of their website from to

So what does this mean to African-American consumers or African-American entrepreneurs? Even though Hpnotiq hit it big, there haven’t been many other success stories of liquor blends.  Black celebrities like Diddy and Ludacris have certainly tapped into the liquor market but they’ve gone the route of  branding pure liquors like vodka and cognac. It seems that Nuvo may need some competition and Black tastemakers may just be in the position to work the market.

Sunday Liquor Sale Curbs are Falling by the Wayside

November 29th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(Chicago Sun Times) — When Downers Grove considered allowing Sunday liquor sales to begin at 9 a.m. instead of noon — a change restaurant and hotels wanted to help cash in on Bears games — Bruce Beckman objected.  A Village Council member in the western suburb, Beckman argued that the “relatively small amount of tax revenue this might generate,” wasn’t as important as using Sunday mornings “for family, going to church and not sitting in a bar somewhere.” The measure passed last month, 4-3, with Mayor Ron Sandack saying the restricted hours put the village’s hotels at a disadvantage with establishments in other towns. Downers Grove joins a nationwide trend, where liquor-related Blue Laws are falling like empty bottles.

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Flava Flav Launching Chain of Fried Chicken and a Liquor Brand

November 20th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(The Root) — In his quest to continue to set the race back 400 years, Flava Flav is launching a chain of fried chicken restaurants called Flav’s Fried Chicken. Did we mention he is also launching a brand of liquor called “Le Flav Spirits”? No, we are not making this up, and you are not having a nightmare. It is daytime and 2010, although it feels like nighttime and 1910. Must he continue to brand his tom foolery, pun intended, at our expense? Seriously, is this the guy from “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back”? Perhaps he should change the name of that song to “It Takes One Silly Negro to Hold Us Back.” Or maybe he should consider changing the title of Public Enemy’s seminal and game-changing hip-hop album Fear of a Black Planet toFear of a Wack Planet Featuring Flava Flav, Stepin Fetchit 2.0?

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Celebrities Walk A Fine Line With Alcohol Endorsements

November 10th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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"Charing Ball"Jazmine Sullivan’s “Holding You Down (Going In Circles)” is probably one of my favorite songs playing on the radio right now. Okay, I know its kind of old (in this have-it-now world, two months is considered old school) but the catchy 90s-R&B swing throw-back beat combined with her sultry voice had me in full “like” mode by the chorus.

That was until I saw the video. Don’t get me wrong; the 80s theme party, which was an obvious homage to House Party with Kid-N-Play was really cool.  But half-away through the song, I started to feel very uneasy about the endless product placement of liquor bottles.  I mean it was everywhere in the video; every 30 seconds or so, you see it on the mantle, on the DJ table and in the hands of some of the happy house party dancers.

If there could have been a tagline for the video, it probably would have read like this: no house party is complete without a bottle – or two – of this pink sparkling Kool-aid flavored liquor.

It wouldn’t have been that bad if not for the fact that the video itself is played in heavy rotation on MTV and BET as well as available by request via YouTube. As an adult, I can reconcile that what I’m seeing is the not so subtle approach to product placement (actually it was product overkill but why split hairs). Many kids watching this video might not be so keen on the ability to differentiate between what’s real and what’s purely advertising.

From Rick Ross’ endorsement of Rosay to Sean “Puffy” Combs endorsement of Ciroc, hip-hop has fully embraced their relationship with alcohol makers.  Although more noticeable, it’s not unusual as back in the 80s, it was all about Billy Dee Williams and Colt 45, which we learned works every time. And how could we forget one of the greatest ad-campaigns ever, which infused ST Ides malt liquor with some of the greatest rappers in the early 90s?

However, the difference is that today’s artists are doing more than endorsing the product but rather cashing in as partners and sometimes owners of the firewater.

For instance, Ice-T, former original gangster and current Law & Order cop, is launching his very own Original Gangster XO Brandy. So what does a gangstafied brandy consist of: apricots, vanilla, caramel and hazelnuts. Yeah that’s some real gangsta stuff right there. Last time I’d checked, apricots and hazelnut weren’t hittin’ out on the hard streets of L.A. Now, excuse me as I shake the image of a baseball cap wearing, tattooed apricot caricature throwing up gang signs and yelling thug life, out of my head.

All jokes aside, these endorsements and partnerships with liquor companies do beg the question as to whether or not celebrities, particularly black celebrities, have a moral obligation to refuse advertising for (or selling) alcohol.

According to a study released a few years ago, more than 30 percent of American adults have abused alcohol or suffered from alcoholism at some point in their lives. Combine that statistic with the ever so present liquor stores littered throughout inner-city neighborhoods and you can see how folks might be alarmed.

Even Spike Lee isn’t immune from the scrutiny as last week, he found himself at the center of controversy for the limited edition Absolut bottle, which rolled out last summer. The bottles, which are emblazoned with the phrase “A Spike Lee Collaboration” and featured the skyline of his Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, drew the ire of some local teens, who felt that Lee was being a bit hypocritical for making films that uplift black people, while simultaneously working with major corporations to convince us to drink more liquor.

I can somewhat relate. Growing up in Philly, I too noticed the many celebrity endorsed alcohol advertising in the hood, and was a little bothered by how non-existent these ads were in the more affluent neighborhoods. However, I’m not quite sure how a Brooklyn skyline-inspired bottle with Spike Lee’s name attached, constitutes bringing the community down.  Last I checked, Lee’s movies have rarely been G [all-audience]-friendly.

One the other hand, Ice-T’s latest venture makes me wonder about what mature adult you know is interested in sipping on gangster-themed brandy, co-owned and endorsed by a man that wrote “Cop Killer?” Don’t get me wrong, I mess with the old school Ice-T but it’s pretty obvious who might be more inclined to want to follow the “gangsta” lifestyle.

For the record, I am not the sort of bible-waving moralist, who believes that alcohol is the devil’s libation and should be avoided at all cost. And, from a purely capitalistic standpoint, it doesn’t make much since that it would be okay for African Americans to spend millions of dollars on liquor, but should not reap any profit from the sale of it.

Sean “Puffy” Combs alliance with Ciroc has allowed for him to have complete control of all brand management and images attached to his name.  The result has been to push Ciroc as top-shelf liquor, which pretty much limits the advertising dollars spent targeting not only children, but lower-income black communities. With that said, folks, particularly black folks, should be cognizant of what could be considered as exploitation happening behind the radio speakers, on the television and within the pages of glossy magazines. And celebrities and entertainers, particularly black celebrities and entertainers, need to understand that when it comes to alcohol, there is a fine line between advertising and exploitation.  And sometimes that line becomes blurred, if not crossed, when the product becomes fixtures in music videos, TV shows and songs on the radio, where youth are the primary market.

Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.

Ice-T Inks Deal To Launch New Line of Liquor

November 8th, 2010 - By TheEditor
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(AllHipHop) — West Coast Hip-Hop veteran/TV star Ice-T is expanding his business portfolio with a strategic partnership with Aiko Importers and Pay Up Management to promote and distribute a new line of liquor named Original Gangster XO Brandy. OG XO Brandy is produced in France and handcrafted in small batches, created with a blend from “exceptional vineyards” to ensure a distinctive flavor.  Representatives for Aiko Importers reached out to Ice-T’s manager Mickey Bentson a year ago, who happened to be looking for an alcohol brand Ice-T could really get behind.

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Summer Sizzle – The Perfect Sangria

April 19th, 2010 - By Danielle Kwateng
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Hands down, sangria is the one of the best summer drinks. The Spaniards really knew what they were doing when they soaked fruits in wine to create a refreshing, but light beverage. And although you may not be Spanish, speak a word of the language, or have time to take a trip out east sangria is the perfect accessory to a summer barbecue or beach day.

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