Exclusive news and research on the wine, spirits and beer business

News Briefs for October 28, 2011

October 28, 2011

•The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) has unveiled its latest Fine Wine & Good Spirits store in Indiana County. The rebranded store is one of nine Pennsylvania stores that have been renovated under the PLCB’s new retail concept, which aims to offer better customer service, increased education initiatives and a welcoming atmosphere. The store’s space was also doubled to 7,000 square feet. The redesign features a signature “central table” for tastings, store staff and education. The PLCB aims to redesign all its retail stores over the next five years.

•Beam Inc. is rolling out a new extension to its Laphroaig single malt Scotch brand in the U.S. market. The new entry, Triple Wood (96 proof, $60 a bottle), is a limited release of 13,500 bottles for the upcoming holiday season. Triple Wood is aged in three different barrel types—American oak ex-Bourbon barrels, 19th century-style quarter casks and European oak Oloroso sherry casks—in order to add complexity to the malt’s peat smoke taste profile. Beam will support the launch with a new iPad app that allows consumers to locate the nearest venues carrying the Laphroaig label. Laphroaig, the world’s eighth-largest single malt brand, sold 175,000 cases last year, up 6.5%, according to Impact Databank.

•Aiming to strengthen ties with Hispanic-American consumers, Moët & Chandon Champagne has partnered with Mexican film, theater and television actress Kate del Castillo to promote its flagship Moët Imperial label. The collaboration marks the first time that Moët has worked with a Latina talent in the U.S. market. Under the tagline “Estrella de Moët” (Moët’s Star), the campaign will offer consumers in Houston and Los Angeles the chance to meet del Castillo, as well as decorate customized Imperial bottles with crystal lettering. Kicking off mid-November, the Estrella de Moët campaign will begin in Houston with 16 different club and retail events, before moving on to Los Angeles in December.

•Darden Restaurants’ Bahama Breeze Island Grille has introduced a “small plates” menu and selection of low-calorie “skinny” cocktails to its 26 locations nationwide. Available for lunch and dinner, the new menu features a variety of smaller portion offerings priced between $2.99 and $7.00, including White Bean Hummus, Truffled Yuca Fries and Chicken Empanadas. Bahama Breeze is also jumping on the skinny drinks trend with four new cocktails—Skinny Mojito, Skinny Five-Citrus Margarita, Skinny Paloma and Skinny Citrus Cooler—that have as few as 103 calories. A part of Darden’s Specialty Restaurant Group, which also includes The Capital Grille and Seasons 52 concepts, Bahama Breeze’s sales per unit reached $5.5 million and same unit sales increased 2.4% for its last fiscal year ended May 31.

•Diageo is rolling out a new dispensing system across European markets for a ready-to-serve cocktail range featuring several brands in its portfolio. The Rapak technology featuring a bag-in-a-box serving system will allow bars to offer cocktails at more accessible price points. It also aims for convenience, as the bags are easily exchanged and fitted into the dispensing system. The bag-in-a-box offers 67 servings per pack and is available in Smirnoff Mojito, Pampero Mojito and Cacique Mojito. The new system will be featured in 12,000 bars and restaurants across 11 countries in Europe by the end of the year.

•Drive This! Entertainment group is opening a restaurant/entertainment concept on the Las Vegas Strip in December that’s inspired by the band’s music and southern roots. Lynyrd Skynyrd BBQ & Beer will feature a Southern barbecue menu from Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas, and an extensive drinks list, including a “shot menu” and specialty Jack Daniel’s cocktails. The band helped design the concept for the 8,000-square-foot restaurant, which will evoke a backwoods cabin feel with barnyard wood walls and concrete floors. The interior will feature Lynyrd Skynyrd memorabilia and a stage for rock bands—including Lynyrd Skynyrd—to perform concerts. This is the third restaurant concept from Drive This! and its first barbecue restaurant. The company plans to bring Lynyrd Skynyrd BBQ & Beer to other cities in the future.

•Morton’s Restaurant Group posted a 7.8% increase in revenues to $71.4 million in its third quarter ended October 2, as comparable revenues for Morton’s steakhouses increased 5.1%. In the nine-month period ended October 2, revenues for the restaurant group increased 9.4% to $231.9 million, and comparable restaurant revenues for Morton’s steakhouses increased 7% from the year-earlier period. The group owns and operates 78 Morton’s The Steakhouse restaurants across the country and internationally.

•Google has partnered with The Gilt Groupe’s deal website Gilt City to expand its Google Offers concept. Google Offers, the company’s new deal website, will now distribute Gilt City deals and coupons to Google Offers subscribers through email and the Google Offers mobile app. Gilt City will provide Google Offers with exclusive deals in cities nationwide, while Google Plus’ large subscriber base will help Gilt City gain more recognition and expand its consumer reach.

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