Serving Up Premium Beverages Nationwide
By Molly V. Strzelecki
To be a wine aficionado
always has been seen as being privy to the
upper-crust of all things upscale. To be a connoisseur of bourbon or an
authority on scotch gives notion to having insight into drinks of a higher
standing. These days, consumers are quickly developing an affinity for the
finer things in life, especially when it comes to their beverage of choice.
And when you take a look at the offerings from North and South America, a
lot of options exist to choose from.
Spanning the northern-most part of Canada to the
southern-most tip of South America, the countries and regions across the
land each boast beverages they can call their own. Since the dawn of the
company three years ago, Wilton, Conn.-based Drinks Americas has made it
part of its mission to bring these upscale drinks to consumers nationwide.
“We were founded on the concept that we would sell premium alcohol and non-alcohol
beverages,” explains J. Patrick Kenny, founder and chief executive
officer of Drinks Americas. “We wanted a focus on today’s young
and urban consumer as well as the Hispanic consumer and current beverage
trends. That’s why Drinks Americas was formed.”
Since its founding, Drinks Americas has focused on
growing its portfolio of high-quality beverages, leveraging many of its
products with their iconic images. Drinks Americas products range from Old
Whiskey River, a bourbon backed by country singer Willie Nelson, to
sparkling lemonades that are part of Paul Newman’s Newman’s Own
However, the company isn’t limiting itself to
people-icons. This past June Drinks Americas entered into an exclusive
agreement with Rheingold Brewing Co. for the purchase of Rheingold Beer,
making it the sole producer and marketer of the well-know New York brew.
“Our products are associated very often with
icons,” Kenny says. “To us, icons are not only living and
breathing people, but also icons in the way that Rheingold beer is an
iconic brand of beer in New York. Everyone in New York knows what Rheingold
is; knows that it’s one of the oldest beers still available in New
York, dating back to 1838.” Kenny adds that during the coming year,
Drinks Americas plans on introducing several major icon brands to follow in
the path of its current offerings.
The company prides itself on keeping up with the
latest beverage trends, and one trend that has been making strides during
the past few years has been increased wine consumption. Consumers are more
knowledgeable about grapes and regions, and can decipher between a Syrah
and a Shiraz. As they gravitate toward the more premium wines, Drinks
Americas is right there with them. The company’s latest venture is
the formation of Drinks Global Imports LLC, importing super-premium wines
from all corners of the earth.
“It’s a super-premium select-label wine
company where we are meeting specific retailers’ needs through
bringing some of the finest wines from Australia, Italy and France that
we’ve been able to find through our level of expertise,” Kenny
For this new arm of the business, Drinks Americas not
only imported wines, but also imported an industry veteran, Richard
Shiekman, to help mold Drinks Global Imports. “Between his expertise
and our access to distribution and management resources, we thought this
would be a good time to add that part of the company to our
enterprise,” Kenny says.
Various consumer groups drive trends, and just as one
segment is going full-force toward super-premium wines, other segments are
taking a cue from the growing Hispanic population in America.
“The huge growth of the Hispanic population has
had an influence on overall drinking,” Kenny explains. Drinks
Americas acquired the rights to Damiana, which Kenny describes as a
“Hispanic Sambuca.” The product has been a surprise for Drinks
Americas, exceeding all expectations, doing particularly well with the
Hispanic market, and also doing well as a “topper” for
“Anyone who knows about Damiana knows that it is
a legitimate Hispanic liqueur that is put in Margaritas,” Kenny says.
“There are people out there who put French liqueurs in Margaritas,
and not that we begrudge them for taste, but it doesn’t seem to fall
in line with the whole Hispanic theme of a Margarita. We believe
we’re capturing a trend, which is the growth and influence of the
Hispanic community, and the product is reflecting
Drinks Americas hopes to continue this whirlwind of
rapid growth by taking regional beverages and expanding them nationally,
bringing in more icon-branded products, and continuing to market to
targeted audiences to grow and distribution of its products. Kenny adds
that the goal is to be a $200 to $300 million company within the coming
Drinks up, Americas, there are plenty of premium beverages to go around. BI
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