When the Archie Rose team sat down to create its canned cocktail range the unanimous agreement was to focus on flavour and delivering a bar quality experience in the convenience of a can.
While that sounds easy enough it was an 18 month process from planning to production to being available on the shelf. What has been developed is a four-flavour range using both Archie Rose’s award-winning Signature Dry Gin and Original Vodka, with one standard drink in a 200ml can.
The flavours include: Gin & Tonic with Lemon & Pepperberry; Vodka & Soda with Native Blood Lime; and two takes on the popular summer spritz including Gin Blackberry Spritz with Lemon Myrtle & Juniper and Vodka Mango Spritz with Lime & Chilli.
Talking through that 18-month process for creating the cocktails, Archie Rose’s Head of Hospitaliy Harriet Leigh told The Shout: “Our Creative Drinks Manager, [Rachelle] Rocky Hair, came to us from Dandelyan in London and before that Baxter Inn and she makes bottled cocktails for us.
“We’ve got a range that we change every couple of months on our website and we also do a lot of collaborative bottled cocktails. And she came up with these four nostalgic flavours that all featured Australian botanicals, so they have real botanical distillate in them, as opposed fake flavours.
“She made literal cocktails and then we spoke to a flavour house partner and a canning partner, who recreated the flavours for us and then we did some long-life testing and then we went into can in November last year.”
Leigh added: “We wanted to do two gin and mixers, so there is the gin and tonic, which has some pepperberry in it to give it some bitter bite. I love bitter flavours so it was such a dream for me, to formulate a tonic was so cool, I just kept saying ‘more bitter’.
“Then we did a riff on the vodka, lime and soda, and that Vodka, Soda and Native Blood Lime, is so delicious and has got so much flavour in it that it’s actually probably my favourite of the four. And I’m not a massive vodka fan, so I can’t believe I’m saying that.”
“It’s not like a pub vodka, lime and soda that has a little squeeze of lime in there, it’s really, really tasty and full of zesty spritz.
“And then we’ve got these two elevated serves, so there’s the Vodka Mango Spritz, which has got a bit of lime and chilli in it and that’s meant to be that nostalgic flavour of Australian summer. The Gin Blackberry Spritz has got lemon myrtle and extra juniper in it, so it’s a really juniper-forward spritz cocktail.
“They are all at the same price, and so while you’ve got your traditional signature serve, you’ve also got you slightly more elevated serve with fruity, fun flavours.”
Another aspect that sets the Archie Rose cocktails apart from other canned drinks new to the market is the can size and drink strength, as Leigh explained: “These drinks will be for the festival market, or stadiums, theatres and that kind of thing; places where you have got to serve a lot of drinks quickly. A lot of those places have rules on one standard drink, but I want to be able to taste the gin and the vodka.
“So these are 200ml, it’s one of the smallest cans you can get and so it’s six per cent abv. As opposed to a lot of RTDs that are 3.5 to four per cent. These are like having a proper gin and tonic and you can taste the gin in there, which is great.”
She added: “I’m really proud of bucking the trend of ignoring the sugar content, even though it turned out we didn’t have much sugar in it, which is great, but also ignoring the movement towards low alcohol. We are a distilling company and where a lot of other companies are driven by marketers and their spreadsheets saying ‘pink gin is number one, make us a pink gin.’
“Whereas here we all sit down together and we all come up with what next year’s products will be and none of us want to drink low alcohol products. There’s a time and a place for them and people like Seedlip have done an amazing job, but that’s just not us. We’re a distilling company. We make booze.”
The Vodka, Soda and Native Blood Lime comes out at 110 calories, and so is comparable with a lot of low sugar RTDs on the market now, but the team decided against promoting these cocktails as low sugar. Leigh explained the reasoning behind that: “It’s just boring, I’m bored by it. It’s about the flavour. These are meant to be bar quality drinks that you can get on the go, pick them up at your local bottleshop and go and have a picnic with your friends and enjoy a full-flavoured cocktail.
“We went with flavour, ignored the sugar and went with the smallest can we could, so that we could taste the booze and we’ve ended up with these awesome drinks.”
Being one standard drink and favour forward does also lend itself to large-scale venues stocking these, as Leigh said to The Shout: “Look, you’re not going to see them in Bulletin Place any time soon, but large-scale venues or places like theatres that need to serve a thousand drinks in 10 minutes, absolutely.
“We’re looking at festivals as well and for those guys it’s perfect for getting thousands of people served quickly.”
The Archie Rose Canned Cocktails are available now at bottles shops around Australia with a $24.99 RRP on a 4x200ml pack. On-trade venues interested should contact their local Archie Rose representative.