The Tasting Panel magazine

November 2014

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Page 86 of 136

86 BRAND STRATEGIES THE TASTING PANEL met up with Otis Florence at Studio, the brand new underground bar at the W New York-Union Square Hotel—the perfect liquid playground to explore things "West of Expected." For Florence, who tends bar at notable bars in New York City, his approach with SKYY Vodka is all about simplifying the cocktail experience and making quality cocktails more acces- sible to the everyday consumer. "A long list of ingredients isn't necessary to deliver a good cocktail," Florence says. "Tastes have swung toward impossible-to-recreate drinks requiring esoteric ingredients and complicated serving methods. Many consumers think great tasting cocktails have to be overly complicated, but a great cocktail can come from a high-quality spirit, like SKYY, and a few simple, fresh ingredients." By simplifying the cocktail experience, Florence is countering the perception that complicated is mandatory when it comes to drinks. "Now, I'm constantly rethinking everything. How can I make a terrific tasting cocktail without all the fuss? How can I show my patrons that great cocktails can be effortless? How do I demonstrate that craft cocktails don't have to be intimidating?" Florence is also in the early stages of exploring an innovative cocktail delivery system with SKYY to meet the needs of bars looking for ways to make great cocktails consistently throughout the night. "Customers are savvier about cocktails; they want a high-quality drink experience, but they don't want to sacrifice speed, even though bartenders are making more drinks today than they typically were in the past. It's taking fresh thinking to figure out how to tackle that issue." Deep V ◗ 2 oz. SKYY Vodka ◗ ¾ oz. Cinzano Rosso Vermouth ◗ Stir ingredients together. Rinse a coupe with Bénédictine. Pour cocktail into the glass, and garnish with lemon peel. Hot Foxie (Take note: This is Otis Florence's play on a Hot Toddy. In fact, "Todd" means "fox" in Middle English). ◗ 1½ oz. SKYY Infusions Vanilla Bean Vodka ◗ ½ oz. Appleton Estate V/X Jamaica Rum ◗ ½ oz. honey (2:1 honey to water) ◗ 2½ oz. hot water ◗ Build cocktail in a glass mug and stir. Garnish with a cinnamon stick. #Nutmeg ◗ 1½ oz. SKYY Vodka ◗ ½ oz. Lustau Palo Cortado Sherry ◗ 1 sugar cube ◗ 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters ◗ Stir ingredients and serve in a rocks glass filled with cubed Ice. Garnish with grated nutmeg. To Go West, Go Fresh directly with artists through social media, and gather together as the performances are streamed at their local nightclubs. SKYY also released a first-of-its-kind limited edition bottle, SKYY ELECTRIFYY, uniquely designed for bottle service, which features a graphic LED label that moves to the beat of the music. And the brand isn't afraid to take a stand on causes in an effort to con- nect with their customers in a more personal and substantial way. Some of SKYY's most loyal fans hail from the LGBT community, and as Schuart explains, slapping a rainbow flag on a bottle to show support isn't exactly "West of Expected." Instead, SKYY teamed up with Freedom to Marry, the sole national organization dedicated to winning marriage nationwide for everyone, on an initiative called "Toast to Marriage," and brought the campaign to life via events across the country in markets where the fight rages on for marriage equality. Schuart is excited about the reaction from fans and feels they've really struck a nerve that is "relevant for consumers, which is inspiring and empowering."

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