The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 62 of 116

COVER STORY HARlEM Comes to Vegas O ne of the hottest venues on or off The Strip is the Palms Resort & Casino, personified by the über-hip N9NE Group, creators of the world’s only Playboy Club as well as electrifying dance club Rain, Moon nightclub with spectacular views and retractable roof and the haunting Ghost Bar, with its 55-story-high panoramic vistas. In addition, there’s the glass bar and 12-foot waterfall of The Palms Pool and bungalows, plus N9NE Steakhouse and Nove Italiano restaurants. And everywhere, HARLEM is poured. Small wonder it is embraced by N9NE Group co-founder Michael Morton and Andy Belmonti, President of The N9NE Group in Las Vegas. “What we look for when we get behind a brand, which isn’t often,” says Belmonti, “is a product that speaks quality and is great tasting. It has to be something that we would want to serve to every customer who walks in. But it also has to be something that our customers would want, and that fits their particular demographic. And HARLEM certainly does.” “Sometimes you get guys and gals who are conscious of how much alcohol they’re going to ingest or how many calories they’re going to put into their bodies, so they’ll do shots—and HARLEM is a quality product in the shot category and tastes great. We’ve compared it to everything on the market, whether it’s Jägermeister or a tequila shot, or a shot of whiskey or rum. It mixes very well with other ingredients and it’s been received extremely well by our customers.” Carrying their enthusiasm even further, the N9NE Group creativity, but I can attest to the compatibility of HARLEM poured over French vanilla ice cream in a rocks glass, or a chilled shot of HARLEM and Luxardo Maraschino liqueur. But this innovative liqueur is really meant to be served neat in two-ounce glasses and enjoyed as a shot, for HARLEM is clearly going after its only real competitor, Jägermeister. That decision was made seven years ago, when Nolet Jr. was out with friends and someone suggested “doing shots.” “So here come shots of the market leader,” he recalls. “That round of shots left me thinking, ‘If I am ever going to have another shot, why wouldn’t I want to drink something better tasting? A few weeks later in Holland, I told my father of my experience. He brought out a dark colored liqueur. ‘About three 62 / the tasting panel / april 2010 The Playboy Club at the Palms Hotel is ahead of the game in support of HARLEM. offers a round of HARLEM shots to nightclub tables order- ing bottle service. In addition, the waitstaff and VIP hosts and hostesses are scripted on HARLEM so they can better promote it. “The great thing about HARLEM,” says Belmonti, “is that it’s not something that’s taking away from the sale; it’s an incremental purchase. It might take away from another product in the shot category, but I think it’s something that definitely adds to the mix. And that’s the key when it comes to liquor and running a business.” —Richard Carleton Hacker decades ago,’ he told me, ‘I noticed Jägermeister was entering the Dutch market. As a distiller, I knew I could make a product that could beat it in taste and quality.’ So, starting in 2002, my father, brother and I experimented with dad’s original recipe until we perfected it for today’s tastes.” HARLEM is injecting new energy into the high-profit shot category. In addition, the sleek HARLEM bottle has a bartender-friendly long neck for easy pouring, and a compact, two-bottle bartop dispenser is available to serve the herbal liqueur at a frosty zero to twelve degrees Fahrenheit. Ninety percent of the brand’s marketing will be focused on-premise, but will also involve both digital media and promo- tional teams, including side-by-side comparison tastings, and—with a nod to its competitor—The HARLEM Girls. “We’re trying to reach the 21- to 30-year-old consumer,” says William L. Eldien, President and CEO of Nolet Spirits USA. “Working in test markets, we’ve learned that only 25% to 30% of this audience is drinking shots, mainly because they don’t like the taste of the alternatives out there. With a great product like HARLEM, we’re going to increase awareness and creativity with bartenders. I believe shots will become stylized, and adding unique ingredients to the complexity of HARLEM will definitely be the trend of the decade.” “Simply by saying it is made by the Nolet family, the makers of Ketel One, should not in itself justify a position on the back bar,” says Nolet Jr. “That’s why when we, as a family, set our sights on a category, it has to have two things: PHOTO: RONDA CHURCHILL

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Tasting Panel magazine - April 2010