The case for strengthening your supporting cast


For businesses looking at their products and services, trying to figure out what is next, the reflex is to look at the main star in its portfolio. How do we make it even brighter? But sometimes the overlooked supporting cast holds untapped opportunities.


There’s a long history of alcohol being paired with carbonated beverages. The Gin & Tonic, Whiskey & Ginger, Rum & Coke, Scotch and Soda, and Tequila & Grapefruit Soda. Most of the time, the booze has played the role of hero alone with the mixer being an afterthought.


Over the past twenty years, the proliferation of and demand for higher-quality spirits has been remarkable. Similar to people’s rising curiosity in how vegetables are grown or beef is raised, people have a growing appetite to know how spirits are made. From the botanicals of a gin, the type of barrel for a whiskey, or the climate and soil of a mezcal.


Around 2003, another question began being quietly asked, notably by Fever-Tree, a mixer-production company.

If tonic comprises 60%+ of a G&T, doesn’t its quality matter too?

And what makes tonic excellent anyways?


Plenty of R&D led the company to the conclusion that tonic water’s primary element, quinine, had been disregarded for too long. Derived from the bark of the chinchona (suhn·chow·nuh) tree, quinine’s original use was to treat malaria. But when sweetened and carbonated, it made for a tasty drink. Fever-Tree took note that the ubiquitous brands, like Schweppes and Canada Dry, were using lab-synthesized quinine, typically along with high-fructose corn syrup, citric acid, and the preservative sodium benzoate. When they compared the flavor between hand-harvested bark vs. lab synthesized, it took the regular ol’ G&T to another level. Like a good actor supported by the right cast as opposed to a warm body.


As the cocktail industry continues to grow, we’re seeing people invest in ice, glassware, garnishes, and more. While there is no “right way” to make a cocktail, a shift in taste and preferences is underway. Rather than being a safe, easy thing to order, we’re being challenged to think, “what if a G&T could be just as tasty and “craft” as an Old Fashioned or Margarita?”


Looking for a stimulating environment to brainstorm ways to strengthen your supporting class? We’d love to discuss a tailored brand immersion cocktail class and how we pair our background in strategic planning with mixology.



References

DIY vs. Buy: Should I Make My Own Tonic Water?, Serious Eats