Monday, August 2, 2010

The Ritual of Drinking

I’ve worked on marketing everything from premixed Bourbon & Coke to Bud Light Lime and "Chelada" (Michelada) to Kahlua Mudslide Mix. They were all are an attempt to make drinking "more convenient" and they all failed miserably. Their downfall, in my professional opinion, is the removal of the process of drinking makes it less ritually satisfying.
Tequila Shots: Lick the salt, slam the tequila and bite the lime.
Even in my youth there were guidelines on how to behave at a keg party. You immediately found the guy with the cup and he sized you up and decided whether or not to charge you; losing your cup revoked your right to drink for the evening; at the keg it was customary to fill everyone's cup around you; lift the keg every so often and give a report on the "float" ETA and be sure to give the keg a few pumps before you move on.

I would say that this ritual is every bit as structured as drinking Sake in Japan or the arcane rituals surrounding Absinthe and I never questioned or dared break this tradition.

Mexican Beer: Stuff the lime down the Corona Bottle. Cover the end with your thumb, slowly invert the bottle upside down and back upright. Slowly uncover with your thumb and drink.
It occurred to me to write this post after drinking Scotch out of a coffee cup. Not a big deal, I was at work we didn't have much in the way of glassware. It's bizarre that I can slug down beer in front of my computer and not give it a second thought, but Scotch felt wrong.
Scotch: Three fingers in a glass with one finger of Scottish mineral water.
Then I realized all the rituals surrounding drinking that I participate in unconsciously. I'll happily wait ten minutes for a properly poured Guinness. Before I do a shot with friends I clack the glass on the bar every single time. At wine tastings, I raise the glass look at the color and legs with each new offering.
Red Wine: Observe the color, Sniff, Aerate, Taste and Savor the finish.
This brought me back to Bud Light Lime and "Chiladas". The removal of the ritual of drinking beer and lime or making a good Michelada ruins the experience. And people who market spirits should look at ways to infuse, embrace or even create rituals surrounding their products.

One good example of creating a ritual is Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum. As silly as it seems, the Captain Morgan pose is a prime example of how a small ritual can increase market share and create a story for people to tell.

I would be interested in your thoughts on my hair-brained theory.

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