A little over 12 months ago, right before the pandemic took hold of Australia and the world, Massenez was starting its 150th celebration with its first ever cocktail competition.
The event was to be the first in a series of activations and celebrations across the world in honour of the anniversary, including the competition prize of a trip to Alsace, France to join the official home celebration.
But less than a month later these plans came crashing down as Australia’s on-premise industry went into lockdown and the pandemic cancelled gatherings the world over. Since then, it’s been a different year than expected for Massenez and Cerbaco, the Australian distributors of Massenez, as it has been for the entire on-premise industry.
Now, we’re all ready to get back all the good things we missed during lockdowns, and its slowly getting within reach. Yesterday, for example, Massenez held its first trade day in over a year at Sydney’s Ramblin’ Rascal Tavern, and this is just the start of its focus on helping breathe life back into Australia’s bar industry.
On the day, Bars&Clubs caught up with Massenez Brand Ambassador Marie Pottier to hear more about what the last year was like and what the plans are for the year ahead.
“Last year we had challenging sales because of Covid as everything was closed. In the last month, we managed to catch up to all of the months that things were closed – the industry has been booming,” Pottier said.
“And when it opened, I think what most people wanted was cocktails, especially fancy cocktails, and so bartenders were looking for quality. A lot of people couldn’t get the stock of the lower quality brands they had, so more people were trying Massenez and now they don’t want to go back.”
Even before this growing interest in the brand, Pottier said she has been conducting market research in Australia to find out what additional flavours or products that local bartenders were calling out for. She said she has pushed for new product releases from France, even during these tough times, to fill the needs of the on-premise in Australia and encourage creativity in bartenders.
“I’ve been here for almost two years and I’ve done studies to give feedback [to France]. When people love a brand, sometimes they want to go only with Massenez, but we were missing quite important features. So I said this is a priority,” Pottier said.
“I said we should make Apricot Brandy, White Cacao and Elderflower, because they are big sellers and I thought we had the power to create something that was good at a good price point. We did just that, and I’m really happy with that. It’s had good feedback, people really liked it, and in July we’re releasing more.
“We just want to give bartenders the options to play only with Massenez. If this is their favourite brand, they can go and get creative as much as they want with so many options.”
Massenez as a brand has always been impressed by the creativity of bartenders on an international scale. Bernaud Baud, head of Grandes Distillieries Peureux, a group that incorporates Massenez, last year said that “Australia is one of the most innovative and creative countries in the cocktail world,” when he was in the country for the inaugural competition.
Supporting this creativity is also behind the news of a new cocktail competition later this year. Pottier said the details are still being worked out, but it will just be a local competition in Queensland where she is based to start off with, and then has the possibility of expansion into other states down the track.
“We’re just helping bartenders win something, get involved, get creative and make a name for themselves,” Pottier explained.
“I’m amazed by the creativity of the bartender… I go to bars with samples and say, what can you create with this? And I see them smelling and trying everything on the back bar and for me, that’s like a magician.
“Sometimes I put a focus on something that would be less known, for example the Raspberry Eau de Vie. I’ve tried so many different cocktails with that but no one is making me the same.”
More information about the Massenez competition is expected to come soon, but until then, Pottier said Cerbaco reps are always going into bars to talk product and will be organising more trade days soon.
See more from inside yesterday’s trade day below.