How Brand Ambassadors Influence What Cocktail You Order at a Bar

Do you really love negronis, or do you love them because someone told you to?

Yep, they're judging you.
Yep, they're judging you.
Jia Jia Shum/Unsplash
By Bonnie Stiernberg / October 29, 2019 7:00 am

Spirits trends are constantly evolving, but as a new Eater piece points out, the popularity of many drinks or liquor brands can be often be traced to the surge of brand ambassadors — bartenders who partner directly with a particular brand.

As Damon Boelte, co-owner of Grand Army Bar in Brooklyn, told the publication, it’s tough to regulate because bars or bartenders don’t always disclose their compensation. “There are a lot of bars who secretly take money from larger spirit companies for preferred menu placements, and that is just wrong; actually, it’s illegal, but there are ways of getting around it,” he said. “Putting extra money in your pocket for the sake of making money and not really showcasing the partnership just seems sketchy.”

Boelte added that when he does brand partnerships, he prefers to work with smaller companies who are at a greater risk of being pushed out by larger brands with bigger marketing budgets. “I only bring in brands that I feel are timeless, or at least stand the chance to be,” he said. “But I also don’t like to carry any of the gigantic brands that you can get everywhere else.”

Ultimately, Campari advocate Stacey Swenson told Eater, transparency is key. “As long as there’s an appropriate amount of transparency involved it’s okay for food and beverage professionals to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way,” she said.

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