Gilding The Lily #268

I am so sick of people messing with perfectly-good things in order to “improve” them.  Here’s but the latest to arouse my ire:

Gin lovers were sent into a frenzy recently when a popular brand launched Premium Pink Distilled Gin & Tonic cans for £1.80 a tin at four major supermarkets in time for the first May bank holiday weekend.
Gordon’s Pink Gin, which launched last year, is said to taste of raspberries and redcurrants with a touch of juniper.

Two things:

1) if a gin doesn’t taste of juniper berries, it isn’t gin at all.
2) Pink Gin is made with a drop or two of Angostura Bitters added to the gin.  Making a gin pink-colored (with raspberries and redcurrants? ye gods) doesn’t make it a “Pink Gin”.  And don’t even get me started on the topic of booze served in tins.

Lastly — and this doesn’t just apply to the above — I’m getting really sick of manufacturers trying to extend their user base by appealing to younger people, playing on their unsophisticated and undeveloped taste buds by adding Kool-Aid flavors to grownup drinks.  (Chocolate vodka? are you fucking kidding me?)  This is akin to trying to get more women to shoot guns by making gunpowder smell like lilacs.

I am, by the way, fully aware of how innovation works — that most of civilization has occurred because someone, somewhere said: “Y’know, I bet if we just changed…” — but that’s confusing improvement with extension.  Tinned fruity-flavored gin is not an improvement.

I know that raspberry-flavored beer may have caused more people to take to beer drinking, but that’s changed things, and not for the better.  Go into any bar and look at what beers are on tap these days.  Barely a drinkable one available, and worse, they’ve pushed all the decent beers into bottles (or out of stock) while hipsters and chickies are catered to with the latest fad, Strawberry IPA [pause to be sick].

Basically, booze manufacturers are changing their products to appeal to people who don’t like booze.  In the old days of marketing, we used to call that pointless endeavor “catching eels” (try catching an eel in mid-air when someone tosses it in your direction and you’ll see what I’m talking about).  Not only is it pointless, it’s mercurial because what’s popular today won’t be popular tomorrow as your fickle new customers chase after the next “Flavor Of The Month”, and you’ll have gone from catching one eel to catching multiple eels.  That’s something they don’t  teach in the Marketing section of the typical MBA course because MBAs are all about theory (“line extension”, “product enhancement”, etc.).  And don’t tell me I’m talking nonsense because I’ve seen the curricula.

I think I’ll go and mix myself a drink.  A real Pink Gin, or maybe a gin & tonic — Gilbeys. Tanqueray or Bombay Sapphire (because the brand is less important when you add tonic to it) and Schweppes Tonic. (Cucumber  tonic? egads.)

Or I’ll just have a pint of Fuller’s London Pride… and if anyone tells me to squeeze a lime into it, there’ll be murders.


  1. ” And don’t even get me started on the topic of booze served in tins.”

    Well. There are those nice rectangular ones with the convenient carry handle and screw cap.

  2. As usual, it’s the Germans.

    In 1982 I was at the Teutonenhof in Vinsebeck Germany with my cousins. A more typical village German Kneipe you will not find.

    The cousins offered me a mix of 50-50 beer with either Fanta or some vile Lime flavored pop. They assured me it was cool, great, tasty, zippy, the coming thing etc.

    They were wrong. Again.

  3. I was down DC-way recently and the customer wanted to meet for a drink after dinner. Ended up being one of the trendy micro-breweries. Now, I like a good IPA but they have jumped the shark. Maybe 75% of the beer menu was heavily hopped – you were either chewing pine needles or sucking on a grapefruit. They had a couple interesting looking brown ales on the menu but they were sold out…I’d call that a clue.

  4. They’re just trying to cash in on the flavored Vodka money train. I believe Smirnoff started with that stuff a good decade and change ago– and yes, to appeal to younger drinkers who like to party and don’t necessarily want to become a bartender.

    You could argue as you have that it dilutes the brand– but do you really want your favorite purveyor of happy fluid to go the way of Harley-Davidson? Locking yourself into a particular age group is all well and good for high-end stuff, but if you’re selling the 80-proof version of Night Train, you’d be a fool not to follow market trends.

    Put simply, there’s a time and a place for Highland Park 25, and a time and a place to pound pink glop until you pass out behind the bar. Take a guess which happens more frequently and has bigger margins.

  5. Schweppes is ok, I guess. If there’s no store open within 100 miles that stocks Fever Tree.

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