THE BOOZE BIN
By Laura Petrosky (@chronic_ally)
I am pretty convinced that every PR professional working with an alcohol brand has executed at least one (make that a dozen, for me) “INSERT BRAND NAME and food parings” program. Showing consumers the endless possibilities of how to pair their favorite adult beverage with food makes them want to drink it even more. Heck, who knew that your favorite wine pairs with pizza? Sometimes though, the term “food friendly” makes me gag. Not because I don’t like experimenting with pairings, but because booze and food pairing programs have been executed a gazillion times in even more ways. In a world where cookie dough is the next perfect pairing for Zinfandel (just kidding), which editor with no time on his hands would open an email related to yet another pairings program? If you know someone, please leave his or her contact information in the comments section.
There is one pairings concept, however, if done well, will attract media and consumer attention alike. Since the Oscars are coming up, I’d give it the Academy Award for “Best Hands-On Drinks and Knife Play.” I am talking about meat pairing programs, in which one not only learns how to slaughter and butcher, but what to drink with the meat once your handiwork is done.
Butchering classes are not new per se: Titled “Slaughterhouse Live,” The New York Times published a great article in 2009 about the rising appeal of the chopping block for consumers. “In many cases, the student butchers are sailing the prevailing currents of contemporary food culture — local, sustainable agriculture, farm-to-table eating — to their logical end-point.” Just the other week, The New York Times published another article called “Bacon, and how it came to be,” saying that, while at first the trend was largely confined to the coasts, things have changed and shops in places like Chicago and Milwaukee are opening their doors to carnivores who like the concept of “do-it-yourself meat.”
While a nicely plated pairings dinner on Tiffany china may attract some, butchering and booze are appealing to a growing audience of foodie diehards, particulary dudes who enjoy time in the kitchen. Let’s face it – butchers are pretty darn cool. Plus, who doesn’t want to brag about chopping their own steak over several martinis with said steak cooked to a perfect medium-rare? Bombay Sapphire Gin deserves a shout-out for their “Meat & Gin” campaign first launched in 2008. A partnership with New York City’s rock star butcher, Tom Mylan from The Meat Hook, the brand offers seminar classes at The Brooklyn Kitchen, proving that “real men eat meat and drink gin” and an array of pairing suggestions online for those who cannot stomach the hands-on butchering part, but enjoy a good cut of meat from the grocery store. Tom Mylan just scored his first book deal, yet another hint that the combination of drinking and knife play is far from over.
From a PR perspective, it is important to recognize the appeal of hands-on experiences and the desire of consumers to learn an artisanal skill, even if it involves a bloody knife and elbows deep in entrails. Journalists may actually leave their desks for such an experience too. If the drinks served are strong enough, they will get over the ugly realities of what’s going on behind the meat counter and offer up some ink.