Over the past week, we introduced our Buho Amaro into the wild, so to speak. We brought almost 3000 bottles into New Orleans, seeding our favorite bars and restaurants with the soda so we could get some feedback on the flavor, the size and the bottle type. In addition, Spitfire Bar and Spitfire Coffee (no relation) offered the soda for free from July 15-19 to help gain us as much insight into how people liked the soda.
For the test marketing, we used 250ml resealable plastic bottles, as this made it possible for us to air freight a pallet up to have it here in time. We received direct feedback from bartenders, distributors and general consumers from more than half of the USA, France, Australia, Canada and the UK.
Here’s what we found:
- People loved the size of the bottle (250ml/8.45oz)
We realized that consumers are moving away from the 32 ounce mega fountain soda and are starting to prefer smaller form factors. So many people said that the small bottles were the exact they want when having a soda. Bartenders preferred the smaller size as well, as it’s the perfect size to use as a mixer.
- People loved the shape of the bottle
- People preferred the plastic over glass
This was a major shock for us. We always believed that glass was the preferred material for premium soda bottles. However, the universal answer to us was that people preferred plastic. It’s lighter and resealable. Distributors preferred having less breakage by shipping in plastic versus glass. Also, in many territories, plastic is more recyclable than glass. Who would have thought that?
- People liked the sweetness
Probably less than 5% of folks said they would like it a touch drier, but most people thought the sugar was at the exact right balance.
- People liked the flavor
We wanted to create a great cola with a hint of ginger and fernet in the finish – something that would be enjoyable and refreshing for everybody. A few folks tasted it and expected that it would taste like a fernet and cola, where you’re taking an ounce of Fernet Branca and serving it with a splash of soda, which would have been too strong of a flavor to work both as a mixer and for most soda drinkers. Oh, and Buho Amaro with either Smith and Cross and a squeeze of lime or Cruzan Black Strap with a squeeze of lemon? Absolutely amazing.
So, what does that feedback mean? We still have cases en route to distributors in a few states and countries to get their opinion, but as of now, we think we’re just sticking with what we’ve done so far: 250ml plastic bottles with a nicer, more water resistant label.
All goes as planned, we’re in production during August and product should be in the US in September. We’re still working out our distribution networks as it’s different from anything we’ve built with Bittermens for bitters or spirits, but our plan is to be able to launch throughout New England, the Mid Atlantic, the Tri-State Area, Louisiana, Texas and California, with other states quickly following. We’ll keep this website updated with our progress.