Drinks World recently caught up with Joe McCanta, Global Ambassador for Grey Goose, to chat about the Boulangerie Bleue events, cocktails, and all things vodka.
DW: What have you been up to with Grey Goose this year?
Joe McCanta: We’ve been doing the Boulangerie Bleue events all over the world in New York, LA, Berlin, London, and Sydney, which is exciting. The idea with that is Grey Goose has always been made from a really special type of wheat, from the region of Picardy. It’s the same kind of region where all the best bakers get their wheat from to make their flour. In very French style, they actually classify their wheat, the way that they do their wine. So we thought it would be amazing to take this wheat to make vodka and bake bread with the same wheat. That’s kind of the whole first part of Boulangerie Bleue, being able to taste bread made from the same wheat that is our main ingredient.
From there, we’re really bringing the best of the French Riviera all around the world on tour – so the drinks, the food, the atmosphere. That has kept me really busy, because I’ve just been following it around, and making sure the cocktails are fantastic. But also it’s been great because it gives us a place to do training, educate bartenders on the brand and also consumers. It’s really been a busy time for us, and it’s kind of nice because I feel like I’ve been chasing the summer.
DW: What’s the response been like?
JM: It’s been really positive. France is all about hosting people, and as a bartender, every single night you host people. The word ‘bartending’ comes from the French word ‘tandre’, which literally means ‘to serve’. Bartenders are the best at serving people, but nobody ever necessarily serves them back. So, I think what we’ve tried to do is say, “You serve people on a daily basis so let us be your host for once”. It’s also been really great from an everyday guest perspective, from people that aren’t bartenders, it’s been exactly what we wanted, which is that element of surprise and really bringing to life aspects of France.
DW: How did you curate the cocktail menu for the Boulangerie Bleue events?
JM: It’s the same cocktails at every event worldwide and the lead drink is Le Grand Fizz. It’s a twist on another cocktail that we’ve done, it’s like a Champagne style cocktail and served in a Champagne flute.
Then, of course, we wanted to take Australia’s most popular cocktail at the moment, the Espresso Martini. We have our own twist on it where we put a pinch of a really fine salt, which dilutes when you shake it. And that interplay of the salt totally transforms the drink, so it’s a nice French twist.
Other than that we’re featuring the Grey Goose vodka martini. And we also offered tastings of the Grey Goose VX and made a drink with that called the Martini Exceptionnelle, which has a dash of absinthe and a spritz of honey water.
DW: Do you have a target market for Grey Goose?
JM: I think it’s not as strict as age level or type of demographic. I think, or I would say, it’s about a connoisseur. Connoisseur is a very French word and it means somebody who is an appreciator of anything. So if they have coffee, they are going to go to the ends of the earth to get the best coffee. If they’re going to have a steak, they’re going to know every single thing about that; where that meat comes from, how it’s cooked, and with vodka they’re going to want to know what the basic ingredient is and how it works. I think, if I had to sum up our ideal demographic, it would just be the person who appreciates everything. And it doesn’t need to be price related too, it’s really someone who traces back to the roots of anything that they are into.
DW: How do you view the Australian market?
JM: We’re really lucky because I think Australians and the word connoisseur go hand in hand. Look at the coffee that’s done here, and the way wine has exploded. We’ve really seen Grey Goose be successful in Australia because again it’s people that care about that quality.
I live in the UK and I think people there can be just so timid. And they won’t ask for something that they want, just out of trying to be polite. That’s not to say that Australians aren’t polite, it’s to say that they know what they want and they go for it. So we’re really lucky in that aspect with Australia, and the other thing is that the bartending is so phenomenal here.
You’ve got some of the best bartenders in the world, they are born, bred and study in Australia and then they spread across the world. Australia is almost this incubator for fantastic bartenders and that has really helped us over time because when you’ve got great bartenders who care about what they are doing, they are going to know as much as they can about every brand they work with.