One of the upsides of being a restaurateur is that suppliers are always plying you with free samples to try to get you to buy their products. Last week, a rep from Merchant’s Heart popped into Meejana Windsor and dropped off these little bottles so I thought I’d post my initial thoughts on the product.
Yet another premium mixer (although Merchant’s Heart calls it a “spirit enhancer”), this time from Japan and made with Bikan Yuso. I thought this was an exotic ingredient until I checked their website where it actually means “A sense of beauty and playful imagination.” Sadly there were no supporting marketing materials left by the rep – not even a branded business or calling card of any sort. Their website is hard to navigate and doesn’t seem finished in some parts. It reminds me of websites I used to build about 10 years ago (I used to be a web designer) – albeit with more transitions – little GIF images of text set at fixed locations all around the page yet all the main nav in a hamburger menu. Technology has moved on and text is now actual text with embedded fonts, but I digress. It just doesn’t feel greatly accessible.
I was also disappointed that the samples left were from an old batch so didn’t represent the ingredients properly. One, which is actually now branded with ‘hibiscus’ on the label instead said only ‘floral aromatics’ which felt very vague (the bottle on the left in the product shot here). And, sadly, the ingredients didn’t mention anything like the pedigree the website tries to convey: Sparkling Water, Sugar, Flavourings (Fancy Bottle). That’s it? My first impression of the product was of something that had had a lot of money spent on its development but was presented at the final touch as nothing more than flavoured fizzy water in a bottle (when you look behind the label).
We find it very difficult to get our guests to order anything other than Fever Tree. It has such a brand weight that “do you have Fever Tree?” is usually the first question people ask before they order a gin or something to go in it. As a restaurant, this is not unusual, and I can see that in a bar or more ‘experiential’ establishment ‘spirit enhancers’ like this could have their place where the mixologist or barman uses these in pre-set drinks that people order.