Bols Headlines EU’s Multi-Year Genever Campaign



Just when you think there’s nothing new to learn or explore in the world of spirits and cocktails, there’s genever. And our friends at Lucas Bols are spearheading a three-year campaign to bring genever back to the limelight among cocktail enthusiasts and bartenders nationwide.

The campaign, titled “Genever: America’s Lost European Spirit,” is funded in part by a $2.25 million investment from the European Union with an aim to educate and entice American consumers back to the genever category. The genever trade association SpiritsNL organized the campaign, with additional funding and input coming from five prominent genever brands, including Bols. The campaign’s first year will see educational efforts led by seven regional Category Ambassadors as well as large-scale events held at high-profile industry gatherings such as Tales of the Cocktail, BevCon®, and Portland Cocktail Week.

“But what is genever,” you might be asking yourself, or even “how is it pronounced?” The answer to the second question is easy: “juh-NEE-ver,” just like it’s spelled. The first question, though, is a little bit more complicated.

Genever is gin’s delicious ancestor. It’s an all-natural combination of a grain-based spirit with juniper berries (though angelica, coriander, and other botanicals may also show up in genevers). And, just like Champagne or tequila, genever is only legally made in a few areas of northern Europe, adding to the category’s mysterious, exotic reputation. Most importantly, the genever category offers distillers an incredible amount of room to play with flavors in the production process. By tweaking the balance of the base spirit with juniper and other botanicals, and through differences in the distillation, blending and aging of genever, distillers can create an almost endless panoply of flavors not often found in other categories. Genever may be zesty, fresh, and botanical-driven, or more malty, richer, and earthier after years spent aging in wooden casks. According to a statement from SpiritsNL, genever bridges the gap between gin and whiskey.

Imagine what that kind of spirit could do for a cocktail menu, or how it could inspire home bartenders.

Well, you don’t really need to imagine. A quick glance back through history shows us that genever was once a huge part of American cocktail culture. According to an examination of American cocktail recipe books from the 1880s by SpiritsNL, genever served as the base for approximately a quarter of the recipes. A quarter. Sadly, world wars and Prohibition made genever scarce in the states, and soon it faded from popular use. And now, decades later, Bols is at the forefront of an intercontinental effort to bring genever back to the forefront of cocktail culture. 

We wish our friends at Bols the best of luck in their campaign, and we can’t wait to see how American cocktail culture evolves to embrace the resurgence of genever. To find out more about how Bols Genever can help your business grow, talk to your Breakthru Sales Consultant today.

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