How Italian Spritz Craze Conquered France

The Italian aperitif Aperol, served with sparkling wine, has now charmed France, a country with no shortage of its own spirits.

The Italian drink has taken over France
The Italian drink has taken over France
Stefano Lupieri

PARIS â€" Just 2,640 gallons of the Italian aperitif Aperol were consumed in France in 2011, but by 2014 it had grown so popular here that the number grew to 132,000. The projection for 2015 is nearly 200,000 gallons. These figures are much more useful than words to understand the fledgling French love affair with this Italian spirit.

It's rare for a new beverage to become so popular in a new market, particularly one such as France, which is steeped in culinary tradition. But the strategy of Italian spirits company Campari has panned out beyond its wildest dreams. Before France, it put its product to the test in other countries. Since being bought by Campari in 2003, Aperol quadrupeled its sales thanks to the international market. It's now a billion-dollar project whose growth last year reached 7%.

The marketing campaign has heavily promoted the beverage, which has an alcohol content of 15%, via a cocktail known as the Aperol Spritz.

Campari was smart enough to associate the name Aperol with spritz to launch it. The recipe is simple: three parts Prosecco (an Italian sparkling white wine), two parts Aperol and one of sparkling water.

"We started by training bartenders to prepare the cocktail in fancy places," says Stéphane Cronier, chief of spirits at the French supplier Rothschild France Distribution (RFD). "The reason why it worked so well is because it costs much less to prepare than a Mojito and therefore allows hotels and bars to have a greater margin when selling the beverage."

RFD was initially conservative in its distribution channels. It wasn't placed on the national market until 2014. Campari made massive media investments to promote the drink, buying 5,000 billboards ads in 20 French cities. Today, 60% of its sales are in supermarkets.

"In all the countries where this progressive market invasion has been carried out, the strategy has paid off," Cronier says. "It's slow when it starts, but once it's launched, the sales grow exponentially."

It's safe to say the comany, and French drinking culture, are enjoying a "spritzmania." The goal now is to consolidate this success. "This cocktail has the potential to be the second or third most popular in France," Cronier says.

In Venice, 200 glasses of spritz are reportedly sold every minute.

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"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.

The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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