Condé Nast’s Epicurious, the pioneering digital media brand for foodies, is teaming up with ReserveBar, the upscale online spirits retailer, to launch the Epicurious Interactive Cocktail Cabinet, a cocktail recipe discovery tool. The new initiative, debuting today, is the latest push by Condé into e-commerce-centric content—and represents, for ReserveBar, a fresh investment in its “e-commerce everywhere” strategy.
The Cocktail Cabinet lets cocktail fans and aspiring mixologists discover new signature drinks by selecting up to three things to start with from a grid—e.g., a bottle of gin and a lemon, or vodka, watermelon and lime—and builds on previous editorial successes with ingredient-first recipe tools.
In 2019, for instance, Epicurious launched a Thanksgiving Recipe Finder (that was updated in 2020). “That tool was a modest hit,” says David Tamarkin, digital director at Epicurious, “but it wasn’t until the pandemic struck that we really understood the benefit of having that functionality on the site.” In mid-April of last year, the Epicurious team launched its Cook-With-What-You’ve-Got Recipe Finder, a major traffic draw for the site that has grown over time to include over 1,300 recipes.
The Cocktail Cabinet is launching with 299 recipes and is being led by Maggie Hoffman, an Epicurious senior editor and cocktail expert who has authored a couple of acclaimed books on the subject (“The One-Bottle Cocktail” and “Batch Cocktails”). Though the Cocktail Cabinet was conceived by the Epicurious editorial department, it found eager backers not only in ReserveBar but sponsor Bacardí, whose spirits, including Angel’s Envy Port-Finished Bourbon and Bacardí Reserva Ocho Rum, are prominently featured.
Today’s launch “brings to life ReserveBar’s content-to-commerce strategy and our vision of ‘e-commerce everywhere,’” Derek Correia, president of ReserveBar, tells Ad Age. “By making content shoppable natively rather than driving visitors away from the publisher’s site, we enable a better consumer experience while improving conversion and marketing efficiency.” The whole point of the project, Correia adds, is to “bring the [shopping] cart to the consumer”—a strategy he predicts “will outperform traditional display and affiliate marketing.”
Lorran Brown Cosby, VP of digital commerce at Bacardí, says that the company’s interest in the project was driven, in part, by “massive shifts in online spirits-buying behavior over the past year and home being the new center of gravity.” The Bacardí portfolio already sells well on ReserveBar, she notes, and the Epicurious Interactive Cocktail Cabinet represents “a best-in-class opportunity to position our premium spirits at the forefront of digital commerce innovation” at a moment “when people are looking to make great cocktails at home.”
Condé Nast declined to share revenue projections for the Cocktail Cabinet, but the company sees the launch as the start of something big. Jeff Barish, who heads up sales in the food, beverage, spirits and packaged goods categories at Condé, tells Ad Age that the Cocktail Cabinet project means that “We now have access to portfolio partners’ e-commerce budgets that are traditionally saved for retail platforms. Our innovation here will roll out to other select Condé Nast brands throughout the remainder of ’21.”
Meanwhile, Cabinet-keeper Hoffman won’t be popping celebratory champagne today—that would be too boring and obvious—but there’s a good chance she’ll be whipping up one of her favorites: a Fleming Fizz, which she describes as “a smoky Scotch cocktail with ginger and lemon and sparkling wine,” or a Lipstick Memory, “which is the perfect tart, bold—but low-alcohol—bitter drink.” Recipes for both can, of course, be found in the Epicurious Interactive Cocktail Cabinet.