London-born and bred Alice Farquhar whetted her appetite for wines and spirits with a stint at Moet Hennessy (part of luxury conglomerate LVMH), right after completing her degree in History and American Studies from Nottingham University, where she studied History and American Studies. Here she gained valuable insights into the Champagne world, before moving on to spirits in 2013, when she joined Belvedere Vodka as Brand Manager for the UK, the brand’s second largest market globally. We catch up with Alice over email from London.
From champagne to vodka, how did you discover your passion for spirits?
I had always personally enjoyed vodka, so it was a natural transition for me! Champagne is a remarkable wine and experience; it taught me the art of tasting, the refined art of blending, the ability to pair with food – all traits that I have taken with me and developed in the spirits world.
What is the trend today all about – the move towards "Natural" spirits and cocktails – and how does Belvedere epitomize this, as a pure spirit?
The wellness trend has created an awareness across many demographics that is translating into the spirits world. Consumers are far more aware of what they are putting in their bodies and are asking far more questions of both brands and bartenders. There is a far greater awareness of the impact of certain ingredients such as sweeteners and artificial additives. For us this is excellent, as we have always championed our all-natural credentials, so we are seeing consumers welcome our ways of working, our new Made With Nature platform, and our honesty and transparency in our production.
Belvedere - Made with Nature with pure Polish rye
What are the characteristics that define Belvedere's "Made with Nature" vodka?
The three distinctions are Polish Rye, purified water, and that it’s distilled with fire. All the natural elements that create our vodka. We are 100 percent natural, additive and sugar free, non GMO, and full of complex character and taste.
Now about sustainability and nutritionally enhanced cocktails – what is it that makes a cocktail "healthy" – what needs to go into one for it to be a part of this movement?
I think it’s important to remember that there isn’t a ‘healthy cocktail’, so to speak. However, we have been championing helping consumers make more conscious decisions, based on learning and understanding ingredients, when choosing what to drink. Our philosophy when it comes to cocktails is reflected in our Made with Nature platform focusing on ‘best, fresh, simple’ ingredients, avoiding anything artificial, flavoured, or heavily sweetened. We try and stick to using ingredients in their original natural state from a bush or tree rather than artificially manufactured.
Do you also advocate the use of local ingredients, herbs, fruits, and vegetables?
Absolutely! These are the best ingredients and also the best way to sustainably support your local farming sources and communities. We encourage the ‘best, fresh, simple’ philosophy where possible and championing native ingredients to showcase local flair and identity.
Belvedere Vodka - Made with Nature
What about syrups and sugars – what do you recommend for a good cocktail and what do you personally like to use?
Being 100 percent sugar free and additive free, we are very mindful of how we sweeten cocktails, specifically looking at fructose levels in the sweeteners. Fructose, when in its pure form and unattached from the fibre of fruit it comes from, is something the human body struggles to process and therefore puts a lot of pressure on our liver to break down. Some alternative sweeteners that we like to use are honey, which also taps into local community and agricultural support for global bee populations, malt rice syrup, and coconut syrup – all much lower in fructose. If you are blending a cocktail, I recommend using dates as sweeteners or blending actual fruit keeping the fibre and the fructose bound for better digestion in the body. Personally, I use honey diluted with water, and it’s fun to play around with the different flavour profiles of local honeys and support all natural local producers who avoid using additives.
What are some of the top 7-8 key ingredients a good mixologist must always have with her or him?
Well you should of course start with an exemplary spirit; my choice naturally would be Belvedere. In the definition of a cocktail from 1806, key elements were bitters (Angostura, Peychaud, Walnut), sweetener (honey) and citrus (lemon, pink grapefruit) so those would be my next ingredients, of course chosen wisely for natural credentials and excellent flavour profile. Finally I think the addition of fresh herbs such as basil, thyme, and mint are some of my favourite garnishes to aromatically lift even the most simple cocktails or even to shake essences of them into others.
In a country like India – what are some of the ways we can make cocktails our own – ingredient wise, and how to make young people aware of conscious consumption?
I have always marvelled at the abundance of incredible ingredients in India, and for me what you see in the diversity and breadth of the cuisine surely is translating into the cocktail culture. I hope that this includes a path of more natural, fresh ingredient-led drinks crafted mindfully by the bartending community, with the enthusiasm and talent I have always enjoyed experiencing when I am there!
The Belvedere distillery in Poland
Now that you are an educator and trainer, how do you drive home the point about "natural" cocktails and what constitutes them?
My job is to reach as many people as possible whether that is in person, through media, or digitally. I have always found myself very lucky to be championing an honest, authentic message of Belvedere’s natural credentials and will share it with anyone who will listen, whether professionally or personally! I always make sure to help people understand in a very simple way that we are one of the few 100 percent natural, 100 percent sugar and additive free, non GMO vodkas where the only ingredients are Made With Nature; Polish Rye, purified water, distilled by fire.
What are some of the cocktails that are perfect for Belvedere vodka?
Martinis, Collins, and anything where vodka is the star!
Belvedere Vodka is Made with Nature
Why is Belvedere the best vodka for cocktails?
The creation of a great drink or piece of art is all about foundation and what you start with. Belvedere is an excellent choice to create an elegant, structured base with ample complexity and flavour to build other ingredients on top. Whether you are making a simple martini, a drink we always say where there is nowhere to hide, or a more complex mixed drink with multiple dimensions, the power of our rye character always shines through. And, you are safe in the knowledge that Belvedere is Made with Nature, free from additives, 100 percent natural, and sugar free under Polish law.
Is cocktail culture back – and here to stay? What do the world's top bars say?
In general absolutely! I would say it is one of the fastest growing experiences in hospitality! More and more you are seeing cocktail menus develop in restaurants and bars that previously would not have thought to include it. Obviously Covid 19 has impacted cocktail culture and hospitality tremendously, but it has also seen people keenly pursue at home cocktail creations, a thirst for knowledge and skills like never before! Bartenders from around the world from some of the world’s best bars have shared secrets and become more accessible than ever, which can only be a huge benefit for the cocktail world and the interest and support of the consumer once the pandemic is behind us. I think people have realized how cherished it is to be able to visit a great bar and have a world class drink experience.
Could you please give us one natural recipe with Belvedere Vodka?
THE BELVEDERE AIR
Glassware: Highball glass
1.5 oz / 45 ml – Belvedere Vodka
.75 oz / 20 ml – Fresh Lemon Juice
.5 oz / 15 ml – Honey Water (2:1 Honey to Water)
2 oz / 60 ml – Almond Milk
Garnish: Sprig of Mint
Place all ingredients into a shaker and shake hard with ice. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice, and garnish with mint sprig.
Lifestyle Insider is a kind of junction point, connecting people with diverse interests that touch on the more luxurious aspects of lifestyle – fashion, design, travel, food and spirits, art, watches and jewellery, cars, yachts, and aviation, and technology. People today don’t fit into boxes and categories. In our individual ways, we are interested in diverse themes, products, and the challenges that face our world today. You will judge how well this effort of mine caters to your passions and proclivities.
Lifestyle Insider is a showcase of all that is beautiful and luxe. Behind every creation, is a designer, chef, entrepreneur, or a design maison. I have delved into my own appreciation for objetsde luxe that I have admired over the years – be it a love of fashion from the world’s top Parisian and Italian fashion maisons and their ’90s muses, or the care that goes into sari and Indian textile collections in my own family. Growing up on four continents, as the daughter of a former Indian Ambassador, I’ve seen a remarkable array of historic places and met a myriad people. My aim is to bring my world view into this website, a curation of what I find particularly stunning, unique, and newsworthy.
It’s an exciting time for brands all over the world. With change comes opportunity. With the global ‘reset’ and uncertainty on many fronts, there is a chance to write a new script. Let’s be those pioneers.
A bit about me:
A luxury and fashion journalist with 25 years of experience in publishing and magazine journalism, I have edited some of India’s top fashion and luxury magazines. I got my BA in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and went on to receive my Master’s in English and French from the University of Strasbourg, France. I have also studied German and Film. I live in Gurugram, India, and look forward to once again exploring our world with a new-found freedom.
Mail us @ firstname.lastname@example.org