Imaginative promotions will help boost sales

The reason retailers often struggle to sell digestifs is because the occasion for drinking spirits after a meal is disappearing, according to the Bureau National Interprofessionnel de l'Armagnac.

Sébastien Lacroix, director of the BNIA, says: "In 2007, life is moving at a rapid pace in the fast lane, people work hard and play hard. Time is of the essence, family get-togethers around the table at the end of the day

are more of a rarity and food is eaten on the hoof - not really the most conducive environment to drinking a digestif."

Restaurants have contributed to th e drop in popularity of the after-dinner drink,


Lacroix: "A key player in the digestif market is the restaurant

- a lot of

them do not even think to offer a digestif. At most, one is offered coffee and sometimes liqueur-type coffees."

Lacroix believes that the off-trade needs to be more imaginative with its presentation of digestifs. In Gascony, people drink Armagnac as a pousse-café - "a wonderfully warming and different way to drink Armagnac after a meal ", Lacroix says.

Jeanette Edwards, Beam Global's marketing controller, suggests retailers merchandise

Cognac with classic and more unusual mixers to encourage eager mixologists to experiment with cocktails at home. "While

Cognac is wonderful as a digestif, Courvoisier is increasingly being served in cocktails or with simple mixers such as tonic or ginger ale," she says.

Chris Seale, head of marketing for Champagne and

Cognac at Pernod Ricard UK, agrees that

Cognac must expand its appeal beyond traditional drinking methods: "For years,

Cognac has been seen as exclusive for those with a more experienced palate, perhaps savoured as a digestif after a rich meal. Whil e this is a great combination, especially at Christmas time when consumers often enjoy

Cognac with family and friends, it neglects the fact that

Cognac is an eminently versatile spirit."