Drinks with Meagan Sacher, Stoli’s ambassador


We sit down for a chat with Meagan Sacher, Stoli’s Global Brand Ambassador, about what the job involves and what she thinks about the Australian bartending scene.

As the Global Brand Ambassador for Stoli, what does your job involve?

I have the opportunity to travel around the world, much like a political ambassador, creating relationships on behalf of the Stolichnaya brand.

That means I spend a lot of my time discussing what differentiates Stoli from other vodka brands and what makes it so special.


What do you enjoy most about the role?

As the bartending culture has grown, there’s a lot of cross-pollination between countries and we like to encourage this. I talk to the trade about trends emerging from around the world and each country puts its own spin on that. I love seeing each market’s take on spirit and cocktail trends

What’s great about visiting bartenders is that I can be in a country I’ve never been to before, but as soon as we start chatting, I feel like I’m home. I love the global community we have built; there’s always someone to welcome you with open arms.

What makes Stoli so special?

Firstly it’s the long history and heritage of being the original premium vodka brand, whose origins date back to the early 1900’s.

Stoli is responsible for so many firsts. It was the first premium vodka to be exported from Russia, the first flavoured vodka and the first to produce an ultra-luxury vodka with elit by Stolichnaya.  We are pioneers in the category and have set many of the trends we see today.

And of course its unique flavour profile. Stoli is a traditional, “Old World” style of vodka. It’s bold with peppery and citrus notes, which means it really holds its own in a variety of cocktails. And it never lets me down in a blind tasting!

Tell me about elit by Stolichnaya.  Have you been involved much in building the brand?

elit by Stolichnaya was the first ultra-luxury vodka in the world. What separates it from Stoli Premium is its unique freeze filtration, a process that Stoli has propriety rights to. The filtration changes the composition of the vodka – a bit like keeping the vodka in the freezer. It gives the vodka a creamy, velvety texture on the palate. Building the elit brand has been my primary focus in the USA for the past two years.

Is Stoli viewed differently in countries?

In Europe, Stoli is very much a top of mind vodka. It’s well known as the original premium vodka and is respected as a leader in the vodka category. If you track back any major developments in vodka, you will find Stoli at the centre of it.

We have a different strategy for each market. For example in China, it’s less about talking to bartenders about Stoli and more about encouraging them to use a white spirit rather than a dark spirit for cocktails.

In Australia, we work closely with island2island (i2i) to remind bartenders that Stoli is the original premium vodka and getting them to taste it to see how good it is for themselves. Together with i2i, we run a number of masterclasses where I take bartenders through the expressions and play with ingredients to find the right cocktail for their bars.


Where’s your favourite bar in the world?

It would have to be Bacchanal in New Orleans.  It’s a wine and beer bar in the heart of New Orleans. It’s casual with a great courtyard and live jazz. It’s probably one of my favourite things to kick back, relax and listen to jazz – now if only they served vodka!

What’s your favourite drink?

It changes depending on my mood, but I always appreciate a classic Moscow Mule. For something a bit more spirit forward, I’d go for a 50/50 martini – equal parts elit and dry vermouth.

Are there any trends coming out of the US that you think will catch on here?

Flavoured vodka is going off in the US. Being pioneers in the flavoured vodka space, that’s great news for us. We’ve just launched the Stoli Indulgent Flavours range in Australia with Salted Karamel, Chocolat Kokonut and Chocolat Raziberi. These flavours have been hugely popular in the US and in Europe and we’ve had a lot of requests from consumers to release them in Australia.

In the US, people are experimenting with savoury flavoured vodkas like seaweed, mushroom, salmon and bacon – I kid you not! But I can’t see drinkers embracing that as much as the core flavours.

Other techniques taking off are barrel ageing cocktails, cocktails on draft and bottled cocktails. There’s a real shift from the pretentious attitude of cocktail making to a playful, almost tongue-in-cheek approach. You still get a great cocktail of course but with less attitude and it’s starting to happen here – it’s makes sense for Australia.


What do you think of the bar culture in Australia?

I love the international influence. You have bartenders from all over the world working here. It’s so special to have all those influences converge to create its own unique style.

In general, Australia has a welcoming, warm culture with lots of variety and lots of respect for one another’s background. Innovation is the natural byproduct, which is creating entirely new styles. Australia is the place to watch for emerging trends in my opinion.

What do you think of the bartenders in Australia?  Have you been impressed by their knowledge or eagerness to learn?

You guys certainly like to have fun! And that’s what bartending should be about.

There’s a healthy dose of competition between the bars and bartenders but it’s all in a positive way. You support each other’s bars and accomplishments.

There’s a really good knowledge of brands and techniques stemming from the international influence. Everyone I have met is very open-minded and receptive to new ideas. There’s very little pretentiousness here and I love that!

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