The Perfect Flavor for Creamy, Dreamy Nights

In a market saturated with thousands of spirits, it’s often difficult to have a product that stands out from the rest. However, Jeff Johnson, founder and CEO of Northstar Wine and Spirits, has created a product ready to do just that. Using the popular Mexican dessert of deep-fried ice cream as an inspiration, Johnson created Vespertino Tequila Cream Liqueur—named after the Spanish word for evening. The 30-proof, shelf-stable spirit (SRP $19.99) is made with tequila and a cream base and was created in partnership with Creamy Creation, a beverage development company based in Upstate New York. According to Johnson, “I looked around the industry, and saw that there a gap in the cream liqueur category, and it was a perfect opportunity to develop a new product launched to fill that gap.”

Johnson has created a multi-pronged spirit business: Besides Northstar Wine and Spirits, which markets and represents brands both imported and domestic, Johnson has also opened a craft distillery in Portland, Maine, called Stroudwater Distillery. Vespertino is the first proprietary brand from Northstar, with more planned for the upcoming year. The tequila cream liqueur launches in October in Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey with a further rollout in additional markets in the next few months.

While Vespertino will be launching in both off- and on-premise accounts, the focus will be on off-premise accounts, where Johnson sees consumers who enjoy other cream liqueurs like RumChata and Bailey’s being attracted to a new entry into the category. Johnson adds, “Its versatility allows it to be used in cocktails, shooters, on the rocks or in coffee. We believe people will even use it for cooking.”

Vespertino will be targeting younger generations in its rollout by utilizing social media to educate consumers and show them know how to use the liqueur by posting recipes. “Cream liqueur consumers will inherently know how to use product,” Johnson notes. “And we believe once they sample Vespertino, they’ll want to purchase it.”

Tasting Notes

A streamlined cream liqueur with a purring engine of cocoa, powered by sleek notes of nutmeg and cinnamon. The tequila base is the fuel, but at 30 proof, it’s a smooth ride. | Score: 91

– Meridith May, The Tasting Panel

Vespertino Plush
– by John Myers

◗ 1 oz. Vespertino
◗ 1 oz. Vespertino
◗ 1 oz. reposado tequila
◗ ¼ oz. simple syrup
◗ 2 oz. half and half

Shake and strain into a chilled rocks glass. Garnish with two dashes Angostura or chocolate bitters and a pinch of ground cinnamon.