Skip to main content

Drinks 101: What’s a brand ambassador (and are any worth paying attention to)?

What's a brand ambassador? Here's what

Pouring alcohol. Barman working at night and wearing uniform pouring alcohol into glass with ice
Viacheslav Yakobchuk / Adobe Stock

First there were influencers, now the brand ambassadors. These important figures — equal parts drinks personalities and marketing muscle — personify the companies they work for. And in an era of close consumer scrutiny and cherishing brand character substance as much as product turnout, brand ambassadors are more important than ever.

What’s a brand ambassador? Fair question. The title has been a bit muddled as of late, especially with celebrities entering the fray. And while on the surface it can feel just like marketing 101, there’s a unique component in the drinks industry that makes it all the more appealing.

A brand ambassador sings the praises of a particular company and its wares but the best of them do more than that. In mixology, spirits, and wine, top brand ambassadors tell the story of the brand through their actions. They come up with new drinks, show how the product is made, engage with fellow industry folks, and provide a bit of that under-the-hood sort of vantage point that consumers love. Beyond that, they embody the values of the brand, showing what it stands for and the important causes they may support. Ambassadors and savvy salespeople that enlighten their audience and network with the rest of the food and drinks arena.

There’s a lot of social media noise out there, we know. But a good rep can produce valuable content, whether it be an in-person mixology demonstration or a clever post that has you seeing a spirit in a new light. Here are five brand ambassadors worth paying attention to.

Jose Luis Ballesteros

diplomatico rum varieties
Diplomatico

Repping Diplomatico Rum in North America and a fourth-generation member of the rum family, Jose Luis Ballesteros is a busy guy. He’s formally trained in France and is a big part of the rum renaissance at the moment here in the states. He’s worked tirelessly to show off the complexity and versatility of rum and how it can be sipped neat just like some of the best Scotches and whiskies out there. Well-traveled and trained, he’s a major player and can be at least partially thanked for the continued success of premium rum here in the states.

Anna Mains

Monkey Shoulder whiskey.
Facebook/Monkey Shoulder / Facebook

Scotch is no longer what your grandfather enjoys. Anna Mains is part of that movement, working on behalf of Monkey Shoulder and bringing the spirit to the masses. She’s made the age-old beverage all the more appealing to the next generation and has shown just how well it can do in any number of great cocktails. We’re not sure if we can quite call Scotch “cool” just yet, but thanks to Mains, we’re getting there.

Fabio Raffaelli

A bottle of Martini 'n Rossi Vermouth on white background.
Martini & Rossi

Raffaelli represents Martini & Rossi and has worked tirelessly to keep the aperetivo cocktail hour alive and well in North America, even with the brand’s tasty new line of NA liqueurs. He’s spread the gospel of the refreshing happy hour practice well beyond its origins in Italy and the timing is especially good as consumers look for lower-alcohol and higher-functioning options. In true European fashion, Raffaelli has shown America how to sip and snack like they do in the Mediterranean. An experienced individual, he’s previously done brand ambassadorships for Bacardi and Italicus.

Katherine Larsen

People drinking wine at a table
Helena Lopes/Pexels / Pexels

A master sommelier, Larsen is all about education when it comes to wine. She’s an ambassador for Enotria & Coe. in London. The high-end spirit and wine supplier works with retailers all over the place. Larsen has used her training as a guide, turning people on to wine while keeping it accessible and approachable.

Gilbert Marquez

Gilbert Marquez.
Illegal Mezcal / Illegal Mezcal

An ambassador for Illegal Mezcal, Marquez brings tons of bartending experience to his latest role. In that sense, he’s shown how contemporary the age-old agave spirit can be, mixed into inventive drinks and worked into bar programs from coast to coast. There’s some savvy cross-marketing at play here, too, as the stylish Marquez is a designer as well, focusing on hats and other accessories inspired by Chicano culture. The marketing is smart, as there are many layers, and the optics are decidedly cool.

A bit of a cocktail themselves, brand ambassadors are a marketing mashup of several important qualities. They sell the product, sure, but they also offer awareness, education, networking strength, new perspectives, and values. As consumers continue to covet transparency, this latest round of influencers becomes all the more important, especially in a field as competitive as drinks.

We’ve got plenty more in that department. Check out our feature on how to drink rum and six of the best Scotch cocktails you ought to know.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
You know what’s missing from your gin? Cucumber lemon — Empress 1908 Gin fixed that
You know what's missing from your gin? Cucumber and lemon
Empress 1908 Gin

In the hierarchy of spirits, gin is a bit of a wildcard. Whether you’re talking about single malt Scotch whisky, tequila, bourbon, dark rum, or even vodka, you can easily explain why it’s a great choice for someone who has never had it. Gin isn’t so simple. Gin is a love or hate-it kind of spirit. Either you love it because of its piney juniper and various herbs and botanicals, or you think it tastes like a mixture of body wash and grandma’s favorite potpourri.

If you love it, you’ll spend all summer enjoying its complex flavor profile in Gin & Tonics, Gimlets, Gin Rickeys, and every other gin-based drink. But if you aren’t fanatical about the spirit. The appeal of juniper only goes so far, and you start looking for other spirits to mix with, right? Well, what if you had a gin that began with all of your favorite juniper, herbal, and botanical favorites but also added fresh, refreshing cucumber and sweet, citrusy lemon into the mix? That sounds pretty good, right?
1908 Cucumber Lemon Gin

Read more
The transfusion drink is our favorite golf cocktail — here’s how to make it
Vodka, grape juice, ginger ale, and lime. What's not to love?
Transfusion cocktail

Sure, golf is a great game. It’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon in the sun, even if your last name isn't Woods, Scheffler, Mickelson, or Spieth. If you don’t take it too seriously (and don’t spend all day stuck in sand traps), it’s a fairly stress-free leisure activity. The best part? After you finish the back nine, you can head to the clubhouse for a much-deserved cocktail. That is if you didn’t spend the whole eighteen holes downing Miller Lites.

And while there are countless famous golf course cocktails like the Azalea and the always popular Old Fashioned, we don’t think a day at the golf club is complete without a refreshing, flavorful Transfusion.
What is a Transfusion?

Read more
Watches in this Jack Daniel’s collection feature the brand’s wooden barrels
Want a whiskey barrel watch face?
Original Grain Jack Daniel's watch collection in case

The best things in life tend to combine multiple passions, so if your favorite Tennessee whiskey is Jack Daniel’s and you love stylish wristwear, then your time may have come. The legendary bourbon distillery has partnered with watchmaker Original Grain to produce a series of timepieces celebrating its heritage and brand. The collection in question has been aptly named The Original Grain x Jack Daniel’s watch collection.

All of the watches come with a very unique twist. Wood from the barrels Jack Daniel’s uses to mature its famous spirit is used in their manufacture. Alongside the bourbon-stained American oak, you may also see some charcoal and limestone. The charcoal is a reference to the filtering process Jack Daniel’s goes through during its mellowing phase, and the limestone is a nod toward the Cave Spring Hollow. That’s where the water used to make the whiskey is sourced.

Read more