The Untold Truth Of Viniq Shimmery Liqueur

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Glitter lava lamps, unicorns, and galaxy print: what's the common thread here? These are all things that Viniq Shimmery Liqueur has been compared to. The mid-2010s saw a meteoric rise of this out-of-this-world-looking drink and if its name doesn't ring a bell, Viniq's look certainly will. 

Viniq Shimmery Liqueur is always distributed in a tall thin bottle filled with a swirling and shimmering, usually purple, liquid. Viniq has been compared to everything from a magic potion to nail polish. Whether in a 350 or 750ml bottle and always with 30% proof, it wasn't uncommon to see particularly trendy women mixing this mid-shelf liqueur with anything from champagne to sprite and swirling their glittery concoctions between perfectly manicured hands. In fact, there was even a cross-promotion between a fashion blog and Viniq!

There's a lot to know about this liqueur beyond its cultural capital and how it looks, such as how and why does Viniq shimmer and why was it first made? Without further ado, the untold truth of Viniq Shimmery Liqueur.

Viniq Shimmery Liqueur was America's first premium shimmering liqueur when it launched in 2014

Viniq Shimmery Liqueur was the first shimmering liqueur specifically designed for the American market (via Bar Business Magazine). Before Viniq, there were a few smaller and lesser-known drinks like France's Nuvo that had a much subtler effect. Although liqueurs like Hypnotiq capitalized on bright and bold drink colors, Viniq was the first brand to not only combine the two but to really strive for a drink that looks like pure glitter (at least in photos).

Viniq was conceptualized by California-based E. & J. Gallo Winery to combine both a bold and uncommon violet color with a unique shimmery effect. Through the winery's own market research, they sensed a shift in consumer behavior and saw that most modern drinkers were approaching the bars with a more one-of-a-kind time and experience-oriented mindset. 

Et voilà! Thus came the idea for a truly out-of-this-world cosmic concoction. The liqueur was first launched in 2014 to party-heavy spots in Los Angeles and Atlanta, where it was certainly intended to make a splash through its unique design. 

The brand went so far as to center itself above all else on the drink's shimmer, even settings its brand slogan as "Shake to Shimmer."

A special mica dust powder created Viniq's iconic look

It seems a bit counterintuitive and maybe even a little off-putting for some that Viniq is so metallic looking. Viniq owes its shimmer to mica dust mixed with other edible metals. Have no fear, as there are many edible metals, even including gold! The particular mixture used by Viniq is similar to the mixture that allows rock candy to glisten and even frosting to have a bit of shine to it. This powder mixture adds an extra bit of oomph to every plate, or bottle, it graces. It's possible to buy edible metal powders online or in-store, one of the most popular and most widely distributed products being Luster Dust. There is even a similar drink-specific product called Brew Glitter.

It seems like old sayings hold true and imitation remains one of the highest forms of flattery. In the wake of its massive footprint on pop culture, it seems like these at-home products seek to recreate the sizzle (or better yet shimmer?) that Vinq first brought to the market.

Viniq's taste and smell are just as distinct

Beyond the brand and the public's focus on the liqueur's visual prowess, the liqueur's taste and smell are just as distinct. Viniq was originally advertised as a "premium" blend of vodka, Moscato, and natural fruit flavors, and launched as a bright and deep violet liqueur with just as bold a taste and smell. 

Viniq Shimmery Liqueur was made with a distinct berry, almost Kool-Aid smell and taste to it. Following the initial launch of the purple liqueur, Viniq branched out with two additional flavors: Viniq Ruby and Viniq Glow.

Viniq Ruby, fittingly, was a bright red liqueur with notes of strawberry, orange, and citrus. Viniq Glow is the brightest of the three with an almost day-glo-like appearance, it's also the sweetest of the bunch with a peach flavor. Each of the Viniq flavors, of course, had the drink's idiosyncratic shimmer. It's safe to say that there was nothing subtle about Viniq's taste, smell, or appearance.

Viniq Shimmery Liqueur was made by the same winery as Barefoot Wine

Does the name E. & J. Gallo Winery ring a bell? Some wine fans might recognize the name as the parent company behind Barefoot Wine, a mainstream stay of the American wine market. It's clear to see that the drink company is more than used to dabbling in contemporary wines. 

There's actually a large history behind the even larger company. First founded in 1933, on the heels of a repealed Prohibition, the brothers Earnest and Julio Gallo founded the properly named E. & J. Gallo Winery. Their company has since grown to become the largest family-owned winery in the U.S. and largest exporter of California wines.

E. & J. Gallo Winery is a name with a huge reputation and has been voted as the most powerful winery in the United States from 2006-2009 (via Intangible Business). It certainly is interesting to note that such a large brand takes leaps into the experimental, and it doesn't get more experimental than shimmering liqueur Viniq. In an interview with The Buyer, a brand representative mentions that it is an important survival strategy for the brand to approach winemaking (and marketing) in an innovative way, all the while maintaining a certain sense of luxury. Perhaps it is this very strategy that has kept the winery relevant over the last three decades.

Viniq Shimmery Liqueur was made with on-trend millennial women in mind

The wine conglomerate had a targeted demographic in mind when creating and launching its shimmery liqueur brand. According to Spirits Business, the senior director of marketing disclosed that Viniq Shimmery Liqueur was made with millennials in mind.

This makes sense when taking a close look at the timeline. As stated above, Viniq Shimmery Liqueur launched around 2015. This would mean that millennials were either at the legal drinking age or nearing it. Cut and dry Viniq Shimmery Liqueur was launched very strategically at the auspicious crossroads of millennials making up a large part of the party scene and at a time when their buying habits and interests began influencing the market. Some drink blogs go a step further and argue that it's specifically millennial women and their social media prowess that were at the forefront of marketing (via Cheers).

It begs the question: if Viniq was specifically looking for "on-trend" millennials, was it looking to become an influencer drink of choice? The answer is a clear and resounding yes!

Viniq was intended to be a photo-worthy and Instagramable drink

While influencers with large fan bases were maybe the ideal way to organically spread the brand through social media following alone, it makes sense to take a step back and look at millennials in general.

Millennials are a demographic that are often referred to as "digital natives" and are considered the first generation that grew up at least in proximity to the internet and social media. By the time Viniq launched, it had become normalized for millennials to at least share part of their lives online and over 59% of millennials were active Instagram users (via Investopedia). 

It was because of this that Viniq responded so enthusiastically and uniquely when crafting its marketing strategy for a millennial audience. To focus on a drink that was more or less a visual experience, the winery sought to reach trendy millennials who wanted to share their experience (and their brand) with the world, or at least their Instagram followers. 

In fact, when looking at the marketing you might even begin to forget that ultimately a drink is being sold. Some reviews of Viniq noted that the focus seemed to be more on how it looks and its taste was a mere afterthought (via Now and Zin Wine).

Special packaging was made for Viniq to emphasize its glittering swirls

The wine brand was so committed to marketing the liqueur's appearance that it even went so far as to physically incorporate it into its ad campaign. With the help of a printing specialist APi in 2017, the brand took a similarly innovative approach to its physical packaging and created a one-of-a-kind foil for its retail display boxes and everyday packaging. 

The brand packaging was designed with the help of a unique Micro Glitter foil to mimic the liqueur's iconic swirls on retail displays and mirror the drink's bottle. The foil had to be applied to the boxes, and was intended to work as a sort of "second skin" for the drink to recreate the drink's dazzling and glamorous appearance (via Bevindustry). One review on the drink even notes the packaging as a part of the overall Viniq experience.

By recreating the drink's iconic texture on the box, the winery not only tried to reach millennials through targeted marketing, but further emphasized the visual aspect of the liqueur.

Viniq quickly grew in popularity and became a global brand

The marketing strategy seemed to do the work and Viniq was able to grow rapidly. As mentioned above, the glittery liqueur was originally floated around the Los Angeles and Atlanta club scene in 2014. As early as February 2015, the drink was already slated for national launch (via PR Newswire).

It's safe to say that the team's marketing strategy was a success. Much to the surprise (and perhaps the chagrin?) of Wine-Searcher, Viniq Shimmery Liqueur was among their top 10 most searched for beverages of 2015. The vino aficionado site even noted that the $20 liqueur even out lapped other luxury wines, such as the $490 Château d'Yquem. Not too shabby for what one might criticize as a gimmicky marketing strategy. 

The once state-bound liqueur rose almost meteorically outside the United States. As early as 2016, it reached as far away as the land down under, where the drink was welcomed into trendy Australian clubs, websites, and promotional deals with open arms (via Bottle Shop). 

The shimmery liqueur even gained special attention in Russia

Australia wasn't the only country that took a shine to this shiny liqueur. The previously mentioned Wine-Searcher review also noted that a large spike in interest came from no other than the legendary homeland of vodka: Russia

It seems that photos of the shimmery liqueur were posted on pikabu, a Russian website similar website to Reddit. Though it's difficult to know whether the original post featuring the glamorous bottle is still on the online forum, there are still two surviving posts featuring the drink from around four to six years ago. 

Both posts actually feature the same video, a 19-second shot of someone's hand swirling the enchanting bottle slowly. Each video has well over a million views and over a hundred comments. The most highly viewed post, with almost 2 million views, is even originally captioned in English with "shut up and take my money."

Despite its popularity, the liqueur had very mixed reviews

It is in every sense of the word that Viniq became an online sensation. As stated above, so much went into talking about the drink's appearance and well ... not the drink's taste! The reviews are as mixed as the drinks Viniq makes. The liqueur's overall ratings on the product review website Influenster remain overall positive with a 4-star rating from over 180 reviews. There are a few recurring critiques from reviewers, the majority of whom are women.

The liqueur's taste is divisive. To some, it's wonderfully sweet and to others, it is sickeningly sweet, the sort of flavor that's hard to stomach and what bad hangovers are made of. A few complain of a cheap taste, but for a $20 liqueur perhaps that's not the most surprising critique. 

What is surprising is the disappointment some consumers had with the drink's IRL effect. The previously mentioned full review, mentioned that face-to-face, the shimmery liqueur simply did not cast the same shine. It could be that with the right filters, light, and staging the concoction just twinkles in a more dramatic way. Either way, make sure to close the bottle and shake it before pouring to assure the most glittery pour possible.

It was recommended that Viniq be poured straight on the rocks or with a favorite (clear) mixer so that the drink retains as much shimmer as possible.

Viniq was discontinued for undisclosed reasons

Every party needs to end sometime. For undisclosed reasons, somewhere between 2019 and 2020, Viniq Shimmery Liqueur was discontinued. It remains bafflingly unclear why this globetrotting shimmery bottle was suddenly pulled from production and all that remains is speculation. Was it that the quality of the liqueur was simply not good enough or did not have enough staying power once the initial shock wore off? This seems doubtful given the amount of positive reviews paired with the disappointment surrounding the liqueur's discontinuation.

Or was it that the demand wasn't there for other reasons? As the sparkle of the 2010s passed and millennials age(d) into their thirties, is the current drinking population less in search of the new and glamorous and more in search of the tried and true? Or could it be that millennials, in general, are drinking less than any other cohort? Maybe this is reflected in the fact that other shimmery drinks such as Cloudem (pictured above) are actually alcohol-free.

With Viniq virtually ending all official social media promotion, a sweet irony considering how much it sought online exposure, these questions remain for the time unanswered.

Despite this, the liqueur has garnered renewed online attention

That's the thing about good marketing campaigns, they just have staying power. Just as millennials mellow out their drinking habits, Gen-Z is starting to blossom into their party years. It's an interesting parallel to note that similarly to how Viniq originally took off with millennials on Instagram, now it's time for Gen-Z on TikTok.

As recently as 2021, a TikTok was posted featuring the iconic swirling purple liqueur. The short video, slightly under 14 seconds, features an excited TikToker proudly displaying the bottle and talking excitedly about how she was able to find it. Similar to the content posted on Instagram, the video features a few different shots of the swirling liqueur at different speeds to fully display the drink's fascinatingly ethereal beauty. The short video commanded a large viewership and as of the publishing of this article, the video had garnered well over 8.9 million views, and 2 million likes.

The Singapore-based lifestyle blog Girlstyle, posted a lengthy review on the liqueur all the while lamenting how the drink was discontinued and is now hard to find. Viniq shimmery liqueur is so hard to come by over there, that a bottle can go for anywhere between $130 to $330, a far cry away from the drink's original $20 price tag. 

Who knows, with renewed interest and Gen-Z hitting the bars, maybe it's only a matter of time before Viniq Shimmery Liqueur hits the shelves again.

It's possible to recreate Viniq at home

Until the production of Viniq fires back up, there are plenty of options for getting your hands on this viral drink. It can still be purchased online and if local shops don't carry it or if you want to tweak its recipe, there are plenty of at-home recipes to get your own shimmery look. 

The main thing to keep in mind while making your own shimmery liqueur is to get your hands on Luster Dust or Brew Glitter, two sparkly mixes that will help your concoctions glitter exceptionally. Both brands come in a spectrum of colors, so you can go so far as to color your drinks in any which you want. Brew Glitter, which in comparison to Luster Dust is made specifically for drinks, also makes Brew Dust. There is only a minute difference, and Brew Dust has a much more subtle effect on drinks.

If you really want to recreate Viniq as closely as possible, there are plenty of recipes to help you along the way, like the one from the Flavor Bender. The science-y brew blog suggests experimenting and mixing different glitters to create different colors. The blog recommends adding simple syrup to the vodka-wine mix to add to the flavor composition and also notes that infusing vodka with butterfly pea flower can also help the homemade Viniq to "change" color. Whichever way you cut it, there are many ways to add some shake and shimmer to your own cocktail night!