PR%F Awards 2021: Specialty Categories Shine 


PR%F Awards 2021: Specialty Categories Shine 

The Art of the Cocktail and RTD Drinks submissions continue to expand.

By Debbie Hall

PR%F Awards 2021 honors the diverse and distinctive categories of international and domestic spirits, wine, and other beverages. This prestigious honor for winners selected by beverage industry buyers is the ultimate competition. This year’s competition allows all incoming brands to enter two competitions for one price and the chance to win two medals, doubling the accolades and the exposure of all brands that enter PR%F Awards 2021.

Ready-to-drink, the wave of the future is here now and is the fastest-growing category at PR%F Awards. With hundreds of entries taken in last year’s competition, the trend continues as this year’s competition welcomes a flow of new entrants and brands.

According to Grand View Research, the RTD market was valued at $649.9 million in 2019 and expected to explode through 2027 with an estimated market share worth $1.63 billion. The rising demand factors include convenience, individual packaging, flavors, low spirit levels, and choices of spirits, wines, cocktails, carbonation, and seltzers.

Women are trendsetters with RTD innovations. “As a woman-owned brand in a male-dominated spirits industry, I’m very humbled by Fishers Island Lemonade’s growth within the ready-to-drink canned cocktail market. Fishers Island Lemonade was born behind the bar and not in a boardroom; our brand is tied to a family-run Inn on Fishers Island, New York, called The Pequot Inn,” explains Bronya Shillo, Founder and CEO of Fishers Island Lemonade.

PR%F Awards 2021 stays ahead of the trends and offers RTD cocktails, wine, and fusion categories. New drinks are being continuously created for niche markets and consumer preferences. The canned wine categories include white, red, rosé, flavored, and sparkling. There is also a revival in the canned wines category of different wine coolers with several varietal and fruit wines.

“Our selection of canned wines, made from 100 percent Prosecco, has grown in sales as we move quickly into the US by way of California and Nevada,” says Eugene Lee, director at Casa Luigi Prosecco located in Fossalta di Piave village, north of Venice, Italy. “Winning Double Gold medals for our brands in last year’s PR%F Awards was highly responsible for us gaining visibility in the US, and we are excited to be a part of the competition again this year.”

“The ready-to-drink wines and spirits category continues to be the most innovative, fastest-growing category in the industry,” adds John B. Harrison, CEO of American Beverage Ventures and guest Chief Consultant of Opulent Wines & Spirits Distributorship of Las Vegas. “The ability to experience a quality cocktail at the tip of your fingers without having to go out and buy several ingredients and follow a recipe is enticing to so many, especially the younger generations who don’t know many traditional cocktails of the past. Also, with the current world climate, ready-to-drinks require less direct contact with various surfaces, making for a more hygienic and safer cocktail experience.”

According to Forbes, Americans love their carbonated drinks; the hard seltzer market is expanding with new products challenging White and Claw and Truly (which still control 75 percent of the market as of June 2020). The massive growth is reflected by the number of brewers and distributors entering the market in record numbers. This includes spirits, wine-based, and brewed malt. PR%F Awards 2021 credits this important category with seltzers, spirited, and non-spirited, essential components of the industry.

All categories offer a sub-category of Kosher, organic, or gluten-free. One product or beverage can be entered in multiple categories, so for example, if it is also gluten-free, it can be entered in the gluten-free category as well.

“We are always open to adding new categories, and our competition is ‘brand against itself,’ meaning, each brand is evaluated by a 100-point rating system for their own rating and accolade. It is not judged against another similar brand. This allows us to expand and offer our competition to new varietals and unique categories that are one-of-a-kind. Our judges don’t rate against another brand; the rating system is for the individual brand itself, so we are constantly seeking new and innovative categories to add,” said Michele Tell, executive director of PR%F Awards.

“What is exciting is to see the different shapes and sizes the cans and containers come in, not just your standard mini-can or four-pack. The brand inventors are getting super creative with their packaging and delivery, which will be outstanding to see in our competition known as PR%F Awards 2020-Unmasked, the total package. This is where our judges—all buyers—taste and rate brands by also seeing the brand’s bottle or can, logo, and learning a bit about the brand’s overall story and intention,” she says. “The creativity in the RTD space is outstanding.”

Snowy River Cocktails features cocktail glitters in over 22 colors. This award-winning cocktail salt adds the perfect taste combination to any cocktail, including kosher salt with sweet colors and mixed blends. Snowy River cocktail salt range adds a new dimension to any cocktail with all naturally colored, Kosher, and gluten-free options for cocktail and margarita decorating. Snowy River 4th July Cocktail Salt and Margarita Cocktail Salt were both awarded Double Gold medals at the 2019 PR%F Awards, with an entirely new group of salts and sugars nailing the Double Gold status again in 2020. According to the PR%F Awards, judges raved about the consistency, rich flavors, and colors for these cocktail enhancements, year after year, according to the PR%F Awards.

As evidenced by Anna’s Kitchen Shrub, winner of three 100-point perfect score Century Awards at PR%F Awards in 2019 and 2020, women continue to be pioneers in the industry. The ingredients are organic with a blend of great flavors for the perfect cocktail.

“It is very inspiring, creating a unique product starting with research, recipe development, and forming a coming around it. It was important for me to create an organic product that was versatile and unique. I love pitching my Shrubs face-to-face with a customer,” explains Anna Scott, founder of Anna’s Kitchen Shrub. “Being a woman-owned brand is an opportunity to be a role model.” The growth of Anna’s Kitchen Shrub looks bright, with the recently launched retail-friendly size.

The diversity of the PR%F Awards matches the assortment of buyers judging them. The rating system is Century Award (100 Points voted unanimously), Double Gold (96 to 99 points, Gold (91 to 95 points), Silver (85 to 90 points), and Bronze (79 to 85 points).

The entrant fee is $495 per entry/SKU for submission into two competitions—PR%F Awards Masked Tasting Competition and PR%F Awards Unmasked for The Total Package Competition.

Another specialty package available will include entry into both PR%F Awards competitions and a streaming video on PR%F Live! hosted by James Beard Award winner Jennifer English. In this video, Jennifer will conduct an in-depth interview with the brand maker about their brand, and she will do a taste evaluation on air with the brand creator. This video will be distributed to all PR%F Awards outlets and given to the brand for their marketing.

The medal winners will be announced and showcased in several upcoming Food & Beverage Magazine issues. The awards and their winners will also be broadcast on various New York City- and Los Angeles-based podcasts featured on the Food & Beverage Podcast Network (

All submissions must arrive at Opulent Wines & Spirits no later than Aug. 21 at 5 p.m. Pacific Time. Submissions can be mailed to Opulent Wines & Spirits, Attn: The PR%F Awards, 4691 S. Valley View Blvd., Las Vegas, Nevada, 89103. For those with distribution in Nevada, contact the distributor directly to arrange for shipment to Opulent Wine & Spirits. International entrants without an importer to the US, contact PR&F’s exclusive importer PARK STREET at to arrange for import to the US. For more information about this outstanding opportunity, specifications, and pricing, email, or call 1-888-959-7260.

The PR%F Awards 2021 private judging competition will be held Sept. 21-22 in Las Vegas. For more information, visit