The co-founder of Deep Eddy Vodka and the founder of Treaty Oak Distilling are just two of the masterminds behind a new ready-to-drink cocktail, Mighty Swell Sparkling Cocktails, that comes served in 12 oz. cans.
Clayton Christopher, also the founder of Sweet Leaf Tea, and Daniel Barnes joined forces with Sean Cusack, an investment industry professional who first came up with the idea of Mighty Swell, to produce the sparkling wine cocktails. They’ve launched as six-packs in retailers across the state — including HEB and Spec’s — in three flavors: grapefruit, lemon and peach.
The concept of a ready-to-drink cocktail had already been swirling around in Christopher’s head when Cusack and Barnes approached him about Mighty Swell. Right away, he could see its potential.
“I jumped in with two feet,” he said.
They wanted to transform the category of ready-to-drink beverages, which has seen skyrocketing growth as consumers “continue to look for convenience. Even if they’re laid-back and relaxed, people are still in an on-the-go mindset,” Christopher said. But nowadays, they’re also seeking something else: drinks that taste good.
“Consumers are wanting more flavor out of their product, something more exciting that pushes the envelope. Beer from Budweiser hasn’t changed in a hundred years,” he said.
That’s where Mighty Swell comes in. The drinks are made with a sparkling wine base, but the majority of the flavor comes from real fruit juice cultivated from the best sources of grapefruit, lemon and peach the Mighty Swell founders could find. With the juice, they took an extra step to make sure each of the flavors tasted as irresistible as possible.
“The goal for the company is that when consumers try Mighty Swell, it tastes like a sparkling cocktail that tastes better than Mother Nature could make it,” Christopher said. “To get it to that point, we deconstruct the fruit. We add not only fresh juice, but essential oils from the rind as well as the pith, the skin of the fruit. So when you taste the grapefruit one, for example, take notice. You’ll be able to taste some of the bitterness from the pith that balances out the sweetness of the juice. The zest, the outside, has a very bright taste to it, a lingering finish.”
In introducing essential oils back into the juice, he said, the lemon and grapefruit cocktails both end up tasting more like the juice of the fruits themselves. (Peaches, however, don’t have rinds or pith.)
“With that process, we bring those flavors to life better than juice would,” he said.
So far, the reception to these 5 percent ABV cocktails has been better than he could have expected so early on in the release — so the trio’s methods with Mighty Swell must be on the right track.
“I’ve been in the beverage industry all my adult life and have never seen such a great response,” he said.
They’re already planning new flavors — though with lemon and grapefruit, one of the additional flavors wouldn’t have anything to do with citrus — after choosing the three that are, according to Christopher, the most popular on the market. He would know, thanks to his experience at Deep Eddy Vodka.
“When you think about Mighty Swell, think about it as a friendly wave that’s crashing over the category and moving consumers to a product they’re going to fall in love with,” he said. “We want consumers to fall in love with products they’re consuming. They have a better choice now.”
For more information about Mighty Swell Sparkling Cocktails, visit mightyswell.com.