The ready-to-drink market segment is booming. According to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, sales for ready-to-drink products nationwide will increase 42.3% in 2021, reaching $1.6 billion. And while the category remains loosely defined, 55% of sales are in spirit-based products. But the other 45% is expanding, as products like hard seltzer and canned wine raise their profiles. COVID certainly helped the market. According to Nielsen Holdings, an American information, data and marketing measuring firm, sales for ready-to-drink wines alone will increase 3,800% between 2017 and 2021. And many Marin County entrepreneurs are joining in. .
“The ready-to-drink explosion has definitely been enhanced by COVID,” said Sammy Hagar, who launched a ready-to-drink version of his established Beach Bar Rum in cans (sbbcco.com).
“People not being able to go out to bars and have a glass leads to less interaction with the mixologist,” he added. “And you just need something you can take home and put in the fridge, like a beer but with a more unique taste.”
Hagar says he can offer premium products at a lower cost because “it’s not what I have to do for a living.” His four flavors — Tangerine Dream, Island Pop, Pineapple Splash and Cherry Kola — are under $6 a can.
Marin also spawned two woman-founded canned wine companies: Maker Wine and Just Enough Wines (justenoughwines.com), founded by San Anselmo resident Kaitlyn Lo, who went to Stanford on a water polo scholarship that earned at Drake High School then.
“After a long day at work, it’s great to come home and drink wine, but if you live alone, or your partner doesn’t drink wine, or whatever it is, it’s hard to open a whole bottle. of wine. You either drink too much, or you end up wasting that bottle because the wine doesn’t stay good in the bottle for more than three to five days, depending on the varietal,” says Lo.
The former communications major — Lo interned at “Good Morning America” and “Nightline” — switched to entrepreneur when she met her partner, Jessica Hershfield, at Stanford and realized “we don’t love what we do. “
“The traditional bottle format doesn’t fit with how we live our lives,” says Lo. “The can size is definitely the perfect glass and a half, and it’s also a quality wine, the kind of wine you expect to come out of a bottle.”
A corked bottle has never been the ideal format for a perishable product, be it wine or beer. Corks themselves are permeable and the material itself is susceptible to microbial contamination. And what about size? What other product comes almost exclusively in a 750-milliliter bottle?
Just Enough Wines launched in September 2020 and now features six varietals in their signature 250-milliliter cans — pinot noir, red blend, sparkling rosé, sparkling brut, chardonnay and still rosé.
Not to be outdone, Sir Francis Drake/Archie Williams High School alumni and siblings Lyda, Spencer and Wyatt Hanson launched Suntide Mimosas (drinksuntide.com) last year in the Midwest and their two flavors, a traditional mimosa and a bellini, are recent. be available in California.
Lo contends that part of the original problem with canned ready-to-drink products, which have existed since the 1980s, was the lower quality ingredients used in their production.
“You go to any major market today and look down the aisle and all these producers are in cans,” Lo said. “It’s not just the beer, the kombucha, the Blue Bottle coffees. The real quality beverage products all lean towards cans, not just for quality, but also for sustainability.”
St Hildie’s of Mill Valley (sthildies.com) is another one of those premium offerings.
“We like to think we appeal to wellness-minded imbibers,” says founder Meghan DeRoma. “People looking for alternative ingredients, paying attention to things like where are the ingredients coming from?”
DeRoma and her partners Christine Peck and Alexi Cashen founded St Hildie’s about a year ago for “people who actually read labels.”
“(St Hildie’s) sipped like a cocktail,” DeRoma said. “All ingredients come from the earth. We include real fruit and a light effervesce alcohol and botanical tinctures, which are roots and herbs infused with alcohol and added as a concentrated version of those elements.
St Hildie’s flavors include Elderberry Hibiscus, Lemon Turmeric and Guava Ginger, and has no added sugar, but still provides 5% alcohol.
The ready-to-drink market remains relatively undefined. But consumers can rest assured that whether they’re looking for value, convenience, quality or convenience, and in many cases all of them, there’s a Marin County product for them in a ready-to-drink format.
“Why not celebrate things on a day of the week?” Lo said of the smaller sizes of ready-to-drink products that usually come in. “Why not celebrate that you folded your laundry and put it away today?”
Jeff Burkhart is the author of “Twenty Years Behind Bars: The Spirited Adventures of a Real Bartender, Vol. I and II,” the host of the Barfly Podcast on iTunes and an award-winning bartender at a local restaurant. Follow him at jeffburkhart.net and contact him at [email protected]