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Nov 21, 2023

Trendy food and beverage categories often elicit a gold rush. The nascent market for ready-to-drink cocktails, in which new brands are launched seemingly every day, has sparked the latest one.

Cy Cain, the co-founder and CEO of Portland, Oregon-based Straightaway Cocktails, praises growing interest and demand for bottled and canned cocktails, but he believes that “there will always be a flight to quality.” Indeed, the brand’s prioritization of premium ingredients and blending methods continues to pay off. 

Launched in 2018, Straightaway produces a range of RTD cocktails crafted to replicate bar quality libations. The company also markets ACCOMPANi, Straightaway’s sister brand of liqueurs, amari and vermouth. The award-winning products are available in 48 states through its e-commerce platform, Whole Foods stores and select locations of regional chains New Seasons and Market of Choice.

In this episode, Cain spoke about how years of preparation prior to launching Straightaway gave the brand a strong foundation on which to build, why passion and opportunity equally drive the business forward and how he assesses a broader opportunity to reach consumers in other beverage alcohol categories.

Show notes:

0:43: Interview: Cy Cain, Co-Founder & CEO, Straightaway Cocktails - Taste Radio editor Ray Latif spoke with Cain about Straightaway’s hometown of Portland, Oregon, how “honoring the craft” and collaboration is driving the city’s CPG scene, and the brand’s partnership with Alaska Airlines. Cain also discussed how his background in the coffee industry impacted and informed his decision to launch a cocktail company, Straightaway’s roots as an underground brand, how early learnings influenced its development and why “balance is everything” is key to its formulation strategy. He also explained how an analysis of consumer behavior and growing demand for high-quality cocktails led to his belief that standardization of batched cocktails would be a viable, and potentially thriving, business. The conversation further touches on growth drivers for the RTD cocktail category and why he sees it challenging beer and wine in the coming years, why strategic companies entering the space is a good thing and the reason he describes Straightaway as both a “first-wave” and “third-wave” brand.

Brands in this episode: Straightaway Cocktails, Starbucks, Salt & Straw, Stumptown Coffee, Steven Smith Teamaker, Jacobsen Salt, Tazo, Stash Tea