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Aug 16, 2022

Their primary competitors are multinational corporations with massive marketing budgets, highly experienced sales teams and distribution reach that stretches from coast to coast. So, how is it that Crafthouse Cocktails is beating the giants at every turn?

Co-founder Charles Joly, a celebrated bartender and an influential figure in the emerging international cocktail movement, developed Crafthouse in 2013 and in doing so helped pioneer what is now a booming ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail category. The brand markets small-batch bottled cocktails made with all-natural and high quality ingredients and are designed to replicate the quality of drinks served at the world’s best bars.

In the nine years since its debut, Crafthouse has expanded distribution of its products, which include a Moscow Mule, Paloma, Pineapple Daiquiri, Rum Old Fashioned and Smoky Margarita, to 23 states. Available in 200 mL screw top cans, 750 mL swing-top bottles and a 1.75 L bag-in-box package, the cocktails are carried by Walmart, Wegmans, Total Wine and More, Binny’s Beverage and Whole Foods, among other retailers. The brand is also available at several theme parks and outdoor venues while its Gold Rush variety is available in all Amtrak dining cars across the U.S.

Amid rising consumer demand for RTD cocktails and an increasingly crowded category, Crafthouse is distinguishing itself via quality, consistency and variety. In an interview featured in this episode, Joly discussed the brand’s emphasis on differentiation, the impact of his experience and reputation in the brand’s development, how a focus on quality helped establish and cement the company’s relationships with retail buyers, and his perspective on the parallels between bartending and entrepreneurship.

Show notes:

0:45: Interview: Charles Joly, Co-Founder, Crafthouse Cocktails – Taste Radio editor Ray Latif sat down with Joly at the 2022 Tales of The Cocktail conference where they chatted about 20-plus year career as a bartender and bar consultant, why ice shouldn’t be overlooked in cocktails and his consistent attendance at Tales. He also spoke about why the creation of Crafthouse “was so simple and so complex,” the challenge in finding a co-packer that was aligned with the brand’s quality standards and how the company is navigating a flood of new RTD cocktail brands coming to market. Later, he explained how Crafthouse was prepared for an explosion of consumer demand at the outset of the pandemic, why he believes that “cream will rise to the top” in the category, how he advises retail buyers about assembling an assortment of cocktail brands and why he credits taste, first and foremost, to the company’s success in landing high-profile placements and partnerships.  

Brands in this episode: Crafthouse Cocktails, Abstract Ice, Skinnygirl, Ketel One