January 1, 2019
Do you take sugar in your coffee? How many? One? Maybe two or three? Would you drink your coffee with six, or even ten sugars in it? No way, right? Why, then, do we accept that it’s OK to drink coolers loaded with so much sweetener, wonders Dan Beach of SoCIAL LITE Vodka?
“When you look at the cooler market, most coolers have the equivalent of between six and ten sugar cubes,” reveals Beach, “I don't know anyone who would have a coffee with six sugars. I think it's good for consumers to start understanding what's in their drinks and we know what consumers want.”
What they want, says Beach, is a drink that’s convenient, tasty and refreshing, but with natural flavours and no sugar. So he and his business partner Kevin began experimenting in their kitchen with a drink they thought they and their friends could more easily get behind. They started adding pieces of fruit to their vodka sodas, and messing with infusions.
“We start with high-quality locally-made vodka and then we use only natural flavours. We always look for creative flavour combinations or flavours that we think you would like. We start with 100% natural flavours and then we mix it all in with sparkling water and our 100% Canadian vodka. So we end up with a high-quality delicious product that is only 80 calories and gluten free.”
SoCIAL LITE Vodka coolers are available at Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer in Lemon Cucumber Mint, Grapefruit Pomelo, and Pineapple Mango.
We take a batch of natural grapefruit or pineapple flavour, for example, then we add alcohol to it so you get an infused concentrated flavour,” explains Beach, “But the key thing is that there is no sugar and no sweetener added to it. You end up with just a very, very clean flavour.”
SoCIAL LITE’s team credits Alberta customers with helping get the fledgling business off the ground.
“Back in 2014 we produced six thousand cases. We were really confident in the idea, we were really passionate about it. We were working day jobs and we would come back from work and spend like two to three hours calling every single liquor store in Alberta saying, ‘we have this new idea; no sugar, no sweetener, will you buy a case?’ Eventually people started responding.”
Beach shares that SoCIAL LITE has been grateful for the support from Co-op Wine Spirits Beer, from the get-go.
“Co-op kind of changed the game for us, and part of it is that Co-op simply does a great job of displaying product and the knowledge of the staff makes a big difference,” praises Beach.
Before SoCIAL LITE got off the ground, Beach worked in strategy while partners Kevin and Neetu worked as an engineer and marketing director respectively. The company formed naturally, using each person’s talents to their advantage.
“We all have hats that we wear but because we're still a relatively small company, we all get involved in all aspects of the business.”
Dreaming up new flavours and testing the recipes on friends is one of those CEO tasks that no one minds, however.
“One area that I think still differentiates us is that we spent a lot of time and dedication developing craft flavours,” says Beach, “It takes us anywhere between nine months to a year to develop a new flavour. It's funny because we got it started in our kitchen developing drinks for our friends. And as we develop new flavours and as we get further along, we always send an email to five or six friends to come over and try out our concepts. Before you know it, we have like 50 people in the kitchen trying out our products and giving us their opinion.”
Beach says SoCIAL LITE, not unlike its namesake beverage, likes to be transparent about what’s inside the can, and prints its ingredients and nutritional facts proudly on the side, showcasing that it is only 80, unsweetened, and made with 100% natural flavours.
“We want people to know what's in our drink and we want them to realize that they really could be making this at home. We've just crafted a great tasting drink & made it more convenient for them.”
DrinKup Vodka Grapefruit Pomelo is a naturally refreshing vodka soda crafted with smooth premium vodka, sparkling water and 100% natural pink grapefruit and pomelo flavours. A sweet grapefruit aroma on the nose, and a crisp clean taste. DrinKup Vodka Grapefruit Pomelo has zero sugar or sweetener, no artificial ingredients and is only 80 calories per can.
SoCIAL LITE Lemon Cucumber Mint is flavoured with real lemon juice concentrate and 100% natural cucumber and mint flavour. With a fresh cucumber aroma, citrus tang and a clean mint finish this blend feels like a relaxing day at the spa.
SoCIAL LITE Pineapple Mango is flavoured with real pineapple juice concentrate and 100% natural pineapple and mango flavour. With a bright nose of pineapple and a delicious mango finish, this fruity cocktail is sure to send your senses on vacation to the Caribbean.
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