Picture this: you’re poolside at a party and are in the mood for a chilled cocktail that doesn’t require much effort to make (or order). What if that cocktail came in a shot; was low in sugar; didn’t require a bartender to shake it; and was ready to drink as quickly as it arrived in your hand?
Enter LIQS: premium, premade, ready-to-drink cocktail shots.
Founders Harley Bauer and Michael Glickman created these mixology-inspired shots for Millennials but are quickly discovering they have a much wider appeal. Read on to discover how they created LIQS, who they consider to be industry mentors, and how they motivate one another to keep going.
ForceBrands: Let’s first chat about your backgrounds. What were you doing prior to launching LIQS and what inspired you to create this product in particular?
Harley Bauer: Prior to launching LIQS, I was the Chief Development Officer for Crumbs Bake Shop for four years, where I oversaw national expansion and public relations/social media. The idea of a portable shot was the brainchild of my business partner Michael, and together, we took the idea from paper to reality.
Michael Glickman: Before starting LIQS, I worked at Moët Hennessey and oversaw national promotions for brands like Belvedere Vodka, 10 Cane Rum, and Hennessy. Prior to this, I ran an experiential marketing agency. Inspiration came from a respect for unique packaging, frequently entertaining groups around pools and rooftops, and of course a love for shots.
FB: Once you had the idea in mind to create the world’s first premium pre-mixed cocktail shots, where did you go from there?
HB: Creating LIQS was very challenging! Unlike typical 50ml products, there was no tooling or machinery for a 50ml shot glass. Everything LIQS-related was custom-made – from our shot glass molds and label applicator, to our filling and sealing machines.
MG: Deciding on base flavors and then flavor combinations was very challenging. We worked with a local mixologist and food scientist to generate initial flavor profile concepts but ultimately, the participants of our tasting groups made the final decision on what flavor profiles we should produce.
FB: What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced breaking into a new category?
HB: Like most new innovative brands, there is always resistance in the beginning. There was only one other brand producing a portable shot but the quality and branding was the opposite of what we wanted to create. We set out to create a premium, low-sugar, mixology-inspired product that would appeal to Millennials.
FB: Who’s your target consumer and how have you approached marketing to them?
MG: Our target consumers are young professionals in their 20s, however, we are constantly surprised when we see all demographics enjoy our shots. We sponsor a lot of music events and it’s great to see fans of EDM, country, and hip-hop enjoy a shot or two.
FB: Who are some of your industry idols? Have you had any mentors who’ve helped you along the way?
MG: We frequently go to trade events and occasionally get to meet very smart and successful brand owners in our industry. My list would include Ernest Gallo (E&J Gallo), Bert Butler (Tito’s) and Sydney Frank (Sydney Frank Imports).
FB: Here at ForceBrands, we build the teams that build the brands. What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned about what it takes to build a great team?
MG: The HR part of this business is critical.
Finding the right hire who can make things happen in their market, while working independently, is one of the most challenging parts of this business.
It then allows the founders to build the brand and innovate while knowing our staff in the field are looking out for the brand as if it’s their own.
FB: What advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to go into business together versus going it alone?
MG: Having a good business partner is essential. Not only to divide up the workload and to keep each other motivated but to also bring a new perspective on the day-to-day challenges of a business.
FB: What’s ahead for LIQS? Where do you hope to see the brand in 10 years?
MG: We are at an exciting time for the brand. For four years running, we have doubled our sales year-over-year. We are expanding into new U.S. markets and are looking for international distribution. Our hopes are to be acquired by a larger supplier who understands the global potential of a premium portable cocktail shot.
Interested in working for an innovative beverage brand like LIQS? Search our job board.