An error with the liquor license for Vicki Lyon’s new business Sophisticated Cocktail Co was actually a stroke of good luck for the start-up.
The female founder had spotted a gap in the market for premium ready to drink cocktails and came up with the idea of a sophisticated goon bag.
She had started a social media campaign to build up some hype about the business, only to discover that a junior clerk had issued her with the wrong liquor licence.
It meant delaying the launch of her business by two weeks — but it sent people into a frenzy.
“That was great as it gave us an opportunity to get the market excited and create a database of people that were excited about the product and also create a massive waitlist,” she told news.com.au.
The martini lover came up with the idea for the business after the pandemic forced her into entertaining at home, which meant hours standing up and making cocktails.
She wanted to make life easier, but was also sold on the idea of using goon bars.
“In the 80s or 90s goon bags were so big and I thought what would be really cool in terms of how we would market the product would be margaritas in bags, as they are easy to use for home entertainment by packaging them in a bag and they are easy for consumers to put in a fridge and transport around,” she explained.
“The traditional feeling around a goon bag is for young teenagers and mass drinking, but I wanted to take that and put a challenge around these bags and make them cool and sophisticated. People who bought goon bags in the 80s and 90s could now buy them in their 40s and it’s a sophisticated and fun buy.”
Three cocktails in bags were created — a margarita, cosmopolitan and espresso martini — which come in either 750ml and 1.5L. There are also two ready to drink cocktails in a bottle, a gin martini and a spicy old fashioned.
The 750ml cocktail bag costs $59 and is suitable for six to seven people, while the 1.5L one sells for $89 and is recommended for 12 to 13, which works out roughly to $7 a drink, said Ms Lyon.
Sophisticated Cocktail Co took just a month for Ms Lyon to move from idea to launch after she sunk $15,000 of her own money into the business.
But she has already made her investment back — with the northern beaches-based business kicking off in mid November and selling 400 bags of cocktails.
“Bags are our biggest seller and 35 per cent of orders are repeat orders, so a lot of customers come back and order with a two week gap, so we know the product can last for two weeks,” she said.
“Customers seem to buy on average two bags at a time, so it’s clearly been received well by the market and it’s such a great thing to have return customers.”
She admits she expected to put way more money into the business and has been surprised by the outcome.
“But because the online sales flourished we managed to break even really quickly and we are covering our own bases,” she said.
“We still have to pay back the $15,000 at the moment, but we won’t need to take on any more funds unless we get to the point where we have to make them at a large scale or bags for a large retailer and then we are looking to put more funds into the business, but it’s a lot less than anticipated.”
That’s the ultimate goal for Ms Lyon — to sign up with a major retailer and take her cocktails nationwide. Currently 12 independents stock the cocktails in NSW, while she also sells them online.
Next up in the range is a pina colada, while there have also been requests for mojitos and daiquiris.
With a background in advertising technology, she admits that it took no time to settle on the cocktail recipes.
“I had perfected the recipes after many years of drinking and tasting of cocktails — there is not a lot of R&D needed as I had spent my whole life in R&D — and fortunately in advertising you have a lot of opportunity to drink cocktails,” she laughed.
Supporting local is also important for Ms Lyon, with the vodka used from a local distillery, the cranberry juice from a local supplier and the tequila brand is owned by two Australians.
The bags however are sourced from the US, as she wanted to find something sustainable and settled on ones made from recycled material, which include a special tap on the bag so no oxygen can get in.
“It keeps the product fresh as long as it’s in the bag — we say four weeks from opening is good time frame — but there are no preservatives used and the design keeps it going and the tap keeps flowing,” she said.