Austin is a hotbed for beverage entrepreneurs, which makes sense, what with the heat and all. In the last few weeks alone, three different beverage-based Austin companies had a spotlight shone on their successes.
On Friday, March 19, 11-year-old Mikaila Ulmer appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank” to pitch her Bee Sweet Lemonade. She started the company when she was just four years old and has already enjoyed some big successes like having her product distributed by Whole Foods Market, a partnership that has existed since 2014, according to Whole Foods reps. Whole Foods sold 25,000 bottles of Bee Sweet last year, according to the Austin Business Journal. A deal between the two businesses will see the five flavors of the drink at 60 locations across five states.
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Ulmer’s appearance on “Shark Tank” (with her dad, of course) netted the business a $60,000 deal with Daymond John for a 25% stake in the company. Check out that segment below.
In addition to all of the business excitement –Ulmer’s story has gotten a ton of press recently — she is also making news from her trip to the White House for Easter where she got to serve up some lemonade to the President himself.
On the more adult side of the Austin beverage coin, two different companies have hit it big with their cocktail mixers.
Austin Cocktails, run by sisters Jill Burns and Kelly Gasink, just landed a deal to serve up tasty mixed beverages at Madison Square Garden, reports Austin Business Journal. The sisters originally created the company in 2013. Austin Cocktails features premade mixers like Bergamot Orange Margarita, Cucumber Vodka Mojito and Fred’s Ruby Red Cocktail,made with natural ingredients. This deal will see their drinks sold in the arena, suites, and some kiosks at nearly 200 events in one year.
In addition to the new Madison Square Garden deal, Austin Cocktails has previously signed deals with Virgin America Airlines and the Pepsi Center in Denver.
If we’ve got you drooling for happy hour time, Austin Cocktails mixers are available at Twin Liquors, Spec’s, and other liquor retailers in the Austin area.
Finally, a trio of University of Texas alumni just won a $101,700 investment from Tilman Fertitta, a hospitality entrepreneur. On Fertitta’s new CNBC show, “Billion Dollar Buyer,” he agreed to order 17,000 bottles of Liber & Co’s ginger syrup and grenadine syrup from their Essential Cocktail Syrups line.
The goal of the show is for Fertitta to find products to feature in his hotels and restaurants that include Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Saltgrass Steak House, part of the Landry Hospitality empire. Episode 102 is all about two small Austin businesses.
Since their products don’t contain alcohol, you can order them online in single bottles or gift boxes. You can also find them at select liquor stores and HEBs in the Austin area, as well as a pretty decent swath of stores throughout the US. All of their products are made at their facility in Austin.
Other Austin beverage businesses that have enjoyed huge local and national successes include BeatBox Beverages, a boxed wine that was also featured on “Shark Tank,” as well as our piece 7 Austin Startups That are Disrupting Their Industries. The always yummy and iconic Sweet Leaf Tea is owned by Nestle as of 2011, but is originally from Austin. A big favorite that our writers would die without, Chameleon Cold Brew, makes their life-sustaining liquid here in Austin with Hill Country water. Dripping Springs Vodka, was recently bought out by some folks from Kentucky, but still operates and employees in the area. Of course Tito’s Vodka has taken the nation by storm, and we couldn’t make it through a festival without it. Finally, Big Red moved their corporate offices to Austin in 2009. Who knew?
Featured photo courtesy of Liber & Co website