- Eben Freeman
Consultant - Cocktail Culinaria
- Frank Lampen
Co-Founder & CEO - Distill Ventures
- Julia Momose
Creative Director - Kumiko Chicago
- Aaron Polsky
Brand Ambassador - Seedlip
Spiritfree cocktails, non-alcoholic spirits, kombuchas and shrubs are being sold at premium prices, but do these products offer the complexity, flavour and nuance of their alcoholic counterparts or are they just soft drinks in disguise trying to part people from more of their hard-earned cash? Do they offer something genuinely new and valuable to both bartenders and customers, fulfilling needs that can’t be met with traditional soft drinks or flavoured water? In this session, we’re going to present a variety of opinions on this subject.
You’ll be hearing from people on both sides of the argument, ones who see non-alc as a long-awaited and worthwhile new offering for both consumers and bartenders/bar owners. You’ll also hear from the skeptics, who see it as an expensive indulgence driven by marketing and social media which doesn’t offer much beyond a dressed-up bottle of soft drink. While we might not come to an agreement, the conversation is sure to be a lively one.
Many of us have heard drinks brands and entrepreneurs talk about hitting the 20,000 9L case ‘craft spirit ceiling,’ a critical threshold that typically sets apart the thousands of smaller craft brands from the larger, nationally-scalable ones on the road to becoming recognized brands and commercial players.
In our session, we’ll hear perspectives from a handful of founders, some of whose brands have made the transition into larger spirits portfolios or landed outside investment and others who remain ‘independent’ as they scale and enter new markets. This session will be a forward-looking conversation, examining what growth looks like for today’s scaling craft brands and for ones considering to make the shift into a bigger arena.