On this day 12 months ago, having survived Sydney’s initial lockdowns, cocktail lover Vicki Lyon launched her startup dream in a glass, except it came in her own upmarket version of the “goon bag”.
Her idea, Sophisticated Cocktail Co, produces a range of ready-to-drink cocktails, which has expanded in the past year to include a margarita, cosmo, pina colada, espresso martini and old fashioned, and most recently, a negroni using Regal Rogue Australian vermouth, Pampelle bitter liqueur and gin from WildSpirits Distillery in Brookvale on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, where Lyon is based.
Her latest and 7th bagged cocktail has been her biggest challenge.
“This was a long-time in the making as finding the right sweet vermouth for the negroni to taste absolutely perfect was the most challenging part. You need the perfect balance of bitter and sweet and finding the right combination was imperative” Lyon said.
“I was never a huge fan of the negroni until I recently tried a beautiful one made by Four Pillars at Quay restaurant, I knew it was a key cocktail to have in the range, but I needed to love it before I could actually sell it. I am very excited by the launch of our version of the quintessential cocktail for any one new to negronis as well as your traditional negroni lover.”
Lyon launched Sophisticated Cocktail Co. on October 1 last year, setting out to recreate her favourite cocktails and share them with anyone who didn’t have the tools or skills to make their own cocktails at home. The range offers an affordable alternative to traditional cocktail mixing, eliminating the need to spend more than $100 on ingredients.
“Everyone loves a cocktail, but not everyone has the know-how or means to make one,” she said.
“We have noticed that our customers tend to serve our cocktails at events such as dinner parties, picnics, boats, camping, or on weekend trips away. At $7.50 per serve, you no longer have to go to the bar to take advantage of happy hour.”
Packaging her cocktails in 1.5 litre and 750ml sustainable stand-up pouches, Lyon set out to change the perception that bagged alcohol is reserved for cheap and cheerful occasions.
She had a bit of fun naming them too – the “Tricky Vicki” martini, “Naughty Nina” pina colada, “Tasti Toni” negroni.
The negroni exemplifies that approach. Priced at $65 for a 750ml bag, at 25% alcohol, it’s designed to be be affordable and enjoyable. The eco-friendly pouches – for anyone who remembers the goon bags of their university days, here’s a sustainable alternative – have an 80% lower carbon footprint than their glass bottle equivalent. Based on the northern beaches of Sydney the company uses local ingredients and
The margarita has no added sugar, the espresso martini uses Australian-made Mr Black coffee liquor. The others use fresh fruit juice, using only nitrogen to extend the shelf life.
Earlier this year Lyon held a seed round raise, finding backing from two key investors: an LA venture capitalist and a Sydney high net worth work backer to take the startup to the next level, having already built an eCommerce site and distribution through NSW independent liquor retailers.
A year on, she said the business doubled in July, with online revenue and orders doubling in revenue from June to July, followed by an even bigger surge in August.
“Retailers could not stock enough Margi’s in recent weeks, it was a frenzy of trying to keep up with demand,” Lyon said.
Sydney’s ongoing lockdown has no doubt been kind to the Sophisticated Cocktail Co. And to she’s been a saviour to her cocktail-loving customers.