Former Coca-Cola Innovation Partner Building Presence for Howie’s Spiked Brand
July 29, 2021
As the crossover between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverage distribution and product development heats up, BD caught up with longtime beverage entrepreneur Larry Trachtenbroit to see what lessons he’s learned after making the transition. Trachtenbroit sold a ready-to-drink coffee business to Coke for more than $5 million 20 years ago before going on to create a beverage innovation shop called Brain Twist that counted Coca-Cola as an investor. More than five years ago, he switched fully to alcohol beverages. He co-founded his current venture FS Beverages with former global ocean shipping industry executive Greg Howard, who is president. FS Beverages is building sales and distribution for a line of alcohol-infused cherries, teas, lemonades, and coffees under a brand called Howie’s Spiked. The flagship product, Howie’s Spiked Cherries, is distributed in 15 Midwestern, Southern, and East Coast markets. The distribution network includes at least 30 independent Anheuser Busch-aligned distributors, as well as other independent wholesale distributors. The company generated revenue of $1.5 million in 2020 after growth of +28%, according to Howard. With the introduction of a spiked coffee called Alc-A-Chino later this year, revenue is expected to approach $2 million in 2021. A 12-oz jar of about 22 Spiked Cherries retails for $8.99 and has an alcohol content of 10%. The cherries come in two flavors: Original, and cinnamon Balls of Fire. They are marketed for use in everything from cocktails and hard seltzers to ice cream. Trachtenbroit has tested a CBD-infused version. The following interview has been edited for clarity and space:
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