Max Messier, the founder of New Orleans company Cocktail & Sons, had a decade-plus career behind the stick before he made the leap into retail. Launched in early 2016, his line of handcrafted all-natural syrups and sodas have been embraced by tipplers from coast to coast, with flavors ranging from springy honeysuckle peppercorn to bold spiced demerara. The products are quickly becoming staples on bar tops nationwide.
The man knows how to go from zero to 100—real quick.
His wealth of experience also means he fully understands there’s so much more to launching a product than recipe testing and traditional marketing. In short, relationships are everything.
Messier offers up a few candid no-frills tips for anyone looking to make the leap from bartender to cocktail cottage industry mogul.
Use your network.
“Ask everyone for help, and people will generally lend a good hand: Just ask if they know someone or if that person knows someone. That’s how you get your product on the shelves or on the bar top.”
The [cocktail] game is a freaking hustle.
“You have to sell your product with passion and articulation. Make every bartender want to use your product in their cocktail [by teaching them] the key benefits. Make the shop owner believe that you’ve created the next big thing, and as a team, each of you can make a difference in customers’ lives.”
Keep your nose to the ground and your opinions tight to the vest.
“Nobody wants to be involved on a professional level with a person who finds faults in everything and everyone. Keep it positive!”
Oh, and ideally make one major life move at a time.
“Avoid having a new baby and a new business at the same time! We launched Cocktail & Sons in January 2015, and my daughter was born in March 2015. Oy vay!”