Category Archives: Skinny

Mixie Chicks

Mixie_Chicks2

By HANAH CHO

Staff Writer

hcho@dallasnews.com

Published: 09 August 2014 05:17 PM

Updated: 09 August 2014 07:06 PM

 

Within a year of launching, the founders of Carrollton-based Skimpy Mixers took their line of low-calorie cocktail mixers into Wal-Mart and H-E-B stores.

While such a feat is a major accomplishment for any startup, co-founder and CEO Megan Toole-Hall says it’s just the beginning.

“We’ve come so far so fast,” Toole-Hall said. “We can’t relish it but need to keep on going.”

Skimpy Mixers started four years ago when Toole-Hall and business partner Krista LaMothe got hooked on a drink at a pool party: a frozen orange dreamsicle cocktail.

The women tried to find a mix to replicate the drink at home but came up empty. Toole-Hall and LaMothe decided to make their own recipe but discovered that such fruity cocktails were high in sugar and could have as much as 800 calories per drink.

Toole-Hall and LaMothe saw an opportunity to create a low-calorie, low-sugar mixer that would “skimp on the calories, not on the taste,” as the Skimpy Mixer tagline suggests.

Toole-Hall was already running a successful insurance agency, but she couldn’t pass up this new venture. “I didn’t want to have regret,” she said. (Toole-Hall still owns the insurance business, which provides a steady paycheck for her family.)

Good timing

The two women recruited Summer Lamons, a registered dietitian and Toole-Hall’s oldest friend, and pooled their money to launch Skimpy Mixers.

The brand hit the market at a time when there’s growing interest among consumers, especially women, for low-calorie cocktails and new flavors, says one food industry analyst. Everyone from liquor companies to chain restaurants is trying to capitalize on the demand for low-sugar and low-calorie alcoholic beverages.

“Anytime you’re on trend with new flavors and hitting that other hot button with low calorie, at least in today’s environment, that’s potentially a winning formula,” said David Henkes, vice president at Chicago-based research firm Technomic Inc.

Lamons helped concoct the Skimpy Mixer recipes based on real fruit juice and Splenda as a sweetener. It took countless tests and various formulations in Toole-Hall’s Lewisville kitchen to find the right mix that would not taste like a diet drink.

Skimpy Mixers developed a line of six flavors — orange, berry lemonade, pineapple, sweet n’ sour, Skimpy Margarita and cherry limeade. The latter was developed in partnership with Torrei Hart, the ex-wife of comedian Kevin Hart, who’s starring in VH1’s Atlanta Exes.

A 32-ounce bottle retails for $4.98.

 

Just as they developed recipes from scratch, the women learned as they went as they navigated the beverage industry.

 

The process was a mix of trial and error, luck and timing. For instance, Toole-Hall found Skimpy Mixers’ first bottling company through her insurance contacts.

 

That bottling company, however, fell through quickly. Six months into the contract, the women got a phone call while they were out at lunch. They were told they had 30 minutes to pick up packaging boxes and other materials from the bottling warehouse, which was closing.

 

They quickly headed there with a U-Haul truck and took what they could. Unable to operate a forklift, the ladies enticed the just-laid-off workers with cash to help them.

 

“At the beginning, you don’t know if you’re going to make it,” Toole-Hall said.

 

Marketing and research

 

What they may have lacked in industry knowledge, the women made up in marketing savvy. Toole-Hall and LaMothe both have marketing degrees and used that to develop the brand’s logo, color scheme and zebra print packaging.

 

They also scoped out their competitors and quickly found that many brands catered to men.

 

They used their marketing research when meeting with a Wal-Mart buyer, where the women made their case about offering more choices in the mixer aisle.

 

The retailer began carrying Skimpy Mixers in about 650 stores in December. In February, Wal-Mart extended distribution to another 715 locations, bringing the total to more than 1,300 stores in 48 states.

 

Skimpy Mixers are also carried in 120 H-E-B stores in Texas and other regional grocery chains as well as liquor store chains. Instead of bars and restaurants, the company is focusing on retail distribution.

 

Sales in the first 12 months since its launch in February 2013 hit $2 million. Over the next year, the founders would like to double Skimpy Mixers’ revenue.

 

Besides expanding its distribution channels nationwide, the company wants to branch out beyond cocktail mixers, which could mean developing other types of mixes such as protein powder.

 

“It’s about creating a brand,” Toole-Hall said.

 

Follow Hanah Cho on

 

Twitter at @hanahcho

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Alcohol, Skinny

Technomic Presents 2014 VIBE Awards to Leading Adult Beverage Companies

VIBE

Adult beverage suppliers rated as top performing partners by leading chain restaurant and hotel beverage professionals were recognized as Technomic presented the 2014 VIBE Supplier Awards during the VIBE Conference in Las Vegas last week. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Alcohol, Beer, Craft Beer, Dave Henkes, Las Vegas, Liquor, Skinny, Spirits, VIBE, Wine

Hotels are seeing $ on signature cocktails

ehotelier

Hotel happy hours used to bring in the hordes to drink and eat as much as they could at cheap prices. Now it seems that the pendulum is swinging the other way as more bar managers are developing premium priced signature drinks to lure in guests as well as local customers.

A December report by the consulting firm Technomic showed hotel operators forecast 4.4 percent growth in their food and beverage sales in 2014. “Of the segments we track, hotel operators are among the most optimistic,” said Donna Hood Crecca, the senior director for the adult beverage resource group at Technomic.

“A number of hotel and lodging operations such as Fairmont, Marriott and Kimpton now offer unique drink menus including signature cocktails along with extensive spirits, wine and beer selections. It’s clear some hotels are prioritizing adult beverages as a way to differentiate their properties and drive traffic and sales,” added Hood Crecca.

“Hotel operators see opportunity in adult beverages,” observes her colleague David Henkes, Vice President at Technomic and leader of its Adult Beverage Practice. “A creative and operationally-sound drink program executed across the various outlets of a hotel property can add both value and enhanced experience elements for guests, as well as high-profit sales, all of which are particularly important in this challenging environment.”

Return to a by-gone era?

Before Prohibition, the hot spots for cocktail innovation were at the big-city hotels, such as the original Waldorf, The Plaza, the Hoffman House and the Knickerbocker. After Prohibition, the alcohol industry was run by the gangsters and all those bartender craft skills were lost.

View the full article on ehotelier.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Bar, Dave Henkes, Hotels, Liquor, lounge, Marketing, Millenials, Press Release, Skinny, Spirits, Wine

FROM THE FLOOR: Beverage Dealers Help Diversify

Diversify

As restaurant operators look to make sure that beverages continue to be a strong and growing element of their businesses, there are plenty of drink suppliers, product developers, and manufacturers looking at ways to help them boost their sales.

Hundreds of them are showing their wares during the four-day National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show that continues its run in Chicago. A two-day sister confab, the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event, also kicked off Sunday.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Alcohol, Beer, Burger, Casual Dining, Dave Henkes, Fast Casual, Liquor, Marketing, NRA Show, Press Release, Skinny, Spirits, Wine

Buying into Booze

 

Buying into Booze

Does the future of fast casual lie in alcohol?

Fast-casual restaurants were once able to claim premium food, modern décor, and all-around upscale service as hallmarks of their category. But with more quick-service chains retooling in those areas to compete for post-recession consumers, fast casuals have been left to search for new ways to differentiate their brands.

For many, that search has turned up something typically better suited to fine- and casual-dining joints: booze.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Alcohol, Beer, Casual Dining, Dave Henkes, Fast Casual, Liquor, Marketing, Press Release, Quick Service, Skinny, Spirits, Wine

Restaurants Slim Down Cocktail Calorie Counts

Slim Down

Aim to Beef Up Traffic, Margins By Avoiding ‘Veto Vote’ And Spurring Second Drinks

Shaken, stirred … or skinny?

It’s a question that could be asked at a growing number of restaurant chains seizing on the low-calorie-liquor trend spawned by Skinnygirl Cocktails.

T.G.I. Friday’s, Chili’s, Cheesecake Factory and others are slapping generic phrases like “skinny” and “slender” on cocktails as they target weight-conscious drinkers. And Champps Americana and sibling chain Fox and Hound this month unveiled a handful of drinks with fewer than 140 calories using Skinnygirl brand spirits on a lighter summer menu. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Alcohol, Dave Henkes, Liquor, Marketing, Skinny, Spirits