Great drinks are not just a business for Alex Abbott Boyd, founder of Cocktail Crate Craft Mixers—they’re his life’s passion. When you start out making and labeling each bottle by hand from your home, you get a little obsessive about the stuff that’s in the bottle. “I devoured every book I could find on cocktails, experimented with flavors like mad, and started testing out ideas on my most discerning friends,” says Alex, who continues to solicit their feedback to this day.
Take a gander at his creative process, inspirations and cocktail suggestions, and learn more about the man behind our customer-favorite cocktail mixers, after the jump!
WM: What is your process for coming up with the mixer flavors? What are you inspired by?
Alex: For me, the original spark of an idea for a new mixer might come from anywhere: a casual conversation with a friend, a favorite classic cocktail, or evan a vacation to an organic farm in India.
The idea for our Sriracha Margarita, for example, came out of a chat with a friend who owns a small batch Sriracha company when we were both selling our products at a farmers market in New York City.
Once I have an idea, I begin whipping up countless batches in my home kitchen, varying the quantities of each ingredient in every combination that could possibly taste good. Then, I invite all my friends over for dinner and solicit their honest feedback. Only once I think a mixer is perfect will I take it to our production team.
WM: What’s your favorite Cocktail Crate-infused drink for fall and winter?
Alex: During the fall, it’s Maple Whiskey Sour, both with some bourbon or rye and also with gin. In the fall, I like to incorporate seasonal flavors into my drinks, but I’m usually not ready to completely say goodbye to warm weather cocktails. That’s why Maple Whiskey Sour is perfect for fall—the maple syrup makes it taste super seasonal, but the fresh lemon juice keeps it light and refreshing, more like a typical summer cocktail. It kind of bridges the seasons that way.
By winter, I’m looking for something strong, warming, and complex. More of a sipper than a refreshing cocktail I’d drink relatively quickly. This means winter is when I break out the Spiced Old Fashioned. The brown sugar and spices make it great to pair up with some bourbon or rye, although pairing it with a nice dark rum or brandy can also be really wonderful.
WM: Can you talk about how your travels influence what people are tasting in the bottles?
Alex: I love to travel and I love great food and drink, so naturally the flavors I have encountered around the world have informed the way I’ve created the mixers.
A trip I took to an organic tea estate in Darjeeling, India inspired me to always find the freshest, highest quality, most sustainable ingredients in all my mixers. Driving up to Makaibari, I had seen countless conventional tea gardens – row after row of tea plants, so covered in pesticides that there was no sign of any other life, plant or animal.
When I got to Makaibari, what I saw could not have been more different. A full 25% of the garden was wild forest rather than cultivated, and this allowed all sorts of animals and plants to thrive in the space, creating a supportive environment for the tea plants to grow without the use of pesticides. Being at Makaibari also got me excited about the estate’s green tea, which I later incorporated into our Grapefruit Daiquiri mixer.
We also source organic agave nectar for our Sriracha Margarita, and this past summer I travelled to Oaxaca in southern Mexico to learn more about agave cultivation and processing to better inform the way I source for Cocktail Crate.
WM: You went from being Kickstarter funded to being on our shelves across the country. How do you keep the integrity, passion and authenticity of the original batch alive today?
Alex: I think by far the most important thing was the way I began Cocktail Crate—hand making and bottling each tiny batch myself using the same recipes that I had developed in my home kitchen. Doing this allowed me to feel, touch, and smell each ingredient countless times and really develop a deep understanding of how each raw ingredient impacts the final mixer. This allowed me to stay strong as we grew and opportunities for compromise arose.
For example, every other cocktail mixer company in the country uses juice from concentrate rather than fresh juice. And it makes a ton a sense to do so—it’s way cheaper and it does not even need to be kept in the fridge. But it doesn’t taste nearly as fresh, and the first time someone asked if I wanted to make the switch to lime juice from concentrate, and then showed me a bucket of green goop, I was so grossed out at the thought of using it in our mixers that saying anything other than a resounding “No!” never occurred to me.