Meet the Founders: James Mauk and Hunter Sprole of Golden Rule Spirits
Cousins James Mauk and Hunter Sprole put their own spin on the Golden Rule. Thanks to their exceptional canned cocktails, you can “drink unto others” everywhere you go.
It’s hard to believe that the Margarita Original, made with fresh lime juice, triple sec, and 100% agave tequila, comes with a pop-top. Ditto for their Old Fashioned, crafted with straight bourbon, real orange, and aromatic bitters. Don’t be fooled by the convenience — Golden Rule’s premium blends are nothing like the sugary cans of your college days.
Recently, we caught up with James and Hunter to learn more about their journey and hear their advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
01 Why did you start Golden Rule Spirits?
Growing up in the restaurant industry, we were constantly around food and beverage. Our Mexican restaurant, Tequila Mockingbird, specialized in tequila, mezcal, and all sorts of cocktails made with agave spirits.
The idea for our brand started when we asked ourselves a simple question, “Why are there no real cocktails in cans?” There were plenty of canned options in the alcohol beverage space but we wanted something more authentic; a portable recreation of the cocktails we would make at our restaurant.
When you’re not sitting in front of a bartender, Golden Rule Spirits brings you the next best thing with premium ingredients and spirit-forward recipes. We’re all about giving consumers the experience they crave in a consistent, convenient way.
02 What obstacles did you face along the way?
We faced every obstacle you can imagine. In this heavily regulated industry, government shutdowns and tariff wars have brought our business to a literal standstill. We’ve had to pour entire production runs down the drain when the final product wasn’t up to our standards. Then, of course, the pandemic presented all sorts of challenges. We had to scale back our sales goals and marketing plans while also dealing with a global supply chain shortage.
The road to this point hasn’t been entirely smooth, but it has certainly been interesting!
03 What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Be resilient! Throughout all of those obstacles, we couldn’t help but look at each other and laugh. Sure, it’s a laugh of frustration, but also an acknowledgement that we’ve been through similar situations before and we’ll get through any challenge that lies ahead. For us, frustrations and fun come from the same birth.
04What’s on the horizon for Golden Rule Spirits?
We are developing even more cocktails while staying true to our core philosophy — quality comes first. We also have some fun new brand collaborations coming up that we’re really excited about.
Overall we’re really bullish on the future of real canned cocktails. They’re the ultimate convenience — it’s like bringing the bar with you! Soon, they’ll be a major category of their own, similar to beer, wine, liquor, and hard seltzers.
05 How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Honestly, we don’t have much of a work/life balance right now. Everything we do is centered on product development and building the Golden Rule brand. That’s not a bad thing, per se. It’s just the reality of our current stage as a small company — there are never enough hours in the day. Still, we try to clear our minds by exercising as often as possible.
We are tremendously passionate about the alcoholic beverage space. There’s nothing like seeing all the different aspects of our business come together in harmony, from production through the final sale. We’re driven to make the real ready-to-drink cocktail category respected and recognized throughout the industry.