The founders of Mixed-Up Cocktail Co set out to create the tastiest canned cocktails ever. They also refused to sacrifice quality for convenience. After years of experimentation, Teresa Dahl-Bredine and David Crosley have achieved their dream.
You won’t find chemicals, preservatives, or unwanted additives in these premium craft cocktails. Instead, every flavor is made with just three simple ingredients: quality booze, real fruit juice, and a touch of agave nectar. The end result is a drink that’s on par — or perhaps even better — than what you’d get at your local bar.
Recently, we caught up with Teresa to learn more about her journey and hear her advice for fellow entrepreneurs.
1. Why did you start Mixed-Up Cocktail Co?
We operated a craft brewery and distillery for eight years under a brewpub model in our hometown of Silver City, New Mexico. That business made me want to create a product that could reach beyond our small footprint in the rural Southwest.
I’ve always enjoyed creating new cocktails and pairings. I love to entice the senses with creative cocktail descriptions before hitting it home with delicious experiences for the taste buds.
In 2020, when ready-to-drink cocktails were just beginning to hit the market, I became obsessed with creating canned drinks. I wanted to only use simple, clean ingredients and have them taste just as fresh as bar cocktails. I didn’t know if it was possible, but I was determined to experiment. After testing various small batch flavors with delicious results, we decided to purchase a canning line and work on the real challenge – getting that cocktail in a can without losing the wow factor.
2. What obstacles did you face along the way?
The first and biggest obstacle was creating a shelf-stable product without preservatives. We spent a year sending products back and forth to independent labs, exploring different processes. We had some big lessons to learn along the way as we navigated refermentation. We ultimately invested in pasteurization equipment and fine-tuned the process to create a great-tasting stable product using only spirits, juice, and a touch of agave nectar.
Every time we ran into a roadblock, someone would tell us how easily we could solve the problem if we’d just add a simple preservative called potassium benzoate. They said everyone was doing it, but I was stubborn and determined — I did not want to compromise our vision for clean cocktails. It wasn’t easy, but I feel that it has paid off. When I see the look of pleasant surprise on a customer’s face when they taste our cocktails, I know that it was all worthwhile.
Navigating the supply chain has also been a huge challenge. We discovered that not all juices are created equal. It has taken a lot of research to find the best quality not-from-concentrate juices for each product while being mindful of their costs.
Distribution is another big challenge as each state has different rules, regulations, license requirements, and distribution structures. We are still navigating that challenge, but we’re also thrilled to now be in Southern California, Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico with more states on the horizon.
3. What lessons do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Hold fast to your vision, but be nimble as you navigate. Your instinct brought you to the vision of your product. There is a reason you believe in it. If your first, second, and third attempts don’t work, open your mind to alternatives.
There were many times along the way that we could have given in and gone the easy route — using flavorings instead of juice and chemicals instead of pasteurization — but I wouldn’t have been satisfied with the end product. And, if I can’t get behind it, I can’t put in the enormous effort it takes to make it successful in the market.
4. What’s on the horizon for Mixed-Up Cocktail Co?
We are expanding distribution state-by-state, growing a wonderful team, testing out new marketing strategies, and experimenting with new flavors. It is an exciting time to be leading this venture, sometimes stumbling and sometimes leaping, never knowing what will be around the next corner. Successes often jump out at you when you least expect them, but I’m now trying to always expect them.
5. How do you keep work/life balance? What drives/inspires you?
Theater has always been my personal passion. I direct a small theater troupe in my hometown. I’ve been determined to keep feeding that part of myself — even when my business life is so intense that I know I must be slightly (or entirely) insane to do both. Despite the crazy schedule, nurturing my creative side keeps me energized. It feels good to know that I can be both a serious entrepreneur and a wacky theater creator — I don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.