As we watch the leaves slowly turn and the crisp fall weather steadily creeps into our days, one thing that can keep the taste of summer on our lips is sipping our favorite cocktails and to help make those cocktails “fresh, restaurant-style” but better, is Ken MacKenzie, CEO, and Founder of Fresh Victor, small batch, cold press, all-natural, made with organic sweeteners, signature juices to add to any spirit or simply the perfect mocktail.
Created in Northern California, Fresh Victor’s delicious flavors have already won multiple Double Gold medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the #3 Best Mixer in America Award from USA Today.
So, where did the name Fresh Victor come from?
Ken says the most important facet of the brand’s name is Fresh. “We wanted that to be the first word you see on the label because it is an anomaly in the mixers and prepared cocktails space,” he says. “These are not the neon-green, high-preservative, and high-fructose corn-syrup bottles you see on shelves – which often contain 400 – 600 calories a cocktail. Fresh Victor comes in closer to 150 – 170 calories and is naturally a better alternative because there are no preservatives or artificial sweeteners. People want to control what they put in their bodies; they want healthier options and transparency about the ingredients in their products. That’s a big part of our mission.”
The word Victor is a nod to the at-home hosts and on-premise bartenders, who Ken sees as victors. “It’s a victory for you to serve a wide variety of specialty drinks that take just seconds to make; to offer cocktails and mocktails that you can be proud to serve and proud to drink and that people will still be talking about for days. We’re elevating how people make premier cocktails at home, in restaurants, and in bars. That’s what we wanted to get across.”
Fresh Victor is also steeped in the true cocktail culture, with all-natural ingredients creating sophisticated culinary flavors. In fact, Fresh Victor’s line of mixers can only be found in the refrigerated section of stores or delivered to customers in chilled packs.
What are some of Fresh Victor’s differentiators?
Beyond believing that all cocktail mixes should be clean, fresh, and made with the finest ingredients, Fresh Victor is spirit agnostic. Any of our 8 flavors can pair with any spirit sold today in the adult beverage aisle. Fresh Victor as a mocktail is beyond awesome! You can pair it with any flavor-infused or non-flavor seltzer to really highlight the cold-pressed, all-natural, and high-quality of our small craft batches. Our mission is to elevate you every day. We do this through cocktails and mocktails that excite and delight!
What were some of the hardest things you encountered when starting Fresh Victor?
Attempting to pioneer a new or first-to-category type of concept can be difficult initially. I think “mixers” as a category had traditionally experienced a bad reputation for having high fructose corn syrup, lots of calories, and a neon green appearance that folks accepted because there was really nothing else out there that was better on the shelves. Distributors and retailers had not really experienced the concept of a high-quality epicurean mixer that was more culinary than mass-produced.
Launching a refrigerated cold chain mixer has many benefits, as it is preservative-free and naturally low calorie, but it also has its challenges as well. More care is needed when handling a refrigerated product, and the industry is used to shelf-stable and easy offerings that can be housed in warehouses and forwarding centers for months, if not years, at a time.
Also, creating shelf space for a category that did not previously exist is challenging and takes some industry and consumer education. However, it is more than worth it when you see the reaction you receive from people when they taste cold-pressed fresh mixers for the very first time.
Why the beverage industry, spirits in particular?
Purely luck. I fell in love and followed a woman to her Guadalajara, Mexico home. I was looking for investment opportunities for me to rationalize spending more time there. Upon looking, I realized that most things there were already being done well, and I could not add any value or innovation….. It was the mid-1990,’s and luckily for me, my future wife’s family had ties in the premium tequila space.
While tequila was available in the U.S., it was well before the boom, and 100% agave brands were not understood like they are today. I spent time learning the trade in Mexico and understanding the differences between Mexico and the United States. I created a career for myself, consulting and owning tequila brands with my wife.
This all eventually led me to want to create something that would truly have a broad market appeal, making fresh cocktails much easier to make with whatever you may be drinking.
What’s your best advice/tip that you can offer someone on becoming an Entrepreneur?
Be patient as you will need a tremendous amount of perseverance. There are many variables to getting that magic algebraic formula correct for a successful business. Define what you wish to accomplish that aligns with what you are passionate about so people can feel your fervent enthusiasm each and every day; that in and of itself is infectious. When people feel your love and passion for something, they begin believing in you and your vision. Making Fresh Victor a reality is something that I have been and continue to be extremely passionate about as I believe in it completely.
Describe your “Ah-Ha” moment, the moment that made you say “yes” to starting a business.
I was entertaining a fair amount at home, and I realized that I was missing most of the evening, including dinner because I was behind the bar making people fresh drinks….. It was very rewarding for me as people wanted our handcrafted cocktails, but they continually reminded me of how long it took to make each one….. I felt some comfort in the fact that the guests would come to the bar and hang out with me while I was making their drinks, but ultimately they were right, I was spending the whole evening in that one spot. That was my Ah-Ha moment. What if I could make fresh cocktails quickly or even batch them using fresh ingredients that people would enjoy without having to take 3-5 minutes to make each drink?
Fresh Victor addressed a problem that could be solved; “Fresh cocktails made easy!” It was also something I could show my guests, who now enjoy jumping behind the bar and making drinks. The real fun is in the sharing and celebration. Fresh Victor makes it extremely easy to come together with family and friends to enjoy cocktails and mocktails alike.
Follow Fresh Victor Cocktails on Instagram for fun recipe ideas and more.