As summer approaches every year, dreams of sunny days spent with family and friends come to life, with the added bonus of delectable appetizers, hearty meals and ice cold drinks – alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
The beverage team at Recipe knows this feeling all too well. In 2022, the team launched Bulletproof Cocktail Co., a limited edition hard vodka seltzer with notes of grapefruit, blood orange and lemon verbena. What began as a fizz of an idea – something to compete with the other hard seltzers on the market like Vizzy, White Claw or Cottage Springs – fizzed into a sensation and crowd favourite in LCBOs across Ontario.
“Our vision was to introduce a cocktail-inspired seltzer,” said Nathan Cameron, Senior Director, Beverage. “Ultimately, we wanted to combine the drinkability of a seltzer with a dynamic depth of flavour that a balanced cocktail can deliver.”
But what does it take to create a vodka seltzer that stands out amongst a market that’s becoming saturated? According to Grand View Research, the hard seltzer market in North America is expected to reach $57.34 billion (USD) by 2030. This market is largely driven by a younger consumer base looking for drinks with lower alcohol contents, which hard seltzers are known for, as well as brands looking to tap into more functional ingredients like CBD, adaptogens and collagen.
For Chantelle Gabino, National Beverage Manager, the creation of Bulletproof Cocktail Co. was as much about deciding what the team didn’t want the drink to be, as much as it was about deciding on what it did. The priority was to keep the structured qualities of a cocktail and pair it with the ease and effortlessness of ready to drink (RTD) cans.
“Just as a great cocktail will have balance, acidity, aromatics, body and mouth-feel, so does a can of Bulletproof,” said Chantelle. “We aim to have the cocktail taste fresh, without the obvious artificial flavours or aftertaste found in the market currently.”
To ensure that the drink stayed true to Recipe’s values of Being Curious and Owning It , the beverage team took a collaborative approach, working with internal teams to develop the right flavour profiles and then with an external flavour house that was aligned with the vision for the cocktail. The result: a slightly tart and sweet beverage that tastes like summer in a can (or cup!), but without the artificial aspects.
“We knew we wanted to have a basic formula for the flavour development that would keep us on track,” said Chantelle. “This involved three parts: one, a flavour that was identifiable and appealing; two, another flavour that felt adventurous to some degree – maybe slightly less identifiable than the first; and three, a flavour that had an element of the unknown or a potential health benefit. After several combinations, flavour bible references, trend decks and general insights from numerous sources internally and externally, we landed at three different combinations to test. Amongst them was grapefruit, blood orange and lemon verbena – my personal favourite of the bunch.”
So, summer lovers, it’s clear creating a sensation has many moving parts, but our Beverage team executed it seamlessly, using Recipe values and innovation to create summer’s favourite drink. We’re excited to see what the future holds for this budding cocktail!