SaloonBox Behind The Scenes: Christopher Wirth, Founder and CEO of American Juice Company
For the first time this month, we have included a juice blend from American Juice Company in our cocktail kit. This was the first company we saw that had the kind of high quality that we know our customers expect. It also helped that they were making a new 4 oz. bottle that we can ship with our kit. We had a chance to speak with the company's founder to gain insights into how that high product quality comes about.
What led to your decision to start American Juice Co.?
Back in 2012 I was working at The Jefferson hotel in Washington DC. The hotel had an amazing bar called Quill which was constantly evolving their menu based on seasonal ingredients. Massi, my business partner, was the mastermind behind the bar's menu. He was hired to come from Italy and develop the most cutting edge mixology bar in the city and that's what Quill is today.
How is your product different from what’s currently being offered in the juice and cocktail ingredient markets? And what makes your product stand out?
American Juice Company is a result of the bar's attention to quality paired with a desire to make that accessible to bars that don't have a Massi or people at home who are not satisfied with overly sugary syrups, artificial ingredients, or doing things themselves. Our products are made from fresh fruits, vegetables, and spices combined in a way that allows you to become the master mixologist without making a mistake. Our goal is to make high-end mixology accessible to all bars and all people at home. We call it democratizing the craft cocktail.
What’s your goal with the business?
Our goal is to work with the most demanding customers in the world and delivering consistently excellent quality products that we can stand behind. When we hear feedback from our customers about how amazing the cocktails they made using our products were, that makes all our hard work worth it. We want to continue to develop new flavors and new products that stay true to our mission of democratizing the craft cocktail.
Tell us more about the Lady Lychee blend in this month's kit - how do you source the ingredients, how is it made, how long does it take?
The Lady Lychee is our most popular product. It was originally designed for Valentine's Day because of it's delicate floral notes. The item was so popular that we ended up keeping it on year round! We source lychee in Thailand and pair it with strawberries from California and a rose water we create by steeping rose petals like tea. The steeping process is the longest part of the process. Once we have all of our ingredients prepped, we blend them all together, strain, and fill into the bottles.
What's your most popular product/flavor? Why do you think that is?
The Lady Lychee has an exotic element to it which makes it so popular. Also it is very versatile so it pairs nicely with vodka, champagne, gin, and rum.
Have you seen any new trends or creative ways of using your juices lately?
Yes we have seen hotels using them as ice cubes in cocktails so that their drinks become more flavorful rather than more watered down as they sit. Another creative use for them that we have seen is popsicles, sorbet, and even in baking muffins!
We see that American Juice Co. blends are being used in high-end bars. What's the most popular segment that purchases your product?
Our business is split almost equally working with high-end bars and supplying retailers like Whole Foods, West Elm, Kings in NJ, and many more.
What’s next for your business?
We are excited about our new 4 oz bottles which you are receiving in these boxes! These are a new addition which we have been working on for a few months now so it's great to see them finally here.
What is one of your biggest challenges?
As a small company our biggest challenge is time. We have so many things going on any given day that our biggest challenge is finding the time to get it all done! Each of us has had to become a master of wearing multiple hats ranging from marketing, financial modeling, sales, sourcing, production, quality control, to packing samples for our customers.
Has there been a flavor or juice that you wanted to bottle, but it didn't work out?
We wanted to bottle a watermelon based mixer but after our first batch we tested it out amongst consumers and felt that it was not up to par. We may revisit a new version of the watermelon based mixer down the road.
What was one of the most exciting moments for your brand?
With a startup you face many ups and downs, but every small victory makes the battle worth fighting. One of the most exciting moments for our brand was when we made a deal to be in the signature cocktail of the Belmont Stakes 2016. The Belmont Jewel was a pairing of American Juice Company's Red Carnation and Woodford Reserve's Bourbon. Being there and seeing 15,000 of our drinks consumed was an amazing feeling.
Do you have any plans for new flavors or products in the pipeline that you can talk about right now?
We have our Fall flavor about to come out! This is our Johnny Pumpkinseed which is a blend of passion fruit, pumpkin, and a tellicherry black pepper. Visit our online store to check it out in 16 oz and 4 oz sizes.
What’s your favorite flavor and way to drink it?
My favorite flavor is our Blueberry Finn. I like to drink it as a blueberry mojito without much added sugar. I combine:
10 mint leaves
1.0 oz Blueberry Finn
1.5 oz Rum
0.5 oz lime juice
Directions: Muddle all ingredients and top with soda water