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Milwaukee Distillery Creates New Alcohol Category Of Hard Water




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Hard2O comes in four flavors.

Central Standard Distillery

Hard water.& nbsp; A low, ABV drink that is not sugary, has no carbonation and is made from a grain-neutral spirit, not malt. An idea that intrigued Central Standard Distillery founders Evan Hughes and Pat McQuillan, and it got them thinking about the possibilities.

“It seems like such an easy concept that someone should have done it already,” says Hughes. "We kept wondering, 'Why is nobody else doing this?'"

But after both Hughes and McQuillan moved past the wondering stage and into the development process, they realized why no one had come up with a spirit-based, hard water before: because it was really hard to develop. The two, with their distiller, Greg Diny and Jesse Jonas, packaging expert, had to experiment with flavors, with alcohol by volume levels, and with packaging. & nbsp;"It took us three years of research and development," McQuillan says.

"And Pat and I learned more about microbiology than I ever thought possible," Hughes adds.

Both Hughes and McQuillan say several times over the last three years, they thought they might be ready to launch their own water, but it is still perfected. "We had to be really patient," Hughes says. "We spend a lot of time and money in lab research."

Their perfectionism, they say, was worth it, as their new hard water is being launched all over Wisconsin in time for Labor Day celebrations, and Hard2O is the first ever, still vodka-water. There's one alcoholic still on the market, but it's not made with spirit, it's malt-based, Hughes says.

"We're building a new category," Hughes says.

Founders Pat McQuillan and Evan Hughes present their new vodka still water.

Central Standard Distillery

Hard2O itself is smooth – it tastes of fruit and water and just a hint of vodka, but without any harsh aftertaste. Each 12-ounce serving comes in a plastic bottle, not unlike regular bottled water, and each serving has only 40 calories, is 5 percent alcohol by volume, contains absolutely no sugar, no carbohydrates and is gluten-free. It will be sold in four-packs and 24-packs, and some places, including bars and taverns, may sell it by individual bottle. Hard2O comes in four naturally-derived flavors: berry, mango, citrus, and dragon fruit-pear. Also sold in completely recyclable packaging, too.

"Those flavors were just, by far, our favorites," Hughes says. "Initially, we were just going to launch with three flavors, but then we tasted the dragon fruit-pear, and we would give any one of them up."

The genesis for the idea for the product comes from a simple preference: “We don't like bubbles,” says Hughes.

The two also look like fake flavors. “You know what those watermelon candies taste like, and no watermelon candy anywhere that tastes like that?” Hughes says. "We want our product to have sugar or unnatural flavoring."

"This is a lifestyle beverage," Hughes says. “Perfect for boating, the beach, tailgates, golf, barbecues, after working out. Session sessionable. ”

And ABV settled out at 5 percent. They tested out hard waters that came in as high as 12 percent, but those waters didn't taste right to say them. "We wanted it to be subtle," McQuillan says.

As for the very low, 40 calories per 12-ounce bottle, they initially thought it would come in around 80 or 90 calories, but because it had any sugar or artificial flavorings, its actual calories were much lower than expected. “It hits a lot of categories” that are trending in both beverages and lifestyle, Hughes says.

The rollout of the product on Aug. 22 in Wisconsin will help them prepare for a national campaign that will last sometime in 2020. "The more people we show this product to, the more people have different ideas of how to use it," McQuillan says.

For Denver mixologist Sean Keipper, national distribution or at least distribution to Colorado comes fast enough.

"Hard2O is going to play well here in Denver, but also poolside out in Vegas, at golf resorts in Arizona, on both coasts and basically anywhere folks get fanatical about working out," Keipper says. "I envision most people will drink Hard2O chilled, straight out of the bottle, but it also makes a great cocktail ingredient, not to mention refreshing served on the rocks with a lime."

Tavern owner Mark Collins, who operates The Irish Rail Bar & amp; Grill in the resort town of Manasquan, New Jersey, predicts Hard2O will be a hit with its patrons.

"My customers are always looking for low-cal alternatives and 40 calories is the lowest they've ever seen," Collins says. "Folks will definitely be intrigued when Hard2O comes out to the East Coast."

Although its national launch was months away, Hughes and McQuillan decided to market their product directly to their beer-related competitors as they placed billboards directly across the street from a large national brewing company's operations in both St. Louis. Louis, MO and Newark, NJ. The billboards read: “Your AB boss never has to know. Call us. (87) TRY-HARD2O, ”and“ Work at AB? Call us. (87) TRY-HARD2O. ”

"Who better to score the first taste of our 40-calorie industry-changing product than those making 95-plus-calorie drinks each and every day," Hughes said. “We're waiting for employees of those competing in this, as well as the flavored-malt-beverage space to taste Hard2O.”& nbsp;

Additionally, the distillery is seeking anyone in the United States who is named Michael, Michelle or Mickey Ultra to dial toll free number and perhaps become their new ambassador product.

"We wanted to have some fun with how we launched Hard2O," Hughes says. “This corn syrup wars or anything like that. We think of it as a creative way to showcase Hard2O and provide unexpected influencers for the next great drink in our industry. ”

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Hard2O comes in four flavors.

Central Standard Distillery

Hard water. A low, ABV drink that is not sugary, has no carbonation and is made from a grain-neutral spirit, not malt. An idea that intrigued Central Standard Distillery founders Evan Hughes and Pat McQuillan, and it got them thinking about the possibilities.

“It seems like such an easy concept that someone should have done it already,” says Hughes. "We kept wondering, 'Why is nobody else doing this?'"

But after both Hughes and McQuillan moved past the wondering stage and into the development process, they realized why no one had come up with a spirit-based, hard water before: because it was really hard to develop. The two, with their distiller, Greg Diny and Jesse Jonas, packaging expert, had to experiment with flavors, with alcohol by volume levels, and with packaging. "It took us three years of research and development," McQuillan says.

"And Pat and I learned more about microbiology than I ever thought possible," Hughes adds.

Both Hughes and McQuillan say several times over the last three years, they thought they might be ready to launch their own water, but it is still perfected. "We had to be really patient," Hughes says. "We spend a lot of time and money in lab research."

Their perfectionism, they say, was worth it, as their new hard water is being launched all over Wisconsin in time for Labor Day celebrations, and Hard2O is the first ever, still vodka-water. There's one alcoholic still on the market, but it's not made with spirit, it's malt-based, Hughes says.

"We're building a new category," Hughes says.

Founders Pat McQuillan and Evan Hughes present their new vodka still water.

Central Standard Distillery

Hard2O itself is smooth – it tastes of fruit and water and just a hint of vodka, but without any harsh aftertaste. Each 12-ounce serving comes in a plastic bottle, not unlike regular bottled water, and each serving has only 40 calories, is 5 percent alcohol by volume, contains absolutely no sugar, no carbohydrates and is gluten-free. It will be sold in four-packs and 24-packs, and some places, including bars and taverns, may sell it by individual bottle. Hard2O comes in four naturally-derived flavors: berry, mango, citrus, and dragon fruit-pear. Also sold in completely recyclable packaging, too.

"Those flavors were just, by far, our favorites," Hughes says. "Initially, we were just going to launch with three flavors, but then we tasted the dragon fruit-pear, and we would give any one of them up."

The genesis for the idea for the product comes from a simple preference: “We don't like bubbles,” says Hughes.

The two also look like fake flavors. “You know what those watermelon candies taste like, and no watermelon candy anywhere that tastes like that?” Hughes says. "We want our product to have sugar or unnatural flavoring."

"This is a lifestyle beverage," Hughes says. “Perfect for boating, the beach, tailgates, golf, barbecues, after working out. Session sessionable. ”

And ABV settled out at 5 percent. They tested out hard waters that came in as high as 12 percent, but those waters didn't taste right to say them. "We wanted it to be subtle," McQuillan says.

As for the very low, 40 calories per 12-ounce bottle, they originally thought it would come in around 80 or 90 calories, but because it had any sugar or artificial flavorings, its actual calories were much lower than expected. “It hits a lot of categories” that are trending in both beverages and lifestyle, Hughes says.

The rollout of the product on Aug. 22 in Wisconsin will help them prepare for a national campaign that will last sometime in 2020. "The more people we show this product to, the more people have different ideas of how to use it," McQuillan says.

For Denver mixologist Sean Keipper, national distribution or at least distribution to Colorado comes fast enough.

"Hard2O is going to play well here in Denver, but also poolside out in Vegas, at golf resorts in Arizona, on both coasts and basically anywhere folks get fanatical about working out," Keipper says. "I envision most people will drink Hard2O chilled, straight out of the bottle, but it also makes a great cocktail ingredient, not to mention refreshing served on the rocks with a lime."

Tavern owner Mark Collins, who operates The Irish Rail Bar & Grill in the resort town of Manasquan, New Jersey, predicts Hard2O will be a hit with his patrons.

"My customers are always looking for low-cal alternatives and 40 calories is the lowest they've ever seen," Collins says. "Folks will definitely be intrigued when Hard2O comes out to the East Coast."

Although its national launch is months away, Hughes and McQuillan decided to market their product directly to their beer-related competitors as they placed billboards directly across the street from a large national brewing company's operations in both St. Louis. Louis, MO and Newark, NJ. The billboards read: “Your AB boss never has to know. Call us. (87) TRY-HARD2O, ”and“ Work at AB? Call us. (87) TRY-HARD2O. ”

"Who better to score the first taste of our 40-calorie industry-changing product than those making 95-plus-calorie drinks each and every day," Hughes said. “We're waiting for employees of those competing in this, as well as the flavored-malt-beverage space to taste Hard2O.”

Additionally, the distillery is seeking anyone in the United States who is named Michael, Michelle or Mickey Ultra to dial toll free number and perhaps become their new ambassador product.

"We wanted to have some fun with how we launched Hard2O," Hughes says. “This corn syrup wars or anything like that. We think of it as a creative way to showcase Hard2O and provide unexpected influencers for the next great drink in our industry. ”


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