Are You Ready For The Rise Of Boozy Water?

Food & Drink

Hear me out: boozy…..water.

Perhaps that sounds like the drink of wellness extremists looking to catch a buzz. But the appeal of Funny Water, a new line of canned boozy waters, is surprisingly universal — they’re hyper-refreshing and highly sessionable; one of the sole non-carbonated, low-proof options amidst a sea of saccharine spiked sodas and high-energy hard seltzers.

The brand is the brainchild of Jake Vogel and PJ Loughran, a music industry veteran who led creative marketing at Bonnaroo (Manchester, TN) and Outside Lands (San Francisco, CA). 

“There are challenges to putting together festivals for 100,000 people in the middle of a Tennessee summer,” Loughran describes. “Particularly, dehydration; people partying too hard, not drinking enough water, and getting sick or ill.” No matter how many water stations organizers placed throughout the properties, “it’s hard to be cognizant of hydration in that environment; there wasn’t even the impetus to find water for guests in attendance.”

This situation sparked the question: how do you facilitate better drinking habits? 

The duo’s answer is simple: mix your drinks with water. “It’s not revolutionary,” says Loughran, “but no one does it.” 

Looking at the beverage space, there’s a lack of non-carbonated alcoholic beverages. If your body can’t handle carbonation or if you’re not keen on bubbles, your lowest-proof beverage option is wine, which isn’t particularly slack in alcohol. “We found it fascinating how underserved that non-carbonated, low-ABV customer was,” says Loughran.

Which leads to the question: is Funny Water good?

Surprisingly so. The blend goes beyond pouring a bar rail spirit into a can of water — the alcohol is (almost) undetectable, well balanced by fresh flavors like a  spa water-ish cucumber-mint, sweet-savory citrus, and watermelon.

“If you lower the alcohol and add the right amount of flavor, you arrive at a delicious experience that’s not alcohol-forward,” he explains. “Funny Water is very refreshing. It doesn’t have that aftertaste that you get from sugar-based hard seltzer.” Loughran and Vogel are planning to expand their flavor options and formats, adding 16-ounce and 24-ounce packaging. 

While not healthy (Loughran underlines this), Funny Water feels at pace with the increasingly blurred lines between booze and wellness. Particularly in the wake of a global health crisis, many drinkers are looking for beverages that are more mindful; lower in calories, natural in flavor, or packed with body benefits like electrolytes and vitamins. Funny Water fits the bill.

If you’re at say, Bonnaroo, you can continue crushing down cans to keep the party flowing while hydrating. After yoga, Funny Water feels like a thoughtful drink to crack that won’t derail your holistic lifestyle. “We liked the idea of having a brand that can be synonymous with socializing how you want to socialize,” Loughran continues. “The goal with Funny Water is to encourage better habits over a long day – keep that buzz going, but allow your body to keep up with hydration and iron. It’s an alternative to higher-alcohol beverages like wine or cocktails – Funny Water is a breather in between.”

That said, there’s a learning curve onboarding customers. “We’re accustomed to certain counterweights — beers, hard seltzers, and canned cocktails. This is a new category. It takes a moment for people to digest what it is.”

The sales wouldn’t reflect such a struggle – Funny Water has sold out of inventory four times in the last two months. “We anticipate being in 19 to 20 states by spring — we’re producing enough volume to support that. We’ve built a great distribution foundation and the conversations we’ve been having with them are extremely positive – they see the opportunity for a product like this in a space that has been .”

As interest in hard seltzer wanes for many, he sees space for new players. “There will be hard seltzers for a long time. But what’s the next new thing? We believe this lower-ABV, non-carbonated, lighter, refreshing option is the future of the RTD space.”

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