Women have long been underrepresented in the beverage industry, resulting in numerous challenges for those who choose to blaze the trail, including noticeable pay gaps. Though these inconsistencies are systemic in nature and can’t be solved by purchasing habits alone, these six woman-owned beverage brands should be on your radar. Consider supporting them, and other women and minority-owned brands, in honor of International Equal Pay Day on Sunday, September 18.
St. Cecilia Soda Company
St. Cecilia Soda Company is a small Latina-owned natural soda company based in Austin, Texas. For love of their city and individual passions for music, Tania DeGregorio and Michelle Beebe named their soda company after the Patron Saint of Music. Each small batch of St. Cecilia Soda is free of carbs, gluten and sugar, as well as non-GMO.
The two best friends and business partners call themselves “grateful mamas” and describe their Daytripper soda as “a bright, sunny effervescent citrus blend with breakthrough tones of pink grapefruit and blood orange.”
Après Hours Espresso Martinis
Après Hours is a new line of canned espresso martinis from two colleagues turned co-founders, Nicole Craven and Alexis Smith. The brand officially launched in Dallas on August 1 is available in select liquor stores throughout the city and online with shipping to 39 states.
“Raising money to get this idea off the ground was not what we expected,” says Craven. “The reality is that the alcohol industry is male-dominated, and many people didn’t believe two young female entrepreneurs would even make it to the production stage. It was simultaneously deflating and motivating, but we believed in our product and mission and pressed on until we found our perfect financial partners.”
These initial difficulties made the sudden success and warm reception of Après Hours by Dallas shoppers even sweeter. Their first run sold out the day it hit store shelves.
“We hope to inspire other women and girls to launch companies of their own. That’s why we’ve established our Après Hours Grant Program to help fund female-founded start-up businesses.”
The goal of the program is to streamline the fundraising process for women and girls to create businesses of their own. Applications are now being accepted and the first grant recipient will be announced on January 17, 2023.
Architect Milan Jordan created Cultured Kombucha to intentionally diversify the health and wellness scene. After attending a kombucha brewing class and hosting kombucha pot lucks, Jordan was inspired to begin selling her brew at a farmers market, and the brand took off.
“Google wellness and look at the images, ” said Jordan. “You’ll see a trend that needs to be broken. Wellness definitely has a race problem.”
Jordan believes all communities should have access to and knowledge of internal health and wellness.
“I hate that kombucha has this luxury, super high-end aura because wellness needs to be available for everyone. Kombucha is the fastest growing health beverage in the U.S. It doesn’t need to be an exclusive thing. So, I brew this kombucha for culture, and for those who might otherwise overlook probiotic benefits.”
The brews are named after 90’s hip-hop and R&B songs. Popular flavors include: Can I Kick It (Ginger Basil), P.Y.T. (Rosemary Lime), and I Used to Love Her (Honey Apple).
Otherland Society Rum
Otherland Society Rum is a project of Donia Roberts and renowned Master Distiller, Marianne Eaves. The two partnered to create Wild Hare Dark Rum, a rum that expresses the intricacies of Floridian culture. Otherland Society’s inaugural sugarcane artisan spirit premiered at the Michelin Guide revelation event in Orlando, where Florida’s first Michelin Stars were awarded for excellence in culinary achievement.
“Wild Hare Dark Rum is a marriage of 8-year-old South American, and 10-year-old Caribbean rums aged in used American white oak whiskey casks, said Eaves on her curation of this rum project. “With sweet spices and vanilla oak character on the aroma, tropical fruit on the front of the palate, and smooth lingering spiced notes of coffee and vanilla, balanced with sweet berries, the result is a rich, dark spirit comparable to the best rums on the market.”
Roberts and her investment partners will soon begin work to build a distillery and bottling distribution facility in the Pahokee, Florida area, using local talent and products and providing a catalyst for job creation.
“Our vision for Otherland Society is to reinvest in the community, celebrate our heritage, protect our natural resources and provide a new source of income for the people who call this area home,” said Roberts. “Launching Wild Hare Dark Rum is the first step in elevating these opportunities for business and development.”
Hoopes Vineyards is named for the generations of grape farmers in the Hoopes family, which includes former San Francisco Assistant District Attorney, Lindsay Hoopes. A natural-born wine enthusiast, grew up on a farm playing amidst the vineyards. Joining her father, Spencer Hoopes, during their daily walks along the vines, frequent conversations in the Hoopes household focused on growing cycles and brand strategy. She currently lives and works on that same farm with revered dedication to her family’s heritage in dogged pursuit of perfect wines.
“If you’re a woman in the beverage industry, just existing makes us disruptors by definition,” Hoopes says. “We have to believe in what we’re doing. Sometimes we’re each other’s only advocates.”
In addition to being an advocate for other women in the beverage industry, Hoopes is an environmental champion, an active mentor of other women in the wine industry, and one of the youngest female leaders in Napa Valley. Combining her affinities for science, nature and fine wine, she strives to enrich local biodiversity and promote the health and longevity of Napa Valley’s farming community through regenerative agriculture and her dedication to the Save the Family Farms initiative.
Barbecue Wife (also known as Catherine Stiles) offers a variety of mixers, but is best known for her Bloody Mary Mix. When Stiles and her husband opened a craft barbecue joint in Austin in 2011, she fell in love with the intense spices and smokiness.
When she found a way to incorporate those flavors into her already beloved bloody Mary recipe, she knew it was too good to keep to herself so she turned it into a business. Her patient, “no shortcuts” approach guarantees quality in every bottle. Barbecue Wife also donates a portion of all sales to local nonprofit organizations in the Texas Hill Country.
Much like the slow, careful craft of smoking barbecue (Stiles smokes the tomatoes for the mix herself), this mix is all about attention to detail. “I combined a unique blend of hand-smoked spices like sea salt and coarse black pepper – key ingredients in preparing Central Texas smoked meat,” says Stiles. “There are no shortcuts, no “junk” added to this mix. After just one sip, you’ll taste the difference: a bloody Mary mix that does not require you to add a thing – well, maybe a rib or two.”
For Stiles, this is more than just a Bloody Mary mix. “The Barbecue Wife was conceived with the understanding that life is short. Take time to enjoy the little things and spread good wherever you go!”