George’s Forms Partnership With Finlandia Vodka

Georges

BERLIN — One Bloody Mary mix with local roots is catching fire and edging towards a host of expansions in the next few months with an eye on becoming a national brand within five years.

George’s Bloody Mary Mix, released last May by Greg David, a bartender at the Globe in Berlin, has enjoyed statewide distribution with the company Reliable Churchill since October. The results have been encouraging, according to David.

“We’ve only been on the entire market for six months, which is a very short time considering the momentum we’ve experienced,” he said.

Using that success as a springboard, David will be pairing his mix, named after his late father, with Finlandia vodka in two weeks in what is known as a co-pack. Because George’s has everything needed to mix a Bloody Mary except the alcohol, David explained that releasing the blend in the same package as a bottle of Finlandia vodka gives customers everything they need to whip up multiple servings of the spicy drink.

And George’s does pack a kick, winning Best Bloody Mary in the Spicy category at Seacrets in Ocean City. That heat is never overwhelming, though, promised David, and the mix is built to focus more on the full-flavor.

Still, in trying to reach all Bloody Mary drinkers, including those who prefer something with less bite, David revealed that George’s will be releasing a milder version of the mix this month.

“In three weeks, George’s Mild Bloody Mary Mix will be out on shelves…there’s a market for it; not everybody likes spicy foods,” he said. “And we want to reach all of the markets.”

The original George’s blend has been made dutifully by David for nearly two decades. It’s a traditional Bloody Mary mix, relying more on flavor than gimmicks like unusual ingredients. But what the mixture lacks in novelty it makes up for in precision, with David first creating George’s in Annapolis and then spending the next 18 years taste-testing it with customers before he ever contemplated putting it in a bottle.

Finding the original ratios for the blend last year took another six months of dedicated mixing since he’d gone by instinct for 18 years, added David, a similar process to what he’s gone through this year to make the perfect mild mix. The same dedication will also be applied to an upcoming George’s Margarita Mix expected in January 2014.

The intense lab work seems to be paying off, however. George’s can now be found at more than 400 locations in Maryland. Within the next six months, David believes coverage will extend into D.C., Delaware and Virginia. In 18 months, the spicy red beverage and its milder cousin could be on shelves in other nearby states like Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Release on a national level is being considered within a possible five-year timetable.

“We now have chain restaurants that are interested in George’s Bloody Mary Mix,” said David.

As exciting as national branding could be the goal is to keep George’s growth measured and consistent.

“While we have a sense of urgency, we don’t need to rush anything because we haven’t so far,” David explained. “We’re happy with where we are and the success that we’re having.”

As George’s continues to evolve as a brand, any success will also translate into philanthropy, according to David. Already a $1,000 donation to Relay for Life has been made by the George’s team, an especially rewarding acting of charity since David’s father died from cancer.

“We through this little start-up business of ours were able to give back to a cause that means a lot to us,” he said.

With the Finlandia co-pack, portions of the proceeds will be directed to the Oyster Recovery Partnership, an organization dedicated to the restoration of disease-free oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.

“People come here because of the bay and the ocean so we want to give a little back,” David said.

With the new mixes, the co-pack, and the distribution expansion, David made sure to thank his two business partners, Theda and Alex Bakis, who were the force behind George’s Bloody Mary Mix ever seeing the inside of a bottle. While David developed the recipe, it was his girlfriend, Theda, and her sister Alex who finally prodded the reluctant bartender into putting his mix on the market.

“They are behind a lot of the marketing we do,” he added.

David’s glad that he buckled under their persistence now that George’s has gained a reputation both as a popular mixer and as a marinade, with a feature on the mix in this month’s edition of Beverage Journal Maryland. The best part about the success, though, is that it’s with something that David has been passionate about for nearly 20 years.

“We’re having a blast,” he said. “This is fun.”

For information on George’s Bloody Mary Mix and other mixes including recipes visit www.georgesmixes.com

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