A few friends were kicked off of a beach because they were drinking alcohol out of glass bottles. So what would any rational, entrepreneurial-minded Millennial do? Invent a way to put alcoholic drinks in a portable pouch.
Craig Cordes and his co-founders set out to do the impossible and turn margaritas into an adult version of a Capri Sun. After coming up with the concept, they took to Google to find out who regulated alcohol and researched laws within their new industry. After discovering that many states required spirits to be sold in liquor stores, while wine and beer could be sold nearly anywhere, the choice to make a wine-based drink was clear.
Craig worked a full-time job in Houston to help fund Cordina Cocktails, which is based out of New Orleans. Craig would drive back on Friday nights to work on the business with co-founders Tony and Sal LaMartina. During my interview with Cordina Cocktails’ co-founder Craig Cordes, he stated, “The right mix is extremely important.” He’s not speaking about a cocktail mix, but the mix of the founding team. Craig credited his business partners with keeping each other motivated when times got rough and extra motivation was needed. Tony is the dreamer, Craig sees everything in black and white, and Sal is the mature one who keeps the group grounded and level-headed.
Q: What was the response to your idea?
A: “Everybody pretty much laughed at us and said who is going to drink out of a pouch?”
It’s safe to say that the trio of alcohol innovators exceeded the expectations of those they shared their business idea with. “We firmly believed we had something and it didn’t matter what people said.” Six years and tens of millions in revenue later, I have to agree with him. It was that belief, determination, and naivety that Craig gave as the top reason why Cordina Cocktails has become successful.
Whether Cordina Cocktails has been successful because of finding the right mix, being naïve, or a combination of both, it’s a fun and inspiring story that all started with drinking on the beach. Bottoms up!
See below for the interview highlights, quick fire questions, and the full interview audio.
- The inspiration for creating an adult beverage in a drinkable pouch.
- How people received their initial concept: “everybody pretty much laughed at us and said who is going to drink out of a pouch?”
- What was the first step after coming up with the idea? Googling who regulated alcohol.
- How much was invested in the company before the first product hit the market: Approximately $110,000.
- How they went about creating their packaging, giving equity to design the package, and now regretting that decision.
- Thoughts on competition, creating new drinks, and what drink they are pulling off the market this year.
Quick Fire Questions
Favorite alcoholic beverage not served in a pouch? Bloody Mary
Will beer ever be served in a pouch? I’ve seen some people try behind the scenes. I personally don’t believe in the product, but there may be a small niche market in the mountains or places like that. We are 5-6 years away from this and from consumer acceptance of the concept.
If prohibition returned, what industry would you start a business in? I hate being cliché, but tech or app-based. How quickly you can get to market and get consumer trial with technology is unbelievable.
The #1 reason why Cordina Cocktails has been successful? Being naïve.
If you could hire any entrepreneur in the world to join your team at Cordina Cocktails, who would it be and why? Mark Cuban. I know he’s a little arrogant and cocky, but having him on your side would be fun. He understands branding and would be a cool one to have on our side.