December 4, 2023

Brian and Quentin at Ranch Rider Spirits.

Source: Ranch Rider Spirits

Ranch Rider Spirits’ cocktail line is as Texan as possible.

The canned cocktails were built and bred in the beating heart of Austin, Texas and are the craft of co-founders Quentin Cantu and Brian Murphy. Ranch Rider Spirits offers four downright Texan craft cocktails with no preservatives or additives in simple 12-ounce cans.

Originally from Texas, Cantu completed a six-year stint in Washington, DC, where he worked in politics before heading out to the Lone Star State in 2016 to befriend Murphy.

“I think we were really hungry to learn new skills outside of class and outside of our previous careers,” Cantu told CNBC. Armed with the basics of business, Cantu and Murphy launched their first company – a food truck that offered healthier options to students on the sprawling UT campus.

“We went out at 6am, bought food, cooked that day, and then went to class and did it all over again with very little sleep,” said Cantu, explaining that the two started business while doing a full deal . Course load of UT’s demanding MBA program.

As the demand for meals cooked on board the food truck, affectionately known as the “Ranch Hand” increased, Cantu and Murphy expanded the business with a range of handmade cocktails.

“I think we hit a nerve,” said Cantu of the relatively quick success. “We met a lot of unknown consumer demand for something that wasn’t beer, but also wasn’t spiked seltzer.”

To keep up with demand, the two pondered how to further scale the happy accident of a potential alcohol business.

“We didn’t want to just open a bar. We wanted to make sure the product we made could be enjoyed by everyone for a longer period of time,” Cantu told CNBC, adding that a canned product gave them flexibility in pursuing e-commerce -Sales as well as doing business with health-focused grocery stores like Whole Foods.

Ranch Rider Spirits

Source: Ranch Rider Spirits

In January 2020, with the grace of Austin Angel investors, Cantu and Murphy launched their first cans in the local market. Four months later, as the coronavirus pandemic raged, forcing restaurants and bars to close, Cantu and Murphy saw soaring demand as diners brought cocktail culture home.

“Obviously people quarantined at home and spent a lot more time online during the pandemic, so we really invested in digital marketing, which we both got from our previous careers before business school,” explained Cantu.

Online alcohol sales rose a whopping 243% in the third week of March, according to data from Nielsen published by Bloomberg.

Data from IWSR and Nielsen showed that ready-to-drink retailers saw sales surge during the coronavirus pandemic, according to BevAlc Insights of alcohol e-commerce platform Drizly.

During a 23-week period amid the August 8th coronavirus pandemic, the ready-to-drink sector saw off-premise dollar sales grow 86.8% year over year, according to Nielsen.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, the sector saw 21.5% growth for a 52 week period ending February 29, according to Drizly.

“When you think about the value proposition of a canned cocktail like Ranch Rider, when you want to go to the lake or pool with friends and have a liquor-based cocktail, you don’t want to bring a glass bottle, you don’t want to bring ice, you don’t want fresh limes and Bring side dishes, “Cantu explained.

Ranch Rider Spirits ranked second among Drizly’s best-selling 2020 brands, beating ready-to-drink offerings from industry giants like Ketel One, 1800 Tequila, Jim Beam and Cutwater Spirits.

In its first year of business, Ranch Rider had sales of approximately $ 4 million, nearly quadrupling its conservative projections.

“Much of our growth has been organic because we’ve focused on slowly cultivating audiences, mostly in Texas, that appreciate the craftsmanship of our product,” said Cantu.

Austin’s craft culture

Ranch Rider Spirits

Source: Ranch Rider Spirits

The funky, upbeat heart of Texas is home to the University of Texas, the annual SXSW (South by Southwest) technology conference, multiple arts and music festivals, and has become a mecca for startups that are in some ways leaving Silicon Valley.

The city thrives on a vibrant terrace culture powered by food, drinks and live music.

“The culture of Texas, and Austin in particular, is a culture of craft,” Cantu explained. “There’s a high premium here and appreciation and respect for craftsmanship, and we never wanted to lose sight of that value as it drives our growth.”

To ensure full accuracy of the production process, Cantu and Murphy built a 20,000 square foot facility about 40 minutes outside of Austin.

“We felt that it was important to touch and feel everything that goes into our product. We didn’t want to outsource this process to someone else, and I really think a lot of people in Austin really appreciate that attention to detail . ” he added.

“Real citrus fruits, real spirits”

Canned Cocktails from Ranch Rider Spirits Co.

Courtesy Ranch Rider Spirits

Last week Ranch Rider Spirits unveiled their fourth canned cocktail called “The Buck”, a recipe from Moscow Mule made from six times distilled vodka, freshly squeezed organic ginger, freshly squeezed lime and mineral water.

“The Buck” contains 5.9% alcohol and 119 calories and follows “Ranch Water”, a cocktail based on reposado tequila with a dash of sparkling water and freshly squeezed lime juice. The legendary West Texas cocktail “The Chilton” is the place where the freshly squeezed lemon juice shines next to a pinch of sea salt and vodka.

The portfolio is rounded off by the “Tequila Paloma”, in which reposado tequila, freshly squeezed grapefruit, lime, orange and mineral water merge.

“We printed this on the label of each can, but we’re just keeping it stupid. We use real citrus, real liquor, no additives, no preservatives, no sugar at all,” explained Cantu. “It tastes fresh because it’s not artificial and it’s not made in a laboratory,” he added.