Non-alcoholic sparkling beverage brand Dry Soda Co. has invested in and partnered with Sans Bar, an Austin, Texas-based sober bar, the company announced this week. Sharelle Klaus, founder and CEO of Dry Soda Co., made the announcement on Monday while speaking at BevNET Live Winter 2019 in Santa Monica, California.
With the investment, Klaus will assume the role of strategic advisor to Sans Bar, working with its founder Chris Marshall, a formerly licensed Substance Abuse Counselor who opened Sans Bar in 2017. Klaus will be assisting Marshall in business operations and marketing, and will help to expand the bar’s reach through pop-up events. To celebrate Dry January, the Dry Soda Co. will serve as the title sponsor on the Sans Bar x DRY 2020 National Pop Up Tour.
“This partnership with Sans Bar and this investment is the first one for Dry,” Klaus told BevNET. “It speaks to us putting our money where our mouth is around our belief and our mission that social drinking is for everybody.”
Klaus added that the investment and pop-up tour will serve to “support the sober and the sober curious community,” noting she has seen a “cultural shift” taking place regarding alcohol consumption.
Klaus connected with Marshall when he reached out to the brand to be included on Sans Bar’s nine-city pop-up tour earlier this year. A road trip this summer then brought her to Austin, where she participated in a “Sober Curious Q&A” at Sans Bar and was able to connect with the sober community in the area.
“I got to meet that community and was overwhelmed by how important we were to them,” said Klaus. “They felt like we were second class citizens not being seen.”
The Sans Bar x DRY 2020 National Pop Up Tour will begin on January 10 in Seattle, Washington, and continue to 14 more cities. Klaus said the pop-up tour, designed to create “non-alcoholic celebration occasions” will include several zero proof cocktails beyond Dry Soda Co. Sans Bar has also served products from mineral water brand TopoChico and sparkling hop water brand H2OPS.
“There’s a real demand for Sans Bar nationally, and we need both financial and organizational support to scale quickly while staying true to our style of upscale, intimate events,” Marshall said in a press release. “Our partnership with DRY will enable us to amplify what we’ve created in Austin and continue to share it with the world.”
Klaus also said Dry Soda Co.’s product is in the midst of a name change, having tested out the name “Dry Botanical Bubbly” for its products at Expo West. Klaus said when the brand launched in 2005, the product was known as “Dry Soda,” but because consumers expected a “more full sugar experience” with that product name, they switched its name to “Dry Sparkling” in 2010. Still, some confusion about the product’s identity remained.
“People were having a hard time understanding what Dry is, so we really wanted to base it on occasion,” Klaus said. With the new “botanical bubbly” name, she said “people seemed to truly understand that it’s a special sort of beverage in its own category.“
Klaus said that Dry Soda Co. will launch redesigned packaging next spring which will feature the new product name.