MILWAUKEE– Central Standard Craft Distillery co-founders Pat McQuillan and Evan Hughes are introducing Hard2O, a-first-of-its-kind, handcrafted still-vodka water.
Boasting only 40 calories per 12-fluid-ounces and containing zero sugar and zero carbohydrates, Hard2O is also gluten-free. The new still beverage, which currently comes in Berry, Mango, Citrus and Dragonfruit-Pear flavors, is a 5%-ABV, vodka-based handcrafted spirit with all-natural flavors.
“Hard2O is a true-game-changing product,” said Hughes. “We aren’t just unveiling a great tasting new beverage, we are introducing a whole new category to the industry today: spiked vodka water.”
Wisconsin-Wide Initial Hard2O Release
Hard2O is rolling out on liquor-and-grocery-store shelves across Wisconsin today as an intial release before a pending 2020 national launch. From a business perspective, Hughes and McQuillan have formulated Hard2O specifically for active Americans across the country.
“With only 40 calories, no gluten and zero sugar and zero carbs, the healthy-usage occasions for Hard2O are truly limitless,” McQuillan said. “We’ve already heard from golfers, boaters, tennis players, runners and even ultra-athletes who are all excited to try Hard2O after their next workout or at the 19th hole. Hard2O is perfect for anyone counting calories or those just wanting a better-tasting drink.”
A David-Versus-Goliath Marketing Move
To launch Hard2O, Hughes and McQuillan are taking their new product offering directly to the competition, literally. Central Standard placed billboards near 814 S. 2nd St. in St. Louis, as well as 200 U.S. Highway 1 in Newark, New Jersey. The signs read: “Work with eight Clydesdales and a dalmatian? Email us. firstname.lastname@example.org.” and “Your boss never has to know. Email us. email@example.com.”
“Who better to score the first taste of our 40-calorie industry-changing product than those making 95-plus-calorie beverages each and every day,” Hughes said. “We can’t wait for employees of those competing in this, as well as the flavored-malt-beverage space to taste Hard2O.”
Additionally, Central Standard via social-media advertising is inviting anyone in the United States named Michael, Michelle or Mickey Ultra to email the distillery at firstname.lastname@example.org to secure a first taste.
“We wanted to have some fun with how we launched Hard2O,” Hughes explained. “This isn’t the corn-syrup wars or anything like that. We think of it more as a creative way to showcase Hard2O and secure unexpected influencers for the next great drink in our industry.”
Poised to Go National in 2020
Hughes and McQuillan have locked in their production schedule for 2020. Now, they are in the process of hand selecting the right-national distributor.
“When it comes to coast-to-coast distribution, the right partner is pivotal,” McQuillan said. “The right distributor can make or break a national-product rollout like the one we envision for Hard2O in 2020.”
For Denver Mixologist Sean Keipper, national distribution or at least distribution to Colorado can’t come fast enough.
“With only 40 calories, no carbs and no fiz, Hard2O is going to play well here in Denver, but also poolside out in Vegas, at golf resorts in Arizona, on both coasts and basically anywhere folks get fanatical about working out,” said Keipper, a bartender and 15-year veteran of the food-and-hospitality industry. “I envision most people will drink Hard2O chilled straight out of the bottle, but it’ll also make a great cocktail ingredient, not to mention be refreshing served on the rocks with a lime.”
Tavern owner Mark Collins, who operates The Irish Rail Bar & Grill in the coastal-resort town of Manasquan, New Jersey, predicts Hard2O will be a hit with his patrons.
“My customers are always looking for low-cal alternatives and 40 calories is the lowest I’ve ever seen,” Collins said. “Add in that it’s vodka-based, has no sugar, and is gluten free, and folks will definitely be intrigued when Hard2O comes out here to the East coast.”
Hughes summed up his and McQuillan’s anticipation best.
“Bottlomline, we can’t wait for folks to try Hard2O here in Wisconsin and across the country,” Hughes concluded. “People are going to be floored by the flavor, as well as the nutritional facts. Hard2O is creating a whole new category worth tasting.”