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Phreshly’s RTD cocktails target consumers tired of hard seltzers

As the ready-to-drink alcohol space evolves, one entrant is aiming to capitalize on a growing desire for premium drinks made with real spirits and natural ingredients.

Phreshly, an Atlanta-based premium cocktail brand, has relaunched after briefly appearing on the market in 2022. The company markets its products, which contain 6% alcohol by volume, as containing “an elevated, and culturally-inspired cocktail experience.” The alcohol maker touts its ingredients as being handpicked from minority-owned farms.

Phreshly markets to drinkers looking for a more mature alternative to popular hard seltzer offerings such as White Claw and Truly. In a statement to Food Dive, Phreshly co-founder and CEO Paul Owusu said developing a brand crafted by mixologists reflects what consumers want from a new product.

“Seltzers are no longer cool for most adults,” Owusu said. “We are targeting the modern-day drinker looking for better-for-you and tastier, innovation-led flavors.”

Phreshly sells two products on its website, as well as at various retail stores in Georgia, Iowa and Wisconsin. 

Its Bay Lemonade consists of aged bourbon, strawberry and lemon. It is sweetened by agave, which the brand says conjures up thoughts of Bourbon Street in New Orleans. The second is G’iddem, a blueberry daiquiri that contains rum. The drink is inspired by West African flavors where both of its founders are from.

The idea for Phreshly came accidentally during the pandemic in 2020 when Owusu started experimenting with cocktail making after getting an idea from a blend referenced in the HBO series “Insecure” — Prosecco with a hint of vodka. When he shared his success at recreating the drink on X, formerly known as Twitter, the post went viral.

phreshly founders

Phreshly co-founders Paul Owusu and Ama Marfo.

Courtesy of Phreshly


Owusu and his business partner Ama Marfo said they analyzed IRI data and surveyed 6,000 consumers between the ages of 25 and 45 to find what the RTD cocktail category was missing. The information they gathered inspired them to develop drinks that do not contain malt, which seltzer brands like White Claw source for their alcohol, by using real spirits.

Phreshly launched online in March 2022, before moving into select retail and restaurant locations, where they quickly sold out. The co-founders decided to pause and reassess where they wanted to go next.

“Although we hit the ‘hockey stick’ effect of growth, it was imperative to revist our ‘why?’,” Owusu said, noting that the brand was off the market for more than a year. “Since then, our customers, brand positioning and voice have matured.”

Consumer feedback helped the brand narrow its focus following its initial launch. It overhauled its packaging after data showed Phreshly’s previous design did not stand out among malt-based seltzers. The co-founders also discovered their drinks paired well with culturally diverse food dishes like baba ganoush, jollof rice and jambalaya.

“We learned that our customers wanted us to dig deep and share more about our cultural influence and mixology background, something most brands cannot claim today,” Owusu said.

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