“This is like your $10 Maui vacation,” says BROVO SPIRITS cofounder Mhairi Voelsgen of her company’s botanical liqueurs. Cocktails, she adds, are “the new lipstick,” and Voelsgen and cofounder Erin Brophy have built their company and its “lady-made liquor” around cocktails as the ultimate affordable luxury.
BroVo Spirits (Photo by Sean Gumm) contract distills its products, retaining proprietary control over branding and recipes while buying liquor from production distilleries. With a business plan in place for almost two years before last year’s launch, she says BroVo expects to reach profitability in the first quarter of 2012.
The business was built with a bartender’s eye, from its flavors to the bottles’ easy-to-grip longnecks. Voelsgen and Brophy talked with more than 100 bartenders during the design phase, ultimately creating what they call a “bartender’s toolkit” of easy-sipping, low-sugar liqueurs featuring locally sourced botanicals. In a market where whiskey and vodka each control a third of sales (and gin rounding out the top three with a 9 percent share), BroVo’s liqueurs are carving a niche as complementary products that pair well with the Big Three.
The recipes were designed by Voelsgen and Brophy during a year of intensive exploration, including a stint at distilling school at Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake. Currently in the flavor lineup are BroVo Ginger, Rose Geranium, Douglas Fir, Lavender and Lemon Balm (which Voelsgen calls the “duct tape” of the group for its ability to tie together other flavors). Voelsgen expects demand to vary seasonally, so the company will release new flavors each spring and fall. BroVo’s website (brovospirits.com) suggests recipes to introduce sippers to the liqueurs, among them the Monday Morning Quarterback (BroVo Lemon Balm, BroVo Ginger and bourbon), the Sidney (a martini with Doug Fir added) and the Rita Loo (BroVo Lavender, tequila and lime juice).