Introducing the hot new startup putting the my in Mai Tai
Mark Jennings of cocktail subscription service Shaken
Mad Men has a lot to answer for: glamourising smoking, glamourising misogyny, glamourising marketing, glamourising mental breakdown… but, possibly more than any of the above, glamourising the idea of the post-work home-made cocktail. I can’t be the only one who has felt, as I slouch through the door with my husband, drag on tracksuit bottoms, cue up the boxset and pour a couple of glasses of week-old red, that I should really be mixing a martini in silken silken lounge-wear, prior to a langorous sofa shag.
Now, with a little help from new startup Shaken, we can all ditch the dowdy British reality for the louche American dream.
Shaken promises to “help the world mix the best cocktails they’ve ever made.” Taking advantage of two key trends in the food and drink sector – the fact that in 2013, spending on home-drinking overtook spending in pubs and bars for the first time, plus the success of subscription-baed delivery companies such as Graze and Naked Wines – the company offers a monthly mail-order subscription for DIY cocktails.
Soft launched 6 months ago , the standard £24 package sends an elegant package to your door once a month including just the right amount of premium spirits and mixers, along with bespoke recipes, to make five drinks.
The general public still have the chance to invest in the company via crowdfunding platform Seedrs, although the initial £60,000 target was hit mere days after being posted on the platform last week. It’s a seriously promising start – but with half of UK startups failing within five years, what makes the Shaken team so confident their mix-it-yourself model will work?
“There are three founders running the company, and I think we all come at it from slightly different directions,” explains digital comms expert turned entrepreneur Mark Jennings. “I’ve worked in marketing for years, which included running big campaigns for the likes of Heineken and The Glenlivet, and I’m an ambassador for the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, so I know how hard it is from drinks brands to reach new customers. Alex, our CTO, has spent years building the online platforms for start-ups all over the London tech scene, and he’s always had a very strong interest in mixology. And David, our Head of Content, was raised in a pub and has worked on award-winning campaigns for drinks brands as well as producing glamorous projects in the entertainment world.”
His number one piece of advice on creating a startup is to “hire people that are better then you are and let them do their job”; and of course a rabid passion for your product is essential. “My go to drink is a Hemingway Daiquiri. Short, sharp and with a fabulous story to go with it. But what cocktail I’m drinking will depend on the day, the time, the company around me and what I have to hand. I’ve yet to find a single cocktail that doesn’t have some redeeming characteristic.”
And when you’re ready to kick off your (YSL) slippers and compare your handiwork with the professionals, Jennings recommends a visit to the Pink Chihuahua in Soho. “Not only do they make great drinks, but you might also get the chance to enjoy a drink made by Shaken’s godfather, Dick Bradsell – inventor of the Espresso Martini among other works of genius.”
Stirring stuff, but be warned: the bar for dinner party drinks just hit the roof.
Words: Molly Flatt