Amid the sober-curious movement, Chester County’s Laura Taylor is serving up drinks to fit the occasion with Mingle Mocktails.
Fewer Americans are drinking alcohol, with just 60% of adults saying they drink, down 5% from 2019. The rise of this “sober-curious” movement, which is driven primarily by younger generations, is happening all over the country, motivated by concerns about health and wellness. With more people turning to non-alcoholic beverages as their drink of choice, Berwyn’s Laura Taylor is offering a solution with Mingle Mocktails.
The self-professed “booze-free badass” launched Mingle after experiencing social isolation when she decided to give up drinking. Taylor said having a career in the “work hard, play hard” tech industry led her to drinking a little bit more than she should at many cocktail receptions and business dinners. With no options besides water or sparkling soda, Taylor found that the clunky glass in her hand invited unwanted attention and comments from her coworkers. To combat this, she came up with some techniques to make it look like she was drinking a cocktail so she wouldn’t miss out on any of the fun while still keeping a clean mind, and tried it for the first time on a girls trip to the Poconos.
“I started juicing and blending different things from ginger ale and cranberry juice, to fresh lime juice and orange juice, and came up with this pretty pink drink that I put in a one-liter bottle,” Taylor said. “I poured myself a mocktail as people were popping corks [on wine bottles] and grabbing their drinks. And it was at that very occasion where something just clicked for me and I felt amazing. That feeling, it was so strong and compelling to me that I came home from that trip going, ‘I need to figure out more. I need to share this with other people.’”
And Mingle was born.
Taking Mingle to Market
In 2017, Taylor began by selling small batches of her mocktails to local grocers.
“I spent a lot of my time going to local grocery markets and Carlino’s Market in Ardmore was one of the ones that gave me my first break,” Taylor said. “I went to Carlino’s every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and just sold Mingle. And that’s when I really learned how to sell, and what people thought, and what I needed to say, and what I needed to know, and how to convey the value proposition, and update the packaging. It was such an amazing but truly exhausting experience, but it’s what I needed to do to build the brand.”
Since then, Mingle has expanded throughout Pennsylvania and across the country. Mingle’s six different mocktail flavors, including Cranberry Cosmo, Key Lime Margarita, and Blackberry Hibiscus Bellini, are available online and at many Whole Foods, Wegmans, and ACME locations, along with many other local grocery stores.
According to SPINS, a data company that provides analytics for companies in the natural, organic, and special products industry, ready-to-drink cocktails are the fastest growing segment in the non-alcoholic category, and Mingle is responsible for driving much of this growth with its success in natural and traditional grocery stores.
As a woman-owned brand, Taylor said Mingle aspires to offer a product centered around friendship, fun, and inclusivity.
“I’m all about supporting women and empowering women,” Taylor said. “Most of the people on my team are women and I created a culture to be the ‘cool girls club.’ We are the cool girls club and I love that we are selling to [other cool girls] too.”
With non-alcoholic beers traditionally marketed toward men, Taylor sees Mingle as a niche beverage—a non-alcoholic drink created for women by women.
“[Mingle] skews female and we are very purposeful in that because when I quit drinking, there were a lot of non-alcoholic beers in the market and nothing [marketed toward] women,” Taylor said. “We are specifically supporting the female demographic.”
Mingle has no artificial flavors or herbal additives, like adaptogens, which are commonly used in other mocktail brands. Taylor emphasized that she wants Mingle to be distinct from alcoholic beverages in terms of taste. More importantly, she wants it to be for everybody—drinkers and non-drinkers alike.
“We love that it is flexibly mixable,” Taylor said. “What’s so fun is it reinforces that inclusivity. My husband and friends, who would like to have a few drinks, can mix Mingle [with alcohol] and I don’t. It feels like we’re rocking and rolling together.”
Something for the Sober Curious
The sober-curious movement is taking hold, particularly for Generation Z, who drinks 20% less than the millennial generation. According to Forbes, 86% of Gen-Z weighs their mental health just as much as their physical health when choosing whether or not to drink. Taylor echoes this, noting that Gen-Z seems to have a stronger awareness of self-care and awareness of what they put in their body.
“This generation wants to be present for life in a bigger, more meaningful way,” Taylor said.
Taylor noted that choosing not to drink doesn’t have the same stigma that it once did.
“I think the younger generation is just a little more confident in standing by who they are, which I love,” Taylor said.
Based on her own experience, Taylor offered advice to people who are considering drinking less alcohol.
“I would just say, try it on for size, whether [you] give up drinking for a night, a weekend, or as a lifestyle choice,” Taylor said. “Try not drinking for a few days and see how [you] feel because there are some glorious immediate benefits, like amazing sleep and feeling rested, and also remembering everything that you said or did.”
“It is nice to be present for the good stuff.”
‘Do it Anyway’
According to Taylor, women who are considering starting their own ventures need to think about what’s holding them back. Taylor said she felt equipped to tackle any hurdles as a female founder because of her past experience in male-dominated industries.
“I found women tend to not do something because they are afraid to fail, whether that’s starting a new company or running a half marathon or going for that big new job,” Taylor said. “My advice is to do it anyway. The one thing that held me back from deciding whether I would proceed in creating this business was fear, and I went through with this.”
Taylor expressed excitement about Mingle’s future, including new flavors and professional opportunities on the horizon. Mingle recently partnered with Bethenny Frankel, the “Real Housewives of New York” star and founder of Skinnygirl, a low-calorie alcohol and food brand. Frankel said Mingle is addressing a consumer need by bringing excitement and variety to the non-alcoholic beverage market.
Taylor pointed to the partnership with Frankel and Mingle’s widespread availability as evidence that she’s achieving what she set out to do.
“I have a vision board down in the basement that I created when I first came up with the company concept,” Taylor said. “It has all these things, like Whole Foods, and Bethenny Frankel, and Wegmans, and Food Network and what is so freaking cool is I have achieved a lot of those things.”
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