How two entrepreneurs who knew little about homemade syrups created the best product in the field as proclaimed by the magazine Protégez-vous!
What inspires you?
Alexandrine: All the dinner party and going-out trends, even if that was way more hype in 2019…But I think things are going to kick back up again very soon! So I get really inspired by thinking of what’s to come in the near future, knowing where we’re headed and not just in the culinary world. I like knowing and demystifying the new ways we’ll be consuming that isn’t possible right now but will be.
Hannah: I get inspired mostly by the new ways we will consume, like for example, what we have access to since we have more technology in the last decade. That means we can take a very different path than the one we used to take. For example, by choosing better ingredients, and by eliminating ingredients that we don’t need.
How would you sum up ¾ oz?
Alexandrine: Minimalist. We named the brand ¾ oz because it literally took a ¾ oz to make the drink. It's really "what you see is what you get". Same with the image: on each bottle, you have a visual of what your drink should look like or to inspire you. It's really working the visuals to help the consumer standing in the aisle to make the right choice. We want the product to speak for itself.
Hannah: Keeping with the minimalist mentality, we only use fresh or natural ingredients. We have decided to eliminate all the excess ingredients in drinks in general that we don't need. It's all about calibrating our drinks to be good with quality spirits. For example, if you have a good gin, you don't want to mix it with corn syrup and a ton of acid that makes it so you can't taste your gin anymore. If we're talking sugar, in drinks there's always a lot of sugar and with ¾ oz what we wanted to do is put the minimum amount, not put more than what's necessary so that it leaves more room for the alcohol but still balances it out. If there was no sugar at all, it would be hard to drink, but there is a balance.
What’s the most interesting part about ¾ oz?
Alexandrine: It has changed over the past seven years. We were here before the rise of the 70 Quebec gins and the trend of making your own cocktails. So, in the beginning it was really about offering an alternative to the products that were on the market. Now, it's really about continuing to stand out from the competition.
Hannah: We've subscribed heavily to this new trend of craft cocktails. We've also had to do a lot of education; the mentality has changed since we started. That said, I think there's still a lot to be done in terms of how to mix a quality spirit because I think it’s still fairly new that there’s a range of local spirits, with higher quality, more crafty, made with a passion rather than in huge industrial batches.
Why the syrup game?
Hannah: If we rewind to when we started, we really did it for us because it didn’t exist yet. We saw it coming and we decided to make it for ourselves, for our personal consumption and our friends' consumption because we all thought what was available was way too sweet. Can we do better than that? We really made it for ourselves and developed a recipe that was unique at that time. There was no syrup made with quinine (if we’re talking about tonic), but really well filtered, so you can keep a good bubble in your cocktail. After having developed it, we made our friends taste; they liked it and it took off from there. I guess it started from a need at home but also from a need in the market.
Proudest moment as an entrepreneur?
Hannah: I know! Having made it to number 1 tonic in Protégez-vous! My life is complete.
Alexandrine: I think for me it’s to come out on top when we're not there to promote our own product, in the sense that people test it themselves. They buy everything that's available and they end up choosing ours, and they contact us at the end of the line. For me that's mission accomplished. We weren't there to convince anyone, we're not a friend of someone who said ours was the best, people saw for themselves. The product works even when you don't have to bend over backwards to get people to buy it.
Biggest challenge you've faced together?
Alexandrine: Just marketing it. Gaining credibility. The process of getting to where we are today was long, it was quite a challenge overall.
Hannah: I would also say that one challenge that we’ve faced, and that we continue to, is educating. There's a lot of education to be done at bars and restaurants, in the sense that it can be very beneficial for them to serve better products and local products. Teaching them about our product, especially in the beginning, was very difficult, people didn't really understand what we were doing. They even thought it was cough syrup. People were trying to drink them too. People didn't understand what our products were or why we were doing it. I think we've been able to explain it, but it's still a daily educational process to make people understand that there are alternatives on the market.
What's your idea of success in entrepreneurship?
Hannah: I think it's cool that we created something that makes people happy and improves their quality of life. To create something that improves the quality of what they consume and put in their bodies and to be able to be someone's favourite without them knowing who it is or where it came from. To be part of people’s daily lives.
By Corine Pinel