Beverage Startups

Flavored Carbonated Tonic Water By Sparkling Bitters

Flavored Carbonated Tonic Water By Sparkling Bitters

Source: Sparkling Bitters

In the heart of Florida there is a beverage company creating sparkling flavored water. This year, The Gourmet Retailer magazine awarded Sparkling Bitters with the prize for Best New Product 2016. Today, I have the opportunity to talk to the Co-Founder of Sparkling Bitters, Karolina Palenzona.

Can you tell us how Sparkling Bitters started?

We have been drinking and adding cocktail bitters to our sparkling water for years, as we know so many other people do too. It’s an old school remedy for indigestion & heartburn, as well as hangovers. We find it to be very satisfying and soothing at the same time, especially after a heavy meal. And on a hot summer day, it’s a great thirst quencher due to the lack of sugar.

And so a couple of years ago, my husband & business partner, Romano, got into making his own bitters. One day, as we were tasting his new batch of bitters, we wondered why this product (sparkling water & bitters)—with the surge of craft bitters and its well documented benefits—is not readily available in the sparkling water category. And that’s basically how the idea of Sparkling Bitters was born.

How is Sparkling Bitters unique compared to other beverage products?

While there are many flavored sparkling waters in the market, we have yet to find another that adopts bitters as the main ingredient AND contains no sugar or calories. Therefore, I would have to say the fact that we promote and celebrate the “bitter” taste makes it quite unique. Our motto is ‘Live Better, Drink Bitter.’ And Sparkling Bitters is all-natural; it’s a beverage you can feel good about drinking throughout the day, as it promotes natural hydration and aids in digestion. In short, the addition of bitters lends a ‘functional’ quality to the water.

Flavored Carbonated Tonic Water By Sparkling Bitters

Source: Sparkling Bitters

There are five different flavours of Sparkling Bitters. Which one is your favorite? Are you planning to launch new flavors?

Yes, currently Sparkling Bitters is available in five refreshinlgy, and rather unique, flavors: Classic Aromatic, Meyer Lemon, White Peach, Grapefruit Mint and most recently introduced Pear Ginger.

Naturally, as Romano and I personally worked on developing the five flavors we currently offer, I’m going to be biased and tell you I like them all. However, I do find myself reaching for Grapefruit Mint most often. I find it to be very refreshing and a great palate cleanser after a meal or drinking coffee.

We are definitely planning to launch new flavors and already have a few in mind. All I can tell you at the moment is to expect the unexpected in terms of flavor pairings for the next round.

What difficulties have you had to overcome during the development process?

Formulating is never easy. During the development process, one of the challenges was to decide on the level of bitterness. This was difficult, as we knew that the perception of, and tolerance for, the bitter taste can vary greatly between individuals. Interestingly, the way Sparkling Bitters is today, some people find it extremely bitter and some don’t find it bitter at all.

Where are consumers able to buy Sparkling Bitters today? Are you planning to spread abroad?

Sparkling Bitters is available nationwide in the United States via Amazon.com, as well as at some select gourmet markets across the country. Also, we have retained broker representation in the northeastern US, as we primarily want to focus our distribution in that area first.

We have also received high interest from several countries in the Carribean and Latin America, as well as Canada, South Korea and China. Although we’re certainly open to those opportunites, our main focus right now is on establishing ourselves in the United States.

Social media channels can make a huge impact in creating a successful beverage brand. Which social media channels are used by Sparkling Bitters? Why?

At this time, we are allocating most of our time and energy into Facebook to promote Sparkling Bitters and to reach & engage with our current and potential customers. We’re aware of the popularity of Instagram, especially amongst the younger generation, and are currently looking into creating a presence there as well.

If we continue to grow and our budgets allow, we’ll be able to expand our reach with other social media channels and other traditional forms of advertising.

Where do you see Sparkling Bitters in 5 years from now?

With bottled and sparkling water poised to overtake traditional soft drinks in the coming years, we would hope to gain a solid footing in independent and mass market channels, from your local grocery store to gourmet markets and even convenience stores; in other words, we would hope to go ‘mainstream.’ Again, Sparkling Bitters is not only a refreshing, healthy alternative to similar products, but it is also functional – being the first water of its kind to provide documented benefits to digestive health. Consumer taste and demand is changing and we hope we can help fulfill that desire for healthier, all-natural products.

Flavored Carbonated Tonic Water By Sparkling Bitters

Karolina Palenzona Source: Sparkling Bitters

What advice could you give for those with aspirations to start their own businesses?

I would say “go for it.” Don’t let fears & doubts discourage you from doing anything in life or in business. Risk is a part of life and it’s only through taking risks that one can hope to reap a reward, and hopefully contribute positively to a greater cause along the way. Whether it’s something you’re passionate about or thinking about and would like to pursue, just do it! Take that first step today. And as Albert Einstein would say, “You will never fail until you stop trying.” However, having said that, do be ready for challenges and obstacles to come your way – and probably more often than you like. Yet again, at the end of the day, nobody can take away the experiences nor the lessons you learn along the way.

For more information visit Sparkling Bitters website.

About Ugne Butkute

Ugnė Butkutė is a project manager at DrinkPreneur. Ugnė is responsible for attracting contributors, maintaining quality of content and keeping readers satisfied with DrinkPreneur

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