Sometimes a great story starts with a salad. A couple of Summit, NJ, neighbors certainly think so.
Vodka Salad was born as an inside joke between Haley Telling and Allie Sabol. The neighbors loved to concoct their own cocktail recipes with fresh, clean ingredients and actually took their favorites out with them to present to unsuspecting bartenders who they then taught to mix them up.
A Brand Is Born
Laden with all of those fresh herbs, spices and fruit, they dubbed their creations “Vodka Salads.” COVID boredom and Haley’s “relentless optimism” transformed a hobby into a business.
Many of the current canned cocktails and alcoholic seltzers are just alco-pop and overly sweet. According to Allie, “They taste like melted popsicles.” Haley and Allie think there is space for something more sophisticated: something you might actually pair with real food and not cotton candy.
Down to Business
The neighbors have the valuable skills entrepreneurs need. Allie left her job at a New York City ad agency to market Vodka Salad. Haley has a background in sales and is a former holistic health coach.
The duo still had a lot to learn, not the least of which was navigating New Jersey’s puzzling liquor laws. They enlisted some help from Metabrand, in Edison, which handles reproducing flavors and manufacturing.
Creating the flavors was all the work of Haley and Allie. They spent nine months developing recipes and working with Metabrand to get the details just right. Their meticulous approach favors quality over quantity so I wouldn’t expect a rapidly expanding product line.
They even zeroed in on a 5.5% ABV as the perfect alcohol level (a shot and a half) for Vodka Salad.
My favorite flavor is cucumber, lemon, and mint. It’s a gentle blend of flavors that would be great with light seafood a — think scallops or clams from the raw bar. Ginger, lime, and pomelo feels like a great base for a fall-themed cocktail. The trio is rounded out by strawberry, lemon, and basil, which is really characterized by the aromatics.
Leave it to a couple of Jersey girls to come up with a fun, smart, and tasty take on canned cocktails. Check out the website for some interesting serving suggestions or, better yet, experiment with your own.