With the RTD category set to continue its success in 2024, Whitebox Cocktails co-founder Ben Iravani talks about new product development and his industry predictions for this year
HOW HAS YOUR BACKGROUND IN THE BAR INDUSTRY INFLUENCED THE WHITEBOX BRAND?
Viewing NPD and product creation through the lens of a bartender has really helped the brand stand for something. Our team is made up of several bartenders, and with this knowledge we really do know how things should taste and what consumers are looking for when it comes to cocktails. We also have an in-built desire to retain our credibility in the cocktail scene, so we take a lot of care and effort to ensure our drinks are as good as they can be, and really do represent the cocktails – both visually in design and in liquid – that they are.
CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT THE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROCESS?
We do all of our drinks research development in-house, and all of the cocktails are produced at our site in Edinburgh. To do this, we work with a huge variety of producers of spirits and liqueurs, and we import ingredients from all over the world. The development process for each drink can really vary – some recipes come quickly, while others we’ve been working on for several years. Given all the uncertainties in this process, it’s really hard to tell how long it will take for each cocktail to be released.
WHAT ARE YOUR CORE PRODUCTS?
We produce single-serve, classic cocktails, so our range is wide and the top-selling products tend to follow cocktail trends. For example, our Pocket Negroni always leads the charge, but over the past year our Squeezy’s Margarita caught up. We think that’s largely down to the uptrend in agave spirits.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM THE RTD SCENE IN 2024?
All the data shows that 2024 is going to be a big year for the category. I’d expect to see more NPD and interesting cocktails coming to the market, lots of diversity in use of premium spirits bases, brands finding niches. In general, I expect a lot more competition.
AS MORE RTD BRANDS ENTER THE MARKET, WHAT MAKES WHITEBOX STAND OUT?
We really do make every effort to produce the best possible cocktails on the market and we want to empower our customers to effortlessly be able to enjoy an authentic cocktail experience. We’ve had customers tell us that when they’re not visiting some bars to drink £30 Martinis, they crack open our Freezer Martini at home and are truly astonished at how we’ve managed to replicate the Martini for the home-drinking experience.
WHAT ARE YOUR AMBITIONS FOR WHITEBOX THIS YEAR?
We’ve got several international markets coming online, along with a host of new cocktails waiting in the wings. I can’t reveal too much just now, but we’ve had some of these cocktails in development for a few years and we’re really looking forward to releasing them.