Making It Work: DIY gin fusion kits business adds natural syrups to the mix

Drink Botanicals founder Laura McCarthy expanded her company during lockdown, launching a range of six naturally flavoured syrups for high-end cocktails

Laura McCarthy founded Drink Botanicals four years ago

Laura McCarthy was just 20 when she founded Drink Botanicals to offer consumers a DIY option when it came to making their own high-end gin and tonics.

But the TU Dublin business studies graduate said she always believed that her idea was a sound business proposition and had the potential to go global.

Now, four years later and armed with a newfound confidence after expanding her company during lockdown, McCarthy has launched a new range of natural flavoured syrups. They come in six flavours, use natural ingredients and have an authentic taste, McCarthy said.

The move also opens up a new section of the market for the business as McCarthy is planning to supply them to hotels and restaurants.

Drink Botanicals’ gin fusions kit are already a well-established offering. They are targeted at those seeking to craft their own unique gin and tonic at home and are sold in 60 shops and off-licenses nationwide, including Dunnes Stores and SuperValu.

And while McCarthy is confident that her new cocktail will prove popular in the same way, she also believes they can be a “game changer” in the on-trade (bars and restaurants) market.

“It’s a time-saver for them, first of all, because it saves them making their own syrups from scratch,” McCarthy said. “A lot of places we’ve talked to have told us it’s really going to save them time.”

The quality of the syrups will also set them apart, she added.

“Obviously competition does exist, but I’m not too worried because I know that both on-trade and off-trade are going to go for products that are more premium, and taste better.”

McCarthy’s gin fusion kits were launched when she approached her local off-licence in Ranelagh in Dublin and asked if they would be interested in stocking a pack that contained the elements needed for a high-end gin and tonic.

“I noticed that there was no product for consumers to enjoy a luxurious gin and tonic in the comfort of their own home. You’d go into bars and they’d all have juniper berries, peppercorns, everything, but you couldn’t buy them in the shop to make at home.

“Jimmy, the owner, was like: ‘We’ve actually had people coming in asking for these things to put into their gin and tonic, and I don’t have anything for them.’”

Three weeks later, McCarthy returned to the store with a dozen fully designed kits. They flew off the shelves, and Drink Botanicals was born.

The company now employs four people and has two warehouses for storage purposes. It has been largely self-funded, with a little help from the Dublin City Local Enterprise Office, and McCarthy said she is not currently seeking investment.

The pandemic increased demand for a classier drink-at-home experience, which boosted sales and gave McCarthy the idea for her syrups.

Long-term, she said, she wants to expand the company into Europe, and to increase the number of staff she employs.

“I’ve always had a business head from a very young age. I’ve always wanted to run my own business, and the hard work paid off in the end.”