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Beer, Wine & Spirits

Snoop Dogg's bet on an obscure Brazilian liquor

In his latest venture, entertainment and music mogul Snoop Dogg is betting that Americans are ready for something new to drink.

"As a business man, I get involved when I see big opportunities for growth, and this is one of them," wrote Calvin Broadus Jr. (known more commonly as Snoop Dogg) in an email.

Small brand, big dreams

Snoop Dogg is an investor in Brazilian spirit Cuca Fresca.
Source: Cuca Fresca

Putting his money where his drink is, Broadus became a shareholder of Cuca Fresca last year. The drink is a brand of cachaça, a Brazilian spirit made using sugarcane. The rapper is no stranger to the investment community, having also invested in Reddit and Robinhood, an app that offers zero-commission trades. He's also following a trend blazed by other performers who have lent their name and credibility to liquor brands.

Broadus is the face of Cuca Fresca's new promotion campaign, which rouses the public with the catchphrase: it's "time to drink different." The liquor is very common in Brazil, but has yet to penetrate the U.S.

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"I always had an attraction to the people of Brazil since I shot my 'Beautiful' music video down in Rio de Janeiro down in '03, " Broadus wrote, referencing his 2003 hit with chart-topper Pharrell Williams.

"Then I heard about Cuca Fresca and saw this was something fresh and different," that would generate some buzz, he added.

Sales of the drink in Brazil hit $7.26 billion in 2013, according to data from Euromonitor. The country accounts for the vast majority of its total volume. The next largest market is Germany, where sales rang up to $341 million during the same year. Yet those two markets are the drink's biggest: American sales are so small that Euromonitor does not currently track them.

"It remains a very small spirit," said Eric Penicka, a Euromonitor research associate. "At the end of the day, it's pretty obscure and competing against alcohols like tequila, rum and vodka, which are massive here."

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Typically, cachaça is mixed in other drinks, which Penicka says could limit growth in the U.S. "It's not like a fine whiskey or really nice vodka, where you can take a shot of it or sip on it," he added.

Yet as it seeks to educate people about cachaça, Cuca Fresca's managing partner, Phoenix Kelly-Rappa, said the brand's key target is older millennials, who are open to trying new things.