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One start-up is serving up cocktails with a guilt-free twist.
"Be Mixed is the first all-natural and zero-calorie cocktail mixer. It's as simple as one bottle with one shot of alcohol or soda water," said Cristina Blankfein, co-founder of Be Mixed.
Blankfein and co-founder Jennifer Ross launched Be Mixed in the summer of 2015 as a solution to their vodka soda fatigue.
Ross' personal experiences with Type 1 diabetes fueled her desire for a sugar-free cocktail product. "I was never able to indulge in delicious cocktails because they were full of sugar. And with two-thirds of Americans being pre-diabetic and the rise of the conscious consumer, this goes way beyond just me," Ross told CNBC, adding, "A healthy lifestyle is about balance, not deprivation."
Be Mixed cocktail mixers are developed from natural ingredients and sweeteners derived from monk fruit and stevia extracts. The zero-calorie mixers come in a variety of flavors including cucumber mint, ginger lime and margarita.
Packaged in "on-the-go" serving sizes, so customers can simply combine one bottle of Be Mixed with one shot of their favorite alcohol to create the cocktail of their choice.
Be Mixed four-packs retail on the company's website for $11, and each package is accompanied with cocktail recipes.
The products are also sold at select retailers.
In a crowded marketplace dominated by big-name brands like Skinnygirl, angel Investor Kelly Hoey questioned the start-up's competitive advantage.
According to Blankfein, Be Mixed is the first to market an all-natural, zero-calorie cocktail mixer, and unlike Skinnygirl, its products do not contain alcohol. So when used in combination with any spirit, "we're giving customers creative license to dream up their favorite cocktail," she said.
Blankfein also stressed that the start-up's main differentiator is that it is a flavor-first company. "We have a proprietary sweetener blend. And we have focused a lot on getting the right balance using only natural ingredients, no preservatives, and no sugar to get that right cocktail experience."
Jean Terminiello, co-founder of The Big Beverage Co., wondered how the start-up planned to drive awareness for its products.
"The best part about cocktail culture is that it really is social," said Blankfein, claiming that once a customer buys the product they essentially become an "on the ground sales team" when they share it with friends. Other tactics include sampling programs, and partnerships with Soul Cycle and Equinox.
To date, the New York City-based start-up has raised just under $1 million in seed funding. Key investors include DGNL Ventures.
"We are a mission-driven company, it is about taking out sugar in convenient ways, and so we have a lot of other product line extensions in mind," Blankfein told CNBC.
— By Crystal Rivera, special to CNBC.
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