STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) – The number of songs about hot summer weather with a cold drink in hand is seemingly endless. A Stevens Point company aims to ensure cold drinks are included, no matter if there’s alcohol in them.
Drinks hold a symbolic place in American culture, especially Wisconsin. Whether it’s champagne for a party, a beer at a soccer game, or a punch at a party, there is a drink to match almost any occasion. For some, it is a ritual of going out for a drink with friends or colleagues, or having a nightcap at home to relax.
Drinks bring people together, but as Mindy McCord and Layne Cozzolino have discovered, they can also create a separation between those who have alcohol in their cups and those who don’t.
âOur mission has become to create space for everyone at the table, regardless of their drinking preference and we really take away the question of why or why don’t you drink,â McCord said.
Both are experienced in exploring food and connecting with the community. They started a friendship when they worked together at Emy J’s in Stevens Point. They would often experiment with food in their kitchens when they stumbled upon something called a shrub.
âIt’s a colonial drink, it goes back to the time, came to the sea and it left with the refrigeration, but came back with the craft cocktails movement,â said McCord.
It is basically a syrup that can be added to any drink. It is made up of three ingredients: apple cider vinegar, cane sugar, then a fruit, a root or an herb.
âWhen I was pregnant, shrubs became my go-to drink for a soft drink that I can enjoy that had a complexity and the ritual of an evening cocktail,â Cozzolino said.
A few years after discovering and exploring the shrubs, they started a business, Mermaid Shrub Co. They discovered that there was an opportunity to create an inclusive space for people who want to drink alcohol and those who do not.
âWe did interviews with customers last summer that really explained why people would like to de-stigmatize non-alcoholic drinks. And also, they want to have similar experiences when they go out and have a drink in a restaurant with a nice drink, a garnish, something complex, tasty and that does everything to awaken your taste buds that an alcoholic drink does â , Cozzolino explained.
They found that more than half of their customers used their shrub syrup in mocktails. They now have recipes and drink suggestions with or without alcohol.
âIn Wisconsin our culture of drinking is very, very strong and it’s not about suppressing that culture, but about introducing a culture of inclusion where everyone has a cold drink at their doorstep. main, âCozzolino said. “You don’t need to know or wonder whether or not there is alcohol in this drink.”
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