From Facebook to Snapchat, college dorm rooms have a history of inspiring students to start the next great company.
GW now has its latest entrepreneurship story: Two alumni have launched a company to make getting drunk taste a bit better.
Recent graduates Chris Wirth and Buster Brown have worked to lift the American Juice Company off the ground this year after getting their start mixing jungle juice at fraternity parties on campus.
“It originally started as a college dorm room idea when I was in Phi Psi,” said Wirth, the company’s chief executive officer who graduated in 2011. “We had jungle juice at all our parties and I had the idea of making a jungle juice concoction that people could order.”
Wirth’s business model has evolved since his fraternity days. The company now focuses on supplying high-end bars and individuals with juice for cocktails.
The company, based in New York, sells a line of $20, 32-ounce juice bottles designed to mix with alcohol to make cocktails. Wirth and Brown use locally grown fruit to make concoctions like the “Harriet Peacher Stowe” (a peach and ginger blend.)
Internationally renowned bartender Massimiliano Matté, who bills himself as a “mixologist,” helps craft up recipes the company. He met Wirth while working at the Jefferson Hotel in D.C.
Offering other flavors like lychee/rose and pumpkin/passion fruit, the company also allows customers to experiment mixing their own unique drinks without emptying their wallets at expensive bars.
“So that’s the magic in it. You can be your own mixologist and make drinks that you would usually only find at a high-end hotel,” Wirth said.
But steering a small business to success hasn’t been easy.
One of the biggest challenges came when the pair were attempting to follow Federal Drug Administration regulations and drafting specific (and expensive) manufacturing plans, Wirth said. He’s tried to offset some of those costs by studying the ins and outs in a course instead of spending thousands of dollars on consulting fees.
Brown, who works as the company’s communication director, said that work is paying off. An event company asked them to work the bar at an official Super Bowl party, where football stars and Miss America sipped on their cocktails.
“It’s moments like that where you think, ‘A year ago I would have never thought I’d be serving cocktails to NFL players,’ and just out of nowhere we got that deal,” Brown said.
Buoyed by recent success, the duo looks towards the future, aspiring to change the face of the bar and the mixology world.
“Five years down the road, we want to make it a norm through the cocktail industry that you can go to people like us and have us create a cocktail for you that you can easily implement in your bar,” Brown said.