Launched in 2015, Cocktail & Sons comes from award-winning bartenders and spirit consultants (and husband and wife team) Lauren Myerscough and Max Messier. What started as a fun hobby with fellow industry friends grew into a full-time venture for the New Orleans-based duo.
Cocktail & Sons gives spirit aficionados the chance to create excellent craft cocktails right from home. Their syrups and mixers are handmade by Myerscough and Messier, who develop their products with fresh ingredients from producers in Louisiana as a way to support local farmers. Recently, Modern Luxury caught up with Myerscough to learn more about Cocktail & Sons, their entrepreneurial journey and how to make a great Salty Dog.
You’re based in New Orleans, a city legendary for its culinary and cocktail offerings. How does the city inspire you and your work?
I'm born and raised in New Orleans, and though I've lived all over the U.S., this city keeps me coming back. The city itself is such a unique place in terms of drinking culture. There's a playfulness and a sense of community around drinking here, from the moms at the playground on Friday afternoon with the thermos of margaritas and extra to-go cups that allow us to pop in and say hi while grabbing our drinks for a walk. The syrups we make are just as playful on the palate as the social scene that inspired them. And since we have near year-round growing seasons, it gives us a chance to really show off the best of what the South has to offer.
You offer your customers all-natural, handcrafted syrups for cocktails. Why did you see a space in the market for a product like this in the first place?
When Max and I started this company, we were both working at restaurants with great cocktail programs. People would often ask us for recipes, which we were glad to give, but we always lost them when it came to making the syrup component. You could recommend any number of obscure or hard-to-find liquors and liqueurs, and they were cool with that. But as soon as you mentioned cooking down sugar and water in a pot, their expression would change. So we saw an opening to bring our original recipes to the market.
Your syrups are made with local produce and real sugars grown by Louisiana farmers. Can you tell us more about that process?
We've developed really strong relationships with our farmers that make it easy to do what we do. Sometimes, the best suggestions even come from the farmer themselves. For example, when we were putting together our Fassionola syrup, we were trying to get the deep red color into the bottle that most people associate with the Hurricane cocktail. One of our farmers mentioned how she would use hibiscus to dye her eggs for Easter, and as an added bonus, it was antimicrobial. It was like a lightbulb going off over our heads.
A lot of what we do is just trial and error. Our Margarita Mixer went through so many rounds of R&D before we came out with something we were proud of. But we always take our time when it comes to development because part of our ethos is to never release something that we wouldn't drink ourselves.
2020 was your best-selling year, assumedly in part because people were crafting up cocktails at home. However, do you have any other insight as to why it was such a great year?
I think the reason we had such a great year was due, in part, to being able to take a break and step back from the business. Sometimes it's really hard to see things holistically, especially when you're deep in the details every day. The beginning of COVID turned out to be a great opportunity to take a beat and figure out what was working and not working with our business. Plus the gap gave us a burst of creativity, which really pushed us into new projects that we wouldn't have pursued otherwise.
When the lockdown was in full swing, did you have a go-to drink?
We did a lot of experimenting with Old Fashioneds— different base spirits, different aging processes, different syrups and bitters. It's an easy drink to make, but you can create wildly different flavor profiles based on what you use. Also, we got super into gimlets with the Honeysuckle & Peppercorns for a minute. Gin is my favorite, and gimlets are so easy and refreshing. The recipe on our site doesn't even have a garnish for the gimlet because they never lasted long enough to deserve one.
What is the best lesson you’ve learned or what are you most proud of since launching Cocktail & Sons seven years ago?
I've learned that it really takes a community. When we launched Cocktail & Sons, I was seven months pregnant with our daughter. I thought I was pretty tough and could handle the workload on my own, but the experience really humbled me. I had to learn how to ask for help— from farmers and chefs when it came to prep and storage, from other producers when it came to regulations and getting in with distributors and retailers, from friends and former coworkers when it came to marketing strategies and design and even wording on our bottles. I had to learn that you don't produce a successful product 100% on your own, and for the people who put up with me and showed me patience, I am forever grateful.
Summer is coming. What’s your go-to drink for the season?
I've been really into Salty Dogs lately. I keep telling myself that the salt gives it electrolytes that we so desperately need down here in the Louisiana summers. When we went into our photographer Kat Kimball's studio to shoot this one for our socials, it was definitely the favorite.
Rim a Double Old Fashioned glass with salt. Add ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake until tin is frosted. Strain over fresh ice. Enjoy.
Find more Cocktail & Sons recipes here. This interview has been edited.
Photography by: Courtesy Cocktail & Sons