One of the fringe benefits of entering awards is the opportunity to meet lots of other like-minded business owners and explore new avenues you might never otherwise go down.
That’s exactly what happened at last year’s SRFDA ceremony, when Elizabeth Mackirdy, founder of ready-to-drink cocktail brand Braw Liquor Club was seated at the same table as Blackthorn Salt’s Gregorie and Whirly Marshall.
Elizabeth had the idea for Braw Liquor Club during lockdown after she came home to the Isle of Bute from London, where she’d worked for more than 10 years in fashion buying for the likes of Selfridges, Fenwick and House of Fraser.
Imbued with an entrepreneurial spirit inherited from her business-owning parents, she “wanted to create a unique brand that had a nod to her Scottish heritage” after spotting a gap in the market for a contemporary cocktail brand made using quality ingredients but “with a modern twist, without tartan on it”.
“Hopefully I know a bit about what buyers are looking for, as I’ve worked with brands in the past,” Elizabeth says.
And so, building on her skill set and working through the creative process to carve out a unique brand identity, her new business was born.
Braw Liquor Club hit the ground running with its launch products, Old Fashioned with Sea Tangle and Bramble with Gooseberry, two of Elizabeth’s favourite cocktails which went on to win Gold and Silver awards respectively at last year’s SRFDAs.
“I was actually at the table with the guys from Blackthorn Salt, Whirly and Gregorie, just chatting to them,” says Elizabeth. “When I went up for my prizes, they were clapping for me and filming me. And then when they went up for theirs, I was filming them, so we built up a bit of a rapport.”
Ayr-based Blackthorn Salt took home one of only six prestigious Platinum awards presented on the day. As the name suggests, it is produced by slowly trickling Scottish sea water through a massive tower made of thorns whilst being evaporated by winds blowing in from the Firth of Clyde.
Elizabeth hadn’t heard of Blackthorn before the Awards, but then found their paths kept crossing at trade shows. “Then I had the idea for the collaboration, and they were really keen as well,” she says.
The result of this collaboration is Braw Liquor’s brand-new launch, the West Coast Margarita with Blackthorn Salt.
The Margarita has always been one of Elizabeth’s favourite tipples and is one well-suited to Braw Liquor’s USP, as she explains: “I really wanted Braw Liquor club to have a point of difference from other ready-to-drink cocktails and celebrate the provenance of the ingredients we have, from land and sea. There will always be a classic cocktail in the name and then an additional ingredient. For example, Bramble with Gooseberry.”
West Coast Margarita with Blackthorn Salt has been a year in the making and is now available from the Braw Liquor Club website as well as more than 30 outlets including a number of farm shops, such as Crieff Food Hall, McCaskie’s Butchers and Loch Fyne Oyster Bar Deli.
It offers a punchy measure of Mexican tequila blanco; lime for sharpness; agave nectar to balance and highlight the citrus flavour; and, of course, Blackthorn Salt to make the sweet and sour flavours pop.
Ready to drink, it comes in both 200ml and 500ml bottles, with RSPs of £15 and £27 respectively.