We caught up with co-founder George Blurton, one-half of hard seltzer startup Long Shot Drinks to talk about launching a brand in a pandemic, the rise of hard seltzers and what it is like to leave behind a corporate role to start from scratch.
Tell us about your brand?
I’ve always been pretty picky when it comes to drinks. We’re part of a generation that might well be starting to drink less, but at the same time, we’re thinking more than ever about the quality of what goes into our drink. We wanted to create something that can work for everyone and has the modern-day drinker in mind, who is more conscious than ever about what they’re putting into their body.
So we created Long Shot – a simple, refreshing blend of fruit flavoured sparkling water and alcohol. Inspired by our travels to the US, our take on the new ‘hard seltzer’ craze taps into the mindset of ‘less is more’ when it comes to your drink.
Whilst alcohol will never be healthy; we want to show that having a drink doesn’t have to write off your diet completely, and can fit into your active lifestyle.
Where did you (George & Hugo) first meet?
We’re old university chums that studied real estate and marketing, so naturally, we ended up starting our own drinks brand!
What made you want to get into the world of drinks?
We both had a stint in the ‘corporate world’ after uni, which was fine – but we always knew there was more to life than sitting at a desk working for a big company.
I started my foray into the drinks world via a number of London breweries – helping out on the sales and marketing side of things, and absolutely loved it. Working for a craft brewery was as fun as it sounds, and it was great seeing how much appetite there is out there for weird and wonderful drinks ideas.
During this time, we started hearing more and more about hard seltzers and thought the timing was right for us to take the plunge – our Long Shot – and launch our own business.
What gave you the idea for Long Shot?
We’d never even heard of hard seltzers 18 months ago, but sometimes the best ideas happen by accident, and that’s what happened to us on a chance trip to the US in 2019. Everywhere we looked, we saw this new type of drink in everyone’s hands – from frat parties to bars, to shops, everywhere!
Mostly though we saw how a type of drink could create its own sub-culture, and we became obsessed with the idea of making our own.
I’ve always been a huge sports and fitness fan but was always frustrated with the big guilt trade-off when enjoying a night on the beers - so I wanted to make something that could fit into our active lifestyles and mean we weren’t missing out on any of the fun.
Where did the brand name come from?
The Long Shot name simply comes from the ‘Screw it’ moment we had when we both ditched our 9-5 jobs and decided to take a punt on a new drinks idea.
We took the risk and want to inspire others to take their own Long Shot whatever it may be – starting their own business, travelling the world, or simply trying a new hard seltzer that they heard about online!
Conveniently, our drinks also happen to come in slender, long cans – and contain roughly a shots worth of alcohol in them.
When did you launch?
We’re a Covid-baby – having launched in May 2020. We had everything ready to go, and weren’t going to let anything stop us. So, staying true to our own mantra, we took our Long Shot and decided to go ahead anyway.
Launching slap-bang in the UK’s first National Lockdown wasn’t what we ever planned for – but we actually saw that it is a time when UK drinkers are actually more open than ever to try new ideas from the comfort of their homes.
Whilst most headed out and raided the stores for toilet paper and banana bread ingredients; many also started ordering more online than ever before – which also helped us get into more places than we initially imagined.
We also found that the increasing need to look after ourselves physically now more than ever helped play into our hands – as people ditched the sugar-heavy cocktails, and opted for slightly lighter options to jazz up their Friday night Zoom quiz!
Where can we find Long Shot?
All our drinks are available for delivery via our website - https://longshotdrinks.co.uk/ - where you can try all 3 x flavours in a handy mixed case.
For those who want their Long Shot fix even quicker, they’re also available with Amazon Prime – allowing for next-day refreshment.
You’ll also find Long Shot in a handful of our favourite independent stores and websites.
What’s your favourite flavour?
I’ve always had a bit of a guilty pleasure for rhubarb. There’s something unique and very British about it, so always wanted to try and create something of my own with it.
Our flavour was inspired by the rhubarb that grows in the area all around Hugo’s (my business partners) house and went into some of our early experiments. We know it can be a bit of a ‘Marmite’ ingredient – but we wanted to try and make something with it that could appeal to everyone.
Having said that, I’m happy with all of our flavours, and don’t really have a favourite flavour – and think they can all serve a different purpose depending on the time of day.
Any tips for others dreaming of launching their own drinks range?
Take inspiration from any other brands that you tend to gravitate towards. I’ve always loved the Innocent ethos, and love their commitment to real ingredients and using nothing artificial to create great drinks.
They’ve helped shape our brand and are one of the reasons why we only use all-natural ingredients, and proudly show our drinkers exactly what goes into our drinks. We got fed up with not understanding half of the ingredients on the side of soft drinks, and believe if you don’t know what it is, you probably shouldn’t be drinking it.
Do you have any serve suggestions as opposed to drinking straight up?
We tried to make our drinks as simple as possible to drink – meaning you don’t need to add anything to enjoy. However, they also make great mixers with vodka – if you’re looking for an extra kick!
Any plans in the pipeline to expand the range?
Absolutely! We’re always experimenting with new flavours and ideas for our next release. Whatever we release though, you can always be sure there’ll never be any artificial sweeteners or additives in our drinks, and we’ll always tell you exactly what goes into them.
Where do you hope to be as a brand in 5 years time?
Shops, planes, trains you name it! We’re still waiting to see what the UK makes of all this ‘hard seltzer’ fuss – but the early signs are really encouraging that they’ll break into the mainstream.
I’m always being told that our drinks are at their best when breaking up a session on the beers – so I’m still looking forward to a time when you’ll hopefully even be able to find our hard seltzers at your favourite bar or pub (when they reopen that is!)
The hard seltzer movement is just getting started here in the UK, and we see Long Shot leading the way, as a high-quality, craft alternative to other mass-produced seltzers and canned G&Ts.