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Hella Cocktail Co gains $5m backing

American whiskey brand Uncle Nearest has invested US$5 million in mixer producer Hella Cocktail Company as part of its pledge to support minority-owned spirits firms.

Hella Cocktail founders
L-r: Hella Cocktail founders Tobin Ludwig, Eddie Simeon and Jomaree Pinkard

The investment is part of Uncle Nearest Ventures, a US$50m fund to back minority-founded, owned and led spirits companies.

Hella Cocktail Co is said to be the first BIPOC-founded, owned and led American beverage brand to be available in all 50 states.

The company is currently available in more than 20,000 stores, bars, hotels and restaurants.

Hella Cocktail Co produces a line of mixers, cocktail bitters and its canned non-alcoholic Bitters & Soda range.

Founded in 2012 by Jomaree Pinkard, Tobin Ludwig and Eddie Simeon, the investment coincides with Hella’s 10-year anniversary and the ‘innovation of a new beverage category’ with its line of pre-mixed bitters and soda.

The funding will help the company as it enters its next phase of growth, as well as expand its team and boost warehouse stock to meet ‘outpaced’ demand.

“We don’t see this as just an investment in Hella, but rather an investment in bringing all voices to the table and celebrating different experiences,” said Pinkard, CEO of Hella Cocktail Co.

“This partnership not only enables us to bring our message to more audiences, but aligns us with a fellow minority-owned and led company that understands how integral culture is when creating a successful business.

“We’re thrilled to continue a rapid growth trajectory, as we create premium products where neither taste nor brand values are ever compromised.”

Fawn Weaver, founder and CEO of Uncle Nearest, called the investment in Hella an “absolute no brainer”.

She said: “Our team members were already pairing their Bitters & Soda with Uncle Nearest, so I knew their products were made with excellence.

“What I didn’t know is the brand was founded by three men of African-American, Mexican, and Jewish descent. Once I learned that, I reached out to Jomaree and said, ‘What do you need? It’s yours.’

“We could not be prouder to back these three incredible leaders, who have bootstrapped this brand for a decade, never compromising on quality or messaging, and who have grown their company at such a rapid yet sustained pace that they’ve proven their brand is here to stay.”

Earlier this year, Jack Daniel’s and Uncle Nearest revealed Du Nord Spirits as the first graduate of their joint brand mentorship programme, developed to foster diversity in the industry.

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