A drink with… Pritesh Mody, World of Zing
The founder of the ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktail company, and Channel 4 Sunday Brunch guest presenter reflects on the state of the pre-mixed category today.
What inspired you to launch World of Zing in 2014?
Back then, there was a lot of pushback when it came to ready-made cocktails; no-one believed that they could be really good.
I saw a lot of top-end hotel bars doing pre-batched Negronis and Manhattans to make them consistent. I spotted that this was happening more and more, and thought it would be really cool if you could create a retail brand around pre-bottled cocktails.
Once we got our Whole Foods listing, there was lots of publicity around what we were doing. We had Rosa’s Thai Café, Jamie Oliver’s restaurants, Carluccio’s, and the Langham hotel all come on board quickly, and we still work with many of these venues.
Tell us about your products.
On the shelf, we have about 18 cocktails in our range, but we produce over 50 cocktails because many of our clients have a bespoke range created for them.
At the Pig hotels, for example, all the in-room cocktails are produced just for the Pig, by us.
We’ve done a lot with Everyman cinemas – we’ve just worked with them on Downton Abbey, Nightmare Alley, and the last James Bond film, making cocktails inspired by the movies.
Are you only available in the UK?
We’ve just done a deal with a distributor called Compass Supply Solutions, which are massive in travel retail. This was all supposed to happen before Covid.
We have a listing with Lagardère in global travel retail, which goes live imminently.
We’re moving into airlines, the cruise line area, and duty free.
You sold one million cocktails in the UK in 2021. How did you achieve this?
Last year, we were listed with all 200 Majestic stores in the UK. Our online business-to-consumer sales went through the roof. We absolutely think we will grow again this year.
Last year, operationally it was very difficult because we were constantly pivoting according to government guidelines. Direct-to-consumer sales are not easy; the costs are very different compared with retail or the on-trade.
How do your regular appearances on TV show Sunday Brunch complement World of Zing?
Ultimately, it gives World of Zing credibility. This is live TV, and I’m showcasing cocktail innovation – it’s literally liquid on lips on live TV.
There’s nowhere to hide; we have to ensure those drinks are the best they can be.
You’ve got millions of viewers, and it gives a brilliant platform to build trust in our brand, and showcase the innovation in liquid that we provide.
We also get huge feedback; you see very quickly the kind of drinks people like.
For example, the first cocktail I launched with World of Zing was a barrel-aged Negroni. But actually, most people didn’t know what a Negroni was, or Campari. The danger in our industry is it’s so insular you can easily forget about the wider picture. And that’s what translates well with World of Zing: we innovate without alienating consumers with overly complicated drinks.
What’s your future prediction for the RTD cocktail category?
It’s going in two directions.
You’ve got the lower-ABV canned cocktails, which are generally great. But it feels like it’s become a race to the bottom of the value chain – particularly when big brands get involved and price everyone out.
At the other end, the end we play at, it’s all about premium craft. That’s where the excitement lies. With all these projects, we’re not pitching on price level, we’re saying we’ll give a bespoke solution. And more importantly, this is a quality product.
No bartender-quality Cosmo cocktail that sits at 5% ABV is bartender-quality. I think consumers are starting to understand that and are willing to pay a premium for actual bartender-quality cocktails that are ready to drink.