Earlier this year Mike Ellery and Tim Streather founded a boutique cocktail company called Raw Spirit Cocktails, a natural, no added sugar, guilt-free business. We catch up with Mike to find out more.
Can you explain what inspired you to launch the business?
Tim and I are great mates, and during our time at Saracens we wanted to develop something which we could build together from the ground up and most importantly be proud of. With healthy living strongly on the public agenda we wanted to tap into the gap in the market and produce a brand which would combine raw vegetables, juices and natural ingredients with pure spirits. Through playing together at Saracens we came up with the idea to make that vision a reality and started to formulate a plan to put the brand together. At first, we wanted to produce a pre-mixed, ready to drink cocktail that could be sold as individual bottles, but through careful consideration we found it more appropriate and timely to launch the Raw Spirit Bar.
Where can the bar be found?
Our bar is located at Allianz Park in North London and will be operating at all Saracens home games this season. Our plan is to sell a variety of our cocktails through the bar and then analyse which flavours, ingredients and tastes people like. From there we can start to produce our range of pre-mixed cocktails. We also have our bar at a range of music festivals as well as weddings and family events.
How do you hope to grow awareness and promote your business?
Firstly, appearing on the RPA website is a big start for us. Hopefully by explaining the story behind Raw Spirit Cocktails, and our vision for the future, we can start to build awareness around the rugby community. Secondly, the opportunity to continue having the bar at Saracens home matches is massive and a great way to market our brand to a huge range of new customers and potential business partners. Thirdly, you can’t underestimate the influence of the contacts you can build through rugby, and the support of your teammates. Many of them have big social media following, meaning it’s been greatly beneficial to use their reach to market our brand.
Have you taken any inspiration from the success of Wolfpack Lager, launched by former teammates Chris Wyles and Alistair Hargreaves?
Wolfpack Lager has been a massive inspiration for us. Chris and Alistair are good mates of ours and it’s been awesome to see how well they have done with their business. I used to travel to training with Chris each day and it was the perfect opportunity to pick his brains and ask for advice on how to launch the business and grow the brand. They have inspired a lot of players at Saracens and with Brad Barritt also achieving great success with Tika Tonga coffee, it’s been a terrific path for us to follow.
How have you enjoyed working alongside Tim on this project?
It’s been the dream to launch this business with him. Tim only lives a couple hundred metres away from me and therefore it’s been a good excuse to keep in touch and hang out more. Tim finished playing professional rugby 18 months ago and although he now works full-time, we still manage our time effectively to do what we can. For me being back on the 7s circuit with England has made things slightly more difficult as I’m constantly away, but I am quite lucky that during the down periods in our season I can focus purely on the business.
Have you found it beneficial to have an interest away from your sport?
Absolutely. It’s been great to have something to distract me from rugby. When I finished at Saracens I went through a period of not playing much rugby and while that was disappointing it was a good opportunity to get away from it all and focus on our company. There our times when all you want to do is play Fortnite and watch Love Island, but for me it’s about pushing through those distractions, getting motivated, and understanding everything I do now will benefit me post-rugby.