Cannabis-infused drinks, hangover remedies, alcohol-free booze — here are the startups coming to disrupt the happy hour.
Whether you call it happy hour, apéro, or aperitivo, the couple of hours right after work and before dinner is a key drinking occasion for major alcohol brands.
For instance, Italian beer brand Peroni launched a citrus-flavored beer last year to cater to early-evening drinkers, while spirits giant Diageo launched a happy hour skill on Amazon Alexa earlier this year.
At the same time, startups are riding the craft spirits, cannabis-infused beverages, and alcohol-free trends, offering innovative products to happy hour drinkers. Others are making it easier to get your favorite drink with subscription services, on-demand delivery, or home appliances.
We used the CB Insights database to identify 56 startups disrupting the happy hour and organized them into 10 categories, from bar tech to hangover cures.
This market map includes private companies only and is not meant to be exhaustive of companies in the space. Categories are not mutually exclusive. Please click to enlarge.
Clients with access to expert collections can download and edit this Market Map using our Collections tool here.
To tap into the craft spirits and new alcoholic beverages trends, major alcohol companies such as Diageo, AB InBev, and Pernod Ricard have all started to invest in emerging brands. They also help startups by giving them access to their well-established distribution channels.
But a far bigger threat than craft spirits is looming on the horizon.
As more and more states and countries legalize cannabis, people may shift their consumption from alcoholic drinks to cannabis-infused beverages.
At the same time, health-conscious consumers are increasingly looking at alcohol-free drinks that reproduce the taste or characteristics of alcohol.
Alcohol companies will need to pay attention to these trends if they want to still be serving the happy hour occasion in the coming years.
Scroll down to see the full list of companies in the graphic.
Craft Spirits — These startups are producing craft spirits ranging from whiskey with Misunderstood Whiskey to a Greek liqueur called mastiha with Kleos Spirits. Companies here are independently owned and produce lower volumes of spirits than the brands owned by large spirits companies such as Diageo or Pernod Ricard.
Bar Tech — Companies in this category bring big data and online features to bars and restaurants. SteadyServe Technologies ($21M in disclosed funding) provides connected scales to track beer levels in kegs, while SevenFifty Technologies ($8.5M in disclosed funding) offers a marketplace for bars and restaurants to connect with alcohol beverages distributors.
New Alcoholic Drinks — Ava Winery aims to produce molecule-based wine without grapes, and Mark Cuban-backed BeatBox Beverages offers boxed punch containing orange wine. This category also includes new types of packaging, such as canned wine from MANCAN Wine and portable wine glasses by Electric Sky, as well as alcohol-infused sparkling water with Mighty Swell Cocktail Co.
Celebrity-Backed Spirits — Following George Clooney’s successful sale of his tequila brand, Casamigos, to Diageo in June 2017, other celebrities have invested in the spirits business. For example, actor Ryan Reynolds took a stake in American gin brand Aviation, and Jeremy Piven invested in Mezcal El Silencio.
Anti-Hangover Solutions — These startups are developing solutions to prevent or cure hangovers. Morning Recovery has raised $8M to bring its herbal solutions to the market, while ZBiotics uses probiotics and Thrive+ offers a blend of vitamins.
On-Demand Delivery Services — These companies offer on-demand wine and spirits delivery. US-based Drizly is the most well-funded startup in this category, with $35M in total funding.
Alcohol Appliances — Startups like Plum and 10-Vins are creating wine by-the-glass pouring machines to enhance the way wine is dispensed. This category also includes home brewing appliances such as PicoBrew and Minibrew, as well as a capsule-based cocktail machine developed by Beam Suntory-backed startup Bartesian.
Subscription Services — This category includes companies that offer subscription-based wine and spirits delivery services. Winc — which creates a taste profile for users based on how much they like salt, citrus, and other flavors, then sends users a personally tailored selection each month — is the most well-funded startup in this category, having raised $42M.
Cannabis-Infused Beverages — With more and more states and countries legalizing cannabis, the cannabis-infused beverages category emerges to compete with alcoholic drinks. Startups like California Dreamin’ offer cannabis-infused sodas in a format similar to a bottle of beer while Cannabiniers is developing a non-alcoholic beer infused with cannabis called Two Roots.
Alcohol-Free Wines & Spirits — Riding the low- or no-alcohol trend, these startups offer alcohol-free alternatives to replace wines and spirits. Alcohol-free wine is a popular category with Le Petit Beret and O.VINE both offering grape-infused water that tastes like wine. On the spirits side, Seedlip has developed the first alcohol-free gin. The startup is backed by Distill Ventures, Diageo’s venture arm.
As of 7/2/18.
|10-Vins||InVivo Invest||Alcohol Appliances|
|Bartesian||Beam Suntory||Alcohol Appliances|
|Minibrew.io||Hoving & Partners, VOC Capital Partners||Alcohol Appliances|
|PicoBrew||Spring Creek Investments, ZX Ventures||Alcohol Appliances|
|Somabar||Duke Angel Network, Harvard Angels||Alcohol Appliances|
|Wine Plum||Khosla Ventures||Alcohol Appliances|
|Le Petit Beret||BPI France, Credit Agricole, InVivo Group||Alcohol-Free Wines & Spirits|
|O.VINE||N/A||Alcohol-Free Wines & Spirits|
|Seedlip||Distill Ventures||Alcohol-Free Wines & Spirits|
|Tost Beverages||N/A||Alcohol-Free Wines & Spirits|
|Morning Recovery||Altos Ventures, Slow Ventures||Anti-Hangover Solutions|
|BruVue||NC IDEA||Bar Tech|
|EBar Initiatives||Equity Gap, Gabriel Investment Syndicate, Jenson Funding Partners||Bar Tech|
|HOOCH||Blue Scorpion Investments, Revelis Capital Group, Warner Music Group||Bar Tech|
|Provi||Hyde Park Venture Partners, Ludlow Ventures||Bar Tech|
|Pubinno||Alchemist Accelerator, Nexus Ventures||Bar Tech|
|SevenFifty Technologies||Formation 8||Bar Tech|
|SteadyServ Technologies||N/A||Bar Tech|
|California Dreamin’||Y Combinator||Cannabis-Infused Beverages|
|CERIA Beverages||N/A||Cannabis-Infused Beverages|
|Mirth Provisions||N/A||Cannabis-Infused Beverages|
|Rebel Coast Winery||Boost VC||Cannabis-Infused Beverages|
|Aviation Gin||Ryan Reynolds||Celebrity-Backed Spirits|
|Mezcal El Silencio||Jeremy Piven||Celebrity-Backed Spirits|
|Apologue||N/A||Craft Spirits Brands|
|Broken Shed Distilleries||N/A||Craft Spirits Brands|
|Caledonia Spirits||FreshTracks Capital||Craft Spirits Brands|
|Cambusier||N/A||Craft Spirits Brands|
|Freeland Spirits||N/A||Craft Spirits Brands|
|Kleos Spirits||N/A||Craft Spirits Brands|
|Misunderstood Whiskey||N/A||Craft Spirits Brands|
|New York Distilling Company||Brainchild Holdings||Craft Spirits Brands|
|Pomp & Whimsy||N/A||Craft Spirits Brands|
|Stolen Spirits||Liquid Asset Brands, Spirit Investment Partners||Craft Spirits Brands|
|Ava Winery||Horizons Ventures||New Alcoholic Drinks|
|BeatBox Beverages||Mark Cuban||New Alcoholic Drinks|
|Briggs Original (Boston Cranberry)||N/A||New Alcoholic Drinks|
|Cafe Agave||N/A||New Alcoholic Drinks|
|Cranes||Seedrs||New Alcoholic Drinks|
|Electric Sky||ZX Ventures||New Alcoholic Drinks|
|Gik Live!||University of the Basque Country||New Alcoholic Drinks|
|MANCAN Wine||N/A||New Alcoholic Drinks|
|Mighty Swell Cocktail Co.||CAVU Venture Partners||New Alcoholic Drinks|
|Drizly||Atlas Venture, First Beverage Group, Polaris Partners||On-Demand Delivery Services|
|KOL||N/A||On-Demand Delivery Services|
|Minibar||Great Oaks Venture Capital||On-Demand Delivery Services|
|Saucey||Altpoint Ventures, Blumberg Capital, Joe Jonas, Nick Jonas||On-Demand Delivery Services|
|Bright Cellars||BrightStar Wisconsin, CSA Partners||Subscription Services|
|Flaviar||ACE & Company||Subscription Services|
|Maivino||Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator||Subscription Services|
|Winc||500 Startups, Amplify, Bessemer Venture Partners||Subscription Services|