We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Tracy and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My husband Adrian spent the past decade with catering firm A Fare Extraordinaire, managing their beverage program. He was tasked with creating two-step craft cocktails for events serving up to 1,000 drinks in a night. The bartenders needed all the crafting to be done ahead of time, the idea was add spirits to the mixer, shake and serve. When that position went away due to the dumpster fire that was 2020, we decided to take that knowledge and bottle it. We started with our Spiced Old Fashioned syrup, sold on our website, and promoted to our neighbors via the area social media pages. At a low price point of $12 (for 23 cocktails worth of syrup), it was a holiday runway hit. We knew we were onto something and jumped in head first. It’s insane all of this happened in the past 12 months.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We’re Modern Vintage, cocktails simplified. That’s truly it. Craft cocktails from the comfort of home, we do the hard work so you don’t have to. Everyone has their story of a craft cocktail experiment gone wrong, with a hefty price tag to boot. We solve that problem with classic cocktails that have a modern twist. We love to mix the sweetness of fruit with the surprise finish of heat, or smoke, or kick. While each of our mixers are designed with a specific spirit in mind, they can be used across multiple spirits, or simply bubbly water for a refreshing mocktail. We use all real ingredients, if you taste it, it’s really in each of the small batches we handcraft.
Last spring, through a chance Instagram message, we established a partnership with Ellis Motel in Round Top. They were looking for a way to simplify the craft cocktail process behind the bar, we were selling two-step cocktail mixers. The same problem solved, in a bigger way. We currently private label over five Ellis Motel cocktail mixers, and produced 150 gallons of mixers for the recent Round Top Antique Show last month (October). The past 6 months have allowed us to learn from one of the best in Houston, and we’re excited to launch the Modern Vintage large format packaging for the Houston area bars and restaurants.
Up next for our seasonals is Pomegranate Thyme (winter), which launches December 1. Makes a festive holiday margarita! We look forward to expanding our year round offerings (Spiced Old Fashioned, Spicy Strawberry Basil, Ginger Margarita, Grapefruit Lemon Basil) to include our past seasonal (summer) Coconut Chipotle Pineapple in the new year. Our retail locations continue to expand and you can find our full list of stores on our website.
Adrian and I have had equal but separate successes professionally. He’s spent a good portion of his career in the service and spirits industry, although not a big drinker himself, he can manage booze for any situation and managed impressive inventory and revenue each year. I have spent my career exploring opportunities, I love reinvention, I’m a creative by trade, and I have amassed an interesting skill set as a result. Together we are able to manage most aspects of our business and product, or one of us knows a guy. It’s exciting getting to find this new professional success as a family. Our personal relationship has grown a lot stronger, because working with your spouse is hard. Really hard. But if you work at it, the highs are so much higher, and the valleys are easier to bare. I’m thankful for this past year, for every struggle, for every win, for every loss. I’m really thankful for Adrian in new ways I didn’t have the privilege before.
The biggest lesson we’ve learned is we should trust our gut, but never miss the right opportunity. Taking the initiative each time we were in the right place at the right time over the past year, has served us well. That hasn’t come without its fair share of steep learning curves. And those times are tough, but they make us better for the next thing. Adrian calls them slight setbacks, major comebacks and that has kind of been the path. You can’t be everything to everyone, so we don’t try. We try to be the right thing, for the right audience, and we are continuing to carve out our brand’s space in the market.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In all honesty, I’d have to work. We work nearly every day. But visitors love to check “the shop” (our warehouse). We’d make sure to meet them at some point in the week for Cowboy sliders at Urban Eats, and The Dude Abides cocktails at William Price Distilling.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Levi Rollins and Eric Munoz, Owners Urban Eats- For giving us our first kitchen and retail shelf. For believing in us, copywriting, troubleshooting packaging, promoting us, and for the never ending love and support.
Erin Simpson, Owner Third Born Ginger Beer- For shedding light in so many corners in the early days, for all the contacts and resources you’ve shared, and for being a shoulder and cheerleader depending on the day.
Rachael Volz, Owner A Fare Extraordinaire & The Revaire- To Rachael and her entire team for welcoming us back to AFE and The Revaire. We couldn’t dream of a better, more authentic place to call our headquarters. Thank you for always supporting our growing needs.
Everyone who has ever bought a bottle, thank you for giving us a chance. Every bottle sold is a step closer to our next dream, and for that we are forever grateful.
Cork Creative Co.