Soulboxer Cocktail Co. sees demand in at-home cocktail products

As the government issues more stay-at-home mandates and recommendations, Soulboxer Cocktail Co. is grateful to be working in a space the Milwaukee-based company has promoted for five years — stay-at-home beverage options.

Founder Jason Neu said Soulboxer was started because the former bartender saw a decline in beer and wine sales and an increase on the spirits side.

“But everybody I talked to wasn’t making a lot of cocktails at home,” Neu said. “There was that gap. We make products where we want them to taste like a homemade cocktail but a little easier.”

Now, as more and more people remain sheltered in their homes, Neu’s new online store, which launched in January, is seeing an increase in demand.

Soulboxer is now available in 32 states with retail distribution in the Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota area. The company worked with a partner to navigate the differences in state alcohol laws to make Soulboxer’s three products — the Brandy Old Fashioned, Bourbon Old Fashioned and Rye Whiskey Manhattan — have a stronger reach.

“In the last two months, we’ve seen quite a few orders from all over the country. We started to build a strategy around that,” Neu said.

Neu said most recently, his online store is seeing more traffic from states that have high former Wisconsin resident populations like Arizona and Florida. Soulboxer saw an increase in demand from a few other states, Neu said, including Washington, Virginia and California. The company has also seen more local residents purchasing products online though Neu is still encouraging local customers to go to a local retailer.

“I’m definitely going to make sure that we keep those dollars local with a local store if we can,” he said.

Soulboxer works with Central Standard Distillery as its production partner.

“We’re really proud to be associated with a company where they shut down production to produce sanitizer spray, something that’s desperately needed for these facilities,” Neu said.

Even as Central Standard has adjusted its own operations, Neu said the company is still able to keep up with the demand for Soulboxer’s product.

Despite an increased demand, Neu did have to make some changes with his own operations to combat the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally, his company, which employs two people, focuses heavily on research and development. Neu said over the last three weeks, he has ceased any additional R&D work and focused entirely on making sure Soulboxer can produce current products and meet the supply chain demands.

“It is no issue now, but if there is any breakdown in the transportation industry or any of the other suppliers that we buy from, that could cause hiccups for us. The last thing we want to do is get a new product or new item and not be able to fulfill that,” he said.

Because of his background in the bartending industry, Neu expressed his gratitude for Soulboxer customers, but also a sense of sadness for his friends in the bar and service industry. The owner said Soulboxer prides itself on making cocktails that bring people together.

“We’ve lost a little bit of that not being able to go to our favorite restaurant or our favorite bar. I think it’s important if it’s a cocktail or whatever it is, that you’re spending time with family, you’re video chatting old friends and keeping that connectivity,” he said. “Raise a drink and enjoy the things we still have.”

Margaret Naczek, Milwaukee Business Journal

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