How tonic water brand Double Dutch Drinks built their business: an interview
Joyce and Raissa de Haas founded premium mixer brand Double Dutch in 2015 when they launched their first flavours: Cucumber & Watermelon and Pomegranate & Basil. Six years on, and the 29-year-old Dutch twins now sell 750,000 products a month from a 10-strong range of flavours.
We caught up with Raissa de Haas recently to talk through their story and to see what exciting ventures they’re currently working on.
How did the idea for Double Dutch come about?
We were born in the Netherlands (the birthplace of gin) and grew up with our parents organising lots of wine & spirit tastings, building up a passion for quality drinks.
When we went to university we noticed the market for interesting tonics didn’t really exist, and so we experimented and made our own sodas before trying them out on our friends, which earned us the name ‘the tonic twins’.
We moved to London to further study at UCL and when it came to writing our theses, we turned our passion into a business plan. We devoted our year at UCL about the mixer market, became passionate flavour experts and found that drinks could and should taste better. That’s why we decided to create tonics and mixers using unexpected pairings of flavours to enhance every drink, whether served with spirits or simply solo. At graduation, our dissertation won us a prize for best theses of the year and Double Dutch was born.
Double Dutch has some fantastic flavour combinations – notably the Cranberry and Ginger which recently been described as ‘heaven in a glass’ with Masons Orange & Lime Leaf gin. Where do your flavour inspirations come from and what’s the creative process behind your NPD?
Double Dutch flavours are created with molecular gastronomy by using flavour pairing techniques, with the core hypothesis being that ingredients combine better when they share key flavour aromas. This allows us to find unique and well-balanced flavour combinations that bring the best out of the spirits that they are mixed with. Double Dutch is all about innovation and offering more excitement to consumers.
How has the mixers market changed since you started out?
The market has definitely seen a massive improvement in flavour innovation over the past few years with more flavoured mixers and tonic waters entering the market.
The category is still defining itself and the sector is still in its educational phase, consumers are still being introduced to the importance of the mixer when choosing their drinks.
Do you have any new and exciting flavours you’re working on that you can share with us?
We are always working hard to meet new trends in wellness and flavour – we recently launched our cocktail sodas range including the Bloody Mary Soda and the Cucumber and Chilli Margarita Soda – a market leading way to enjoy longer, lighter cocktails. We have taken the ingredients from classic cocktails to develop longer, lighter drinks - consumers simply add their spirits to create quick, flavourful cocktails. However, they both work perfect as a standalone non-alcoholic adult drink.
We have 2 very exciting pieces of NPD coming out in 2021 but we can’t yet give anything away!
We imagine that a lot of your business is based in the on-trade – how have you adapted from the effects that COVID-19 has had on the industry?
2021 is all about growth – serving an at-home audience when needed but also critically inspiring people to get back out into the hospitality industry when safe to do so and enjoying drinking with friends. Our heart is in the on-trade – we have built our business and our brand working with premium venues and can’t wait to see this industry re-opening again.
And finally, how are you drinking your G&Ts at home? Do you have favourite serves?
Definitely! I absolute love a warm drink for the winter season. Just heat up our ginger ale or ginger beer in a saucepan, add to a glass, then leave a spiced teabag for about 30sec, then add 50ml of gin (Orange & Lime Leaf works well!) and garnish with cinnamon stick or orange slice.
Alternatively, I also love 50ml gin, 25ml of lemon juice (or elderflower syrup if you like it a little sweeter), top up with Double Dutch Cucumber & Watermelon, garnish with ribbon of cucumber. Perfection.
Thanks to Raissa and Joyce for sharing with us!