Local business making a splash in mocktail market

Posted April 12, 2023

In the summer of 2019, a River Falls couple began experimenting with crafting alcohol-free cocktails, also called mocktails, while expecting their first child. Fast forward to 2023, and the business Kul Mocks has gotten in the door of more than 1,000 locations around the United States.

The mocktail business, which began in the Wisconsin and Minnesota markets, is now expecting a breakout year, according to Kul Mocks co-founder and CEO Danielle Goss.

“This year is our ramp-up year,” she said. “We are working through test market opportunities with retailers… If the product does what we need it to do, we are able to fill a void that we believe to be there.”

As a couple, Danielle and her husband Nate began realizing through market research and consultation with beverage industry experts that the market for mocktails far exceeded that of pregnant women like Danielle, according to the business’s website.

“Me being a registered dietitian by trade, I have watched in the last 10 to 15 years of people taking ownership of health and wellness,” Danielle Goss said. “Kul Mocks is a moderation brand… For us, we said in 2019, there’s an option for everything, why is there nothing filling this space?”

The Gosses then created a finished product which they rolled out in June 2020.

“We started by building our distribution in the Wisconsin and Minnesota markets,” Goss said. “We had about six or seven beer distributors that we worked with in the first seven months.”

Starting a business during the COVID-19 pandemic came with challenges, according to Goss.

“It hit as we were preparing to launch our product,” she said. “To go from the production side and securing supplies to me personally having to build the business with a newborn at home — it was filled with challenges.”

Although providing some barriers, the pandemic was just something that Kul Mocks had to work with, according to Goss.

“We didn’t know anything different,” she said. “We had to do meetings with retailers virtually, we had to get influencers to share taste testings online.”

Initially, Kul Mocks included three flavors: the Mock Mule, Strawberry Mock-arita and the Blackberry Mock-jito. Those flavors were then joined by three others: Classic Mock-arita, Mock G&T and Peach Hibiscus Cider.

All six mocktails have won PR%F Awards, a beverage competition where judges from across the United States evaluate and award wines, spirits and other cocktails.

“Beyond us saying that they (mocktails) are good, it means that industry veterans and people that are experts in beverage have said that they have really loved our drinks,” Goss said.

To get the authentic taste of a traditional cocktail without overloading on sugar, Goss worked with experts.

“Collaborating with flavorists, food scientists and other experts helped us get down to the flavor profile we were looking for,” she said.

With zero alcohol in its products, Kul Mocks can reach beyond industry standard alcohol distributors, according to Goss.

“From a legal and regulation perspective we don’t have to work with alcohol distributors,” she said. “We are working through more of a hybrid distribution model, which involves selling directly to wholesalers.”

The reason for this distribution model boils down to accessibility, according to Goss.

“You’ll find that any brand in the NA (non-alcoholic) space is trying to break down barriers to improve accessibility as the demand continues to grow,” she said.

According to Goss, 2023 is projected to be the company’s turning point in making a profit.

“To break profit on the national level takes some time to do,” she said. “There is definitely a journey to profitability… We are planning to be profitable by the end of the year, with 2024 being where the rocket ship really takes off.”