20 Amazing Alcohol Startups to Watch in 2022

by Josh Howarth - April 15, 2022

Despite the lack of in-person events during the pandemic, alcohol lovers were still finding ways to connect about their passion, even if it meant through an online wine club or virtual happy hour.

Despite this, alcohol startups saw a steep drop in VC funding in 2020, only netting $343 Million, less than half of the amount from the year prior.

Post-pandemic life is a completely different story, however. In 2021, alcohol startup investments came roaring back to over $1 Billion — for the first time ever.

So, the question now is whether alcohol startups will continue to see such huge growth in 2022. The answer may lie in the success of these major players in the space.

1. Bright Cellars

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5-year search growth: 66%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2014

Location: Milwaukee, WI

Funding: $24.7M (Series B)

What they do: Bright Cellars is a monthly wine subscription service. After taking a taste quiz, customers are matched with 4 different wines per month for $80. With a particular emphasis on personalization, the startup works directly with wineries to craft recipes that fit subscribers’ preferred tastes.

2. Ten to One Rum

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5-year search growth: 3800%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: New York, NY

Funding: Undisclosed Amount (Angel)

What they do: Ten to One Rum is an NYC-based spirits startup. The company offers a range of different types of rum. With angel backing from musician Ciara, the product is available nationwide and also in Trinidad and Tobago.

3. Highclere Castle Spirits

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5-year search growth: 99X+

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2019

Location: Centervrook, CT

Funding: $900K (Debt Financing)

What they do: Highclere Castle Spirits manufactures and distributes gin and spirits. Named after the “real Downton Abbey,” the company distributes to 40 states in the US and 27 EU countries. Since launching, Highclere Castle has won 53 international awards for flavor and design.

4. Foxtrot

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5-year search growth: 40%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2013

Location: Chicago, IL

Funding: $166.8M (Series C)

What they do: Foxtrot is an app that delivers food and drinks, including alcohol. The startup promises delivery times under 30 minutes and also offers shipping anywhere in the US. With a particular focus on partnering with local and small businesses, CEO Mike LaVitola wants to ensure that smaller brands will continue to make up 40% of inventory.

5. DRINKS

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5-year search growth: 25%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2013

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Funding: $28.3M (Series B)

What they do: DRINKS is a Wine as a Service (WaaS) platform that allows any e-commerce company to start its own ship-to-home service. With clients such as Wine Insiders and Martha Stewart Wine Co, DRINKS enables companies to reach 96% of adults in the US. The startup also uses AI-based algorithms to craft customized recommendations for each shopper.

6. Provi

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5-year search growth: 25%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2016

Location: Chicago, IL

Funding: $124.9M (Private Equity)

What they do: Provi communication tool that simplifies the alcohol ordering process for retailers, bars and restaurants. Clients can chat with all their reps and easily manage their inventory in one place. Orders take 5 minutes or less to place. The startup has over 1M orders sent and over 4M products sold on its platform.

7. Ritual Zero Proof

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5-year search growth: 4900%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: Chicago, IL

Funding: Undisclosed Amount (Seed)

What they do: Ritual Zero Proof is a low-calorie, zero-alcohol spirit replacement. With investment from Diageo, the company offers a variety of liquor replacements, including tequila, rum, whiskey and gin. The products are available nationwide.

8. Onda Tequila

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5-year search growth: 500%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: New York, NY

Funding: $15.6M (Series Unknown)

What they do: Onda Tequila produces a line of canned sparkling tequila beverages, as well as a complementary clothing line called Onda Sport. The company was co-founded by actress Shay Mitchell and was inspired by LA ‘90s surf culture. The beverages are 100 calories, zero sugar and 5% ABV.

9. Jimmy’s Cocktails

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5-year search growth: 6300%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: Haryana, India

Funding $3.3M (Convertible Note)

What they do: Jimmy’s Cocktails sells non-alcoholic cocktail mixers. The company sold 6M cocktails in the first three months of 2022 and reported 2X revenue growth in FY22. Based in India, the startup has started exporting its products to Australia and South Africa and will continue expanding worldwide.

10. Brewdog

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5-year search growth: 63%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2007

Location: Aberdeenshire, United Kingdom

Funding: $377M (Equity Crowdfunding)

What they do: Brewdog is a Scotland-based beer brewery that offers bottled and canned beers. The range of craft beers includes both alcoholic and alcohol-free options. For UK residents, the startup also offers monthly subscription boxes which contain a variety of beers.

11. Wakaze

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5-year search growth: 166%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2017

Location: Fukui, Japan

Funding: $3.8M (Series A)

What they do: Wakaze is a startup that brews sake. With breweries in Japan and France, shipping is available to Japan and various countries in Europe. The company also runs a restaurant in Tokyo in which customers can enjoy a sake-paired course meal.

12. CleanCo

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5-year search growth: 20%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2019

Location: London, England

Funding: $9.9M (Series A)

What they do: CleanCo produces low and no alcohol spirits. Specifically, the startup offers tequila, rum, gin and vodka alcohol alternatives that are no more than 0.5% ABV. The company partners with a few distributors, including Amazon, BetterRhodes and Reservebar.

13. Westward Whiskey

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5-year search growth: 415%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2004

Location: Portland, OR

Funding: Unknown

What they do: Westward American Single Malt Whiskey brews and distills whiskey out of its distillery in Portland, Oregon. In addition to whiskey, the company also offers cocktail and whiskey classes and special events such as history lessons on whiskey.

14. Theos

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5-year search growth: 44%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2019

Location: Nashville, TN

Funding: $350K (Pre-Seed)

What they do: Theos is a marketplace that connects alcohol buyers, wholesalers and suppliers. Wholesalers can utilize AI tools to drive more sales volume, and retailers can browse all options in one place to place an order. Suppliers can interact directly with both parties and promote products. The startup is active in almost all states and has a recurring revenue of around $30K a month.

15. Liquid Death

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5-year search growth: 1200%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2017

Location: Santa Monica, CA

Funding: $130.6M (Series C)

What they do: Liquid Death is a non-alcoholic beverage company that sells still and sparkling water, as well as merchandise. The company had $45M in sales in 2021, and $3M of that was from the merchandise. The beverages are available in 29,000 stores, including Whole Foods and 7-11, as well as on Amazon.

16. Flying Embers

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5-year search growth: 5500%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2016

Location: Ojai, CA

Funding: $45M (Series C)

What they do: Flying Embers offers botanical beverages that include hard kombucha, hard seltzer and wine spritz. With taprooms in Boston and Los Angeles, the startup released 28 new products in 2021 and wants to continue to craft more organic, low-sugar beverages in 2022.

17. Talea Beer

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5-year search growth: 366%

Search growth status: Regular

Year founded: 2018

Location: New York, NY

Funding: Undisclosed Amount (Angel)

What they do: Talea is the first female-founded brewery and taproom in NYC. The company’s mission is to create easy-to-drink beers that cater to a wider audience than the typical craft beers. Both the brewery and taproom are located in Williamsburg, NYC and the space is available for co-working and enjoying a beer.

18. Ekos

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5-year search growth: 16%

Search growth status: Peaked

Year founded: 2014

Location: Charlotte, NC

Funding: $29.5M (Series B)

What they do: Ekos is a cloud-based platform that allows craft beverage makers to keep track of their accounting, inventory, production and sales in one place. There are currently over 17K Ekos users spanning several industries, including brewery, cidery and winery.

19. Kura

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5-year search growth: 488%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2015

Location: Bourgogne, France

Funding: $1.1M (Seed)

What they do: Kura produces a variety of food and beverage products, including beer, sake and miso. Available mostly in specialized shops across France, the company aims to create organic products that blend the cultures of France and Japan.

20. WineView

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5-year search growth: 26%

Search growth status: Exploding

Year founded: 2020

Location: Birmingham, AL

Funding: $275K (Pre-Seed)

What they do: WineView is an app that helps customers select the best wine to pair with their food at restaurants. Once the customer opens the app at a participating restaurant and confirms their location, they can select the entree ordered and the app will provide suggested wine pairings.

Conclusion

That wraps up our list of alcohol startups to watch out for in 2022.

One major trend among these companies is the emphasis on creating a distinct brand image. Customers want to see themselves represented in the products they consume, and alcohol is no different.

Another commonality is companies meeting increased consumer demand for low and no-alcohol options of their favorite drinks.

Written By
Josh Howarth
Co-founder of Exploding Topics.
548 Market St. Suite 95149
San Francisco, California
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