SALEM — A recent afternoon found Mark Mahoney and his coworkers sitting around a conference table, discussing business as they sipped icy concoctions from small taster cups. Their Norman Street office, decorated with tiki figures and a surfboard, is equipped with a bar, fully stocked with cocktail mixes.
It’s all business for Mahoney, who sells nearly 150,000 cases — that’s 2 million servings — of all-natural cocktail mixes a year.
The Powell & Mahoney brand specializes in cocktail mixes — bloody mary, cosmopolitan, lemon sour, margarita, mojito and a slate of others — that are made in small batches with all-natural ingredients. That means cane sugar, natural juices and juice concentrates, and flavorings such as ginger root and extracts — no artificial colors or flavors, Mahoney said.
“We felt when we launched that the product had to be the best product in that category,” he said.
Mahoney started Maui Beverages, a successful business that makes bases for smoothies and blended drinks, 12 years ago. He branched into cocktail mixes when Brian Powell, a former competitor in the beverage business, approached him with a business plan three and a half years ago.
The duo purchased a bottling plant in Vermont in 2012 and expanded the facility to handle increased production. Powell works out of Philadelphia and is in charge of sales for Powell & Mahoney.
Powell & Mahoney mixes are made in 200-gallon batches, which allows the temperature and other variables to be closely monitored, Mahoney said.
Making the product themselves also enables Powell & Mahoney to offer their mixes at an affordable price — usually $6.99 a bottle.
“It’s approachable ... an affordable luxury,” said Mahoney. “Our biggest challenge is to get people to taste it. But once they taste it, we have a customer.”
Powell & Mahoney mixes are distributed in U.S. and Canadian retail outlets, including liquor stores, food markets, the Courtyard By Marriott hotel chain and Whole Foods supermarkets on the East Coast.