Mix Masters

Friends since childhood, these former bartenders found success by making their products the all-natural life of the party.
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This story appears in the January 2007 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Stirrings>> Mix Masters

Vital Stats>> Gil MacLean (l.), 35, and Bill Creelman, 32, of Stirrings in Fall River, Massachusetts

Company>> Producer of premium, all-natural bar ingredients, cocktail mixes and sodas

Projected 2007 sales>> More than $35 million

In fine spirits>> Friends since infancy, Bill Creelman and Gil MacLean are inseparable to this day. Their close friendship has inspired a line of innovative cocktail products ranging from rimmers (appealing garnishes that add the perfect final touch) to mixers that enhance the flavor of the actual cocktail. Made with all-natural ingredients including fresh juice, purified water and cane sugar, their line of products has breathed new spirit into a market dominated by what MacLean describes as bastardized, highly artificial cocktail mixes.

Free flowing>> Creelman and MacLean have come a long way since they were both bartenders in college. Now they work out of a 35,000-square-foot space, fully equipped with a 20-foot bar, an innovation center, a couple of food scientists and a staff topping 70. During their weekly staff cocktail parties, the drinks--and the ideas--flow freely. "We have fun, energetic, inspired employees who are all on the same ride we are and are now as much the engine for what's happening as we are," says Creelman. "There's a lot of free exchange."

High tolerance>> Available at thousands of bars, restaurants and retailers, including Cost Plus World Markets, Sur La Table and Whole Foods Market, Stirrings couldn't be doing better. It has already crossed into Canada and the United Kingdom and will soon be expanding into the rest of Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Last May, the company went sky-high by providing cocktail mixes on Delta flights over 400 miles; it introduced a line of highly carbonated cocktail sodas last August. "There's an old cliché: If you're not moving forward, you're not moving," says MacLean. "We constantly want to test the boundaries of product innovation. We think it's one of the things we do particularly well."

Edition: July 2017

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