We can all agree that espresso martinis are having a major moment. Made with creamy espresso mixed with vodka and coffee liqueur, it’s a tasty drink that’s sure to give you a buzz in more ways than one. Lucky for us, a pair of D.C. entrepreneurs have created a canned version of the classic espresso martini with the help of a few of the city's master mixologists. Meet BLOSSOM Beverages.
The brand launched in late November of 2022 with a pop-up event in the Union Market District and promptly sold out of its 8,000 cans of espresso martini within a day. Three months later and the brand is still on the rise.
We spoke with D.C. locals, David Jack, founder and CEO of BLOSSOM, and Stephen Kae, head of products at BLOSSOM, to learn more about this buzzy new canned cocktail appearing at bars and shops around the city.
David Jack, Founder and CEO: For the love of coffee of course. Like most busy Washingtonians, coffee is a big part of my routine and life. I’ll be honest. Espresso literally runs through my veins like a life-sustaining elixir. But my love for coffee soon shifted from the need for a quick caffeine fix before a meeting (I like to phrase it as the human equivalent to jet fuel) to a true passion and art. I began to appreciate the complexity of flavor profiles, the rich tapestry of beans and countries, the boldness of espresso, and the differences in quality, all sparked a new appreciation for the art of coffee.
But it wasn't until 2018, that my love for coffee reached new heights and truly began to Blossom (see what I did there). I was introduced to the espresso martini by two bad-ass mixologists at one of D.C.'s hottest cocktail bars and it was love at first sip. This is when, for the first time, I witnessed proper mixology and simultaneously acquired a true love affair with this buzzy cocktail. A libation equal parts enjoyable and energizing and one that quickly took Washington, D.C. and the world by storm as the most ordered cocktail across the globe.
Jack: First and foremost, Blossom is a canned cocktail crafted by a group of real mixologists and bartenders here in Washington, D.C. ...The Blossom recipe was made behind the bar, where quality and taste reign king. Unless you're a true espresso martini fiend you may miss the subtle nuances that make this concoction so delicious.
For us, it's all about the balance between coffee’s closest companion…chocolate. We thought to join these two chosen flavors in holy matrimony. And voila, a boozy and buzzy and not too sweet or bitter espresso martini was born. Coffee and chocolate have a natural flavor synergy that makes them a perfect pairing. The bitterness of coffee balances out the sweetness of chocolate, creating a rich, delicious taste and enhancing each other's flavors, not to mention masks the bite of vodka at 9% ABV.
With the rise of the ready-to-drink cocktail market, Blossom is a perfect example of how D.C.-based mixologists have the opportunity to showcase their skills and reach a wider audience. Blossom offers a convenient and accessible way for customers to enjoy the flavors and quality of a craft coffee cocktail, and bartenders in D.C. have the talent to create innovative and delicious drinks that meet this demand. It's time for Washington D.C. to receive recognition and take advantage of the growth in the ready-to-drink cocktail market.
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Stephen Kae, Head of Product: It all starts with the coffee. Our coffee is made by our friends at La Colombe. It’s super high quality, sustainably made and delicious. The combination of our recipe and vodka creates a very drinkable, light and smooth texture. And let's not forget that BUZZ. The caffeine boost from the espresso adds a touch of energy to the drink, making it a perfect pick-me-up for whatever adventure awaits you.
Throughout the development process, we also conducted numerous in-person blind taste tests competing against other canned Espresso Martinis in the market where Blossom was always the clear-cut winner. What consumers are purchasing today is the 45th iteration of our recipe that took over 18 months to perfect and we’re certainly proud of it.
Kae: Interestingly enough, our founding team was connected to each other through the local D.C. tech industry and have functioned as founders, investors, and/or early-stage employees, with a few successful company exits under our belts. That being said, we all know how to move fast, leverage our networks, and focus on fundamental first principles.
The beverage business and the ready-to-drink space is a whole other beast, but we’ve been fortunate enough to have a phenomenal cast of entrepreneurs, mixologists, and tastemakers who make up our team, and very importantly a rockstar group of advisors who have helped to guide us in not only creating an amazing product but also educating us on industry best practices and scaling our business.
The city of D.C. holds a special place in our hearts. It's where we call home and it deserves to be celebrated with new, trendy products like BLOSSOM. With its vibrant foodie culture, D.C. is home to an inspiring array of trailblazing industry leaders, from award-winning mixologists to a record number of Michelin-rated restaurateurs, and some of the country's best breweries and distilleries.
The creation of BLOSSOM, a locally-born company, pays homage to the District's diverse and rich tapestry of people, establishments, and flavors. The spirit, culture, business, and drink that embody BLOSSOM are a reflection of all that makes D.C. such a unique and special place. We're proud to say that BLOSSOM is a product of our beloved city, and we're proud to call D.C. our home.
Jack: [With] cans in hands! We spent two years in stealth mode creating a product that tastes as good as one made in a cocktail bar, and at the same time is a testament to process optimization and production scalability. Now that we have officially launched, our aim is to make BLOSSOM accessible wherever customers purchase their alcohol, be it at a local liquor store, favorite bar, or even at a Nats game. This year, we're introducing new products with unique recipe combinations that customers will fall in love with, and deliver the coffee-flavored buzz of an espresso martini.
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Jack: Listen, if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you have to hustle, but hustle smart through planning. Research, research, research. A very successful entrepreneur once told me, "The greatest quality of a CEO is the ability to decipher what NOT to do." This is crazy true. So great planning begets great understanding which begets great performance. Don't wait for opportunities, create them. Embrace the grind, because it's not going to be easy. But, if you have a fire and a vision you can make it happen. Don't be afraid to fail, because failure is just a stepping stone to success. And, most importantly, always put the customer first. That's how you build a business that lasts. So, go out there and make it happen, don't let anyone or anything stand in your way.
BLOSSOM Beverages is available at a variety of shops in Washington, D.C. Check out their website to find a store near you.
Photography by: Hawkeye Johnson / BLOSSOM Beverages