If you haven’t heard of Tip Top Proper Cocktails, it’s time we change that. As they’re quickly changing the beverage industry, we sat down with co-founder Neal Cohen to get the lowdown on Tip Top, their new stirred line, and what he thinks the future holds for Tip Top.
What is Tip Top Proper Cocktails, and how did it Originate?
Tip Top is 3.4 oz, 100 ml cans of true, classic cocktails, consisting of the types that have always been in demand but now making them available on-demand straight out of the can. Our cocktails are the ones you know, love, and are familiar with. They’re always balanced, never too sweet, and are consistent every time.
It started with my co-founder Yoni Reisman and me being in the music festival business. We met in elementary school and grew up going to shows and festivals throughout high school and college. In 2002, we went to the first Bonaroo, and we looked at each other and agreed that we wanted to be producing these festivals and events.
At these festivals, you could always serve beer and “and drinks,” vodka and soda, gin and tonic, etc. We noticed that serving a quality cocktail at these music festivals was a challenge, so we decided to change that problem. We tapped Miles Macquarrie from Kimbal House, a 7X James Beard Recognized Mixologist, to be our recipe developer, and we haven’t looked back since.
After always plotting to work with each other for years, I hopped on board, and in September 2019, with two years of developing the brand and the product, we went to market in Georgia with our stirred line, consisting of an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Negroni. After selling for 11 months in Georgia, the pandemic came along, and we adjusted accordingly. Even though Tip Top was born to solve a gap at music festivals, it became apparent there are many other instances in which you cannot find a good cocktail, whether that’s on a flight, at home, at a sporting event, or on a picnic. In August 2020, we launched in Texas, Colorado, and South Carolina, and then launched in New York and Florida soon after. We released a line extension for shaken cocktails, including our Margarita, Bee’s Knees, and Daiquiri.
(photo courtesy of @tiptoppropercocktails)
What made you land on a Negroni, Old Fashioned, and Manhattan?
The first thing we wanted to do was to send a signal to the discerning drinker who may have seen ready to drink cocktails and immediately thought of cheap buzzes and overly sweet cocktails. We want people to think again and prove that our product is doable and tastes great.
We landed on these three because they are the trifecta of bitter, spirit-forward cocktails. We also wanted something that we knew would hold up in a can, as putting a bunch of juice or carbonated liquids in a can is challenging. Knowing that this is a shelf-stable product and has nothing in it that can spoil was a huge driving force.
What do you look for when selecting a spirit to use in a cocktail?
The goal is to deliver on the classic flavor profile of familiar drinks people love, which is why we have Mcquarrie on our team. When someone drinks an Old Fashioned, they want what they know, so we’re not doing it with Mezcal; we’re doing it with bourbon. With Miles as the authority of saying how it is supposed to be crafted, we’re extremely confident that our cocktails will be the ones you know and love. Building the flavor profile is a factor of how all of the ingredients work together, and we realized that the most premium spirit is not needed to hit that goal.
(photo courtesy of @tiptoppropercocktails)
How do you see Tip Top Existing with Canned Beer, Seltzer, and Wine?
We were craft beer fans before anything else, and seeing craft beer in cans was the most exciting thing for us, as it meant that we had something to bring to festivals in the form of canned cocktails.
As to how I see us fitting alongside the huge trend of seltzers, I think we are right there. Seltzers are a beer alternative, so as people get more accustomed to finding other things that aren’t beer, we will be there. The trend we’ve noticed is that when people start to drink difficulty, they want to have more of a choice of what’s available.
Where do you see Tip Top in the Coming Years?
Everywhere. Whether you’re on a plane, on a golf course, at a picnic or campground, at a sporting event, or at a wedding (the list goes on), Tip Top will be there. We want to be the most valued brand when it comes to classic, high-proof cocktails.