Last Friday our expert judges tasted just shy of 250 spirits entries alongside Franklin & Sons' tonic and soda, as part of the IWSC Mixer Awards led by Head Judge Shannon Tebay, Beverage Director at Outernet Live.
Shannon shared her thoughts on Franklin & Sons and their range - "I really loved working with them. The quality is excellent - very mixable, consistent and user-friendly. The flavoured tonics and sodas are outstanding - really creative combinations, very well done." That's a pretty good review if you ask us...
Ahead of our Spirits Results Announcement - including Mixers - on Monday 27th March, we caught up with Tom Singleton, Business Director at Franklin & Sons - exclusive sponsor of the IWSC Mixer Awards - on the rich history of their brand as well as key trends in hospitality plus their sustainability initiatives.
Also, keep your eyes peeled for their signature serves throughout this piece and explore more here.
Franklin & Sons has a rich history in the drinks industry – how did it all begin and how has the brand changed and innovated over time?
"Franklin & Sons was founded in 1886, by three entrepreneurial brothers after a pioneering journey to the US. At that time, the temperance movement was in full swing and the brothers wanted to know what Americans were drinking if it wasn’t alcohol. They spent several years perfecting the recipes, and the brothers then launched from their confectionary shop on Rickmansworth High Street."
"In 2015, following talks with the Franklin family, the London brand was lovingly re-introduced as part of the Global Brands portfolio – with the commitment that we continue to grow the brand with passion, simplicity and great taste at its heart."
"We’re always innovating, driven by the same entrepreneurial spirit that created Franklin & Sons. Our rebrand last year modernised and refreshed the range, with a refined logo, clean look and feel, and bold statement colours for each product, that clearly stand out in the fridge. The new visual identity reflects the focus of the brand and the liquids – delivery of great taste, simply."
A twist on the classic Paloma, with the addition of some red vermouth to add complexity and depth. Our Paloma Spritz sets a Mexican scene and delivers the true taste of grapefruit with the addition of our pink grapefruit soda.
30ml Patron Tequila
15ml Fresh Lime Juice
30ml Cocchi Americano
75ml Franklin & Sons Pink Grapefruit Soda
How do your drinks differ to other products on the market? What sets you apart as a brand?
"Our heritage and the provenance of our ingredients is a vital point of difference. Nothing artificial is added to our drinks, and we stay true to the original foundations of the brand, sourcing the finest natural ingredients, whether that’s fresh rhubarb from Yorkshire’s rhubarb triangle or fragrant roses from the Rose Valley."
"Following on from our founders, we continually enjoy pioneering new products and keeping track of trends across the industry. We’re a brand created by bartenders for bartenders and hospitality, delivering purposed products and NPD from listening to the industry, and ultimately ensuring great taste for the consumer."
What is the biggest trend in the Mixers category right now?
"Spritz serves have been growing in popularity for some time now, and we’re championing this serve over the summer."
"Our range of dual-flavoured sodas are incredibly popular with consumers – recent sensory studies of the Guava & Lime Soda and Pineapple & Almond Soda returned exceptional results across flavour, aroma, and balance of carbonation. These are an easy way for venues to expand their premium soda offering, and for bartenders to elevate serves with new flavour combinations. The range complements a variety of spirits, vermouths, and wines offering innovative ways for our customers to build drinks."
Orange & Ginger Spritz
A drink that will transport you to a sunny Venetian veranda. It’s bitter-sweet and balanced, long, and refreshing, and perfect for lifting spirits and toasting ‘good health’.
30ml Martini Fiero
20ml Freshly Squeeze Orange
50ml Franklin & Sons Mandarin & Ginger Soda
The drinks world is quickly becoming more and more “sustainable” – what is your stance on this? Do you have any initiatives or sustainability goals?
"We’re here to support a thriving hospitality industry and to continue creating remarkable products for the next hundred plus years, just as we have since the 19th Century. For that to happen, we’re focusing on more sustainable practises across the business."
"Despite making remarkable drinks, we do not have a 'win at all costs' attitude – we believe in looking after customers, our suppliers, and our planet. The right approach to sustainability does take time, however, and we’re not taking shortcuts or offsetting emissions, but rather taking the time to assess how every element of our business can become more sustainable."
"An element of sustainability at the forefront of our business is building better practices into hospitality careers and the community. Our friends over at So Let’s Talk, an organisation improving mental, physical, and financial health across the industry, are a key partner for us this next year."
"As their founder Paddy highlights, in this industry staff serve others before they serve themselves – leading to unhealthy behaviours and burnout. We’re supporting their pledge to make careers in hospitality more sustainable, funding their mission to change our industry’s approach to work and elevate the importance of your own health in this remarkable community."
A fresh and decadent cocktail to make you feel like you’re still on the beach. Our pineapple and almond soda adds tropical, juicy, and zesty elements, and will refresh you on the greyest of days.
30ml Ciroc Coconut Vodka
10ml Fresh Lime Juice
30ml Belsazar Riesling
50ml Franklin & Sons Pineapple & Almond Soda
What are the key trends in hospitality right now? Any exciting new bar listings for Franklin & Sons?
"We’ve recently renewed our global listing with the Coya Restaurant group, across remarkable sites in Paris, London, Monte Carlo, Mykonos and more. The venues and experience that each deliver is exceptional, and something that we’re proud to be part of."
"An exciting listing that we’ve worked closely with several times this past year, is Lab 22. They’re a fantastic team, featuring on the Top 50 Cocktail Bar podium, and have joined us in creating remarkable serves on our stand, at trade shows including Bar Convent Berlin and National Restaurant & Bar. The creative ways they pull together brilliant serves is truly what our products are intended for."
"There are some key areas that we can see our closest bar operators focusing on, leading change across the industry. These include sustainability and minimizing wastage, both across the venue and in their serves, and worker mental health and better employment practices, an area of focus for us with The Drinks Trust and So Let’s Talk."
Where do you expect to see growth in this category over the next 3-5 years?
"Our range of dual-flavoured tonics have been a popular addition to our customer’s bars. The dual-flavours, and interesting combinations, such as Grapefruit & Bergamot Tonic Water, really add to highball serves, while giving bartenders a tool that they can develop creative new cocktails with."
"In 2023, consumers are searching for new experiences rooted in familiar flavours. Mandarin and ginger are both identifiable and familiar flavours, but when infused into the same soda, offer a unique, balanced mixer, creating a memorable experience. As consumers actively look for and explore flavoured tonics and flavoured sodas, to pair with agave spirits, rums, and more, exciting flavour combinations will continue to rise in popularity."
"At the moment, consumers are visiting the On Trade with less frequency, but prioritising premium products and serves when in venue, as a form of permissible indulgence. This will continue consumer preferences moving towards premium drinks in venue."
"Our flavoured tonics are also seeing growth with the popularity of Low & No – the range can be creatively paired with vermouth, wine, low ABV spirits, a selection of non-alcoholic spirits, and equally can be enjoyed as a stand-alone drink."
No Sin Spritz
A zero abv serve championing one of the originators of the ‘no abv’ movement. Fragrant, spiced and fresh, if you’re not in the mood for alcohol or looking for a change this is the perfect cocktail for you.
50ml Seedlip Spice 94
25ml Fresh Grapefruit Juice
75ml Franklin & Sons Guava & Lime Soda
What is Franklin & Sons’ biggest achievement of the past 3-5 years?
"International expansion has been a focus of the business for the past few years, and we’re really pleased to see continual growth into new markets - Franklin & Sons is currently available in 63 countries. Expansion into the USA has been a great success for the brand so far, following our launch in 2020 and a huge push to carve out more space in the market underway."
"We’ve also enjoyed growth working with the best bars, hotels, restaurants, and venues across the UK. Since the brand’s revival in 2015, we’ve grown to become the second largest premium tonic in the UK On Trade, worth £13.8 million."
Finally, describe F&S in just six words…
"Remarkably independent, remarkably delicious, remarkably memorable."
Franklin & Sons is exclusive sponsor of the IWSC Mixer Awards - tune in on Monday 27th March for medal results and 17th April to find out the coveted Trophy winners.