RANCHO SANTA FE — During a time when people are more health conscious, Crafted Cocktails found its perfect shelf spot. Felicia Vieira of Rancho Santa Fe discovered a pathway affording consumers with the opportunity to use natural, low-calorie and gluten-free shrubs and cocktail mixers in their everyday life — be it for spirits, natural sodas or medicinal purposes.
With much pride, Vieira shared that it was her grandmother, who was originally from Portugal, that inspired her to do this. Vieira’s family members are ranchers from the San Joaquin Valley.
“My grandmother would preserve summer fruits and then put them in jars with vinegar, and then some sugar or honey — whatever sweetener she had on hand and would preserve them through the winter and use the fruits for chutneys or fruit cakes,” Vieira said. “Then my grandmother would pass the liquid to my grandfather who would then use it with his homemade whiskey like bourbon and vodkas.”
When Vieira’s grandmother gave her homemade shrubs when she was a girl they referred to it as drinking vinegars.
Her grandmother is now 92.
While Vieira had this creative notion in her back pocket, what triggered the “Crafted Cocktails” calling was her passion for entertaining friends and family that was punctuated by healthy foods.
“Being an entertainer, I came up with different cocktail mixes of my own. I also dabbed into mixology,” she said.
Vieira pointed out that she had friends who were mixologists in downtown San Diego, Atlanta, Minnesota, and in the Bay area. She observed their craft and admired what a great mixologist could create. With Vieira’s family background knowledge and new insight from mixologists, she invented her own mixes.
Crafted Cocktails was born in 2013 but Vieira said it took about a year for her first launch which was the Spicy Watermelon cocktail mix.
“And then we went from there,” she said.
The other creations that followed included Bloody Mary, Jalapeno Pineapple, Gimlet, Mule, and Margarita cocktail mixes. The list of shrubs consists of blackberry, ginger, pineapple and Asian pear.
Vieira pointed out that her products stand apart from others for a variety of reasons. In the lead is the transparency of the product. The label says it all: fruits, one-hundred percent real agave and champagne vinegar.
Vieira calls the use of champagne vinegar as unique since it has a very smooth texture.
“We also stand out in price as we are about 50 percent less on the price point than an average shrub that’s out there,” she said.
While the mixers launched in 2014, the shrubs made their debut in January.
Delighted with the shrub line, Vieira mentioned how a shot of her ginger flavored shrub can be used medicinally for healthy digestion every morning.
When her shrubs are added to soda water it acts as an all-natural soda infuser, she said. And for non-alcoholic drinkers, adding a flavor to sparkling water is a tasty alternative. The shrubs can also be used for marinades, sauces, salad dressings and more.
According to Vieira shrubs were an 18th century product and were ingested by the military for digestive issues and to help kill bacteria. Vinegar was too strong for people to tolerate so they masked the taste with fruit.
Now, shrubs and mixes have become a work of palate art.
Crafted Cocktails has garnered some extraordinary attention and honors including their Asian Pear shrub as being awarded the silver medal winner from 2016 Tastings.com. Vieira attributes their newfound success to everybody on their team as each person plays a vital role. And her family’s support has been unwavering.
Locally, Crafted Cocktails can be found at Harvest Ranch Market in Encinitas and Seaside Market in Cardiff. However, Crafted Cocktails is sold nationally with DPI and UNFI as its distribution partners.
In August, Sam’s Club will be offering Crafted Cocktails while also providing buyers with a gift set.
“I love what I do and its rewarding to see people enjoying our products,” Vieira said.
Here is the last of it. Attached is the story and this great image of Felicia’s father sitting on a barrel with her grandmother’s preserved fruits in the background which were later used as shrubs.