Sunshine Punch today becomes the latest entry into the booming ready-to-drink segment. The new product promises to stand out on shelves as something wholly unique: a nostalgic, adult take on a the classic creamsicle treat we all remember from summers of yore. It’s a rum-based cocktail, which pours out of the snazzy matte orange bottle at a session-able 18% alcohol by volume.
The liquid was conceived to be simply and easily served over ice. But it also works well as a modifier in stiffer, orange-forward cocktails, as well as in slushy form when throw into a blender.
Co-founders Brian Thomason and Matt Hemmings met in college and have been slowly developing their concept ever since. It’s a product that was nearly two decades in the making. “Ultimately, we wanted to throw ourselves into something that we could be genuinely passionate about and have a lot of fun with,” says Hemmings. “We love sipping on Sunshine around the campfire or out on the water in North Carolina.”
The two entrepreneurs are based in the Tar Heel State, which is where their new product will be blended and bottled. It rolls out there today, as well as in South Carolina, Georgia, and most of the southeastern parts of the US. Nationwide direct-to-consumer sales are set to start in August, where you’ll be able to purchase a bottle at a suggested retail price of $24.95.
The launch comes at an auspicious time for Sunshine’s overarching category. The ready-to-drink segment of adult beverages continues to post impressive numbers, well after becoming the fastest growing spirits category of 2021. That year, the Distilled Spirits Council estimated that sales of premixed cocktails surged to $1.6 billion in the United States. The trade group’s analysis suggests that canned cocktails are stealing shares from beer and hard seltzer.
A number of tells confirm the consumer shift towards premium spirit-based RTDs over their malt-based counterparts. White Claw, for example, a massive player in the flavored malt beverage space, recently launched its Vodka + Soda line to a highly receptive audience. Actual tequila and soda purveyors such as Epic Western are winning out over agave-flavored alternatives like the now-defunct Cacti. And bartender-conceived brands such as LiveWire—founded by acclaimed mixologist Aaron Polsky—have hauled in top industry honors including Double Golds at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
Thomason and Hemmings would be thrilled to be met with similar success, of course. But for now they seem satisfied enough to bring a tasty portion of nostalgia to a tipple near you. “There’s nothing like the feeling of reminiscing on the good times,” adds Thomason. “With Sunshine Punch, we thought, ‘What if you could bottle that?’ We’re proud to pour something that transports you to your sunniest memories.”