How Three Guys’ Love for Cocktails Inspired a Successful Syrup Business
Three guys walk into a bar and order a few drinks. The bartender serves them some premium mix… and a business idea.
The story of Liber & Co. may read like your classic bar joke, but it’s actually far from.
This is the inspiring true story of how three friends on diverging life paths united in their passion for cocktails to start (and grow) a wildly successful syrup business.
United by Their Love for Cocktails
To understand how Liber & Co. began, we need to journey back about ten years or so.
Twins Robert and Adam Higginbotham and their friend Chris Harrison were scattered across three different parts of the US and embarked on vastly different career trajectories.
As they describe in their own words:
But as fate – and a common passion – would have it, they would eventually join entrepreneurial forces.
In their early twenties then, the trio often got together to do what was typical for young adults their age – going to bars and having a drink or two.
They were, however, no regular patrons.
Fascinated by the cocktail-making process, they would strike up conversations with bartenders, asking about drinks, the ingredients that went into creating them, and basically everything about the craft.
With every visit, their interest in bartending grew. Eventually, the guys decided to bring the bars to them.
They started to recreate drinks at home. But hard as they tried, they weren’t able to replicate the quality of the mixes they’d enjoyed when they were out.
That was because all they could find was cheap, low-quality syrups that just weren’t good enough for premium craft cocktails.
“We realized quickly that a lot of the craft bars in town were making their non-alcoholic syrups in-house,” says Robert.
So in true entrepreneurial spirit, the trio decided to concoct their own.
“We would go home and start making these products on stovetops for our friends and family at barbecues and get-togethers,” says Robert.
What began as more of a home-bartending hobby crafting first-rate syrups soon spiraled.
“We got pretty good at coming up with these things and people started suggesting that we sell them.”
With that, the first seed for Liber & Co. was planted.
The guys decided to name the brand after the Roman god Liber Pater, who’s also commonly known as the God of wine.
A Very Hands-on Market Research Process
To create quality syrups good enough to stir up the bartending sector, a lot of research is required.
Robert, Adam, and Chris do so by studying market trends.
However, that’s not something that can be done from the comfort of an office chair. It actually requires a bit of legwork – but it’s a process the guys aren’t complaining about.
“Market research is fun!” says Robert.
Given the nature of their product, a big part of Liber & Co.’s research process involves what most people would do as an after-work activity – hitting up bars.
“We go to bars, we go to restaurants, we try drinks, see what the best bartenders are doing in-house, and then we kind of bring it back to the lab,” explains Chris.
Their goal? To emulate the craft of bartending from the crème de la crème.
“We try hard to make our syrups echo what is going on behind the bars at the best bars in the world,” says Robert.
But that doesn’t mean copying every single thing about those top-quality drinks. For Liber & Co. to even consider bringing a product to market, certain criteria have to be met.
“If we can pull it off and if it’s trending, then we’ll usually take a crack at it,” explains Chris.
Though not all ideas make it to production, Liber & Co. has something that plays in its favor.
The company owns its own manufacturing, which means it doesn’t have to rely on any production limitations an external partner may have.
With that, the guys know exactly what they can and cannot do.
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Even with their own production capabilities, they still have to ensure that the raw materials they use are also up to standard.
“We have to make sure that it actually works for us, that we can source those ingredients, that there’s a great farm or supply behind those ingredients that we can access,” explains Chris.
Manufacturing is not the only thing that Liber & Co. does in-house. Once a product is crafted, the brand also takes it upon itself to conduct its own quality assurance.
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Flavors For Every Season and Occasion
Having full control over their manufacturing process gives Liber & Co. the room it needs to experiment with new flavors and produce a wide assortment of syrups.
To ensure quality, the company chooses its suppliers very carefully to ensure it has access to nothing but the best ingredients. Flavor aside, its products are also made to be enjoyed for a long time and have a minimum shelf life of 18 months.
Today, Liber & Co.’s portfolio boasts such a rich range of premium syrups, its customers have no problems finding one (or more) that’s a perfect fit for every drink and season.
Take their Toasted Coconut Syrup, for instance.
Made with toasted coconut meat for a touch of nuttiness and then blended with cane sugar and cold-pressed lemon oil, it’s the perfect mix for the warmer months.
Liber & Co. also offers classics like Real Grenadine and Premium Tonic Syrup.
The latter is made with superior ingredients including natural quinine, zesty citrus, and pure cane sugar. Though its flavor is specially created to complement premium dry gins, it can also be mixed with club soda for an even more superior tonic water or added to novel cocktails.
Though the brand partners with lots of businesses and sells wholesale, it also does B2C, and one of its key target groups is home bartenders.
To cater to them, Liber & Co.’s Instagram account and YouTube channel are loaded with cocktail recipes to spark inspiration – like this one here featuring its Classic Gum Syrup.
“It Really Brings Out the Best in You”
Robert, Adam, and Chris have come a long way from making drinks for their family and friends.
Since they started Liber & Co., they’ve grown the business to a team of ten.
But the success is not without its challenges.
“Every day, there’s something new happening, fires to put out, problems to solve, and challenges to overcome,” says Robert.
The crew isn’t the only thing that’s expanded. Their clientele list, too, has ballooned.
“We work with thousands of bars and restaurants across the country and retailers in every state,” says Robert.
As it stands, the company is growing at 50 percent year after year – something the guys are hoping to sustain well into the future.
And as tough as it can sometimes get, they know that it’s all part of the learning process and is an experience they relish.
“It really brings out the best in you. It brings out the best in your team,” says Robert.
Three guys walk into a bar… to deliver the latest batch of their very own Liber & Co.-produced premium craft bar syrups.
Purchase Liber & Co.’s products wholesale from their Handshake profile page. Prices start at $10.