VICTOR, N.Y. —Constellation Brands recently acquired the remaining interest in Austin Cocktails, a growing female-founded ready-to-drink (RTD) bottled and canned craft cocktail company.
Austin Cocktails, Austin, Texas, was started by two sisters who launched the brand as an homage to their late grandfather, Fred. His focus on family and his love of good spirits inspired co-founders Jill Burns and Kelly Gasink to create high-quality drinks in convenient RTD formats, Constellation said.
The acquisition follows a 2018 investment in Austin Cocktails as part of Constellation Ventures’ Focus on Female Founders initiative and reinforces the company’s commitment to support female leaders across the industry and meet evolving consumer preferences, Constellation said. Austin Cocktails is currently distributed in 28 states and grew 135% in 2021 as RTD trends continue to rise in popularity.
The Austin Cocktails brand will be integrated into Constellation’s Fine Wine & Craft Spirits Division along with brands such as High West and The Prisoner Wine Co.
“Austin Cocktails and its co-founders, Jill and Kelly, are at the forefront of understanding market trends toward premiumization,” said Mallika Monteiro, executive vice president and chief growth, strategy and digital officer of Constellation Brands. “The quality of their drinks is unmatched in the ready-to-drink category.”
Gasink added, “As female founders operating in an environment where women entrepreneurs are significantly underfunded, we feel a sense of tremendous accomplishment to have built Austin Cocktails and recognize the additional implications of our success. Constellation’s commitment to female founders is helping change the landscape of the industry and beyond.”
Burns said Constellation’s ventures team worked closely with the founders, providing resources and guidance and demonstrating commitment to innovation. “We are proud to build on this and further develop our products alongside some of the most iconic beverage alcohol brands in the world,” she said.
Burns and Gasink brought their product to market in 2014, when the RTD category was small and ripe for innovation and growth, Constellation said. They crafted and packaged cocktails with natural ingredients and premium spirits and alcohol content at 12% to 15%.
“At a time when many have felt isolated over the last couple years during the pandemic, we find people are more appreciative of life’s essentials—time with family and friends,” Burns said. “We think our grandfather would be proud of the company we built around a tradition that celebrates making time for joy and connection.”
Female-founded companies accounted for only 2% of venture capital investments in 2021, which was the second consecutive year that the number of female-founded companies receiving funding decreased, according to Pitchbook data from Constellation.
Constellation’s Focus on Female Founders initiative, announced in 2018, aims to directly increase representation and access to funding by investing $100 million in female-led or female-founded companies by 2028.
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