‘Shaking Up’ a Category: Unexpected Products Expands to New Warehouse for Toucan Cocktails Launch

Unexpected Products portfolio company Shaken Beverage Co. is about to launch Toucan Cocktails—a patent-pending two-can beverage with premium spirits in one can and all-natural mix in the other, and a built-in "shaker" system. With support from Morrison Seger VC Partners and a stellar new leadership lineup, a nationwide "shake-up" is one month away.

Making a dirty martini usually takes a vodka bottle, a martini glass, a jar of olives, a martini shaker, vermouth, and plenty of bar space to splash and mess up. Instead of going to all that fuss, Dallas-based Unexpected Products has a better idea: Buy a two-can Toucan ready-to-mix cocktail, pour the vodka part into the Dirty Martini mix part, and “two shakes” later you’re good to go.

That solution from Unexpected’s portfolio company Shaken Beverage Co. is a twist on most canned cocktails, which come premixed and can’t be customized according to preferences. The company’s now gearing up for a mid-July launch of its Toucan Cocktails via nationwide e-commerce sales and Texas retail market partnerships. And it’s expanded to a new warehouse in Farmers Branch to help support it all.

The new 9,500-square-feet facility at at 4450 Alpha Road, Suite 102, in the Farmers Branch Warehouse District features advanced technology for beverage production and “beverage incubation.” Toucan Cocktails aims to launch with 150,000 units and is targeting an aggressive $3.8 million in revenue over the next 12 months, the company told Dallas Innovates. Shaken Beverage is now headquartered out of the space with a current team of five employees.

10,500 to 31,200 products per 8-hour shift

Ready-to-mix-and-shake cocktails from Shaken Beverage Co. [Image: Shaken Beverage]

“This facility’s streamlined operations for Shaken Beverage Co. allow us to respond quickly to consumer demand from our robust nationwide e-commerce launch and Texas retail market launch of Toucan Cocktail later this summer,” John Dallager, CEO of Unexpected Products, said in a statement. “Our capabilities create a beverage innovation one-stop shop for our own brands and others. Once fully operational, we will be able to produce 10,500 Toucan products per eight-hour shift or provide services to others to create up to 31,200 branded beverage cans per shift.”

Two-can idea struck founders during MBA exam week

So who came up with this two-can-in-one Toucan idea? According to the company, it all started when Shaken Beverage’s founders, CEO John Dallager and Operations VP Steven McCarthy, were hitting the books between exams for their executive MBA program. They needed a drink to unwind, but driving off to a local bar wasn’t an option. So they thought, how could someone get perfect cocktails away from the bar?

“Let’s face it: not everyone is a skilled mixologist,” a spokesperson said. “Crafting a perfect dirty martini or old-fashioned at home is difficult and tastes different.”

So the founders set out to devise a ready-to-mix beverage “that brings the bar home,” leveraging Dallager’s beverage industry experience and McCarthy’s expertise as a trained biochemist. That led to the launch of the Shaken Beverage Co. and its flagship brand, Toucan Cocktails. Now they’re out to “shake up” the ready-to-mix category with their innovative, “patent-pending” two-can technology.

Each Toucan package contains two cans that, when combined, create “two perfectly balanced cocktails ready to be enjoyed wherever you are,” the company says. The method aims to ensure “peak freshness of ingredients” while delivering “a bar-quality beverage with every pour.” Toucan’s line-up includes Old Fashioned mix and Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey; Margarita Mix and Blue Agave Tequila Reposado; Dirty Martini Mix and Imported French Wheat Vodka; and Lemon Drop Martini and Imported French Wheat Vodka.

Snagging Morrison Seger as an investor

The founders’ concept caught the attention of Dallas-based Morrison Seger Venture Capital Partners, which made Shaken Beverage a portfolio company with an investment of an undisclosed amount.

The brand said that partnering with Morrison Seger—headed by founder and Dallas entrepreneur Rogers Healy—has been a “game changer” with the help of the VC firm’s “strategic insights, creative direction, and financial acumen.”

“With the guidance of Morrison Seger, we’re strategically raising funds for our $2.2M seed round,” a spokesperson told Dallas Innovates. “To date, we’ve successfully secured $550,000, which will be used to bring our first product to market. The remaining funds will provide us with an 18-month runway to expand our team, market our product both in-store and online, and invest inadditional capital equipment, ensuring a strong foundation for our future growth and success.”

The spokesperson added that Morrison Seger is supporting Toucan Cocktails “with a dynamic team of finance, marketing, media relations and branding experts. The financial team lays a solid foundation for growth. At the same time, the marketing and branding specialists work closely with Toucan’s marketing team to create compelling narratives and innovative campaigns to capture the essence of Toucan Cocktails as we launch this summer. By tying together these elements, Morrison Seger offers a comprehensive support system, unlike other traditional venture capital firms.”

Shaking things up, one cocktail at a time

So how does Toucan work? Consumers will craft their own cocktail by opening both cans and pouring the spirit into the bottom, “short-filled” can of mix. Next, they add ice directly to the can and snap the cans back together—creating a mini cocktail shaker for a drink that’s ready to be shaken, not stirred. (Just the way 007 likes it.)

Toucan is designed to be enjoyed at home, at the beach, or “wherever you please,” the company says.

Recent leadership hires

In the last few weeks, Shaken Beverage Co. has made a series of leadership hiring announcements.

Jody Turnbow, the former EVP and general manager of Gérard Bertrand Wines, was appointed president of Shaken Beverage. Turnbow brings more than 34 years of experience in the alcoholic beverage industry. Among his earlier posts, Turnbow was VP of supplier development at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits and general manager at  E&J Gallo Winery.

John Terry, who’s been adjunct professor at SMU Cox School of Business since 1999, was named as Shaken’s COO. With nearly 30 years of financial and entrepreneurial experience, Terry was previously a managing partner for Verist Capital Management. He also served as president of the advisory firm ChurchillTerry. 

Veteran marketer Tatiana Chamorro was named chief marketing officer. Chamorro’s career has spanned multiple continents, and Shaken Beverage says she has a proven track record of strategic innovation and branding excellence, growth, and innovation. Her leadership earned her digital and branding agency a spot on the Inc. 5000 list twice, and in 2023, she was named among the Dallas 500 most influential leaders by D Magazine.

Rolling out Toucan this summer

To roll out Toucan Cocktails, Shaken Beverage is dividing its marketing efforts into “strategic buckets.”

“Our digital strategy employs an omnichannel approach to build brand recognition and gather valuable data on our audience’s demographics and purchasing journeys, guided by two carefully crafted buyer personas,” a spokesperson said. “We’ve developed Toucan’s new website and updated photos and videos to align with our brand personas.”

The brand’s strategies will include targeted paid advertising, SEO to improve organic search rankings, influencer marketing to broaden its reach, strategic social media management to foster engagement, affiliate marketing to expand its customer base through “trusted recommendations and personalized SMS/email campaigns for direct engagement.”

“Our primary objective is to increase monthly website traffic and convert these visitors into sales, ensuring a robust online presence and sustainable growth,” the spokesperson added.

Once the launch is underway, the brand hopes America will do one thing: Let the shaking begin.

Quincy Preston contributed to this report. 

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