Boyd & Blair (B&B) has been making award-winning vodka for many years. This year they decided to launch a line of pre-made, ready-to-drink cocktails, made using their vodka. We were asked to design the packaging for both 1-liter and 500ml bottles. The problem to overcome was that ready-to-drink cocktails have a reputation for being low quality, cheap and mass produced. Most are made by giant spirits manufacturers and most have earned the dismal reputation. B&B, on the other hand, was a small artisan brand with a master distiller who handcrafted each cocktail using only top-shelf, all-natural ingredients. His goal was to develop cocktails that were as good as those made by the world’s finest mixologists, and then figure out how to produce them at scale for large-scale distribution. That goal was realized, so the packaging had to reflect a high level of sophistication and craft without coming across as too “slick” or something a giant brand would put out. They needed to feel like the majority of the effort and money went into the liquid inside, while still feeling worthy of the premium price tag.
Their budget required that we use the same claret-style bottle they use for their vodka, so our initial and primary focus was on the label system. We wanted the full line of cocktails to look consistent with just enough variance that consumers could easily identify the different cocktails. We created a new logo for the brand using modified letterforms from Eames Century Modern and added a keystone "crest" inspired by the keystone symbol used by their home state of Pennsylvania. We had fine artist Adrianna Picker do illustrations of each cocktail's ingredients. The color palette was meant to reflect the dominant ingredients in each of the cocktails. For the flasks, we created a boxed set of all 5 cocktails that included an accordion-fold brochure slipped in. Budget did not allow for custom-printed shipper boxes, so we created stickers for white boxes.
The timing of the pandemic and our launch was entirely coincidental but entirely fortuitous. At-home drinking has taken off and so have B&B cocktails. The initial release in Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic region saw immediate depletions and reorders causing the ecstatic distributor to quickly expand release in several more states where subsequent sales have also been strong. B&B is a small family-owned and operated company so they are ramping up production as fast as they can to keep up with demand, aiming for full national distribution in Q1 2021.