Ever come across a product and say, “Oh, what a great idea! Wish I thought of it!” SLIQ’s Boozy Ice Pops fits the bill.
Yes, innovative ways to serve frozen booze is nothing new. Just go to any bar during the summer months and order a Frosé to prove the point. But boozed up ice from the company that brings us our childhood favs like Fla-Vor-Ice and Otter Pops is genius. Chilled chats with fourth-generation great-grandchild of The Jel Sert Company, Gavin Wegner, Senior Brand Manager at SLIQ Spirited Ice, about his ties to the iconic freezer pop brands and the spirited ice pop category.
Talk to us a bit about your background in the industry.
I am the Senior Brand Manager of SLIQ Spirited Ice, which was founded by The Jel Sert Company in conjunction with its new wholly owned subsidiary, 21 Holdings LLC—a fully licensed and bonded distillery, brewery, and winery. I began my career at The Jel Sert Company and have previously held roles in finance, brand management, and licensing. My professional experience lies in marketing iconic freezer pop brands such as Fla-Vor-Ice and Otter Pops for the world’s leading manufacturer in this category. However, my familiarity with these types of products spans far before my professional career began, as I am a fourth-generation great-grandchild of Jel Sert’s founders and grew up immersed in this world.
In spearheading SLIQ’s development, my goal is to position the brand as a disruptive newcomer in the emerging category that is alcoholic frozen pops. I develop and implement brand strategies and create the roadmap for short- and long-term growth and expansion. My passion for brand storytelling is apparent via SLIQ’s multi-faceted and layered marketing initiatives that resonate with our 21+ consumers.
Tell us about SLIQ.
SLIQ Spirited Ice is a diversified line of frozen cocktail pops that are crafted with elevated flavors to inspire good times only. Recently launched in April 2021, SLIQ is leading a new frontier of freeze-and-eat alcohol as one of the first to market in the booming boozy ice pop category. In Year 1, a national retail footprint was quickly established with distribution at chains such as Walmart and Albertsons. From a quality standpoint, SLIQ’s variety of pop options were developed using only premium spirits (7x Distilled Vodka, 100% Blue Agave, and Caribbean White Rum) to deliver a premium taste at 100 calories or less. Through brand-driven 360-degree marketing tactics and partners such as iHeart Media & Barstool Sports, SLIQ has immediately grown a loyal following of consumers that have integrated the products into their respective lifestyles.
What inspired you to start the brand?
As the category leader of frozen novelties for over 60 years, we at Jel Sert have always ideated around different extensions of the format, including infusing alcohol into them for the enjoyment by a 21+ consumer. As we began to see nostalgia trend upwards complemented by the modern, ready-to-drink cocktail and seltzer surge, we believed it was time to turn the idea into a reality by entering the space with our own brand. After multiple years of branding, packaging, and formula development work, SLIQ Spirited Ice was born. Through this process, we adopted the same playbook we used to build brands such as Fla-Vor-Ice and Otter Pops, this time for a grown-up freezer pop for a grown-up user.
What type of response is SLIQ receiving from consumers?
The ready-to-drink cocktail and seltzer surge has only increased the yearning of consumers for new and unique alcohol beverage options. The desire for these options to be lighter without compromising on taste, in addition to being authentic with what they deliver. This is the sweet spot position we were targeting with SLIQ, which has been proven out based on the incredible reception the products have received upon roll-out to the marketplace. People appreciate SLIQ being able to replicate the taste of a professionally made frozen Margarita, Daiquiri, or Vodka cocktail in a shelf-stable, enjoy-at-your-leisure pop format. The variety of spirits we offer also permits enthusiasts of all backgrounds to pick and choose their preferred pack, catering to different taste buds.
Talk to us about the name and packaging.
The SLIQ name describes the texture of the product in a clean manner, as the ice is in-and-of-itself ‘slick.’ But we spun this descriptive adjective and revised the ending of the word due to the products containing ‘liquor.’ Mesh the two together and you get SLIQ.
This also ties into the packaging with an iceberg as the focal point. We wanted to establish a symbol that consumers could associate with the brand through all touchpoints. Choosing an iceberg was a perfect fit beyond just the fact that both are composed of the same substance. Similar to an iceberg that only has a portion of itself visible, SLIQ is more than meets the eye. Rather than just being a refreshing freezer pop as it may appear on the surface, SLIQ is much more than that as a frozen cocktail offering for a 21+ consumer to responsibly enjoy.
With sustainability being such a critical initiative to protect the Earth and the wonders within it, like icebergs, we formed a recycling partnership with TerraCycle that allows users to send in their SLIQ tubes free of charge in exchange for rewards to charities of their choice. From there, TerraCycle processes the collected tubes into usable raw material, which becomes everything from outdoor furniture to storage totes.
What should bartenders know about your brand?
While SLIQ comes in the same pop packaging folks associate with childhood products of a similar look and feel, it is not a mirrored novelty by any means. Our intention from the start has been to offer high-end frozen cocktails infused with top-shelf spirits and flavors that are delicious and conveniently prepared. Our full portfolio of trending options backs this up: Vodka-infused Lemonade, Cranberry & Grapefruit, and Blue Raspberry; Agave-infused Classic Margarita, Strawberry Margarita, and Mango Margarita; and Rum-infused Strawberry Daiquiri, Coconut & Lime Daiquiri, and Pineapple Daiquiri. To clarify, we are not here to replace the wonderful work bartenders do by any means! A well-crafted frozen margarita or daiquiri made poolside will always hit the spot. Rather, SLIQ serves as an alternative way to imbibe in these types of drinks, especially in an at-home setting when taking out a blender and gathering all the ingredients to DIY it feels too laborious.
What’s coming down the pike for SLIQ?
This year, 2021, was truly just the ‘tip of the iceberg’ for this brand. Looking at 2022 and beyond, we will continue to build out a robust innovation pipeline, align with new distributors in new territories, and expand marketing plans and partnerships that will generate buzz and excitement with our followers. Giving a peek under the hood, we are currently soft launching a Whiskey pack in select markets with plans for nationwide availability in Spring 2022. Crafted with barrel-aged bourbon, this is the first whiskey-based frozen pop offering in the marketplace. Available in popular whiskey cocktail flavors like Apple, Ginger, and Cola, each pop will contain 90 calories and 8% ABV, mirroring the existing line.
All of these plans, plus our continued capitalization on the manufacturing and development advantages that The Jel Sert Company offers, position SLIQ well to meet the growing demand for alcoholic frozen pops and to be at the forefront of this emerging category for years to come!