Handcrafted cocktails made right here in New Zealand? Yes please! We caught up with Amy Alexander of J.M.R Cocktail & Co to talk about the ethos behind the business.
Good: How long have the pair of you known each other and how did you meet?
Amy: Jonny and I first met in 2007 when I arrived in Wellington. He was moving in with a friend of mine and they had a room available. I walked into Jonny and his brother’s new cocktail bar — the recently opened Hawthorn Lounge — and picked up my keys. The next morning, I woke up in our new apartment to Jonny knocking on my bedroom door, cup of tea in hand. From then on we have stayed close friends. We have worked together on a number of different projects, lived together in multiple flats, drank our fair share of cocktails (and wine, so much wine), enjoyed countless meals together and shared a ton of adventures.
Where did the concept for J.M.R Cocktails come from?
We both struggled to find a consistent, well-made cocktail outside of a decent cocktail bar. There were other pre-mixed drinks on the market, but we didn’t want something long, fizzy or filled with sugar and preservatives. We wanted something classic, strong and boozy. Born was the concept of J.M.R Cocktail & Co where we imagined opening a hotel mini bar, your picnic basket or fridge and having a perfectly mixed Negroni — removing the hassle of having to carry all the bottles, equipment and so on. Given they are 100ml, it made our last long-haul flight considerably more enjoyable!
How long did it take from dreaming up the idea to getting the product into the market?
We talked about it for months and sampled different variations before ‘officially’ launching. We knew early on the range we wanted to launch with, found our bottles, started working with our incredible designer and established the business in February 2017. We started handing out a few cocktails to friends and family and we had our first customers purchasing by November 2017. J.M.R was a side project to start. We slowly built it in evenings and weekends, as we were both working full time with other companies (Jonny still is). The first few months, we approached a small number of people in the industry we knew. We gained valuable feedback and this allowed us to grow slowly and organically to keep up with the demand.
What’s an interesting feature about your business that perhaps no one really knows?
Similar to the hidden recipe of Chartreuse, only we know the exact recipes to our cocktails. We promised each other that we would never share these, which means that every single cocktail made in J.M.R Cocktail & Co is made by one of us. It is a rule we strongly believe in and will always maintain.
Why was it important to you to design and make J.M.R Cocktails in New Zealand?
There is a real sense of aiming to support local in New Zealand and I love that! It made sense to launch in our local market, gain insight and firm up our systems before looking overseas. Jonny was raised in Wellington and while I grew up on Vancouver Island, Canada, New Zealand is a special place for us both. I love how many entrepreneurs exist here. There are so many talented people with businesses I admire.
What is each of your favourite cocktail from the line-up?
Hmmm, mine would be the Negroni, I’m a sucker for Campari. And for Jonny, it would be the Manhattan as it perfectly matches the 9:30pm cocktail hour time when he usually makes it home from work.
What’s next? Where are you taking J.M.R Cocktails or what plans have you got in the pipeline?
We have two new flavours coming out mid April and we’re officially launching our beverage catering service. We’ll also be looking to expand the team to help with production, so I can keep up with growth and put some focus into researching export markets.