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Fabrizia Spirits in Salem launches new vodka soda line

Fabrizia Spirits in Salem is releasing a new line of ready-to-drink canned beverages called Fabrizia Vodka Soda, diversifying the company’s existing canned cocktail lineup for a more health-conscious consumer base and breaking into a growing segment of the market.

The Vodka Sodas, which are expected to be available in independent stores and grocery chains in New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut and Georgia in May, are already being distributed in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Jersey.

“They’re refreshing, they’re sparkling, light on calories, light on sugar, no added sugar, and they’re light on the alcohol. As the beer guys say, they’re ‘sessionable,’” said Fabrizia co-owner Phil Mastroianni.

The Vodka Sodas come in three flavors: Sicilian lemon, blood orange and raspberry. Each 12-ounce, 100-calorie can contains one gram of sugar and an alcohol by volume rate of only 4.5%. Since it’s under 5%, Mastroianni said it can’t be distributed through the New Hampshire Liquor Commission, as many of Fabrizia’s other products are, including its signature Limoncello liqueurs or 7%-ABV Italian Margarita canned cocktails.

Mastroianni said there are two types of customers in the ready-to-drink market; those who like full-flavor, high-alcohol options, and those who prefer carbonated, low-alcohol, low-sugar and low-calorie options — often known as hard seltzers.

“And we wanted to be able to please both customers,” he said.

Unlike other brands which may use real fruit juice as well as “natural flavors,” Mastroianni said they are one of the only companies using only real fruit juice and not adding flavors or sugars.

In 2020, 603 Brewery became the first New Hampshire producer of hard seltzers, a fast-growing segment of the alcoholic beverage market. The hard seltzer market has grown from $41 million in 2016 to $1.8 billion in 2020, according to market analysis firm T4. It’s expected to grow by 35% in 2021.

Brands like White Claw (58%) and Truly (26%) dominate the segment, while a long list of smaller brands fall into 2% of the market, according to T4.

“We’re trying to be a ready-to-drink cocktail producer that really does compete with the big guys,” Mastroianni said.

Getting in the market with their “Italian Line” of canned cocktails early on gave them an edge, he said.

In the past four years, Fabrizia Spirits’ overall sales improved by 250%.

In 2018, the company sold 17,000 cases of Italian Margaritas. The following year, it added a new product called Italian Lemonade and sold a combined 34,000 cases. In 2020, it added Italian Breeze and sold a combined 65,000 cases of all three products.

This year, the company hopes to sell 100,000 cases from their Italian Line and another 20,000 cases of Vodka Sodas.

“That’s our conservative estimate. That’s our plan,” Mastroianni said.

The company has seen an average of 45% annual sales growth each year for the past 12 years, according to Mastroianni.

Since 2018, they’ve grown the company from four full-time production employees to 25. And Mastroianni said he hopes to have up to 35 employees by July.

In March, the company also launched new “frozen” versions of their canned cocktails, which are 100 ml alcoholic freeze pops. The pops are sold in Massachusetts, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, South Carolina and Georgia, but not in New Hampshire due to the state’s regulatory restrictions.

While canned cocktails see a spike in seasonal demand during the warmer months, Fabrizia has been able to keep its staff employed year-round by pivoting them to the new bakery operation which picks up business in the colder months.

This month, Fabrizia also began distributing its full portfolio in Florida, which Mastroianni hopes will keep demand for ready-to-drink beverages steady through the winter.