In his poetic ponderings on the Pierian Springs (the mythological waters said to impart understanding in arts and sciences) Alexander Pope wrote it is better to drink deep than to taste not as “shallow draughts intoxicate the brain… and drinking largely sobers us.” There’s a certain entrepreneur who also encourages consumers to drink deep, and without fear, for he’s applied his acumen in science and business arts to create a revolutionary line of beverages. In this case, the only thing intoxicating is the potential for success.
Here are some sobering facts about alcohol consumption in the United States. Each year, more than one million people are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. According to a 2012 study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, close to 10,000 people died in drunk-driving related crashes during 2011 (that’s one person’s death every 53 minutes). Drunk-driving costs the United States $132 billion dollars a year, but the costs associated from the treating of health issues that arise from alcohol dependence & abuse annually costs this nation more than $200 billion, a dollar amount significantly higher than costs associated with the treating of obesity or cancer.
If only there was a way for consumers to shamelessly indulge in their favored flavored beverage without having to risk potential ramifications to their own health and safety, or the health and safety of others. Reynald Grattagliano might just have devised the solution, or more appropriately, the formula, which not only offers an alternative in terms of consumption, but also something of a new business opportunity.
Grattagliano is the founder of Arkay, a product line of beverages that are whisky-flavored, but 100% free of alcohol. Though only recently introduced, demand for the beverage has generated sales throughout the world, and the company is building on current successes by introducing new lines of vodka, rum, gin and Tequila, which may taste like the real deal, but are totally free of alcohol.
Grattagliano was inspired to produce the drinks following an episode with his 22 year-old son, who upon returning home from a party where there was ample imbibing, began to feel those certain unappealing after-effects. “He suggested that someone should create a whisky that doesn’t leave you feeling so hung-over,” explains Grattagliano. The son, of course, didn’t realize that suggestion would compel his father to not only spend the next five years of his life researching such a method, but he would spend five million dollars to make it happen.
Though Grattagliano doesn’t have a background in beverage development, he certainly understands chemistry, as well as how to combine ingredients in such a way as to attract allure and appeal from the discriminating masses. He has made an enviable fortune by creating designer perfumes which are touted by some of the top beauty & cosmetic companies known to the world. After spending nearly two years attempting to devise an alcohol-free derivative that not only smelled, but tasted like whiskey, Grattagliano sought the expertise from a team of scientists at a lab in Switzerland. This collaboration ultimately resulted in the creation of an entirely new molecule, the quintessential break-through by which Arkay beverages were born.
The name derives from Grattagliano’s travels abroad. Apparently, during his stays in China, some people had trouble pronouncing his first name. Instead of saying “Reynald” their utterance was closer to “Arr-K” – which was AOK with him.
A Triple Shot of Triumph
Arkay emerged on the market in November of 2011. Within six short months, Grattagliano not only recovered his initial $5 million investment, but generated significant profits. Sold in cases by-the-can or by-the-bottle, the whiskey-flavored drink is being whisked away to distributors and retailers throughout the world. “In the beginning, I thought it would be good if we could move just one pallet a week, but now we’re moving more than 20 pallets a day,” says Grattagliano. No surprise, States like Kentucky and Tennessee have generated the most demand, but Grattagliano says orders come from all over the world.
The beverage’s popularity has allowed the company to expand upon its operations which began with the opening of a headquarters in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Arkay has since opened offices in Paris and Scotland, and has established manufacturing bases in Mexico (and soon in Oklahoma) for the bottle products while the canned concoctions are made in Miami.
He has secured distribution agreements in Canada, Europe, China, Colombia, Nigeria, South Africa, as well as the Middle East where some nations have exceedingly strict rules governing the consumption of alcohol. Arkay, of course, poses no legal consequences for consumers. It also poses no health consequences as it is sugar-free, carb-free, sodium-free, and has zero calories.
What it does impart, says Grattagliano, is the sense that one is actually drinking whiskey. “When you drink, it has a balanced flavor and feel. Even water has a certain taste… all drinks do. So when you drink Arkay, you have the impression of whiskey in your mouth… it has that uumph, the aftertaste, just like whiskey, but without the alcohol.”
Arkay’s ability to mimic whisky flavoring is credited to the blending of flavors and creation of the new molecule. In the last year, representatives from some of the large soda companies have approached Grattagliano and asked for samples. He suspects there are efforts to duplicate his formula, but he is not worried about it. “It would be hard for anyone to copy it… it might take years to crack the formula because no one has access to the molecule besides me and the scientists in Switzerland. Our agreement is that I have sole rights to use the molecule in all drinks we market.”
That molecule will now figure in other products Arkay is bringing to market. He is following his whisky-flavored success with a new line of alcohol-free vodka, tequila, gin, rums, brandy and Pina Colada mix. What O’Doul’s did for beer, Grattagliano has done with spirits, but to another degree, he has essentially invented an entire new beverage category of alcohol-free liquors. He has also developed an expanding sales force, directly employing some two dozen people, but as much as 100 independent contractors. He is currently seeking additional sales representatives and distribution agreements. Licensed sales reps can garner up to 40% return from sales, and unlike alcohol, Arkay isn’t constrained by strict market regulations allowing it to be sold virtually anywhere. In fact, many sales have been generated via Arkay’s presence Online at www.arkaybeverages.com.
Now, it is fair to note that some of the product reviews have been less than favorable. Arkay has provoked wrath from some whisky die-hards, including manufacturing associations in Scotland who take great offense to anything as whisky-flavored which doesn’t actually include whisky. Grattagliano is undeterred by such consternation. Though he has profited significantly from this venture, he says the real value comes from producing a product that is safe to drink, thereby allowing consumers to avoid health or judicial perils. He shares a story about a friend in Colombia, who after a night of drinking, was in a car crash which left him crippled for life. His hope is that Arkay will provide an alternative that helps people steer clear of pitfalls associated with alcohol. “If I could help save one person’s life, it will all be worth it,” says Grattagliano.
In a study of 147 countries conducted by the World Health Organization, it was determined, annually, there are more than two million deaths attributed to alcohol use. Though Arkay has already proven solid as a business model, if it can additionally serve to diminish such dire instances of death, it will further prove deserving for all to raise a glass and toast to its success.