The infamous alcohol-fueled slushies sold at open-air bars on Bourbon Street in New Orleans have led to countless brain freezes. For fourth-generation locals Antonio and Sal LaMartina, they led to a business: Big Easy Blends. The brothers are trying to bring a taste of the city's night life to homes around the country with a line of frozen drinks in squeezable pouches they launched in 2009. Dubbed Cordina, a mashup of their last name and the last name of their co-founder and chief financial officer, Craig Cordes, the bestseller of the brand's five flavors is the lime Mar-GO-rita, which is 6 percent alcohol by volume. "It's like Capri Sun for adults," says Sal, describing the drinks' fruity flavors and flexible packaging.
The next few years read like a startup fairy tale. The cocktails appealed to women in their 20s and 30s, accounting for most of the $4.6 million in revenue in 2011, according to Cordes, and earning the brand the nickname "Mommy Juice Box." After signing a deal with Walgreen (WAG) for distribution in its 4,800 stores with liquor licenses in January, Big Easy increased headcount from 38 to 126 employees, funded in part by a $1.5 million private investment. Next, it landed a deal for 1,000 Food Lion (DEG) stores nationwide and some 500 Wal-Mart (WMT) locations in eight states, including California, Florida, and New York, says Cordes. He expects this year's revenue to top $27 million.