Newcastle waitress wins industry prize to support alcohol business

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Siobhan Linney from Gosforth, launched ready to drink cocktail brand, Thirsty Gal in 2022.

A former waitress from Gosforth in Newcastle is celebrating after winning a £50,000 UK accelerator programme, to help support her alcohol business.

30-year-old Siobhan Linney decided to launch her own low-calorie canned cocktails, after losing waitressing jobs due to the lockdown.

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She launched the brand, which is named Thirsty Gal, after researching how to make her own range, and booking a company to create the 90 calorie cocktail.

Since the launch of Thirsty Gal, Siobhan has been celebrating the success of the brand, which has proven to be popular in local festivals and nightclubs.

In July 2022, Siobhan received her first stock, which she supplied to Newcastle festival LooseFest, and sold out within an hour. This has led to Thirsty Gal being booked for another six festivals this year, and has been supplying the brand to local nightclubs.

Now, she has bagged the top prize in the Brew Accelerator programme supported by leading UK accountancy firm Johnston Carmichael, which supports aspiring drinks firms.

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The prize consists of a year of mentoring and guidance, which is valued at £50,000 at the BrewLDN event which took place in Printworks in London.

Siobhan said of her win: “I really can’t believe it – I’m absolutely delighted.”

She continued: “When I lost my job in 2021 after hospitality venues had to close, I noticed there was a gap in the low-calorie cocktail market.

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“Ready to drink (RTD) cocktails were really popular with people my age while bars were closed because of the pandemic, but most are really high in calories and sugar.

“I had no industry experience but was passionate about cocktails. I did a lot of research, found a company that could produce my cocktails with a much lower calorie count, and I’m really proud of all the progress I’ve made.

“I’m over the moon to have won this, and now the dream is to expand the business and run it as my full-time job.”

The Thirsty Gal cocktail cans come in three flavours, Lychee Martini, Passion Fruit Martini and Pina Colada - which will be fully launched this summer.

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Adam Hardie, Head of Food and Drink at Johnston Carmichael and a judge of the Brew Accelerator, said: “Siobhan was a more than deserving winner.

“I think her brand has real potential and the data proves that the ready to drink cocktail market is showing phenomenal growth.

“It’s a great tasting product and we think we can make a real difference to Siobhan’s brand by helping with strategy, as well as accounting and financial matters.”

Fellow judge Jenny Mary Elliott, a drinks brand consultant, said: “The moment I met Siobhan I knew everyone on the judging panel would see the potential in Siobhan and her brand.

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“It’s a brand that we can get really excited about, and we believe it will continue to grow, especially over summer. We think Thirsty Gal has tons of potential, and we’re really looking forward to working more closely with Siobhan.”

Siobhan will be focusing on growing the brand, looking into off-trade, e-commerce, and outdoor drinking.

Siobhan added:  “The guidance from the judges will be so important in helping me take the business to the next level. I just want to keep building the brand and growing brand awareness in the coming months.”

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