This unique hard seltzer is capitalizing on the growing popularity of tequila by bringing a classic Southwest cocktail to the nation minus the high calories and ABV.
Most people in the Northeast associate tequila with shots and partying college students. But since 2002, sales of the spirit have grown 180% according to the Distilled Spirits Council. Tequila is now seen as a multi-faceted spirit that can just as easily be sipped and savored as mixed into a cocktail. In fact, one such premium tequila cocktail, Ranch Water, has proven so popular that it’s made its way to another growing segment: hard seltzer.
By now, you may have seen a striking new ad making the rounds. Featuring hard-working ranchers and voiceover delivered with a gentle Texas twang, the campaign – dubbed Follow It West – captures the essence of the American West while introducing a national audience to Lone River Ranch Water Hard Seltzer. The new hard seltzer brand brings the authentic tequila flavor you’re looking for, while being lighter and more refreshing than a spirits-based RTD.
Both hailing from Far West Texas, Lone River Ranch Water Hard Seltzer and founder Katie Beal Brown are bringing the romance and hard-wearing simplicity of Texas to the rest of the U.S. with their RTD take on the Ranch Water cocktail.
“My family settled in West Texas nearly 100 years ago,” says Brown. “My grandparents own a working ranch in Far West Texas and we’ve been drinking Ranch Water out there for as long as I can remember.”
Just like its West Texas roots, which stretch back to the 1960s, the Ranch Water cocktail is a no-frills drink made from just three ingredients: tequila, lime juice and soda water. In recent years, it’s made its way into bars across the U.S., bringing the legend of its creation with it. Though the identity of Ranch Water’s original creator is shrouded in mystery, Brown says that the drink is attributed to a “wild-haired rancher” from Far West Texas, who followed miles of Texas stars to find the spirit of the cocktail, until he was found asleep under a piñon tree, a desert pine native to the Southwest.
“The drink itself has really become part of our culture in West Texas and a representation of who we are,” says Brown. “No frills, get the job done kind of people.” We don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like Philadelphians too!
Brown ran with the simple but iconic recipe, crafting a refreshing hard seltzer version made with 100% organic agave and natural lime juice that delivers on an authentic West Texas experience. And at only 4% ABV and 80 calories per 12 oz. serving, Lone River Ranch Water is a truly sessionable option with a lower calorie count than most hard seltzers on the market.
Brown and Lone River take pride in the unique flavor profile and formulas they’ve developed for their initial Ranch Water offerings – Original, Rio Red Grapefruit, Spicy and variety-pack exclusive Prickly Pear – which are crafted with premium ingredients at an approachable price point. As Brown says, they like to let the liquid speak for itself.
It’s Not Just a Seltzer, It’s a Lifestyle
“When I look at the other brands coming out with a product, I feel like a lot of them are leveraging the cachet of the Ranch Water name, but they’ve really disassociated it from the story and where it comes from,” Brown told BBD. “And I think when you do that you kind of lose a lot of the meaning behind it. So that’s what we really leaned into, and we’ve done it in an authentic way – it’s really connected to where I come from and my family’s ranch in Fort Davis. That will continue to be our competitive advantage and something that is going to be difficult for any other brand to authentically recreate.”
But even so, will a hard seltzer inspired so heavily by Texas tradition appeal to consumers in the Northeast? Brown says yes.
“Very early on I believed Lone River had potential because it taps into the values of the American West,” she says. “We’ve seen consumers [nationwide] craving a connection to this Western lifestyle through entertainment (Yellowstone is the most-watched show on TV), music (the country music genre is booming) and other brands (the Ford F-150 is America’s best-selling car).”
Go West (and East), Young Brand
Lone River has had an eventful 2021. Up until a few months ago, it was sold only in five states, including its native Texas, where Lone River is one of the top-selling Ranch Waters. But with a national expansion, the brand is truly taking off – as of press time, Lone River was the #1 Ranch Water hard seltzer in the country and had secured 0.4% of total hard seltzer sales in the U.S.
And while the success of Lone River is no doubt due in large part to the authentic roots of the brand, it’s also aided by the growing popularity of tequila, which more drinkers are reaching for outside of shots-based occasions. Ranch Water in particular has gained traction throughout the U.S. because of its simple, refreshing recipe.
“I poured my heart into building a brand that celebrates the culture around Ranch Water,” Brown says, “and I’m humbled to see how much that brand now resonates with consumers far beyond Texas.”