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Changing America’s Cocktail Culture: Black Venture Capitalist Invests $5 Million In Minority- Owned Hella Cocktail Co.

Hella Cocktail Co. is on cloud nine after celebrating a $5 million investment into their mixology company. It was founded by three entrepreneurs: Jomaree Pinkard, Tobin Ludwig, and Eddie Simeon in 2011. Pinkard is Black. The innovative trio sells non-alcoholic sparkling aperitifs, craft beer beverages and other mixers. Their premium-flavored products are available in over 20,000 bars, hotels, stores and restaurants across the U.S.

Jomaree Pinkard, Hella Cocktail Co. co-owner (Photo: LinkedIn)

Hella is a New York-based certified minority-owned business with estimated revenues of $6 million.

The investment comes from Uncle Nearest Ventures, which was created to “empower minority-focused, owned, and led spirit brands with the greatest potential to grow into a long-standing legacy,” according to its company website.

Not only does Uncle Nearest Ventures see Hella as a way to boost diversity in the country’s cocktail industry, it’s also good business.

The Global Cocktail Market size was worth $86 million in 2021, and it is projected to reach $1.4 billion by 2027, according to Market Data Forecast.

Hella Cocktail’s partnership with Uncle Nearest Ventures aligns with Hella’s 10-year anniversary and the launch of its Bitters & Soda line. Both companies are Black-owned and share similar values despite diverse backgrounds. Pinkard described their association as a ploy to “bringing all voices to the table and celebrating different experiences.”

Hella Cocktail Co. co-owners (L-R) Jomaree Pinkard, Eddie Simeon, and Tobin Ludwig (Photo: Hella)

“This partnership not only enables us to bring our message to more audiences but aligns us with a fellow minority-owned and led company that understands how integral culture is when creating a successful business,” said the Hella Cocktail Co. co-owner in a statement. “We’re thrilled to continue a rapid growth trajectory as we create premium products where neither taste nor brand values are ever compromised.” 

Black entrepreneur Fawn Weaver owns Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey, one of the country’s fastest growing whiskey brands. She said, “Investing in Hella Cocktail Co. was an absolute no-brainer.”

She added, “I knew their products were made with excellence. What I didn’t know is the brand was founded is by three men of African American, Mexican, and Jewish descent. Once I learned that I reached into Jomaree and said, ‘What do you need? It’s yours.’ “

Fawn Weaver, owner of Uncle Nearest Ventures (Photo: LinkedIn)

Weaver added, “We could not be prouder to back these three incredible leaders, who have bootstrapped this brand for a decade — never compromising on quality or messaging, and who have grown their company at such a rapid yet sustained pace that they’ve proven their brand is here to stay.”

Uncle Nearest Ventures explored a similar partnership with Hella Cocktail Co. in February 2021. For Black History Month, Uncle Nearest Whiskey paired with Hella Cocktail Co’s Moscow Mule Mix to create the Tennessee Mule drink recipe. That same year, the Ventures fund backed the relaunch of Caribbean-inspired Sorel Liqueur brand. Sorel is now sold in various locations across the U.S as well.

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