Honors continue to rain down on KWE Cocktails, which specializes in the production of cocktail syrups and ready-to-drink. After winning two awards at the recent Grands Prix Dux gala for its Sumacade lemonade, the Alma-based company recently learned that it had been shortlisted for the Lauriers de la gastronomie québécoise in the brewer, winemaker or beverage producer category of the year.
This recognition is not the result of chance since the eight syrups and the two ready-to-drink were designed according to Aboriginal know-how and are full of boreal spices and local berries. When it comes to boreal forest scents, it might be easy to imagine a taste of resin, but Jessica Cote, owner of KWE Cocktails, says it’s not. “Fir sprouts taste like cotton candy while you find an orange flavor when it comes to cedar. I surrounded myself with experts to create the most balanced products possible. »
Another concern of the entrepreneur, the quality of each input in her bottles. “There are no preservatives or artificial flavors. The process is 100% controlled. If, at first, she wanted to pick the ingredients herself, Jessica Côté resigned herself, for lack of time. Today, a team of about ten experienced pickers makes sure to bring him the best of the boreal forest while respecting the rules of the specifications.
Originating from an expression that means “hello” in several Indigenous languages of Quebec, Kwe has a special meaning for the businesswoman. Although she did not grow up in an Indigenous community, Jessica Côté’s ancestors are of Innu descent. It was during a summer when she worked as a tourist guide in Wendake that she was able to learn about the treasures of the boreal forest. “Before this student work, I had no sense of belonging with the Aboriginal people. It gave me an open mind. This is where my love for the boreal forest and its flavors was born. »
KWE Cocktails started its activities in 2017. Initially, the entrepreneur focused heavily on the bar industry. The pandemic has disrupted this business model, but that hasn’t stopped it from growing. In 2020, it automated its facilities. Today, the company is able to produce 300 bottles a day and even responds to specific customer requests.
This investment also allowed KWE Cocktails to diversify its product line with ready-to-drink products aimed at the general public. “There’s a craze for mocktails, and that’s exactly what our boreal tonic and sparkling lemonade are addressing. Jessica Côté is well aware of the strong competition that exists in this niche, but she is convinced that she can do well, thanks in part to the short list of ingredients in her products.
The products are available in 200 points of sale, including delicatessens both in Quebec and in the rest of Canada, and Jessica Côté hopes to market her know-how outside the country. Over the next few months, the ready-to-drink range will also include new products.