EDGE Chattanooga couple living in L.A. launch line of southern-inspired premade cocktails

EDGE Chattanooga couple living in L.A. launch line of southern-inspired premade cocktails

January 1st, 2017 by Tim Omarzu in EDGE

Pure Southern introduced a line of three vodka-based bottled cocktails: Tennessee Cucumber Cooler, Alabama Dixie Melon and Carolina Spiked Tea that retail for around $16.99 per fifth. A fourth, tequila-based drink, Georgia Peach Margarita, is due in the Spring.

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Husband-and-wife Carter Hudlow and Emily Spurling and their baby girl, Dylan.

Husband-and-wife Carter Hudlow and Emily Spurling and their...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Pure Southern cocktails

Carolina Spiked Tea

Sweet tea and lemonade are beloved drinks in the South especially on a hot summer day. The recipe combines these two Southern staples with vodka to make a delectable drink that can be enjoyed anytime.

Alabama Dixie Melon

Named in honor of Emily’s grandmother’s home state where melons are picked fresh from the garden. Watermelon & lime juice, vodka and a hint of mint create a light refreshing cocktail that can be enjoyed across all seasons.

Tennessee Cucumber Cooler

A fresh twist on the classic mint julep. Cucumber and lime juice, vodka and a hint of mint are combined together to create the perfect cocktail to start the party.

Georgia Peach Margarita (to be released 2017)

This recipe puts a Southern spin on the classic margarita combining peach and lime juice with triple sec and tequila to create a cocktail that can be enjoyed down South or south of the border.

Husband-and-wife Carter Hudlow and Emily Spurling hope that Pure Southern, their new line of all-natural, southern-inspired, ready-to-drink cocktails will help get them out of Los Angeles and back home to Chattanooga.

Inspiration came a couple of years ago as the couple, who both work in corporate finance, were at a restaurant.

"We were sitting at dinner in L.A., we were talking about the South and feeling homesick. I was actually drinking a margarita," said Spurling, who likes cocktails, but thought to herself, "Why can't I get a drink as good as this at home without the hassle of buying a bunch of ingredients and having to mix them together?"

That night, Spurling started writing ideas on a cocktail napkin for the couple's first-ever business, Pure Southern, which just introduced a line of three vodka-based bottled cocktails: Tennessee Cucumber Cooler, Alabama Dixie Melon and Carolina Spiked Tea that retail for around $16.99 per fifth. A fourth, tequila-based drink, Georgia Peach Margarita, is due in the Spring.

"I've worked on it every day since," Spurling says.

The couple, who had no experience in the alcohol business, had to tackle the nuts and bolts of launching Pure Southern, including finding a production company, trademarking the product, getting state and federal permits and finding liquor distributors.

"You almost have to go state-by-state with alcohol, because each state's different," Hudlow says.

The couple took out a small business loan, but otherwise have been funding their venture out-of-pocket.

"We're self-funding it; we don't have investors at this point," she says.

The drinks are made, bottled and labeled by a company in Missouri. The vodka is corn-based, so it's gluten-free, Spurling said. The couple's cocktail recipes use quality ingredients, she said, such as cane sugar instead of high-fructose corn syrup. The cocktails are 30 proof, or 15 percent alcohol by volume, about the same as a higher-alcohol red wine.

The couple did a soft launch of the brand in April at the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America show in Las Vegas.

"We got some good feedback on the product including winning three silver medals in the ready-to-drink category in the spirits tasting competition," Spurling says.

The couple secured Athens Distributing as Pure Southern's distributor in Tennessee. Athens is testing the product in Chattanooga, Spurling said, and if it does well the distributor plans to expand it to Knoxville and the rest of the state.

The couple have traveled back to Chattanooga to help set up tastings here. Spurling expects to start 2017 with their product in 15 Chattanooga area stores. "In Georgia, we're starting out in 29 bars restaurants and stores," she says.

The couple also have spoken with distributors in Alabama, Mississippi, Texas and Pennsylvania that are interested in selling Pure Southern products starting in early 2017.

"We'd probably have to be in three or four states before we had enough volume to make a living on it," Hudlow says

Spurling, 35, went to elementary school in Chattanooga before her family left for Southern California. Hudlow, 46, graduated from The McCallie School.

Entrepreneurism is in their blood. Carter's grandfather Clarence Hudlow, was in the restaurant business for more than 50 years in Chattanooga and for some 30 years owned the Home Plate. Emily's dad, Gary Spurling, is a co-founder and partner in a local engineering consulting company, Contech, Inc.

Along with launching Pure Southern, the couple had a baby girl, Dylan, in 2015, who's now 16 months old.

That's one of the reasons why they want to move back and run their budding cocktail business from Chattanooga.

"We want to get back in the South. We want to get back home. We want this to be a successful business that we can operate in Chattanooga," Spurling says.


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