Fans of the Bravo reality show, Summer House, have probably already heard of Loverboy, a line of sparkling hard teas, spritzes and canned cocktails created by cast member Kyle Cooke.
(For those of you who somehow escaped its pull, Summer House follows a group of young professionals who leave the hustle and bustle of New York City to share a summer house in Montauk every weekend.)
While filming the show, Cooke realized how many sugary alcoholic drinks he and the rest of the cast were consuming and decided to create a higher-quality product that wasn’t just another hard seltzer. He combined his entrepreneurial and “better for you” nutritional background to create this seltzer-hard tea hybrid with no sugar.
When Cooke first signed on to the show, he wanted to promote a nutrition app he was working on, but quickly realized fans weren’t interested in nutrition — they were interested in what the cast was drinking. Tired of giving exposure to the bigger brands, he decided to create his own.
“It was like the opportunity was staring me in the face the whole time,” said Cooke. “If I had done it in 2016 or 2017, it probably would’ve been just another hard seltzer, but I’m glad I waited [until 2018] because I could take a step back and find out how to differentiate from the 300 other seltzers.”
Loverboy sets itself apart from other ready-to-drink beverages in the market with its ingredient transparency, according to Cooke. On the product website and in store, ingredients and nutrition info are front and center.
“We keep it pretty clean, pretty simple. Loverboy starts with organic brewed tea, a touch of real juice — And I say a touch because we still want it to be zero sugar. We use monk fruit, which is an all-natural sweetener that delivers a satisfying taste reminiscent of sugar.”
Cooke recommends the hibiscus lime flavor for first-timers because he believes it’s a happy medium between the super-fruity and tea-forward flavors of the other drinks. For tea enthusiasts, he recommends the lemon iced tea and the white tea peach for those who love fruity seltzers and are looking for something with an edge.
The Charleston Launch
Charleston was a natural spot for Loverboy expansion, according to Cooke, because one of its biggest distributors also owns Lee Distributors here in Charleston. Cooke has also spent a lot of time with the cast of Southern Charm (naturally), and they were able to help him plan the launch party here.
“We’re building a lifestyle brand and I feel like Charleston is a lifestyle city. Factor in the weather and it’s a no-brainer,” Cooke said.
And the “working for the weekend” theme behind Loverboy certainly matches the party-hard vibes of Summer House and Southern Charm.
“The TV show allows us to feel like a local brand because people who watch the show have been able to follow the conceptualization and all of the changes,” Cooke said.
“People want to support brands that have real identities and bring authenticity to the part of grocery stores where some of the brands are like 100 years old,” he added.
While the sparkling hard teas are available in stores, Loverboy spritzes and cocktails are sold exclusively online.