362
7 min 42 sec

NYC Banker Launches All-Natural, Drinkable Pickle Brine

When a NYC banker sets out to create a drinkable pickle juice, it turns into a big dill. You’ll relish the lessons from this story!
Food Manufacturing Niche Ideas Product

What It's About

A financial services professional discovers a weak spot in bars and restaurants and finds himself in a pickle—that is, a drinkable pickle brine side hustle.

Business Model
Product
Skills Required
Research & Experimentation
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
Medium

Words of Wisdom

Their most effective marketing tool has been social media. Not only do they post great content, but they use it as an outreach tool. Michael and his friend message athletes, celebrities, chefs, bars, managers every single day, and one of the athletes, Blake Coleman of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, responded. He tried one of the brines and loved it—and has since taken a bottle to every single hockey game to avoid cramps and stay hydrated.

This quickly led to Brine Brothers being mentioned on the front page of the National Hockey League website, which was the brands largest publicity yet. In turn, this led to a variety of newspaper and online magazine articles featuring their all-natural pickle brine.

Fun Fact

Feeling a little less than your best following a night of drinking and reveling? Pickleback shots actually do more than provide a weird, briny buzz!

The salt and water in pickle juice not only help erase the woes of the previous night, they also help you take preventive action. Pregame with a virgin shot to help stock your body with the goods it needs before the dehydrating powers of alcohol swoop in [cite].

Notes from Chris

Episode 362
Michael Belicose is the Vice President of Consumer Banking for JP Morgan Chase & Co. He’s got a lot of responsibility at his day job, but when he’s off the clock, he geeks out over something that most people don’t give any thought to—pickle brine.

Though unknown to many, pickle brine is actually a drink beloved by an avid subculture. Athletes love it for its post-workout regeneration and hydration qualities. Chefs love it for its complex flavor profile that pairs well with many types of food. And lovers of adult beverages enjoy mixing it into cocktails or using it as hangover relief.

After work, Michael and a friend liked to enjoy chilled shots of pickle brine followed by a shot of whiskey (known as a “pickleback shot”), but they found that the brine was often just an afterthought to the bartenders. It tended to be unfiltered, old, and filled with all sorts of preservatives.

Disappointed by this sad state of pickle brine, Michael and the friend began playing with the idea of creating their own. With thousands of bars and restaurants in the city not knowing how delicious good brine could be, or how it could compliment a spirit, they believed they had found an opportunity.

Michael knew that he could create a delicious all-natural brine that would be far better than the ones most places served. He also knew that NYC is filled with passionate bartenders that are always looking for ways to improve their menu. Confident that they had stumbled upon an underserved need, Michael and his friend started planning their domination of the drinkable brine market.

Just seven months after launching, Brine Brothers has product in over 15 bars in the New York area and generates sales online from around the country. Prior to Thanksgiving, Brine Brothers had made over $5,000 in total sales, and in just the two weeks following Thanksgiving, they generating just over $1,500 in sales.

While it's definitely a big dill, Michael’s not getting comfortable; he’s aiming to make $10,000/month and to reach a point where the business drives itself without him having to message influencers every day.


MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Brine Brothers: Learn more about all of the uses of pickle brine and pick up a bottle of your own on Michael's website!
  • ThomasNet, Specialty Food Resource, & Specialty Food Co-Packers Directory: Three of the online resources that Michael and his partner used to find a co-packer for Brine Brothers
  • Shopify: Michael and his partner used Shopify to set up their store for Brine Brothers, and they're offering a 21-day trial and exclusive discount for all Side Hustle School listeners!
SEE ALSO:

  • U.S. Co-Paker Directory: Are you reaching a point where you're outgrowing your own kitchen? Here's a directory containing co-packing companies in each state!
  • Working With Co-Packers: Part 1 & Part 2: This two part series goes into what you should look for when selecting a co-packer and best practices for working with a co-packer once you've found one
  • Blogger Turns Leftover Cherries Into $5,000/Month Income: After being diagnosed with diabetes, a food blogger creates a sugar-free line of ketchup alternatives
Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Quote of the Day
"The true challenge is finding the time outside of our day jobs to grind away and speak with people.  Word of mouth and personal connections have been great so far and we continue to ask friends, family and former classmates for recommendations."
—Michael Belicose #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau