The term “Cool Cat” may conjure up images of the old Looney Tunes character, Chet Baker’s famous jazz LP or even Netflix star Carole Baskin. But this summer there’s a new reason to use the expression and the best part is—you can drink it.
Cool Cat wine spritzers were created by New Canaan born brothers Rocco Venneri and Michael James—along with friend Tavio Laudisio. “What started as an idea Mike shared with me at a Mother’s Day barbeque in 2018 grew into a refreshing drink and lifestyle brand,” explains Venneri, ceo of Cool Cat who led the product launch in April.
Two years ago, the brothers noticed a boom in the health and wellness arena and wanted to produce a portable drink that was flavorful, calorie-conscious and went hand-in-hand with a way of life that was all-inclusive and free-spirited.
“We chose the name because it lends itself to the idea of owning who you are and being an original and fearless leader driven by heart, instinct and talent,” remembers Venneri. The owners decided on a spritzer as opposed to just wine because a mixed cocktail seemed more fun, celebratory and didn’t take itself too seriously, a reflection of the Cool Cat vibe and also Venneri’s take on everyday life.
While working with a California-based company to develop the two initial flavors, he called upon his previous career experience in fashion marketing and designed a hip line of hoodies, tees and baseball hats with the brand’s name and logo, causing buzz on social media about the brand before the spritzer even hit the shelves.
“I see this drink at backyard barbeques, on the beach, at parties and music festivals, but also popular among creative types,” he explains.
Cool Cat spritzers have 6.9 percent alcohol (compared to 5 percent in most spiked seltzers), are available in Original and Citrus flavors, have 150 calories and are gluten free. The Original, slightly sweet with a little kick, is made with elderflower, mint and lime, and was inspired by a drink Venneri fell in love with while vacationing in Europe. The Citrus flavor is a refreshing combo of various tropical flavors and pairs well with any food. Both are made with a dry pinot base, carbonated water and natural flavorings and may be consumed alone or used as a mixer with your favorite, say, vodka or tequila.
Be sure to check out the two signature cocktail recipes on Instagram, @drinkcoolcat: The Citrus Crush and Margarita. In addition to branded swag, Cool Cat has some fun playlists on Spotify to stream while imbibing. The spritzers are available now at Stewart’s Wine & Spirits in New Canaan and BevMax stores in Stamford and Norwalk. You can also snag them on drinkcoolcat.com or sussexwine.com.
“We hope the free-spirited, on-the-go Cool Cat lifestyle, which encompasses adventure and following your true path, will speak to everyone,” says Venneri. “It’s a movement people are going to want to buy into and be a part of.”