A Startup Called Beyond Zero Is Selling A Machine That Freezes Liquor Into Ice Cubes
If watered-down cocktails are one of your pet peeves, there is a solution on the horizon. A startup company in Miami is developing a machine that freezes liquor into ice cubes.
Beyond Zero is currently interviewing contact manufacturers to build its namesake devices and expects commercial units to roll out in six to eight months. Public units are expected to follow in late 2015, according to inventor, founder and CEO Jason Sherman.
Since the product was formally introduced at the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago in May, it's been mentioned on ABC's "Good Morning America", written about by the Miami Herald and attracted the attention of food and beverage publications.
Sherman told Design & Trend the idea behind Beyond Zero has been in development for years.
He left Florida State before graduating to work for his parents, who were part of the onset of Internet e-commerce. The entrepreneurial spirit is within all of them and, separately from his family, Sherman began experimenting with an ice cream process using liquid nitrogen. It never amounted to anything before Cold Stone Creamery took off, he said.
Sherman returned to Georgia State to complete a degree in finance and then attended law school. During his second academic stint, he experimented freezing liquor. He froze an ice cube of solid tequila and found he could enjoy its taste without the burn, and so the idea for Beyond Zero was born.
"I showed a few people and they were kinda floored," Sherman said.
He then picked up an angel investor and has been working on the device since.
Initially, Sherman used liquid nitrogen to freeze wine and spirits but the tanks consumed space and can be hazardous. Although his system froze alcohol without it ever coming into contact with the liquid nitrogen, he did away with the potential hazard.
A patent is pending on the current system, so details are limited to the public, but Sherman said the new Beyond Zero is essentially a "turbo ice maker."
Beyond Zero's commercial unit, which produces cubes and stores them, is expected to retail for around $10,000 — roughly the same as a commercial ice machine. The difference is that establishments can charge for the frozen liquor (ice is almost always free). Sherman estimated the cubes to increase the price of drinks by $2.
A smaller commercial unit that requires users to pour the liquor into 1.5 ounce wells will retail for around $3,000. The Beyond Zero for sale to the public will be encased in a decorative barrel and cost $5,000.
The larger commercial unit will freeze liquors, depending on the type and proof, between two to five minutes. The others will take three to seven minutes. All of them plug into standard 15-amp electrical outlets.
"As much as the machine is a really cool device, what I'm really happy about is that we created something that doesn't water down drinks," Sherman said.
In the same way customers order drinks "neat" or "on the rocks," Sherman envisions what he dubbed "in the rocks" becoming a new standard option for cocktails to be served.
He believes cocktail purists will be fond of crafting drinks that don't dilute over time and said more consumers are ordering white wines with ice. Beyond zero would keep those beverages cold without compromising their intended taste. That becomes increasingly important when considering more expensive liquors and wines.
"I think the reactions have been incredible. It's been beyond my expectations," Sherman said. "People really are gung ho about not having a watered-down drink in a really passionate why — something I never would have expected."
Heading a startup and bringing a product from design to market has been challenging, but Sherman said today, he feels people are more open to ideas and are supportive, versus skeptical.
Beyond Zero is capable of manufacturing their own units, however to assure a quality, "robust" product, Sherman said contract manufacturers with experience in other refrigeration machines are the best way for the company to move forward.
To help develop and market Beyond Zero, the company has also partnered with Tim Couch, who was instrumental in bringing Svedka Vodka and Red Bull to market, and Ed Ransi.
Rensi is the new CEO of Famous Dave's and the former president of McDonald's Corp. U.S., according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.
Sherman said the company is also in talks with Beam Suntory, which became the third largest spirits company in the world when Suntory Holdings acquired Beam Inc. this year.