Water with a hint of flavor? That’s nothing new. Water with a hint of flavor and alcohol? Now, that’s funny—or, more so, Funny Water.
Funny Water is a new type of alcoholic beverage, one that aims to be a lower calorie, lower ABV option to promote more sustained and healthier drinking habits. Founded by PJ Loughran and Jake Vogel, the duo aims to find a way for people to enjoy adult beverages more responsibly without sacrificing taste or the experience that alcohol brings.
It’s not pretending to be a healthy drink, but it does offer a way to beat some of the downsides of other alcoholic beverages.
The idea for this, however, first came from the name itself.
“I love the name, I think it’s so simple and just fun,” explains co-founder Loughran, who has spent his professional career in many facets of the creative world, making the shift from fine arts space to brand design and brand creation. When he met Vogel through the YPO—Young Presidents’ Organization—the duo hit it off. Then Vogel contacted Loughran with his idea.
“Out of the blue, Jake called and said, ‘Hey, I have an idea—it’s Funny Water,'” Loughran explains. “I asked, what is it? And he said I’m not sure…But let’s talk about it.”
Vogel had already registered the URL and trademarked the name before the product was even designed. There were some talks of what this name could bring in different facets of the beverage world, but ultimately, after Loughran recruited help from some staff at his creative agency, they decided on alcoholic water.
“This is a very brand-driven market, [and] we realized there wasn’t a lot of low ABV, non-carbonated beverages in the space. This idea of a water brand was really interesting,” he explains. “Part of my previous life, I was involved in a company that produced some of the biggest music festivals in the country, including Bonnaroo and Outside Lands. I played a creative role in contributing to those events and I remember being on-site— dehydration was always a really big issue. I just kept thinking how do we keep everybody hydrated? We had water stations and support, but it’s still really hard to encourage people to take care of themselves when they’re really having fun and listening to their favorite band.”
So, a beverage that could hydrate while you’re dehydrating?
“I think ultimately we arrived at this idea of a water that featured different active ingredients. Originally, we were thinking THC, caffeine and alcohol, and then after doing more homework on the space and thinking well, what is the best, simplest expression of this idea? We arrived at an alcoholic still water with a little bit of flavor,” Loughran finishes.
The concept of spa water was a huge factor to the creators of Funny Water. Also, common nonalcoholic beverage brands such as La Croix were brought up when discussing how the flavor is not overpowering, but still strong enough to taste.
“The benefit to keeping the flavor light and the alcohol light is the calories are really low,” Loughran explains. “It’s not over powering, you’re not drinking it to get drunk, you’re drinking it to relax and to kind of get a light buzz from something like this.”
Funny Water is one of the lowest ABV beverages on the market at 80 calories with three flavors: Watermelon, Citrus and Cucumber/Mint. The fundamentals of the beverage contain a light flavor, low ABV and low-calorie combination—so virtually, this is a beverage that allows you to socialize longer and safer.
“We felt that there was an underserved consumer in this non-carbonated, low ABV space…So, that’s really where our focus is. And the response has been really exciting,” Loughran adds.
The concept of less is more also came in when thinking about the design of Funny Water. The team noticed that with beverage brands there are a lot of beautiful and intricate designs when it comes to alcohol. But, a lot of beverages are screaming for attention.
“They kind of compete with each other on the shelves, and we thought, why don’t we just go the other way? Let’s keep this simple. The formula is pretty simple to begin with…We’re not re-inventing the wheel here, we put alcohol in water, so why don’t we lean into that a little and sort of embrace and celebrate the simplicity of that in the brand? That’s where you get our very simple colors and our icon, who we’ve named Drip.”
“It’s very intentional,” Loughran continues. “It’s sort of poking fun a little bit at other brands in the beverage space, and maybe there’s a little part of us that wanted to create an anti-beverage beverage brand. Something that played against type a bit.”
Right now Funny Water can be delivered to approximately 35-38 states (depending on shipping laws.) The brand has also chosen Philadelphia as its launch market for retail, and it can be bought in select stores in Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Chester, Berks and Delaware counties. Being from the East Coast himself, Loughran knew the mid-Atlantic was an easy pick for the beverage’s first launch.
“We know those communities pretty well,” he explains.
In the city specifically, Funny Water is available now in the Foodery Roxborough, Spruce Market, Monde Market, Mulberry Market, Philadelphia Beer Co., 1 Stop Mini Market, Palm Tree Gourmet and the VIP Market (although more will be added in the Philly area in weeks to come.)
The brand has plans to expand as well. In the future, there will be three more flavors added, and single flavor packs should also go into production next year (variety packs are available at the moment.) There will also be different expressions of the brand planned to roll out in the next year, including Funnier Water, a “higher octane version” of the concept. Further along in 2024, other iterations like a THC and caffeine beverage will also be offered.
“It’s delicious. One of the things we enjoy about having our own product is that we drink it. We enjoy it with dinner a lot, we serve it at parties, there’s a lot of great enthusiasm and grassroots passion that has been kind of encouraging and exciting,” Loughran finishes. “It’s not something we’ve seen a lot of before. We see this a little bit as a new category that lives in the world of seltzers, but it is its own thing. We’re getting into stores and into the hands of people that are excited about it.”
To learn more about Funny Water, visit funnywater.com