Music event duo turns to ready-to-drink summer market. Annemarie Quill reports.

Say hasta la vista to your usual summer tipple.

Two Tauranga music moguls are shaking up the global premixed ready-to-drink (RTD) market with the launch of what they say is Tauranga's first premium vodka brand, Greenroom Vodka.

Entrepreneurs and music promoters Pato Alvarez and Mitch Lowe are the lads behind the brand, which they say is "best served ice cold with music".

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The pair say their Greenroom Vodka, which comes in two flavours at the moment — Lemon and Lime, and Raspberry and Pomegranate — has three times less sugar than an average RTD, "which means you can party all night without the crippling hangover".

Over the past five years, Alvarez and Lowe, together with their music business partner Toby Burrows, have brought some of the world's biggest names in music to the city — and New Zealand.

Last night, Alvarez and Lowe officially launched their latest venture with a party celebrating their Greenroom brand at Mount Maunganui's Hide Thirst and Hunger.

The invitation-only, exclusive party was brimming with key figures from Tauranga's glitterati as well as guests from all over New Zealand and overseas.

Greenroom Vodka is available in stores now. Photo / Wayne Tait
Greenroom Vodka is available in stores now. Photo / Wayne Tait

The evening showcased the vision the duo have created for the new drink, which follows their success on the music front.

The name reflects the link to the music world, as the green room is an exclusive space for musicians and artists when they're not performing.

"We chose the name Greenroom as it's a direct tie into the music world," Alvarez says.

"The Greenroom in music jargon is the place that only artists and crew get to access. It has an elusive mystery around it for punters, but our beverages will be accessible to anyone who appreciates a premium drink. Over the age of 18, of course," he says.

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Alvarez, Lowe and Burrows' concerts and festivals have not only put Tauranga on the world entertainment map by bringing international artists to the Bay and beyond, they also showcase New Zealand music.

From One Love to Bay Dreams to all-day summer disco events and one-off concerts, the green rooms of Tauranga have been graced by superstars in the entertainment industry such as Cardi B, Bryan Adams, Tyga, The Jacksons, UB40, The Prodigy, Toto, Blindspott to name a few.

Cardi B on stage at Bay Dreams. Bay Dreams 2019. Photo / File
Cardi B on stage at Bay Dreams. Bay Dreams 2019. Photo / File

This summer, Tauranga's green rooms will serve more famous musicians and bands, as Alvarez, with Pato Entertainment, and Lowe, with Audiology, have an eclectic line-up of concerts and festivals planned for summer.

Together, they are involved with nine Kiwi festivals, including One Love, Bay Dreams, Storm The Gates, Soundsplash, Sonorous and Ōhakune Mardi Gras. They organise more than 200 events throughout New Zealand every year.

Coming to Tauranga over the summer are international superstars such as Tyler the Creator and Halsey at Bay Dreams, Shaggy and Sean Paul at One Love, separate one-off events for music heavyweights such as Ben Harper and Australian pop star Tones and I — whose platinum single Dance Monkey has topped the charts this year for several weeks.
Not content with bringing the music to town, the duo have turned their creative talents to drinks.

"We both are entrepreneurs always looking for new opportunities. We planted the seed for it three years ago and came up with the name and brand concept," Lowe says.

Halsey will be performing at Bay Dreams 2020. Photo / File
Halsey will be performing at Bay Dreams 2020. Photo / File

"Earlier this year, we finally found the right company, who could produce and create the quality and flavour we wanted."

Greenroom will be available at almost every show they run, including Bay Dreams and One Love. Alvarez explains there are some restrictions at some venues, but the majority are excited to support their product.

They are proud that Greenroom is locally produced, as there is a strategic partnership in place with beverage manufacturer Pure Bottling, which operates from Maleme St in Greerton. A distribution agreement has been signed with Premium Liquor.

While there are plenty of vodka RTDs in the market, the team feels they are catering to a generation that is conscious about sugar intake and natural ingredients — and that's what they say sets them apart.

Their core demographic is 18-25, but the product has been widely trialled and enjoyed by young and old.

The goal was to create something that anyone could feel good about drinking.

Monique Alvarez, left, with friends at Mount Beach. (Disclaimer: Drinks were unopened and used for photo shoot purposes only) Photo / Wayne Tait
Monique Alvarez, left, with friends at Mount Beach. (Disclaimer: Drinks were unopened and used for photo shoot purposes only) Photo / Wayne Tait

"Based off customer feedback, we felt there was an opening for a great tasting, low sugar, all natural RTD in summer flavours," says Alvarez.

"The demand has been amazing so far. We've already sold out our first production nationwide, and suppliers wanted more before it launched on November 16," he says.

An important element of Greenroom is its pure and natural content. It is triple distilled, low in sugar and mixed only with sparkling water and all-natural concentrated fruit flavours.

Sugar has been kept to a minimum without limiting the taste, which he says means less chance of a hangover the next day.

"We have just a third of the sugar of other major brands in the market, and it's noticeable in the way you feel when drinking it, as well as the day after," Lowe explains.

Greenroom has launched with two flavours and there are already plans to extend the range with different flavours and variations of the product.

Pato Alvarez and Mitch Lowe. Photo / Jack Neale
Pato Alvarez and Mitch Lowe. Photo / Jack Neale

"Initially we want to really deliver this well in New Zealand and we will look to expand it further internationally later next year. Australia is already on the cards," says Alvarez.

"Our connection to international musicians and festivals will see the brand reach all four corners of the world."

When they started brainstorming three years ago, the idea was to develop a beer concept.

But knowing that vodka counts for around 65 per cent of drink sales at their events, it was an easy decision.

"It's clearly the drink that connects with our consumers the most, which makes it easier to promote through music. We envisioned promotions and campaigns we could run for tickets, backstage experiences and artist meet and greets," Alvarez says.

Gigs where Greenroom will be available to audience members aged 18-plus:

December 27: Katchafire, Black Seeds and Tomorrow People, Trustpower Baypark.
December 28: Shapeshifter, Mount Park, Soper Reserve, Newton St.
January 1: Pre Party Bay Dreams, Trustpower Baypark.
January 2: Bay Dreams, Trustpower Baypark — featuring Halsey, Tyler, the Creator, Yelawolf, Ella Mai, Mitch James and more.
January 5: Tones and I, Trustpower Baypark.
January 8: A Summers Day Disco featuring KC and the Sunshine Band.
Earth Wind and Fire Experience featuring Al McKay.
Boney M featuring Maizie Williams.
The Australian Bee Gees Show.
January 25: One Love Day 1, Tauranga Domain.
January 26: One Love Day 2, Tauranga Domain.
One Love line up includes Sean Paul, Shaggy, Toots and the Maytals, Katchafire L.A.B, Sons of Zion, Ardijah, Latasha Lee and Ria Hall.
February 29: Ben Harper, Mount Park, Soper Reserve, Newton St.