The vast majority of Caesars are made with a watery mix containing added MSG, colouring, and high-fructose corn syrup. Zack Silverman and Aaron Harowitz, co-creators of Walter Craft Caesar Mix wanted to produce something different. Their product is not only made with all-natural ingredients but it’s the first and only Ocean Wise certified Caesar mix, with the Vancouver Aquarium’s seal of approval. As they use only sustainable clam juice from the North Atlantic in their mix, the B.C. natives maintain the health of the oceans. Packaged in glass bottles free of PET and other plastic by-products, Walter is also made without the use of added MSG, high fructose corn syrup, artificial colours or flavours.
Since launching two years ago, over two million Walter Caesars have been served across Canada and the drink has already won several awards. This past March the Vancouver natives made it to Dragons’ Den to pitch their product to the panel of Canadian business moguls. (they initially shook on a deal with Manjit Minhas but it did not make it through due diligence).
SEE Change had a chance to speak with Harowitz to discuss his vision, the importance of sustainability and the opportunity to pitch to the Dragons. A true Vancouverite, Aaron Harowitz put himself through degrees at the University of British Columbia and Emily Carr University of Art & Design as many do, serving tables and pouring drinks. He went on to found a successful Vancouver based design studio and worked on projects for a list of great clients for a number of years before partnering with his childhood friend Zack Silverman in a beverage company based in Brooklyn called Kelvin Natural Slush Co. They had so much fun and encouraged by a bit of success, Aaron and Zack partnered up again to found Walter Craft Caesar Mix with the simple goal of introducing Canadians from coast to coast to a better Caesar. Oh, and also to have a bit of fun while at it.
What inspired you to make the first and only Ocean Wise certified Caesar mix? Why was this important to you?
Zack and I were lucky enough to grow up on the beautiful Pacific coast of Canada, because of that we have a large appreciation and respect for our oceans. We take a serious amount of pride, both professionally and personally, to be doing our part to ensure that the product we offer the Canadian public is made with real, sustainably harvested clam juice. We think having the Ocean Wise logo on our bottle or on a menu in a restaurant, is an excellent way to help our customers make an informed purchasing decision.
It’s a way to show that we’re committed to doing our small part to ensure the long-term heath of our oceans.
What is your vision moving forward for the company? Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
Quite simply, we want to continue to produce a high quality product. We plan to keep growing the Walter brand across Canada by introducing Canadians coast-to-coast to an all-natural, Canadian-made Caesar Mix. Zack and I are also very excited to be launching a Walter Craft Caesar Rim in the next couple months, which we think is delicious and an excellent accompaniment to a great Walter Caesar cocktail.
Is it difficult balancing the sustainable and profitable mission, how do you think it impacts your bottom line?
Sustainability and profitability needn’t be an “either, or” decision, and we don’t treat it as such.
To use our Ocean Wise participation as an example, while we fully and wholeheartedly believe that having Walter be Ocean Wise is the “right” thing to do, we also know this helps our customers make informed buying decisions, and helps convert Caesar drinkers into Walter Caesar drinkers. It’s a win-win situation in our eyes.
Tell us more about the product, both from a taste and sustainable perspective.
Zack and I think real, whole food tastes amazing, and as such, think the best Caesar Mix we can make uses only premium, whole ingredients. This means that we don’t add any artificial MSG, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colours or flavours to our mix, (which is very often found in other mass-market mixes available in Canada). We’re also extremely proud to be an independent Canadian company, and to be making Walter Craft Caesar Mix right here in Canada. Overall, we think many Canadians truly appreciate that their Caesar, Canada’s favourite cocktail, is an all-natural Canadian product.
How was the Dragons’ Den experience and what did you learn from it?
Dragons’ Den was a very fun and surreal experience. Nerves aside, we simply hoped that we would come across to the Canadian viewer as professional and, more then anything, that they would see our passion. At the end of the day, we’re passionate about Caesars and proud of the product we make.
In the short time since our episode aired, we’ve been totally blown away and encouraged by the amount of support we’ve received from people telling us that they were introduced to us on Dragons’ Den and are now Walter fans! That’s the best feeling.