MAYFIELD — Ryan Pakenas, a former sous chef, pastry chef and bartender, came up with the idea for his company, Devil Daves Bloody Mary Sticks, while bartending in Saratoga Springs.
"We'd get large parties for brunch, so I devised a way to make it easier and put wet and dry seasonings for bloody marys into squirt bottles and squirt them into tomato juice," the Gloversville resident said.
Two years ago, Pakenas decided experimenting with spices to come up with his own recipe.
"Some companies have already made bloody mary mixes, but I thought about making something that you only have to add vodka and tomato juice to," he said. "I wanted to come up with an economical way to make them."
Pakenas turned to stick packs. The draw: They're low-cost and portable.
"I wanted to make it easy for people to take it with them," he said. "I also wanted hotels to use them at the bar and on room-service carts."
In January, Pakenas launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $12,000 to get his company off the ground.
"It's a great platform to raise money and to get products out in front of people," he said. "I was able to go from 100 followers on social media to almost 1,000 in three weeks because of Kickstarter."
By the end of January, Pakenas had raised more than $14,000.
Pakenas said the extra funds would allow him to put badges on his packaging to let customers know Devil Daves Bloody Mary Sticks are vegan, gluten-free and non-GMO.
"It means that I can get the product out more efficiently with better materials and cost of goods," he said. "I can do things with the packaging that I couldn't do on a shoestring budget."
Pakenas added, "It's important that my company be as transparent as possible."
So what's the name all about? Devil Daves Bloody Mary Sticks is a nod to Pakenas' uncle.
"He's a Vietnam vet and a big bloody mary maker," Pakenas said. "This is something that's near and dear to me."
Pakenas, who works with a veteran-run company in Michigan to produce his product, is getting ready to hit the market full force this spring.
"Once the Kickstarter ends, I'll open my website up to presales and I'm also thinking about selling wholesale and having investors coming in," he said. "I've had a couple of hotels reach out and I'm going to reach out to airlines to see if they'd be interested too."
As the company grows, Pakenas said he'd like to add four or five jobs.
"This product is something that could be used for many years to come," he said. "We'll be a great addition to the area."
For more information, visit www.devildaves.com.