Interview: Joyce and Raissa de Haas, founders of Double Dutch
PUBLISHED: 12:56 26 June 2019
Double Dutch is continually recognised for their unique process of molecular pairing which enables them to create the most innovative flavours on the market
Double Dutch was founded by Dutch twins, Joyce and Raissa de Haas in 2014 when they launched with their debut mixers Cucumber & Watermelon and Pomegranate & Basil. Since their launch, Double Dutch have won more awards than any other tonic and mixer on the market and they are now stocked in over 5,000 bars and restaurants across the UK and have recently launched three of their best-selling flavours in 208 Waitrose stores around the UK.
Where did the idea for Double Dutch come from?
Raissa: Our inspiration for Double Dutch started from a very early age. Growing up, our family home had an alcohol license so our parents would always have tastings for friends and family and our affiliation for finer drinks started to develop there. Plus, the Netherlands is the birthplace of Gin, so we were familiar with the drinks industry from a young age. Upon leaving the University of Antwerp, Joyce and I both went into finance but neither of us felt passionate about it, so we wanted to do something more creative. Both of us secured a place at UCL to study Technology Entrepreneurship which was the perfect way to lead us into a more imaginative industry and it was in London which was where we always wanted to be.
Joyce: We focused our dissertation on how the drinks industry was evolving(?) and noticed how the spirits industry was becoming so much more developed, but the mixer market was being left behind. We knew that we wanted to do something about this so we devoted our year at UCL about the mixer market and subsequently won the UCL Bright Ideas Award for most promising startup, this gave us the initial cash investment and a year's worth of office space in London which enabled us to start Double Dutch. And it took off from there!
What are the benefits of having your twin sister as your business partner?
We are each other's best friends as well as sisters which means that we are always there to support each other. In the beginning we did face a lot of rejection which was tough, but we have both grown together. We have been able to motivate and encourage each other which I think makes our whole experience more fun.
We have always understood and utilised our own strengths which is key to being successful and working as a team. Joyce focuses on finance and operations and I focus on sales and marketing, but we are always there to help one another or give helpful suggestions which helps a lot in day to day business. We trust each other 100%.
How did you get Double Dutch to grow in the preliminary years?
We wouldn't have been able to grow our business without extensive networking after we left UCL. We both believe that people buy from brands who they trust and have a connection with, so we have always spent a lot of time networking at events, reaching out to potential customers and actually talking to people. The majority of our social life is through Double Dutch!
We did two rounds of investment funding in 2015 and 2017 which really helped us as it brought in more skills into our business structure as well as capital. Advice from others has always been so important to us, we are constantly learning new things. However - one of the key determinants of how Double Dutch is today was the choice to launch a product onto the market that we knew wasn't 100% ready despite everyone's advice not to. Launching it this way meant that we got as much as feedback as possible from consumers, eventually making a product designed by them instead of us which has been key to our success and popularity.
Looking at Double Dutch's range of flavours; there are some really quite unique ones there such as Pomegranate & Basil and Cucumber & Watermelon. How did you come up with these flavours which make Double Dutch stand out so much?
Joyce: We use molecular favour pairing to develop all of our mixers. This is what makes our drinks so distinctive. Molecular pairing techniques allow for the chemical components and aromas shared between specific ingredients to be matched, resulting in counter-intuitive flavour combinations which blend impeccably. The beauty of flavour pairing means that the combinations between our mixers and other spirits are endless. Our sales team pride themselves on the fact that from our full range of 9 flavours, there can be hundreds of drink combinations to serve a bar.
Double Dutch is different to any other tonic brands as all but three of the drinks in our range are made without quinine, the key component in tonic water which gives it the bitter taste. This means that we don't focus so much on gin and instead our tonics can be enjoyed with any spirit. My favourite drink is Double Dutch Pomegranate & Basil mixed with 50ml Tequila and garnished with a sprig of rosemary and an orange slice.
What are the other unexpected pairings that can come from your mixers and where can we buy Double Dutch?
Double Dutch Cucumber & Watermelon is perfect to add a refreshing twist on Pimms or an Aperol Spritz. Our Cranberry & Ginger matches well with cognacs or spiced rums. We have recently launched Double Dutch Double Lemon which pairs perfectly with Vermouth and Sherry for a summery twist on classic cocktails.
Double Dutch doesn't have to just be used for alcoholic drinks, our flavours are brilliant as soft drinks, or they can be substituted into any food recipe where alcohol would normally be required. For example, our ginger beer is a great swap for beer in beer-can chicken. A healthy salad dressing can be made using our Cucumber & Watermelon and then using chickpea water as an emulsifier to substitute oil. The possibilities are endless!
In terms of where to find us; Double Dutch are sold in 5,000 bars and restaurants across the UK including The New World Trading Company, The Alchemist, Dishoom and Greene King pubs. We launched three of our bestselling flavours in 208 Waitrose stores at the end of May, and we are also available in premium department stores, Ocado and Amazon!