From local artisan markets to striking a deal on Dragon’s Den, former high tech worker Steve Morrier has taken his fresh cordials and tonics to the big stage. Steve and his Ottawa based cocktail company, Split Tree Cocktail Co. struck a deal with Manjit Minhas, co-founder and co-owner of Minhas Breweries and Distillery on Dragons Den this past month.
When Morrier started Split Tree Cocktail Co., he had no idea what cordials were. He had some experience with breweries, but cocktails were a new world for him. After being laid off from his first high tech job, Morrier found his way to Hogsback Brewing Co., where he learned to appreciate the work that went into making quality Ontario beers. Ironically, after Hogsback had appeared on Dragons Den, Morrier was laid off once again, but not before securing a job at Broadhead Brewing.
As much as Morrier loved the brewing industry, he had dreams and aspirations of his own. He dreamed of opening a distillery, but Ontario regulations made it a tough business to get into. So he went back to the drawing board. That’s when he found out about cocktail tonics.
“I ran downstairs and started making tonics and I had a cocktail party, and brought six different tonics, and number three was the one that everyone liked, and that’s the one I ended up making.” This was the story of Morrier’s first tonic, Tonic No. 3, which he still makes today.
From his kitchen, Morrier started to take his tonics to makers fairs in the city. Last September on a whim, Morrier set up shop at the Urban Craft fair. “I had no clue what was going to happen,” says Morrier, “but then I sold out everything we brought.” Fast forward a year later, Morrier quit his job at Broadhead, and has taken on Split Tree Cocktail Co. as a full time endeavor.
After appearing on Dragon’s Den, and receiving offers from three of the Dragons, Morrier says that his favourite moment wasn’t broadcast. “They didn’t show the part where I called my wife to ask for help.” says Morrier. His wife responded “Who are those people?”
Now that Morrier has struck a deal, his intentions are to grow at a slow pace. Focusing his growth on the Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa area, Morrier wants to stay as local as possible. Even though you can pick up his cordials and mixes at numerous retail locations in Ottawa, Split Tree Cocktail Co. will still be making appearances at Ottawa artisan fairs. “They are a gateway to everything” says Morrier.
So what’s next for this Ottawa based maker? Morrier says it is limitless. “I don’t want to put any limits on what I can do.”