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INTERVIEW: "Summer House" Star Kyle Cooke On The New Loverboy Spritz, What It's Like To Be On A Reality TV Show, The Upcoming "Spritz For Support" Benefit, And More

Nicole Barylski

The Loverboy Spritz. (Courtesy Photo)

This month Summer House stars Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula dropped a new Loverboy sip, the Loverboy Spritz, a ready-to-drink, handcrafted canned cocktail.

We had the pleasure of chatting with Cooke to learn about the tasty new sip, what it's like to live out a portion of your life on a Bravo reality TV series, Spritz for Support: A Cocktail Hour for Benefit Relief Fund, and more.

Tell us about the newest Loverboy product?

KC: We started with the Sparkling Hard Teas, which is kind of our premium alternative to these mass produced hard seltzers. Just drinking it as a consumer, I was like, all right, all these brands are kind of boring. Just like most alcohol brands, there's no story behind them because they're just big, big companies at this point. The cans themselves are boring and then the liquid inside was kind of boring. Don't get me wrong, there's a time and place for a super light, refreshing seltzer. But I just saw an opportunity to bring more to the table on all those fronts.

We use better quality ingredients, so it tastes better. We also realized that plays a big role in your hangover. First and foremost was creating a zero sugar product that didn't weigh you down while you're drinking it and didn't leave you with a massive hangover the day after.

I love what hard seltzer is doing to the alcohol industry, it's waking them up and saying, hey, it'd be nice if there was a nutrition label on alcohol, just like every other product in the world. So that's where it all started. That's really what Loverboy is built on - a product that, sure it might be a little more expensive than a White Claw, but just like anything, you get what you pay for, and you're supporting a local company. A lot of people don't understand that White Claw is just owned by the same company that owns Mike's Hard Lemonade. Truly is a publicly traded company. Obviously all the other ones like Corona and Bud Light, no one's really behind that brand at this point.

Loverboy co-founders Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula. (Courtesy Photo)

So, we've been able to strike a chord with people based on providing a fun product with transparency and authenticity. I looked at the more premium ready-to-drink canned cocktail space as like, wow, I could spend 60 bucks going to the liquor store, buying some Aperol and buying some Prosecco - or I can actually spend less per can on a premium cocktail, if I did it right. Although our initial sticker price provides some shock, if you're comparing it to our Teas, or even to a hard seltzer, but it is a completely different product, addressing a completely different segment in the adult beverage market.

We describe the Loverboy Spritz as a craft cocktail in a can. It's a little more indulgent flavor wise than our Teas. Again, just like our Teas, we're working with real ingredients here. So there's actual color, this looks like a cocktail. We use ingredients that people are familiar with, but add some sophistication. So, this first one was Blueberry Lemon Kissed with Basil. It's a little more complex than our Teas. It's a different sipping experience, if you will. The Teas are made for everyday sipping, or dare I say chugging, but this is more for a special occasion. Unlike just about every other product out there, there is absolutely no added sugar. The only natural sugar here is just from the blueberry juice.

Was the line inspired at all by your time in the Hamptons?

KC: Yeah. The whole beauty behind a grab and go drink, ready-to-drink, they call them RTDs, is when you're out at the house, or you're going to the beach, and you're a little more active, then you're not going to sit in the kitchen making a bunch of cocktails. There really wasn't anything that we were drinking.

I'd say the other influence, other than the convenience factor, was the Aperol Spritz. It quickly became both mine and Amanda's go to cocktail order at a bar. It's light, it's refreshing, it's lower alcohol. So you can sip on them and have them not creep up on you like a vodka soda can. Obviously it's way, way more tasty. I'd say the desire to cut sugar out of our diet, the convenience of a ready-to-drink cocktail, and our love affair of the Spritz like cocktail - where it's light, refreshing, and low ABV - that was the key. I think it's similar to when you realize how much sugar is in your favorite Margarita, or your favorite cocktail. For me, I used to love Twisted Tea, but it's like this oh my god moment when you're like, well, yeah, probably should have known better. An Aperol Spritz has about 20 grams of sugar and I've never had just one. I mean those things go down quick. You look at the Aperol itself and it's like syrup. While we have this love affair with the Spritz, because it is low ABV, you can drink a lot of them, and the next day you get a sugar hangover.

Now what about the name, Loverboy - where did that come from?

KC: You know, it's funny. Amanda and I worked with a branding agency that had done nothing in alcohol. We knew we wanted to come out with a name that was fun and playful. I mean, one thing that didn't work with my nutrition app, it was very serious. When people see me on TV, sometimes they don't really take me seriously. We knew the brand had to be fun and playful. So, we started with literally like 100 different names, whittled that down, and Loverboy was literally the only one that made me laugh out loud, just very memorable, very catchy. And then, it made the top ten, the top five, and then Amanda had this moment where she was like, "No, this is a no-brainer. It's Loverboy. Forget the other ones we were considering." I think the icing on the cake was the band Loverboy, I was familiar with them, and I knew their song, but didn't know they sang it. Working For The Weekend is kind of like the theme for Summer House. It was like, alright, this is meant to be.

I think the other fun part of it, not only is it memorable, but it means something different to everybody. But, like Amanda likes to say, "Everybody wants a loverboy." It allowed us to have a brand with some personality.

The Loverboy Spritz. (Courtesy Photo)

Now that Summer House is on its fourth season, what has it been like to watch a portion of your life on TV?

KC: It's pretty powerful. The way I describe reality television when you're filming is it's like life is on fast forward, like two, three times the normal speed and it's just because you can't just chill and relax and not talk about what happened the night before. Imagine every uncomfortable moment, even if you're a complete extrovert, you might internalize - that just doesn't work and that's why the producers are there to encourage conversation. Living in the moment, it's like life is going by quickly because you're just talking about things and doing some self-reflection, and it just has a way of moving at a fast clip, and then watching yourself on TVs is the other component. So, the stuff that was painful to go through, it's like a band-aid that just keeps getting ripped off, because it happens, and then your friends talk about it, because they have to ask about it because you're on camera. And then you deal with it when you're filming your one-on-one interviews. You're ripping the band-aid off again by the producers asking questions.

And then of course it airs, and the band-aid comes off again. That part can wear you down. That's why I think it only really works for people that have some thick skin, and don't mind being vulnerable, and having to wear everything on their sleeve.

What was your first summer house experience?

KC: I've been going out to Montauk since like 2005. Long before Surf Lodge, long before it became the tiny little beach town that it is. I just loved the lifestyle. I think that's what a lot of people my age fell in love with and started going all the way out east. It was just a little more laid back.

My first true, true full summer out there where I did a full-blown share was I think 2013. So not too long ago. Before that I'd always done a weekend here, a weekend there. As an entrepreneur, I'm rolling the dice and taking risks, and so I never had the savings built up that my friends in finance, for example, had. I was probably a little late to the game, to be honest, because I was so career focused.

In your opinion, what makes a good housemate?

Kyle Cooke and Amanda Batula with Carl Radke, who heads sales and business dev for Loverboy. (Courtesy Photo)

KC: I mean, it sounds cliché, but they just need to bring some value - and that can be in many different shapes and sizes. They can be an incredible cook. They can be the life of the party. They can have an amazing speaker - I'm worried about audio, I love audio. I think it's just embracing the fact that you're going to have all sorts of different characters and personalities under one roof, and just embracing it. That honestly to me, having new people in the house every single year is part of the allure. I love making friends. I love meeting new people. Some of my best friends in New York City go all the way back to my first full, full summer out there - where you're in a house and there's some friends of a friend that you've maybe not even met before during a weekend together. That just to me, it's just pure excitement. I just love it.

I hear you'll be hosting Spritz for Support on May 7. Could you speak a bit about the virtual United States Bartenders' Guild (USBG) fundraiser?

KC: We just kicked this [Loverboy Spritz] off last Thursday. This cocktail in a can, our Spritz product, was nine months in the making. I guess you could look at our launch timing in two different ways - one it's great because people are at home, and they can't go to their favorite bar and have their bartender make their favorite cocktail. But on the flip side, it is a premium product. I'm not trying to replace people's White Claw or even your Loverboy Sparkling Hard Tea, because it is a premium price point. So, given all that is going on, particularly in restaurants and hospitality, it's probably the hardest hit industry. We had dozens upon dozens of relationships with bars here in the City that I hope to God are able to open back up. Last time I checked, eight million people have lost their jobs at restaurants.

Taking into account that this is a premium product, and we didn't want to rub people the wrong way, we decided to donate all profits to the Bartenders' Guild, and what's great is we don't have to worry about how we disperse our donation. They have an application process, I think they've already screened about 200,000 bartenders that are already asking for financial aid. It just seemed like the least that we could do. As New Yorkers, nightlife is part of our DNA, and here we are rolling out a convenient cocktail in a can, originally designed to be when you're not at the bar, and now you can't go to the bar. It's just a way to give back.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

KC: From now until May 7, we're donating all profits for the Spritz sale, so people can feel a little better about that premium purchase. Anybody that purchases will get an opportunity to buy a discounted ticket to the virtual event that we're throwing on the night of May 7. And again, 100 percent of those proceeds go towards the same relief. It's just going to be a fun cocktail hour meets virtual house party. We'll be doing it online, it'll be interactive, and, we'll have some other Bravo friends join us.

Loverboy presents: Spritz for Support: A Cocktail Hour for Benefit Relief Fund will take place on Thursday, May 7 at 9 p.m. 100 percent of proceeds from the digital "get-together' will support the United States Bartenders' Guild, whose mission is "uniting the hospitality community to advance professional bartending." Tickets are $30 and available at drinkloverboy.com/events.

For more information about Loverboy, visit drinkloverboy.com.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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