Reflecting on Two Years of Ritual

Ritual turns two years old this month. To celebrate, we sat down with Ritual co-founder, Marcus Sakey, to hear his takeaways from an explosive first two years of growth, brand-building during a global pandemic and his vision for the future of non-alc.

What would surprise your 2019 self about where Ritual stands today? What wouldn’t surprise you?
Honestly, I thought we might have to sell the notion harder. We've been over the moon to see how many people were waiting for a simple, direct spirit alternative. In hindsight, the growth of the market was predicted by things like milk and dairy alternatives, but that's the thing about hindsight – it’s all obvious once you already know it.

What did the challenges of the pandemic teach you about adversity in business?
For me, the best thing to come out of the shitstorm of Covid was a reminder of community. We were – and are – all in it together. It's an easy thing to forget, and while obviously not everyone is on the same page about the risks of the pandemic, that reminder was out there for anyone who cared to see it.

Our first pandemic action was to make the conscious decisions that none of our people would lose their jobs. In the second week of March 2020, we rebuilt our entire annual budget around that fact. It wasn't until we had that planned and the money set aside that we did literally anything else.

After that, our focus was authentic communication. We made Ritual because we wanted it, and we thought others might too. If ever there were a time to be frank about who you are, what you offer, and why, this is it.

In retrospect, would you have done anything differently?
It took us awhile to find a comfortable way to involve friends and fans. Supporting people who genuinely love our product and want to share it, that's the best form of advertising around, because it's not advertising. It's word of mouth.

We’re toasting the first two years with a Ritual cocktail. What are you drinking?
Rum Alternative with ginger beer and a twist of lime. I love all our stuff, but the rum is something special. It's been on sale for like nine weeks, and in that time it's won three national awards.

We’ve seen how far non-alc has come over the past two years. Where do you see it going over the next two?
Just like dairy and meat alternatives, like Tesla and diet soda, non-alc isn't just here to stay, it's an alternative that redefines the landscape. The ability to have it both ways – your way – changes everything.