Long Drink – A Midsommar Celebration
There’s no denying that the nonalcoholic scene has been blooming for some time now —with faux wines and zero-proof spirits—there’s still room for those of us still wanting a little indulgence at the end of the day. That’s where low-alcohol drinks enter the stage, and most notably Long Drink. While there’s no official standard for what counts as low-ABV (alcohol by volume), these beverages usually hover around 5%. In fact, forget alcohol, these drinks are perfectly suited for that all-day park hang or weekend at the beach.
The roots of Long Drink go back to the 1952 Summer Games in Finland, when the country of only 4 million people was still recovering from World War II. Concerned with how to serve drinks quickly enough to all the visitors, the government commissioned the creation of a revolutionary new liquor drink, and so the first long drinks were born.
How did your journey with Long Drink begin?
Ere and Mikael: In 2014, we (Ere, Sakari and Mikael, Finland natives) landed in the US to study abroad and one night out in New York, we ended up at a party with young entrepreneurs, where we met Evan Burns. We bonded quickly and travelled as a group around America. We finally convinced Evan to visit Finland and learn about the Finnish traditions - including sauna, swimming in the Baltic Sea, eating reindeer - among other things. The tradition that stuck the most was drinking long drinks.
Over the next couple of years, we went back to Finland to finish our Master’s Degrees while Evan continued growing his company in the US. Despite our busy lives, we found time to travel together and Evan kept coming back to Finland. He became convinced that Americans would love long drinks. Shortly after, we built a business plan and launched a company with one unified goal: bring the national drink of Finland to America. In 2018, The Finnish Long Drink launched in New York City. Long Drink is sold in 15 states and has become one of the fastest growing alcohol companies in the US. Since launch, we’ve garnered the attention of celebrities including Miles Teller who became co-owner of Long Drink as well as Kygo and Rickie Fowler.
One afternoon at Soho House in LA, Miles, Evan and Mikael were drinking some Long Drinks they had smuggled in. A plan was scratched out of having Miles become an owner and help lead in creative strategy, telling the story of long drinks, and building key partnerships. After Kygo and Rickie discussed possibilities with the Long Drink team, a deal was struck to have the duo join as owners as well. Both are actively involved, alongside Teller, in bringing the legendary story of the Finnish legend across the USA.
“Selling the Long Drink in the United States isn’t just about marketing a booze product – it’s about selling the country of Finland."
What do you want people to take out from this experience?
Ere and Mikael: It’s true that the real heritage of the product and the Finnish culture aspect is important to us. Finland isn’t very well known in the US, but if through Long Drink we can get more Americans to learn about the Finnish culture and all the great things Finland has to offer, that makes us very happy. Long Drink has many things in common with the experience of Finland: at first people don’t know much about it, pretty neutral image, but once you actually try the product or learn more about the country - the experience is very positive. Clean, crisp and refreshing - different from others but in a good way.
Midsommar is a main national holiday in Finland. Finnish Midsummer is a celebration of the longest day of the year also known as the summer solstice. Traditionally spent outside of the city with friends and family, there is no wrong or right way to spend this holiday, but it’s best spent relaxing with good company, barbecue, drinks, a bonfire, a smoke sauna and ideally with a Long Drink in hand.
What is a typical day of Midsummer celebration for you each year?
Ere and Mikael: Getting out of the city and relaxing in the countryside with friends. The most traditional thing to do is to heat up the smoke sauna. It’s an old style of wood fired sauna but the specificity is that it doesn’t have a chimney. It takes a full day to heat up, because after 10 hours you need to shut it down and make sure all the toxic fumes are gone before you go in. This is not your average Swedish steam bath.
What is special about the Long Drink?
Ere and Mikael: Many of our competitors have been created to match the latest trends, long drinks have existed in Finland since the 50’s, and we are bringing the long drink category finally to the US. Long Drinks also have a very unique flavour profile compared to what’s existing in the US alcohol market.
Indeed, Long Drink is tangy, sweet and highly crushable. This gin and grapefruit soda is like a zesty, grown up Sprite. Based on a well-known Finnish drink that’s typically served on draught, it’s an easy crowd-pleaser that goes just as well with a side of fries as it does your drive-in movie popcorn.
Words by Alexa Bouhelier-Ruelle
Photos provided by brand