It was Thanksgiving 2015 when childhood friends Neil Quigley and Michael Kurson got an idea. They’d been following a growing consumer demand for healthier alcoholic options and saw a market opportunity to develop a product paying tribute to a quintessentially New England fruit — the cranberry. Less than two years later, their idea took form in a spiked sparkling water called Briggs Original, a gluten-free and low-calorie beverage naturally fermented with local cranberries, a touch of lime and cane sugar.
“Our goal was to make the lightest, most refreshing spiked sparkling water, but with a splash of fruit flavor that makes it a little juicier than the others on the market,” said co-founder Quigley, who is no stranger to the industry — he was formerly the Beverage Director at Porto and worked on flavor development for over two years with Farmer Willie’s (read our feature on them here).
The duo make a perfect one-two entrepreneurial punch. Quigley is a brewing powerhouse (we spoke with him back in 2016) — he’s one of the youngest Certified Cicerones — while Kurson, a student at Babson College currently on leave of absence, brings his business education and acumen to the project. Their bond is strong due to a lifelong connection; the Newton natives met in kindergarten and have been best friends since high school.
A top priority for the guys was sourcing cranberries locally. “We love the rich cultural heritage around cranberries in the area and wanted to make a product tied to our home state,” Quigley said. So they reached out to local companies New England Cranberry and Fruitations for all their fruit needs. For the moment, Briggs is sticking with the bog berry but there are plans to expand the line into other flavors once they’re better established.
Spiked seltzer is still a relatively new category that’s growing in popularity so there’s a lot of room in the market for the young company. Quigley gives credit to Nick Shields and Dave Holmes of SpikedSeltzer for starting the trend in 2013. “Since then, the category has skyrocketed and it’s easy to see why,” he said. “Alcoholic seltzer takes the best that cider, light beer and alcoholic soda have to offer and combines those qualities into one fantastic beverage.”
For the moment, Briggs is primarily available in retail shops however, they are expanding into the restaurants like Trident Booksellers and Cafe, Saloniki Greek and Gather soon. To try some for yourself, check out this complete list of retailers and restaurants.