Leigh Ann Rodriguez started to diet while her husband, a U.S. Navy Seal, was deployed in Iraq. The couple has five children, and Rodriguez was determined to get rid of her leftover baby weight while still enjoying nights out with her friends. But while finding low-calorie food options was no real challenge, low-calorie cocktails were nearly impossible to track down.
So Rodriguez went searching for her own solution.
“It’s amazing what you can learn on the Internet,” she said.
She had no formal experience in beverage making, but after experimenting with low-calorie drink recipes, she developed one that eventually helped her lose 55 pounds — while still having fun.
“It’s a way to cheat on your diet without having to feel so guilty,” Rodriguez said. “Cocktails without the guilt.”
The new, “smart” twist on cocktails were sugar-free and almost calorie-free. Heard of Smartinis? The first one was created in Rodriguez’s kitchen.
Lola’s Libations started humbly in June 2010. Rodriguez began by selling the recipe she came up with and hand-mixing batches for local restaurants. Then she handed out samples in Main Street Station. As excitement grew, she decided it was time to stop selling the recipe and start bottling her creations.
Seventeen cases made up the first production and just months later, Rodriguez’s line was picked up by national distributor Republic. The partnership opened up markets in other states, including Michigan, California and Tennessee, and today, Lola’s Libations has 300-case runs.
The product line has grown as well. The original flavor, Lemon Drop, has since been joined by eight others: Margarita, Mojito, Pomegranate, Eve’s Little Secret, Sweet Texas Tea, Caliente Texas-tini, Simple Syrup Base and Sweet & Sour Base.
Stevia is the secret to the low-calorie, sugar-free concoctions. That “little green leaf” is also what got Angie Losack, the director of sales, involved with the product. She had used the natural sweetener for 10 years.
“Literally I heard one word, that it was a product made with Stevia, and I said, ‘I’m in,’” Losack said. “With the obesity issues … in the nation, with the nutrition issues of the nation, Stevia one day will become the mainstream sweetener.”
The mixes, which all bear nutritional facts, can be used with a variety of liquors — or, of course, without.
“[One repeat client who is diabetic] makes virgin margaritas,” Losack said. “She’ll put them in the blender … She’ll take hers out and then add the liquor and serve her guests, and she said, “But I feel like I can have one and enjoy it, too.’”
Rodriguez and Losack credit much of the business’s success in its first year to the support of mentors and business owners who believed in the product, including the owners of Hall’s Wine & Spirits, Main St. Station and Bear Creek Spirits & Wine. And since they began, Rodriguez and her team have likewise made giving back a priority, working with groups involved with cancer and Alzheimer’s research as well as with sick and underserved children.
“We want to make an impact in other ways than just bringing low-calorie drinks to everyone,” Losack said.
Lola’s Libations, 4121 Colleyville Blvd., Colleyville, 817-503-7070, www.lolaslibations.com