A BRAND of alcohol-free cocktails devised by a husband-and-wife team in the New Forest has already caught the eye of supermarkets and pub companies.

Highball Cocktails was created by Red and Kate Johnson, who commissioned extensive research before launching the product.

Kate has worked for almost 20 years in brand-building and innovation. After having children, she found it was hard to find alcohol-free drinks that were not laden with sugar.

Red grew up in the alcohol sector, with a wine writer as a father, a distiller as a grandfather and a brewer as an uncle. He set up the British Bottle Company six years ago to link independent British brands with export markets.

“We had always thought of getting our own brand but it took a little work to think about what would be appropriate for us,” said Red.

“We didn’t want to create a gin that would compete with other gins we were trying to sell on behalf of other people.

“We thought, nobody’s doing a range of high quality, non-alcoholic, pre-mixed cocktails.”

Their vegan-friendly range consists of six drinks: a classic G&T, pink G&T, Italian spritz, mojito, cosmopolitan and ginger dram.

The products are available and at local venues including Solent Cellars in Lymington, Fairweathers in Beaulieu and Bay Leaves Larder in Chandler’s Ford, and have already impressed larger businesses.

“The response has been extraordinary. We’ve had supermarkets ringing us up, we’ve had pretty interesting discussions with quite a few of the national pub companies,” said Red.

He said the main competitors currently were the several brands of non-alcoholic G&T. “We tried their products and weren’t that impressed. We thought we could probably do this better,” he said.

“Quite a few companies were doing non-alcoholic G&T but there were none that were doing the full spread of cocktails we’re doing.”

The couple were aware of the increasing number of young people avoiding alcohol but their research also found a demand among older generations.

“There are the people in their 20s not drinking at all or drinking less than the previous generation, but when you also look at the raw data, there are people in their 40s, 50s, 60s that are also dramatically cutting back,” he said.

“At the same time as non-alcoholic category has accelerated, so has the ‘ready to drink’ form. We’re a part of both of those movements,” he added.

The business has avoided using the commonly used term “mocktail” as Red said “alcohol-free cocktail” was a more “premium” description. But he said they might have to use “mocktail” for search engine purposes.

Red, 49, moved and Kate, 43, moved to the New Forest a decade ago, having had a boat on the Beaulieu River further back. They live in the New Forest with their children, aged five and eight. Their business, on the Exbury estate, currently employs three full-time staff, with the product bottled in the West Midlands.