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11.1.18

Thirsty: The Girl in the Bubble Business

Oh, that Martha. Had she only known what a powerhouse marketing tool she would be, she might have made a few bucks off the place. Back in the seventeenth century, when Bartholomew Gosnold slapped the name Martha, whoever she was, on the Island, he probably didn’t anticipate people would buy stuff because her name was on the product.

The trick is, of course, to figure out which Martha’s Vineyard brands are authentic.

Martha’s Spiked seems to pass muster. This past summer the company, headed by Island resident Brae Ferguson, introduced two versions of its alcoholic, lightly carbonated drink: Martha’s Spiked Lemonade and Martha’s Spiked Cranberry Lime.

The bottled drinks were born at The Newes of America Pub in Edgartown. It was definitely a small-scale start-up operation. “It was all very hands on, mad scientist kind of, in the Newes at 2 a.m. mixing and bottling and hand-doing everything,” said Ferguson. “It was quite a trip. But it was a lot of fun, and we got some incredible feedback.”

Steve Myrick

The product has outgrown the Newes kitchen and is now distilled and packaged at Newport Craft, a facility in Newport, Rhode Island. It’s distributed on the Island at the Newes and the Wave Bar, also in Edgartown, as well as the package stores Our Market, Your Market, and Rosewater Wine and Spirits.

“It’s a hard lemonade which is made with all natural juices. There’s no added sugar, so it’s very low calorie,” Ferguson said. “The cranberry limeade is an homage to Cape Cod. It has Cape Cod cranberries in there, some limes. A little bit of carbonation in both.”

The alcohol is a neutral cane spirit, the stuff that is eventually distilled into rum. The alcohol content is 6 percent alcohol by volume, so a little stronger than most commercially available national beer brands.

According to beverage industry trends (you might be surprised what trendy publications the Thirsty Test Kitchen minions read), spiked fruit drinks, soda, and seltzers are a fast growing segment of the industry, with small local products often catching on in regional markets.

Distribution this summer was limited to Martha’s Vineyard, but with a little luck, next summer the area could expand to Cape Cod and beyond. The idea is to get a little Island flavor off-Island.

“Any tourist, or even Islanders themselves, can get it where they live as well, and feel they’re still connected to the Island,” Ferguson said.

Oh, that Martha. Having her name on Martha’s Spiked products is no accident. “It definitely helps,” said Ferguson. “Having the beginnings of being on the Island, being born here, makes it feel a little more real Island grown.”