Briggs Original Boston Cranberry Is the Local, Boozy Seltzer Your Life Needs

The startup plans a full Boston-area launch in spring 2017.

Michael Kurson (L) and Neil Quigley harvesting cranberries for Boston Cranberry

Michael Kurson (L) and Neil Quigley harvesting cranberries for Boston Cranberry. / Photo by Rob Chron provided

Maybe you’ve heard about Boston beverage world prodigy Neil Quigley, currently beverage director at Jody Adams’s latest, Porto. The 21-year-old was the founding brewer and remains a partner at Farmer Willie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer, and he is one of the nation’s youngest Certified Cicerone beer connoisseurs.

For his next endeavor, the Newton native has teamed up with childhood friend Michael Kurson to develop an extremely Massachusetts product: Briggs Original Boston Cranberry is building excitement ahead of a spring 2017 launch in local markets.

The can—boozy, lightly sweet sparkling water with Massachusetts cranberries—is poised to be next summer’s local answer to light, refreshing not-quite-beers like SpikedSeltzer and its competitors. Quigley and Kurson, who is currently enrolled in the entrepreneurship program at Babson College, were definitely inspired by this year’s spike in SpikedSeltzer and similar products. Quigley admits to popping such a can “every once in a while,” and he knows his peers like SpikedSeltzer because it goes down easy, isn’t too alcoholic, and is “guilt-free.”

“We wanted to create a product that was unique, fun, super tasty and easy to drink, and marketed toward our generation,” Quigley says.

To that end, Briggs will focus its launch on events, partnering first with local rapper Caye to get some pre-launch buzz. Up first, Briggs Original is sponsoring Caye’s show at Brighton Music Hall on December 22.

Boston Cranberry is about 5 percent alcohol by volume, gluten-free, and flavored naturally with real, local cranberries.

“The cranberry industry is struggling at the moment, especially the market for fresh fruit itself,” Quigley says. “We’re trying to help stimulate that.”

In addition to honoring the history and cultural significance of the fruit, Quigley and Kurson also wanted to give consumers an actual taste of it. “Most cranberry beverages you see are from concentrate, or made from natural or artificial flavors,” Quigley says. “We end up with a product that really tastes like a cranberry flavor a lot of people have never experienced before.”

Briggs Original has plans beyond Boston Cranberry, but for now, the main focus is this unique, local product. The duo has launched an online Booster campaign touting #cranberryculture T-shirts with a whimsical, minimal logo. They’re on Instagram and Facebook. Come spring, Briggs will ramp up events sponsorships, as well as local retail and some wholesale, too. After the December Caye show, Quigley says more pre-launch parties are coming.

“We want this product to be something people can have fun around,” he says.