Entrepreneurs and power couple Ana Luis Monis and Richard Monis understand that resilience, perseverance, and passion are the keys to a successful business. After bartending for sixteen years and creating his own craft cocktail catering company called Craft Cartel, Richard realized that for his side of the hospitality industry to survive the pandemic, he had to offer a product that championed the best parts of the craft cocktail business. With her Psychology background, Ana infused a sense of positivity, wellness, and jubilation that gives Jolly Hour boxes their vibrant, inspirational, and aesthetic appeal. Jolly Hour is a craft cocktail company that packages the taste, the excitement, and the joy of the cocktail industry into its boxes. Richard and Ana also support local businesses. They locally source their ingredients and their team consists of bartenders who have been disenfranchised by Covid-19. Jolly Hour boxes are an affordable way to bring delicious mixers into homes, corporate Zoom calls, and date nights from industry professionals who want to spread happiness and elevate everyone’s quarantine experience.
How did you get started in the Hospitality Industry in Miami?
RM: I’m from the Northeast. I moved to [Miami] eight years ago. When I started Craft Cartel six years ago, I looked into the market to see what was out there. There were craft cocktail catering companies but, not to my surprise, there was one in San Diego, one in Hawaii, one in Chicago, one in New York, and nothing in South Florida. Nothing against South Floridians, because I love it, I live down here. We’re about eight to ten years behind every major city in America. When something trends somewhere else, it takes a long time to start happening down here. I think it’s important when new companies try to make a splash in a big market pop-up down here and try to make Miami, South Florida their home. Supporting these companies in the biggest and best way possible is immensely important.
AM: I don’t come from a food and beverage background. Richie and I met in Mexico, while I was working at the beach for a summer, once the summer was over I went back to my city SLP, to work in the hospital -I am a Psychologist, but then when Richie and I started dating, and we moved to Miami, that is when I had to reinvent myself. I started working in hospitality because it’s Miami, and there are so many opportunities in the hospitality industry and I also have always liked working with people. From hospitality, I started focusing on marketing. There is so much psychology involved in marketing. I found a way to do my passion and connect with people. I started working in JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa for events and sales. Then, Covid hit.
What inspired you two to co-create the Jolly Hour?
RM: This whole thing came about because I had this craft cocktail catering company, and I suddenly couldn’t do events. We just had a baby girl in January. We just bought a house in March. Everything went to shit the second week of March. I’ve been doing this for six years, so I knew that we had lost the rest of the season. I knew what the summer was like so I’m staring down the barrel of a loaded gun. I have eight months until I maybe see a dollar again. My wife was on maternity leave, and she wasn’t going back. She was an event manager for JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa. They weren’t going to take anyone back in events. They laid everybody off because no events were happening. Now, we’re two people who doubled all of their expenses, a baby, and no business that I can operate. I didn’t have consumers because the market wasn’t comfortable with events. I benefited tremendously from the person [Ana] that I’m married to because my wife is a very positive-minded person. It’s all positivity, whereas I take things as they come. My wife made me realize that lots of good things have come out of really bad situations.
AM: Everything goes in a perfect direction. We started Jolly Hour, and I said we could do this. It’s a great idea. It’s something that [Richie was] passionate about. I like marketing and figuring out the look for Jolly Hour. I wanted the box to be pretty. There is so much love in the recipe that it had to translate in the box. Everyone likes when you have a present, and the gift is pretty on the outside too. We really try not to cut corners. We make a product that we believe in from start to finish, even in the packaging. Everything is well thought out, and that is where my input goes. You get the whole feel that we intend to share with everyone.
You are also the founder of Craft Cartel. How does that company differ from Jolly Hour?
I have had Craft Cartel, a craft cocktail catering company, for six years. I built a local following because my market is local compared to Jolly Hour which is across the United States. As I built up Jolly Hour, I understood the need to get local awareness, presence, and support. I support other local businesses as well. Even if they’re my competition, I still support them because I want the event industry to be strong in South Florida. With Jolly Hour, we sell things all over America, but we want to have things on lock at home too. I want people in South Florida to know that we are here and that a company like this exists.
What are some key characteristics of being an entrepreneur?
A good friend of mine said that business does not make the entrepreneur, the entrepreneur makes the business. It doesn’t matter what you do, Richie. You have a natural entrepreneurial spirit inside of you, so find a way to do the next thing. Just give it your all just like you did the first time. I had to do things differently because Covid has made the world slightly different. That’s literally how Jolly Hour happened. If I can’t go to an event space, set up my bars with my bartenders and fancy glassware, and make you fancy, cool cocktails that you can enjoy, how else could I do that? [The answer] was sticking everything in a box and shipping it to people’s front doors.
What has it been like to create these Jolly Hour boxes?
There was red tape. We can’t ship alcohol. I’ve been doing this for six years with Craft Cartel, and if there is one thing that I’ve learned it’s that the magic in what we do in the craft cocktail industry, those individuals that work behind bars, it’s not the alcohol that is the art of what we do. We don’t make alcohol. There isn’t a bartender in the world who distills his own Rum, Vodka, Gin, Whiskey, or Tequila. Other brands have that job and that is their expertise. Bartenders build a Rolodex of ingredients and information. We understand flavors and ingredients and how to pair those things together, how to properly prep them, and how to put them together intricately and uniquely so that people can add the one element which is alcohol.
How do your mixers stand out from other mixers?
The idea behind Jolly Hour boxes is that we are doing everything that you can’t go to the store and buy. We make these boxes from scratch. We work with only seasonal ingredients. We use a book called The Flavor Bible. In the back of The Flavor Bible, there are like a hundred pages of ingredients indexes. We use these indexes to come up with recipes, and then we work ingredients into the cocktails in a way that we think is the best. When we use bitters, we make it ourselves at home. Every single cocktail box on the market doesn’t do this. In other companies, the majority of the items in the subscription box are promo items. The market of craft cocktail boxes is primarily subscription-driven. You get one box, and you don’t get to choose the box. The items aren’t made by the company that sold you the box. At Jolly Hour, every item in the box is made by us. We make the bitters. We dehydrate our own fruits and flowers for garnishes. We make all the syrups in-house. We only use seasonal ingredients, so everything is at its peak. We’re having less of an impact on planet earth by doing so as well. We can also source locally by using what is here. We represent South Florida. When we do cocktail recipes, we want to make people freezing in Ohio feel like they’re in Miami. That’s what we do. We make cocktails that speak to the masses. It’s about tastiness, freshness, and unique, interesting recipes.
Tell me some characteristics of your product: name, packaging, cost.
RM: We sell you a box that has twelve cocktails for $50.00. When you add a bottle of $12- $30, it costs you $7.00 a drink for a craft cocktail that is prepped, thought out, and just as good as a cocktail that you would find at a brick-and-mortar bar for $13-$14.
AM: We want our product to be quality and sustainable. We don’t want to do what other companies are doing. We want to do what we like which is good products, good recipes, and good craft cocktails. When you get a box and everything has been sponsored, you don’t see the company’s value in it. We put value into our boxes. We put heart in our recipes. That’s not something you see everywhere. It’s very unique because we are creating everything from scratch.
What can consumers expect from Jolly Hour Boxes?
You get to try different stuff every month. Different flavors are coming out. We do four different seasons. It’s a great way to take the liquor cabinet in your house and find something to do with it. It’s a great gift. It’s a great thing to do with your husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, friends, corporate Zoom calls, etc. We want you to be blown away. We make bitters that no one makes on the market. No one makes Kaffir lime bitters, banana bitters, or salty date bitters. The only way to have those flavor combinations is to do it on our own. We handle the whole process. You don’t wait more than a week or ten days. We do five-season craft cocktail boxes a month- all based on one main spirit. We do a Vodka box, a Tequila box, a Whiskey box, a Rum box, and a Gin box. We do that because, no matter what spirit you like, there is an option for you.
Why is it important to support new businesses that come to Miami?
We need more of an industry in this city than just food, beverage, and tourism. We can’t just keep selling the dream because eventually, as we see with Covid, things can take the dream away real fast. It doesn’t matter how many days of sunshine we get when you can’t get down here because of Covid. Suddenly, everyone starts struggling. That is actually how Jolly Hour was born.
What services does your company provide that you would like to highlight and promote?
In addition to the Jolly Hour boxes, we do virtual mixology classes.
How do we order your product?
You can order Jolly Hour boxes at thejollyhour.com.
How may we follow your journey? What are your social media accounts?
Instagram: @jollyhour and @craft_cartel
Facebook: @jollyhourbox and @craftcartelcocktailcatering