Antwerp twins mix high-end cocktails and mingle with billionaires

Summary

Joyce and Raissa de Haas are looking to conquer the world with their award-winning cocktails that have already impressed British business magnate Richard Branson

Winning recipe

They have a nose for good business and a taste for original mixers. Twin sisters Joyce and Raissa de Haas of Antwerp launched Double Dutch two years ago, when they were just 23. Now the pair, who live in London, are going global at high speed.

“Even as students we were frustrated that there were so few options for those who like mixed drinks,” says Joyce. “So we thought, why not develop our own?”

The twins – who have Dutch roots, hence the name – studied economics at Antwerp University, and both went on to the University College London (UCL), where they picked up their second master’s in entrepreneurship technology. “At UCL, we were asked to pick a product that would become our study topic for the whole year,” explains Joyce. “We were so passionate about making our own mixers that our choice was easily made.”

They graduated in 2014 with UCL’s title of most promising start-up of their year. With a grant from the school, they launched their first drink in early 2015.

Molecular mixes

“We started with mixing cucumber, watermelon, pomegranate and basil, with a focus on vodka and gin,” says Raissa. “We don’t just randomly mix drinks. We research them on a molecular level to figure out which flavour mixes best with which spirit.”

And then came Richard Branson. “In 2015, we won the Virgin StartUp Foodpreneur Festival and received coaching from Branson himself,” says Raissa. “He flew us to the United States and introduced us to the people running the retail giant Target. In January, you'll be able to find Double Dutch mixers in 300 of their stores.”

It doesn't hurt that promoting Double Dutch means going to a lot of fancy parties at trendy places

- Joyce de Haas

The sisters already export to several European locations, including Belgium, Italy, Ibiza, the Czech Republic and Cyprus. Australia and South Africa will follow in 2017. “We always start with the high-end customers,” says Raissa. “First, we launch in five-star hotels and well-respected bars. Then we work with supermarkets to distribute our mixers.”

What’s next for the young entrepreneurs who have already achieved such fame? Joyce: “We want to develop a mixer for a darker-coloured spirit and target the Asian market.”

Whatever the future brings, the sisters will continue working together. Raissa: “It's probably because we are twins that we work so well together. It feels very natural”.

“We have fun,” adds Joyce. “And, it probably doesn't hurt that promoting Double Dutch means going to a lot of fancy parties at trendy places.”

Photo courtesy Double Dutch