Irish cocktail garnish company that ‘blew up’ on Amazon

Amazon has been a low risk way for Laura McCarthy’s small business to break into markets abroad

Ranelagh native Laura McCarthy was a 20-year-old college student when she started her business, Drink Botanicals Ireland, producing kits for gin enthusiasts to garnish their drinks at home.

Starting out in her local off licence in 2017, McCarthy went on to stock her kits in hundreds of off licences and Supervalus around the State. She subsequently pivoted into supplying dried fruits and syrups for bars and restaurants, selling to customers directly as well as suppliers including Conatys Catering, Sysco-owned Classic Drinks and Musgrave.

However, McCarthy says her business really exploded last year, when she began to explore the export market through Amazon.

“We launched on Amazon UK and US and it just really blew up to be honest,” she said. Turnover jumped 124 per cent last year, driven by Amazon as export markets accounted to 50 per cent of turnover.


Positive customer reviews have helped the business scale the rankings on Amazon and gain the trust of shoppers.

“A number of our products have been given an Amazon choice badge, which means Amazon recommends your product based on customer reviews and sales, and in December, we were the fourth best-seller of dried fruit category in the US,” she said. “It builds trust and credibility on the marketplace and it’s been hugely successful for us. We have very little advertising spend on Amazon, it’s just from organic sales, which is amazing,” she added.

Amazon does take a cut of sales on its platform but McCarthy still recommends it as a channel for small businesses to get their products to customers abroad, as Amazon also takes responsibility for final delivery once she ships orders to their fulfilment centres.

“More businesses should be looking at Amazon as a market to trial their products because there’s not much risk involved. And with economies of scale. it works out the same as if you were working with a distributor when you take all your costs into consideration,” she said.

McCarthy has just signed a deal with distributor Safco International to enter the Dubai market.

“Coming in as a small Irish business into a leading food service distributor in Dubai is the biggest milestone for my business to date, and it’s exciting times ahead,” she said, adding that exploring export markets had been key to diversifying and strengthening her small business.

“You can get tied up in the Irish market and, if things aren’t going well, you might think the business might not be good enough but then if you look outside Ireland, there’s so much opportunity there,” she added.

Ellen O'Regan

Ellen O’Regan

Ellen O’Regan is an Irish Times journalist.