Louisiana Made: Moving Spirits
Leisuremann’s gets cocktails ready for adventure in Acadiana
Even when it’s 17 below, one can only drink whiskey neat for so many days straight. On top of Mount Le Conte at 6,500 feet, Cliff Couvillon and two pals had befriended the winter caretaker of their cabin, an unlikely hero who proceeded to dig up a dusty bottle of bitters that dated back to the ‘70s, allowing the group to combine its five bottles of bourbon with copious amounts of Tang for what may have tasted like the best approximation of an Old Fashioned on the planet — if only to their lips on those few sub-zero nights.
“It was perfect because if we’d had liquid cocktail mixes, they’d have frozen for sure,” Couvillon says.
But what if these portable “Mountain Fashioned” cocktails Couvillon frigidly made on that Smoky Mountains trek five years ago could be even better? What if they could be well-thought out, researched, tested and perfected?
These were the questions that rattled around in Couvillon’s industrial designer brain as the trio descended from on high and returned to their routines in southern Louisiana.
Eight months later, with a dreamt-up name that sounds like a reliable, family-run Kennedy-era drugstore, Leisuremann’s Cocktail Mix launched with its flagship Old Fashioned.
Now offering nine mixes in both jars and single-serving packets, Leisuremann’s popularity rose with the pandemic as virtual happy hours took off and more couples became mixologists at home with bars closed.
“We don’t make the best cocktail,” says the 34-year-old. “We help you make best cocktail you can enjoy absolutely anywhere— whether that’s in the wilderness, in a kayak or in the backyard.”
Even on a mix as complex of a challenge as his Bloody Mary, Couvillon says simplicity remains the goal. Whether it’s a paloma, a margarita or a bee’s knees, Leisuremann’s offerings are mostly blends of cane sugar and a carefully tested ratio of natural flavors, with no preservatives or chemicals added.
“It’s cocktail drinking, a little magic and a lot of spreadsheets,” he says.
Couvillon has always been a dreamer and big-picture thinker but admits his wife Michaella keeps him grounded. The Lafayette duo are the only Leisureman employees, spending hours of trial and error, noting flavor profiles and focus-grouping on each mix. Couvillon does all the packaging design and marketing himself, and it’s his education and experience in industrial design that has made him love the nitty gritty details of problem solving and refining something until every flaw is fixed.
After the first batch of Old Fashioned mix was released, Couvillon changed not only the packaging (from a metal tin that when opened precariously would “sugar bomb people”) but the blend as well.
He knew he could do better.
“Putting your heart and soul out there, and your finances on the line, it’s scary to try to grow,” Couvillon admits. “That means strategic decisions, timing and taking steps to not get burnt out personally. You want to remain enthusiastic and energized for this idea you believe in.”
The question of growth for the brand remains. Leisuremann’s is not available in grocery stores yet, but direct sales are strong.
“Michaella and I feel strongly that a retail presence is essential for us,” Couvillon says. “But letting customers try mixes before buying, and putting cocktail education at the forefront would feel right for our evolution, so we are looking at options for our own brick-and-mortar.”
With the original idea coming to him while camping up in the Smokys, Couvillon is intent on setting his sights for Leisuremann’s even higher than those elevated origins. Considering his brand’s Tang-inspired foundations, he notes that the orange, NASA-approved powdered beverage mix has been places he would love for Leisuremann’s to boldly go in the future
“I want to see astronauts enjoying Leisuremann’s on a spaceship one day,” he says. “Having Elon Musk put our mixes on the SpaceX would be the dream. Wouldn’t that be something?”
→ for more information visit Leisuremanns.com
Leisuremann’s seems tailor-made for Louisiana, where we love gathering to eat and drink outdoors. How has our lifestyle influenced the brand? Our uniquely Louisiana ‘family, friend and fun” lifestyle has lent our brand and our mixes the ‘go where you go’ mantra — meaning that wherever you go or whatever you do, a simple and delicious cocktail is never far away.
Have you won over any traditionalists or even old school bartenders with your mixes? How do those conversations go? Talking to cocktail connoisseurs or old-school bartenders warms my heart, not just because we have a mutual love for cocktails or because they have so much knowledge, but because they are so damn skeptical of our mixes. Ninety-nine times out of 100, when they try it, we get a huge smile back and a ‘How did you do this?’
If you could hike with anyone famous, living or dead, where would you go, and which cocktail mix would you bring to share with them? Absolutely 100% it would be [artist] Bob Ross, in Rocky Mountain National Park, Dream Lake to be specific, with an Old Fashioned. The scene to follow would be one of happy tree bliss!