Interviews

Published on February 21st, 2020 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Exclusive: Zeke Bronfman On Launching The New Canned Cocktail Brand “XED” & More

Like many great drinking stories, XED — pronounced “crossed” — began in college. Co-founders Zeke Bronfman and Nate Medow were tired of beer, spiked seltzer and hard lemonade as their main drinking options. A desire for a freshly mixed drink in a can with high-quality ingredients fueled the two 20-year-old entrepreneurs’ ambitions to craft their own line of alcoholic beverages. With the launch of XED, Zeke Bronfman carries forth the family values of beverage industry giants Samuel Bronfman and Edgar Bronfman Sr. — Zeke’s grandfather — of Seagram Company fame.

XED will be launching in the spring of 2020 with four premium canned cocktails: Mojito, Moscow Mule, Gin + Tonic, and Vodka Soda. XED’s low-calorie, low-carb, gluten-free beverages contain 5.7 percent ABV and no preservatives nor fillers. In turn, less guilt about imbibing when choose to do so.

XED is backed by a notable advisory board including Strauss Zelnick (founder of ZMC and former chairman of CBS), Edgar Bronfman Jr. (former CEO of Seagram and managing partner of Accretive LLC), Adam Zoia (founder of GloCap), Susan Greene (former national sales manager at 21st Amendment Brewery), David Adler (Bizbash), Barbara Bernstein (Magnetar Capital), Daniel Budofsky (Pillsbury Winthrop Pittman Shaw) and Tommy Hester (Two Pitchers Brewing).

I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Zeke Bronfman about XED and plenty more. More on Bronfman, Medow and the upcoming launch of XED can be found online at www.xedbeverages.com.

What came first: the name of the brand, or the concept for the drink?

Zeke Bronfman: Like most authentic products, we didn’t start mixing drinks with the intention of starting a business. When we got to Williams College, we quickly grew tired of beer’s stale taste and heaviness. Not to mention the beer belly.

Looking for beer replacements, we were shocked to not find any one drink that checked all our boxes: affordable, low cal, robust in flavor, and a can we could proudly hold. So we started mixing our own, and pretty quickly all our friends began putting down their beers and White Claws and picking up our low-cal cocktails. That’s when we realized that our hobby — mixing great drinks — could be commercialized and made into a business. We didn’t come up with the name for a few more months, and actually initially incorporated under a different name. The minute we came up with, XED though, we knew it was just right.

How would you describe XED to someone who hasn’t yet tried it?

Zeke Bronfman: XED takes the sophisticated flavor profiles from our favorite cocktails, and infuses them into the low cal, easy to drink format of a hard seltzer; we combine the best elements of each into one delicious and low cal canned cocktail

Do you have a favorite of the XED flavors?

Zeke Bronfman: Nate and I each have different favorites. Inspired by my grandfather, I’ve always been a gin fan. For that reason, the Gin + Tonic was the first drink we mixed, and has a special place in my heart. It’s also delicious.

Nate loves the Moscow Mule. Since it has the most complex flavor profile of any of our drinks, he feels a special sense of pride over the level of authentic flavor we were able to achieve.

To you, what makes XED stand-out from other canned cocktails?

Zeke Bronfman: XED is unlike anything on the market. Other canned cocktails can cost $5 a can, contain 300 calories, 30 grams of carbs, and 30 grams of sugar. XED is $9 per six-pack, 120 caloriess, 2 grams of carbs, and 1 gram of sugar. From concept to flavor to packaging, XED is designed by and for the modern drinker and is uniquely crafted for the millennial audience.

I believe you and Nate met while studying at Williams College. When in your friendship did the idea for XED come about?

Zeke Bronfman: Pretty early on, actually. We met the very beginning of freshman year and became close friends seemingly overnight. In January the idea began to form, and we were incorporated by March. Being business partners has only strengthened that friendship as we grow together with XED.

What needs to happen for XED to be successful in your eyes?

Zeke Bronfman: Before this was a business this was just about solving the problem we faced when it came to drinking: no low cal, full flavor canned beer replacement existed. Being able to solve that problem for people across the country will be the most rewarding result.

We also take pride in being able create tremendous value for those friends and family who took a chance, many of them without even trying the product, on two young guys with an idea. Once we’ve done both of those things, XED will have been a success.

You come from an entertainment-friendly lineage. Did you almost wind up in the entertainment world?

Zeke Bronfman: Both sides of my family have been leaders in various industries, and leave me with massive shoes to fill.

I always wanted to do my own thing though, and before XED I actually had my heart set on law school and eventually public service in some way or another. Hopefully I will still find ways to get involved in the public sphere at some point down the road.

When not busy with work, where does your free time go?

Zeke Bronfman: When not busy with XED, most of our time is dedicated to schoolwork — but we definitely make time for some very heated 2K and Madden games.

What was the last concert you attended for fun?

Zeke Bronfman: Maggie Rogers at Coachella — for Nate, it was Post Malone at Lollapalooza.

Finally, Zeke, any last words for the kids?

Zeke Bronfman: Something that I learned from my uncle and remember each and everyday: take every meeting. Often is it the most random calls, when I am busy and not in the mood and think nothing will come of it, that yield the best results. And even if not, that person will often connect us to three more interesting people. So my one biggest takeaway is make time for every meeting and continue building a network for later in life.


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About the Author

is a New York resident (and Long Island native) with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer.Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He has been a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with V13 (formerly PureGrainAudio.com).


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