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Portable, shelf-stable cocktails

A two compartment snap-fit package from Plastic Technologies, Inc. brings the party wherever customers are.

A two compartment snap-fit package from Plastic Technologies, Inc. brings the party wherever customers are.
A two compartment snap-fit package from Plastic Technologies, Inc. brings the party wherever customers are.

The convenience of pre-mixed drinks is often marred by a lack of proper cocktail taste. But innovative two-part packaging for the Yumix cocktail line is keeping the integrity of portable mixed drinks intact.

As Alex Garner, founder of beverage company Yumix, explains, “I knew from my experience that if we tried to premix the juice and alcohol, the enzymes in the juice would quickly alter the taste. You would then have to add preservatives and sweetener, which would alter the flavor profile. That’s not what we wanted to do and that’s why we expended significant effort to develop the right package.”

Garner realized early on that an “off-the-shelf” packaging solution for what he wanted to achieve did not exist. That’s when he turned to Plastic Technologies, Inc. (PTI) to develop a plastic packaging solution that would allow adult consumers to mix a cocktail to their liking, anywhere, anytime.

PTI engineered a two-compartment package called the Clasper™ bottle, in which the bottom container snaps into the base of the larger top bottle, which is a combination of two polyethylene terephthalate (PET) containers and a shrink label. The bottom holds 50 ml of premium alcohol and features a heat-applied aluminum-foil seal. The main bottle holds 6.5 ounces of hot-filled, shelf-stable juice and is topped by a 38 mm polypropylene closure. Added visual appeal is provided by shrink-label graphics, which feature usage instructions.

To use, the consumer separates the shrink sleeve at the seam between the top and bottom containers, via a perforation, unsnaps the bottom container from the base of the primary bottle, removes the heat seal and closure from the bottom and top components respectively, and pours the alcohol into the juice to create a cocktail on the go.

The project was not without its challenges. “Alex came to PTI with the concept and challenged us to create a bottle for Yumix that would be commercially viable and function in the intended way,” said Tracy Momany, vice president, product development group, PTI. “The most technically challenging part was getting the components to snap together and stay together—further complicated by the 185 degrees Fahrenheit hot-fill requirements.”

Additionally, the base of the top bottle is highly susceptible to deformation during hot fill. This was further complicated by the larger-than-typical headspace that was necessary to accommodate the alcohol pour when the consumer mixes their cocktail. The large headspace increases the vacuum in the package significantly, putting stress on the bottle.

PTI determined the proper geometry and bottle weight to keep the dimensions within the appropriate tolerances so that the snap fit was consistently achieved, while keeping it easy for the containers to separate. Ribs were used to add the necessary structural stability without compromising the aesthetics. It was also important that the shapes of the top and bottom bottles flowed for a cohesive look.

“Creating the bottom alcohol-container container was also challenging because it is so short and wide relative to the size of the 20mm finish. A tiny preform had to be developed from which to blow the bottle,” Momany explained.

The end result is an innovative bottle with a “sporty, but chic” look that gives consumers the flexibility to customize their shelf-stable cocktail in a portable container.

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