The award-winning team behind Australian apéritif brand Rhubi Mistelle is looking at major expansion plans after two highly respected investors came on-board in James France and John Gakuru.

Rhubi was founded by award-winning Australian bartenders and industry professionals Evan Stroeve, Tim Philips-Johansson and David Hobbs, having been born in Bulletin Place bar back in 2018.

The team launched the brand with strong directions from co-founders and brand specialists Frank Bethel and Will Miles (the team behind Grown Spirits) and support from hybrid creative PR, social media and content agency Poem Group.

After COVID-19 curtailed Rhubi’s initial introduction to the trade, the brand relaunched late last year, with Evan telling Bars and Clubs at the time: “We want Rhubi in the hands of bartenders, we want to see bartenders creating amazing cocktails, and we want to empower that creative agency that’s synonymous with so many wonderful bartenders in Australia.”

Now with James and John on-board the Rhubi team is looking to drive growth across the country.

James, who founded multi-award-winning premium spirits importer and distributor Vanguard Luxury Brands, has joined as an investor and advisor and brings a wealth of knowledge as a leading importer, marketer and distributor of premium spirits and will assist in shaping Rhubi’s future.

“Rhubi is a wonderful Australian brand with outstanding credentials and provenance,” James said.

“It perfectly addresses the spritz occasion with a liquid that is less sweet and more versatile than many others in the category.  Its colour and packaging draw the consumer in, while the taste and ease of the two-step perfect spritz keep them there.

“I’m really excited to be working with the Rhubi team to help fulfil this great brand’s potential.”

John is a globally renowned industry figure, bringing decades of global experience, ranging from distribution, brand advocacy, activations and brand growth, and will assist RHUBI to gain traction with consumers and trade, as well as forging international relationships.

John said: “There are few things more exciting than bringing new and exciting brands to the market. RHUBI represents a unique flavour and usage opportunity that we strongly believe will carve out a wonderful space on the back bars and drinks menus, home bars and store shelves of the discerning.

“A long forgotten category, brought back to life in stunning fashion.”

Rhubi Brand-Director Linn Philips-Johansson added: “With our award-winning liquid and unique design, we believe we’re just getting started taking on the aperitivo segment of the Australian market.

“With innovation and creativity at the forefront, we aim to offer consumers and trade – both nationally and internationally – an alternative to old school and passé apéritifs. The onboarding of James France and John Gakuru is in-line with our strategy to work with the industry’s best, utilising our network to prepare RHUBI for the global market.

“We are delighted to welcome these veterans to the business – each of them bringing unique skills and knowledge to the table.”

With the pair now part of the team, Rhubi is looking to drive the brand’s visibility across leading trade accounts in Australia and as such is actively looking to grow their team further and is now on the hunt for a part-time Brand Ambassador in New South Wales or Victoria to drive and nurture both existing and new trade relationships.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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