Karen Hope and Monique Zizzy found inspiration at the bottom of a glass.
Monique Zizzy (left) and Karen Hope created Fuse & Sip after the COVID pandemic came to Canada in March 2020
Like so many of us, Karen Hope and Monique Zizzy needed a drink when the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March of last year.
Hope, who has a background in event planning, was working with a luxury tourism company, while Zizzy was plying her trade as a holistic nutritionist. Both found themselves out of work.
So the former UVic roommates started talking through some ideas in between trying to homeschool their kids during the pandemic.
“My husband and I would want to have a glass of something nice to drink after a long day of dealing with everything,” Hope recalls. “I tried a couple make-at-home cocktails—went out, got all the stuff, tried to make something special and, to say the least, failed miserably. I bought all these ingredients that are still, to this day, sitting in my cupboard collecting dust.”
Hope, who lives in Squamish, was lamenting to North Vancouverbased Zizzy over the phone about her experience. “I was saying it would be so great if there was something for the customer like me—delicious, healthy, natural, easy. But there wasn’t really something like that on the market,” Hope says.
Zizzy had some experience mixing infusions through her nutrition background, so the pair came up with the idea to package something simple and easy to make at home but would result in a bar-worthy cocktail.
Hope and Zizzy launched Fuse & Sip last December out of a dedicated North Vancouver kitchen. The company sells packets of dehydrated fruit, herbs, flowers and organic cane sugar that, when infused with alcohol (the pair recommend gin, but just about anything can work), create high-end cocktails.
“You open up the package, pop it into a mason jar, top with 12 ounces of your favourite alcohol and it goes into your fridge for three days; let it really infuse,” Zizzy says. “Then give it a really good shake, strain out the ingredients, put into shot glasses over ice and top with sparkling water. You’ve got eight to 10 cocktails.”
The packages go for $24.95 online, and there are nine cocktail options on offer, including the Day Drinker (strawberry, peach, elderberry and mint infusion) and the Bradshaw (a take on the classic Cosmo with cranberry, orange and lime). There’s also the newly added (and bestselling) Moira Rosé Sangria, to which customers add wine instead of spirits
Besides selling online and to “every mom in North Van,” according to Hope, the duo have gone the wholesale route, too. Fuse & Sip is now in some 70 retail outlets across Canada, including more than 50 in B.C. That list includes grocers like Stong’s Markets and Nesters Food Market, as well as liquor stores and specialty shops. In all, Hope and Zizzy have sold some 4,000 units since December.
“We just wanted to make that bar-worthy cocktail for those people like us who want to have a great drink but don’t want all the fuss to go with it,” says Hope.