Cocktails at home made easier with Instyl

Instyl’s cocktail bags work a little like tea bags - drop them into your alcoholic (or non-alcoholic) drink of choice and hey presto you have a customised cocktail

Co-founders of Instyl Brogán Brady and Conleth Mallon holding their products. Photo of the products - a green packet saying 'Instyl Mojito lime mint,' a pink packet saying 'Instyl Cosmo orange,' and a red packet saying 'Strawberry Daquiri.'
Co-founders of Instyl Brogán Brady and Conleth Mallon with their cocktail bags

The co-founder of a new cocktail bag business called Instyl was inspired to set up the company after watching her mother use a lemon to flavour hot water and wondering could that age-old practice be brought into the 21st century and the world of cocktail o’clock.

Brogán Brady (21) from Belfast, and business partner Conleth Mallon, came up with a cocktail bag that you dunk into your alcoholic drink to create your cocktail of choice. The range includes Cosmopolitans, Mojitos and Strawberry Daquiris and can be used for non-alcoholic cocktails, also known as mocktails.

Each packet of Instyl contains 10 cocktail bags and the two university students are ready to see their product on shop shelves.

“I’ve always wanted to run my own business and be my own boss,” Brogán said. The university student had seen her mum putting a lemon into hot water to flavour it and thought using a dehydrated lemon might be easier. She trialed it and the business idea began to take shape and evolve.

Once a working prototype was made, Instyl received an innovation voucher from Invest NI, and from there they worked with The College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) to get a base recipe. The Innovate Us programme from the Southern Regional College allowed them to finalise the products and make contact with manufacturers.

“It’s so good, it’s class because you don’t know it’s there, we just went with it so naively and I’m actually so glad that we didn’t know what was ahead.”

Photo of the products. A green packet saying 'Instyl Mojito lime mint,' a pink packet saying 'Instyl Cosmo orange,' and a red packet saying 'Instyl Strawberry Daquiri.'
Instyl cocktail bags are dropped into alcohol to create a cocktail

After a year and a half, the business was set up and Brogán was pleased with the support her company received from the SU Enterprise (Queens Student Union) where she was encouraged to apply for Belfast City Council’s ‘21 Under 21 Entrepreneurs to Watch’ initiative. The three-month programme of action-oriented workshops introduced participants to business experts and Brogán described the experience as inspirational.

“They were really inspiring because they were just like ‘we were in the same situation as you are’... It was just so good to be in a space where you could ask questions where they’d give you advice, set plans, and just really refine what you want to do… It was really encouraging and you made a lot of friends; there was so many people there, everyone’s likeminded, everyone’s so friendly and they were there for the same reason so that was really nice.”

Brogán and her company were awarded £2,000 after winning the council programme for young entrepreneurs.

Brogán hopes to launch the business around the end of April, firstly online and then she and her business partner hope to see their product in shops. They plan to have a TikTok shop to capture the social platform’s young audience.

To those thinking of starting up a business, Brogán has this advice: “I would say just do it and just don’t think about it too much. If I knew what was ahead of me, I wouldn’t have started so I’m glad I didn’t know what was ahead of me in that sort of sense. I didn’t know how hard it would be. Just keep going, just do it; there’s so much happening here, especially if you’re in the north, there’s a lot of help and especially if you are a student there’s a lot of grants and there’s a lot of people that want to help you.”