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Drinking Vinegar – McClary Bros

drinking vinegarJess Sanchez McClary re-introduces a centuries-old beverage, drinking vinegar, to the Sharks in the season seven premier. Some times called “shrub sodas,” the vinegar based beverages additionally contain combinations of sugar, water, herbs, and fruit juices. Samurai Warriors used to bring vinegar mixed with water to battle and the shrub sodas were popular in the colonial period. With the advent of mass-produced drinks, drinking vinegar fell out of fashion.

Mrs. McClary hopes to change that, and she’s making inroads. Drinking vinegar is a great cocktail mixer and her products are available in many bars and restaurants in the Great Lakes region and the southeastern US. She’s also on the shelves at Simply Fresh Markets throughout the country. The reviews of McClary Bros are glowing and Jess is gaining fans daily.

The packaging and the name, like the drink, is old-timey, but the real McClary Brothers are definitely not. She named the business after her then four-year-old twin boys! She started the company while in culinary school. Originally, she was into baking, but she wanted to hand-craft something unique that sourced fresh ingredients from the greater Detroit area. The result is small batch made, totally organic, drinking vinegar with flavors like Thai Basil, Beet and Carrot, and Cranberry. Each flavor has alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink recipes on her website.

My Take on Drinking Vinegar

I’m always game to try something new, especially when there’s a cocktail involved! I’m sure a Thai Basil Martini would suit me just fine at cocktail hour. The other recipes on the website sound interesting, too. I think this is one of those products you’d want in a well-stocked bar so you could offer guests something unique. If it’s that type of product, I’d probably buy 2-3 bottles a year.

That could be Jess’ downfall: the demand isn’t constant; but there are plenty of very successful drink mixer brands out there. The fact that typical drink mixers have a lot of added sugars and preservatives could set McClary Bros apart. If she can carve out a niche and educate the public, I think she’ll find her way to success. I’m “IN.”

Do Sharks Drink Vinegar or “shrub it off?”

The ABC video promos show the Sharks trying the product and they appear to be enjoying it. They’re also making a big deal of Ashton Kutcher saying (to Jess): “I think this is really, really beautiful…..” What’s missing is the “but.” I think Kutcher goes out. Likewise for Robert, Lori, and Mark.

IF Jess gets a deal, it will be with Mr. Wonderful. Kevin actually collects vintage vinegar, along with his wines. He also is fond of women owned businesses. With his past successes in unique food items (Wicked Good Cupcakes) and his experience with mass distribution through his wine business, McClary Bros could make a nice addition to Mr. Wonderful’s Shark Tank stable of companies.

My prediction is Jess gets a deal with Kevin or no deal at all.

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob and more.


  1. I just watched the young woman pitching the vinegar drinks. One of the sharks said he wasn’t interested then continued to belittle the young woman! Ashton Kutcher stepped up and called him on it and said “that is not cool to belittle someone, its not cool!!!!!!”. Yah!!! Kudos to Ashton for not letting someone be a big bully! That is as bad or worse than the bullying kids put up with at school! Thank you Ashton for setting a great example to the world that it does not matter how much money you have it is not cool to belittle someone!!!

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