Ellie Webb, Founder of Caleño, talks success, salsa and getting into the (non-alcoholic) spirit.

Ellie’s glass is always full. This Colombianita embraces all the fun, adventure and colour that life has to offer, giving everything maximum energy and enthusiasm.

Today is no different as we meet to catch up on her latest business venture: shaking up the perceptions of non-alcoholic drinks.

Caleño (pronounced Ca-len-yo) is Ellie’s own creation, distilling a unique combination of juniper (used to flavour gin) and exotic Inca berry to bring a sophistication to our drink choices.

“It’s about making ‘not drinking’ fun”

Ellie’s experience in the marketing team at the UK’s largest drinks wholesaler taught her how the industry works and what to expect next.

She often saw that, although the way we view alcohol is changing, there was still work to be done to make the non-alcoholic option a socially-acceptable one. Teetotalism is on the increase, there is a growing demand for more choice beyond the standard sodas, and yet many still feel like they need to make an excuse for not drinking.

It was during a night out as the designated driver that got Ellie really thinking about this. She didn’t want to drink something with lots of caffeine or sugar in it all night, and opting for water made her feel a bit dull — but the choice just wasn’t there.

Ellie had an idea of what she could do to make ‘not drinking’ more fun and exciting, and a trip to visit family in Colombia proved to be the lightbulb moment that she needed.

“Cali is the capital of salsa — check it out!”

Rich in Afro-Colombian heritage, Cali is a vibrant city of life lovers who dance to the sensuous rhythm of salsa.

Ellie and her family celebrated her arrival in true Cali style, dining, drinking and dancing all night long. She remembers everyone dancing and really enjoying themselves — whether they had an alcoholic drink or not.

It made Ellie realise that it was this passion for life that she wanted to bring home and bottle. She began working on many different recipes before settling on ‘the one’, which she proudly called Caleño after the wonderful people of Cali — known as los Caleños.

“I wanted to create something with a life of its own”

Beautifully adorned in red, blue and gold, the Caleño branding is fun, energetic and bold, making the non-alcoholic spirit instantly appealing and striking on the shelf.

Ellie worked closely with Design Bridge on the creative. It was a natural choice for her — she interned with the team whilst at university and loved it, so it felt right to approach the agency as a client.

The packaging makes you feel like you’re partying in the heart of a Colombian festival, and the copy makes subtle references to the hot and spicy salsa beat. It’s perfect for Caleño and it’s perfect for Ellie.


“It’s a Caleño and tonic for me!”

Ellie has spent the summer promoting Caleño at events in Bristol and London to test the market — and so far, so good. She has a maximum number of pre-orders (particularly as Ellie is hand bottling every order!), has gained national press coverage, and is in talks with Sainsbury’s about a potential stock listing.

To keep up the momentum, Ellie lists 3-4 things she’d like to achieve each day and then measures her success based on that. This currently involves a lot of behind-the-scenes planning and organising — but, once Caleño is officially launched in October this year, she hopes to be out and about getting everyone into the alcohol-free spirit.

There will soon be a time when restaurants and pubs take their non-alcoholic cocktail lists as seriously as their boozy ones. And, with Ellie’s Caleño behind the bar, it’s set to be a seriously fun one.

Caleño launches in October 2018.

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Studio photography shown courtesy of @calenodrinks