Crafting Quality Ready-to-Enjoy Cocktails With Delola

As Jennifer Lopez’s Delola releases Light Margarita, we talk to the brand’s Master Mixologist Lynnette Marrero about the cocktail of the summer

By: Tiff Christie|June 13,2024

As the weather heats up, so does the RTE or Ready-To-Enjoy sector. Loved for their convenience, especially if you’re on your way to a party or BBQ, RTE’s are billed as the more sophisticated, and in some instances more highly crafted, sibling of the humble Ready To Drink RTD.

A recent addition to this sector is the brand Delola. Unlike most RTEs, Delola has two significant points of difference, and they come in the form of two very famous women – its Founder, the irrepressible star Jennifer Lopez, and its globally renowned Master Mixologist Lynnette Marrero. 

While the brand already boasts expressions like its Paloma Rosa, its Bella Berry and its L’Orange Spritz, they have just added a new flavour to the sable in the form of a Light Margarita. 

To find out more about this new expression, we talk to Marrero about flavour, low ABV and what star power adds to a brand

For more information, go to


Read Full Transcript

Tiff Christie
As the weather heats up, so does the RTE or Ready to Enjoy sector.
Loved for their convenience, especially if you're on your way to a party or barbecue, RTEs are billed as the more sophisticated and, in some instances, more highly crafted sibling of the humble ready-to-drink RTD. A recent addition to this sector is the brand Delola.
But unlike most RTEs, Delola has two significant points of difference, and they come in the form of two very famous women. Its founder, the irrepressible star Jennifer Lopez, and its globally renowned mixologist, Lynnette Marrero.
While the brand already boasts expressions like its Paloma Rosa, Bella Berry, and L'Orange Spritz, it has just added a new flavour to the stable: a light Margarita.
To find out more about this expression, we talked to Marrero about flavour, low ABV, and what star power adds to a brand.
Thanks for joining us Lynnette.

Lynette Marrero
Thanks for having me.

Tiff Christie
So the obvious first question is, what's it like working with Jennifer Lopez?

Lynette Marrero
You know, Jennifer is a really hard worker. I think you can see that by the amount she does.
I mean, her capabilities are endless. I think what she's been successful about her whole career is, is creative vision and driving and going for that. So, you know, in situations like this, where I consider this the ultimate dealer's choice for any bartender, having a partner and a person who you're working to give them the thing that they want that have clear vision is so important You know, Jennifer is very clear about what she likes, doesn't like, and really gives excellent feedback, which is really useful for actually making sure that when I'm crafting something I can meet those markers that she's looking for. So that full flavour experience, that full journey, but meeting that with a lower calorie option and, and making sure that I'm using organic botanicals and things that are going to show up in a different way, um, is really important.

Tiff Christie
So she's actually been quite involved in the process.

Lynette Marrero
I have enough creative freedom, so once we worked on the direction, especially with Margarita, this was the direction for the year of figuring out this cocktail and how we wanted to create this drink, I was given the freedom to think about what that means to reinvent this cocktail.
So the triple citrus, what that, what that process was like was given to me because I'm trusted as the expert to bring in the flavour and to bring that, that part of what I do, which I also think is really important because I see that in her art and her work, you know, her dancers, who she trusts and who, who she works with.
She has a lot of creative people around her, and they all feed into helping her execute that vision.

Tiff Christie
How did this collaboration come about?

Lynette Marrero
Through the Powerhouse is In spirits, Jenna Fagnan and Ken Austin, obviously their incredible work with Teremana and their ability to find the right kind of celebrity who is going to be fully invested in the brand and, and who is actually an owner and not just a, a representative because I think that, you know, in their mindset, those create true companies, true expression, you're going to get authenticity.
And we see that. Every part of this bottle and the way that it expressed itself is, is who Jennifer is. So that's, that was the opportunity I had, was to work with really incredible people who understand that and put the work in to bring the best out of everyone.

Tiff Christie
Now, what made you both look towards a light margarita for this year?

Lynette Marrero
Well, I think, you know, we launched with the first line of Delola, which were our cocktails were more in the spritz genre, I mean, there are still full cocktails, they have a different point of view. I think when we look at, you know, the first cocktail we wanted to re create, the one that started really everything was the l’Orange spritz, which was really trying to encapture that traditional Italian spritz.
You know, that people are really starting to enjoy. A Paloma, you know, obviously that was a cocktail of the first line that was more recognizable for people, especially tequila drinkers, but still maybe like not a little more esoteric than the Margarita, for example. And then Bella Berry is just its own cocktail on its own, you know, it has, it's really hard to even describe to anyone what exactly it is because it's full fruit, but the carbonation gives you flavors of things like a lambrusco but also with the spirit base and the hibiscus it can go towards other punch like style cocktails or like a really balanced sangria but not with wine. So there was a little more ambiguity and I think with the Margarita it's something that we know we love to drink and understand that is a much more approachable cocktail. And to do it right is really difficult, especially in the RTE space, because there's so many complexities. You have to have the balance of the tequila, you have to have the citrus in balance, you want that full flavour, and I think we were looking at A cocktail that we could take that is very popular, very classic, build on the, the, the things we like, uh, which is that bold juiciness, really fresh fruit, have that come through, and I think Margarita just opens up a new, it's gonna welcome in more people, I always think that Delola's Concept for me, at least when I think about what I'm tasked with doing is to democratize craft cocktails and deliver them out in the world so anyone can have them, whether they're, you know, inhibited by access to ingredients or a place or just a place that even has bartenders who want to craft cocktails for them.
So if they have no access to that, this is an entryway. This is a place for them to find craft cocktails that are already set for them. And then with Jennifer's requirement and desire to have those deliver also, performance is a really interesting task. You know, I think lower proof, lower calorie, low sugar is something that really more people are more conscious of.
And I think if we really can see how the non alcohol movement has really affected the cocktail movement. It really has encouraged us to think of a range, more so in the style of drinks that we offer, not just dark and stirred and boozy, to really think about a spectrum because people who come to bars and restaurants want to have that range now.

Tiff Christie
I was going to ask how different is it in terms of ingredients and methods that you have to employ when you are making an RTE compared to what you would do behind the bar? I imagine there's shelf stability; there are a whole lot of other issues that you wouldn't normally think about. How difficult has that been?

Lynette Marrero
I mean, it's interesting, I think, because of the rise in the popularity of cocktails, uh, things like batching for draft lines and even group batching in bars, right? This happens much more than when maybe I was at Flatiron Lounge and Freeman's and those places, and you didn't see quite as much of that pre-batching, but it's really become part of the movement more.
People are clarifying drinks, they're using more scientific methods in general, so when you look at bars. I always look at Ryan when he did his first bar, a lot of it was thinking about how we only have citrus this time of year; we don't have it other times of year, so they were employing a lot of the science that goes into creating this now, so it's just on a bigger scale.
Like anything, the, the bigger issues are figuring out, you know, going where your co packer is and, and literally batching the drink with them and how they're incorporating ingredients and that's a huge, you know, that's a big part of the process. But. Running a bar and working with draft lines and things like that, it's, it's very similar.
You're constantly thinking of the science, dialing it in and how that gets mixed and you, and we're constantly testing. So it's really about a lot of taste testing and making sure that the product is consistent as it starts going through. And that's, I think anything that's spot checking your bars. So it's a similar mindset.
I think for me, the hardest part was learning how to express and change the language of what I'm using when talking to, you know, the people whose job is to get me those ingredients and flavours and things like that. That is the language, you know, how to express what I'm tasting, what I'm feeling and what I'm missing in different ways than maybe I'm normally accustomed to.
But I find that's the awesome part about learning. Having done a non alcoholic brand before doing Dolola was good because I already had a little bit of practice in understanding that and it's even more complex when there's no alcohol. So I think that this is, is a really, it was, just taught me a lot about the language I use and, and how I express it.
And you don't just say, oh, it's too sweet. Where is it too sweet? How is it too sweet? Or it's too tart. How is it too tart? Where does it hit you? Because all those things are different.

Tiff Christie
And then on top of that, you had to reduce the sugar, reduce the alcohol, and reduce the calories in a margarita. How difficult was that to execute?

Lynette Marrero: The good thing about that was Because we had done Paloma, I already had an understanding of how our tequila base would work with citrus, but also very different, right? It's a little more, you know, grapefruit and elderflower can bring different nuances, so you get a nice perception of sweet. You know, with a floral, uh, in a different way without that in the margarita, it's, it's a different balance to play with.
We did increase the percentage on this. So the light margarita is actually at 12 and a half per cent. So we let that come through because it was really important to that, the, you know, for a margarita, for the tequila to come through and really have that balance. But the triple citrus was how to bring out some of those flavours and aromas that would make your brain perceive sweet, right?
If you have florals. So there's very aromatic citrus being used here. Little bergamot, blood orange, mandarin, things that have a very high floral note. that then can bring that all together. And again I think that's a little bit of a trick I learned by making non-alcoholic margaritas where I would put some orange flower water in to help pop that triple sec vibe without using that because you don't have non-alc.
So there's some mindsets that I went to and then that combined with citrus brings all those cues together and you get a really balanced margarita. And then the water and sparkle helps to lower that, obviously.

Tiff Christie
Now, how do you and Jennifer decide what drinks to release?

Lynette Marrero
A lot of it comes from flavours of fruits, things that she likes.
I often get to also present ideas. You know, if there's, we're like, we're going to go, you know, margarita. We really chose to do a traditional margarita, but there could have been the option to do flavours or think about that. We thought very strongly about going with the original, but you know, we'll toss out those ideas, you know, like, okay, well, how about this or that?
And, you know, I think for our entry into some, a very classic cocktail, we wanted to honour what that classic is. Cause it's kind of like that. To me, it's that idea of almost a daiquiri, you know, when people feel like can craft cocktail for a long time, you know, you said daiquiri and people are like, oh, but you don't have a blender, and you're like, you don't need a blender to make a daiquiri, right?
So retraining. So because of the Margarita being so classic, you know, we could have gone spicy, but we thought like, let's really like give a clear voice to the actual classic. And we can always dash a hot sauce to my Delola and a glass and have it spicy if I want or a sliced Jalapeno or, you know, I can make a watermelon ice cube and toss it in there for summer if I want.
But starting with the classic was where we wanted to really kind of have our voice.

Tiff Christie
And how long is the process for you guys between idea and bottle in your hand?

Lynette Marrero
Usually, about a year. I mean, I think to really get it right, you know, obviously, that's R&D, tasting, tasting, tasting. And then once getting through that, it's really, you know, obviously our wonderful marketing team then works on, um, You know, the U.S., all the approvals that we need to file and things like that. You know, we are really fortunate to be in Whole Foods nationwide, which for us is a really beautiful marker of the fact that we are adhering to stricter standards and guidelines for what we're putting in the bottle. So that means a lot to us, so all of those processes have to happen, you know, throughout that time and then when we finally get to the point of fully bottling it and working with the team who's going to be batching it every day, then that's a, you know, hands-on process and go, and you make sure it's being done right.
I love watching the scientists work because it's like, it's a lot of, very specific of how we do it, but it's all process that we know, right? If I'm going to build a cocktail, it's the same way. If I'm not going to build an egg white cocktail and start with the egg and the citrus first, I'm going to start other ways.
Start my sugars, then maybe my citrus and, and then have my eggs separate and then I'll combine them and let them all go. So I think there's a lot of that, that process that's so important to follow. So that's a, a really cool part of it that I got to learn. It takes a lot to get ingredients, especially we know how the world has definitely changed a lot through the pandemic, and it still reels through that with supplies, so if you want to do it right, it takes a decent amount of time to really think thoughtfully about getting a new product to market.

Tiff Christie: You mentioned earlier that you have worked on a non-alcoholic brand. Is doing this sort of work really different from working in a bar, and do you prefer it?

Lynette Marrero: I mean, it's funny because it's very similar. I think where there are beverage menus and the creation of a flavour building.
So a lot of it does go into what I was doing with restaurant bars. Like it very much translates where I'm looking at sets of flavours and what goes well together. Because a lot of times, you know, you're thinking of. Like a chef's dish, you're thinking of complementary flavours and things that will bolster something that you may not point out initially, but they make it better.
And that's a similar part of what happens. I mean, I enjoy both because I think I came from culinary menus. And that background from bar, it did translate a lot easier, you know, food scientists, food study, understanding the language of molecular compounds. I think I was learning that always from the chef world.
And then when you dabble in some sort of the, some of that molecular cocktail breakdown, you know, even just learning how to clarify drinks, things like that, that all kind of plays right into this. in a lot of ways. It's just the levels are much, much smaller. And that's, that's the difference, right? I'm like, we're in the bar, we're very heavy-handed with how we throw flavour in, and here you have to be very subtle.
So that, that's, I think the biggest change is just the scale, but not the, not the process of what I do is tasting, tasting, tasting, try, try, try. You know, that's really how cocktails menus, if they're done right, get done. You know, I remember when Audrey Saunders opened Pegu Club, you know, the bar meetings, they would make 30 versions of, you know, Every drink.
They try the martini with every gin on their back bar. Yeah, so, there is a process in that way of sometimes you're just pulling layers, pulling layers, trying different aromas, different expressions, right? I mean, it's Citrus itself, you know, the specific citrus we pick, worked for us and worked for our tequila base and worked for the, what we want, but there are millions of different citrus you can use, millions of, you know, there's so many different types of oranges and, and, and things that express themselves that way that you could lean into.

Tiff Christie: It feels like a million RTEs on the market at the moment. How important do you think it is for them to involve a bartender of your calibre in the construction?

Lynette Marrero
I mean, I've tasted a lot of things. You know, I read what they're supposed to be and I was like, that really misses the mark. So, I think having somebody on board who understands what the cocktail truly is from the DNA is important.
It doesn't necessarily have to be someone who's only done cocktails. I think. You know, I've seen some things out there that work really well, but I've seen a lot of things that don't where there's, you can see a marketing plan went on it, and they called it a margarita or a Paloma and it tastes like a fresca soda, you know, or it tastes like honestly like a ranch water.
It's like, oh, that just tastes like tequila, lime, soda, and some lime. So, I think that it's important to have people who are going to hold true to what the intention is. So, I think what I've been given, and I think that's, you know, what the team felt very strongly about bringing me into House of Delola and having me be such an important part, was that this, this does make a difference, in how we think about building our cocktails.

Tiff Christie
You mentioned earlier about low ABV and no ABV changing the landscape of cocktails recently. Absolutely. How important was it for the brand to bring in something low ABV?

Lynette Marrero
It was always our brand, for sure. Jennifer's world is about, she's a dancer, she's very active, and, you know, for her, she doesn't like heavy, heavy drinks, and You know things that are really full of sugar, and there wasn't something out there for her, and I think that that's really important because I definitely see that's not unique right for a long period of time especially as we started craft everything was very heavy everything was very strong and dark and stirred and you know, and then we kind of went moved to our citrus zone, and then there was a balance between them, and you could see different styles around the world of kind of where people were how their drinks were you could always identify a New York a London drink versus something that came from Australia or whatever because there was just different vibes you And I think it's super important that we have the range because, you know, you don't go into a really high calibre restaurant and only have one style of thing.
There's usually a menu that reaches, branches out, reaches and offers to more guests and I think that's, that's hospitality. I don't think no and low ABV are just a fad. I think they truly are a part of what we are going to see going forward. But those sit alongside people who are, you know, enjoying the martini craze.
Again, you know, I'm like, it's cycles. But I do think that there is this session-able drinking where they could get with friends or have something with a meal, and that is just more common, and for that kind of occasions, things like Delola really make sense. That's what I learned in restaurant bars, right?

[00:19:30] You can't have this beautiful subtle dish, a ceviche or a really gentle salad with all these ingredients and then. put that next to a really heavy cocktail. You need to have a cocktail that's, that understands how to work with that. So I think a lot about that when we create the different Delola flavours.
It's like, okay, well, how is this going to present itself on a table at home? Where are they, how are they drinking this? What's the occasion? They can also have it alone, but where does it fit when you're actually building your menu and meal?

Tiff Christie
If it is a lighter margarita, what sort of occasions are ideal for it, to your mind?

Lynette Marrero: I think the occasion for me is that kind of all-day barbecue, being able to enjoy a margarita maybe at brunch when you normally wouldn't, right? Because it's lighter, so you can get all those flavours, it can kind of sit alongside. It slots through, you know, a lot of different parts of the meal, so when I look at the Delola world holistically, I'm like, okay, I'm gonna start off like an occasion, you know, La Ronge is where I'm having like charcuterie.
And little snacks and light bites, you know, that very way that that cocktail is meant to be. Paloma and margarita start moving into maybe my seafood courses and some of those, like next-tier appetizer bites where I want citrus to play off of some of the notes that are in that typical. part of the meal.
And then when we get into heavier dishes, that's where things like Bella Berry come in, of having more body and having more those deeper flavours. And then you can enjoy it there. So I kind of have a whole meal scape of where, when they work, but you know, they, they stand up to whenever you want those cocktails when they're full cocktails, but you're able to enjoy a few more of them and, and have a great session-able experience.

Tiff Christie
Now the brand has been out for about a year now. What is the reaction been?

Lynette Marrero
You know, I think we're still in this space of trying people on the brand, which is really great. So, you know, the more people that try Light Margarita are like, oh this it does stand up, you know, the claims are right. That's the important part.
So I think what I love seeing is when, you know, we send it to a journalist, or I'm in sampling, and People try it, and they're really excited like this is really good. That's awesome. I think you know We have a very strong voice of what we're doing and it's more unique. We're not we're not a seltzer So I think when you look at our bottles, and you know, we have three 375mls and 750mls They're very beautiful, they're very colourful, branding is really elegant, and I think sometimes maybe, you know, you have to open it to understand it, but I think that's what I love about Margarita is that, um, it's a cocktail that people understand, I think they will reach for it because everyone's always looking for something like that, and then it will deliver on the expectations better than a lot of things that are trying to claim similar.
So I've tried them, and I'm like, oh, okay, that was, you know, Not bad, but it's more ranch water to me. It's not a margarita. I want to have a cocktail. I always use my sister as a benchmark. For years, obviously, she'd be like, Hey, Lenny, tell me what I can make with this stuff. And, you know, I'd give her a recipe.
And she's like, yeah, I, you know, I'm not going to go buy all those things and do this, just give me the easier route. And I was like, okay, fine. This is the easiest way. But now this is the easiest way. Because I'd be like, just go find yourself like a grapefruit soda and add it to the tequila and put a squeeze of lime. There you go. Um, but now she, she's a big fan of Dolola, so.

Tiff Christie
So, Jennifer will of course bring them in, but it's the fact that you make a damn good cocktail that'll keep them there.

Lynette Marrero
Yeah, I mean, I think what happens is that, you know, obviously, Jennifer is a megastar. She is really incredible. Like, like you said, the whole idea and premise of this brand is things that go for her values, the bottle and the style of everything that's done is, you know, she was involved in all of that. So it has the Bronx crest that we go back to our version of that.
It brings that Mediterranean viewpoint of, light and refreshing and and And a way of life that she aspires to, of that elegance and just having something that you can easily have on a beach but also have at a nice dinner party. So it translates in those ways. And I think that that's important and that vision is really important.
I thrive under very strong creative direction, and that's why I've always been that kind of person in whatever project I did. That's why I think I gravitated toward restaurants. More so when I got out of craft cocktail bars because I felt like there was a whole universe that my program had to fit into. And so this feels like my program's fitting into a really strong world and, and delivering on that is super important.
And I have a great creative partner who encourages creativity and lets me be expressive, but also has strong opinions and, and will keep us guiding towards that, that ship of where, where, where our brand lives and what we want to put out in the world.

Tiff Christie
Delola has four expressions now. Where do you see the range going from here?

Lynette Marrero
I mean, we have some ideas in the works, things that might be, you know, a little more seasonal, might be, you know, I think there's a lot to play with now. I think the four core right now that we have, I love that they all have extremely different viewpoints. I think that's the strength of the Delola line.
Anytime we do a tasting, even also like last year, it would be everywhere I was, a different one would be the star, and then there'd be the supporting cast. And it would switch every time, and I was like, this is interesting, it'd switch by the time of the year, it would switch by that, and like, and that's what good cocktails do, in my opinion, you know, they're, they have times and places, and, you know, you change up menu item, and then, okay, this one now works more with this stuff, and, I think that works, you know, obviously we want to keep innovating in the family, thinking about cocktails that make sense, that we want to take on the challenge of creating a better for you version of them.
So that's the exciting part and that's where we'll, we'll keep striving, but always not compromising on can we deliver it. in an authentic way, can we deliver it as a really great expression of what that classic cocktail should be or if we decide to go really again and in that Bella de Berry direction of let's take something that is not really as definable and offer it to our fans and the people who want to come to the Dolola life.
So there's a little bit of ideas to think about with that, but I'm really excited. Light margaritas. here in the family. And I think, you know, one year of the brand feels like it is still in infancy. So this next year feels like the year to really, you know, now we have more fans, people who know it, you know, who've come to it, whether they've come through it, through our website, through Jennifer's social, they're just finding it through a friend, just recommending it, right?
This is those years where you start having that. that momentum. I worked on, you know, small brands back in the day where that was the key. People try it and then people start to love it and want to bring it as the secret. They're like, I found this thing, and I'm bringing it to you. And I feel like Dolola is heavily in that territory of once I taste someone on it, and then they love it, then they bring it to someone else.
And it's that chain reaction. And that's, to me, is the authenticity. And that's how You know, restaurants often work too, right? Restaurants and bars, you get the initial press, but it's that people coming back to it, the regulars you develop who love it and bring other people, um, to you that are, to introduce them because they're so excited about it.
And that's the connection, that's the brand world of people and fans that I'm excited to meet that I think this year too is going to really bring that because we'll be doing certain events where we'll see people again and they'll try the new one and be like, oh my goodness, you know. So that's where I'm excited.

Tiff Christie
And is Delola available nationwide?

Lynette Marrero
It is available nationwide. We launched last April and so we were in most of the states. A couple states we didn't get into until a few months later. So we are available nationwide, which is very exciting for us. So as I travel around and, and do all the different things, I get to meet people from different areas and it's fun because like anything, you know, we were seeing the cocktail scene really spread out across the U. S. There's different styles in each area, so how Delola fits into the consumer's world in different places also shows through. But it's exciting to see how people enjoy their Delola, how, what they're doing with it, and just more ways that our brand can be a solution for people.
We say it's where the bartender isn't. You know, we love that we're able to help certain on premise places really expand their menu if they're limited because we have something that's ready that helps them out. We can really help some of those venues that have speed to service but want to, you know, have a consumer who really does want a cocktail to be able to offer that.
And so, it's really cool to see that growth and see how beverage programs are changing, and then seeing where consumers, what they're shopping, how they're shopping, where they're shopping, and what they're adding to their cart, and what their behaviours are. So that's, that's the psychology side of it that I love watching and seeing how that grows.

Tiff Christie
Is the brand thinking of expanding overseas into perhaps European or Asian markets at any point?

Lynette Marrero
All of that is definitely on the table for the future. I know that that takes time, especially with the kind of product we're working on, and we definitely obviously have a do it right mentality.
So we, I think every move that we make will be very thoughtful, but it is our desire to eventually be able to have Delola available in many more countries. We'll see how that, how that grows and, and where we're able to start expanding, but you know, you expand wisely, not, You know, swiftly sometimes, and I think that's always a smart move.

Tiff Christie
Now if people want more information on the Delola range they can of course go to the website which is delolalife. com or connect with the brand via its socials.

Lynette Marrero: Just go to Delola. And you can always hit me up. I'm at drinks at six. So if you're seeing what we're doing, we're out in the road and, and, uh, it's just going to be a fun margarita lunchtime. This is our, our season that we're really. excited to showcase her out there.

You Might Also Like

See the latest on Youtube and Instagram

Follow and subscribe for videos, photos & more ... Follow Follow

Crafting Quality Ready-to-Enjoy Cocktails With Delola

Share It! URL Copied
Up Next

Make The Perfect Summer Cocktail With Folia