Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Darren Palmer, Owner and Founder of Casa Cocktails, located in Albuquerque, NM, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are Casa Cocktails, and we aim to take the pretentiousness out of "mixology" with our unique line of at-home cocktail boxes! Each box comes complete with three (3) recipes, pre-portioned ingredients, and loads of fun to be had crafting some great bar-quality cocktails with friends right in the comfort of one's own home. Our kits are perfect for busy professionals, new parents, aspiring mixologists, and anyone who wants to elevate their cocktail game at home without breaking the bank.

We also offer top-notch mobile bartending services to New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and West Texas. Whether it be a wedding or another reason to celebrate, Casa Cocktails takes the event to the next level with a variety of package options that allow clients to fully customize their bar experience for their guests!

Tell us about yourself

I was a typical bartender prior to the start of the pandemic. Once it hit, I quickly found myself to be unemployed, and the realization set in that the job was not as recession or "pandemic-proof" as I had thought. The following months of caring for guests who had forgotten the basic principles of human decency led to extreme burnout. Then, in December 2020, my best friend's wife suggested that I throw a "virtual happy hour" for her and her friends for her birthday. I agreed, and after creating a very primitive version of our cocktail kits, the idea hit me.

Why are these sorts of kits not available for purchase in stores? We are constantly forced to choose between poor quality, pre-made cocktail mixers when buying from stores or purchasing multiple ingredients in various sizes that may or may not get used in their entirety. I took the idea of creating a box that provides pre-portioned ingredients for a variety of cocktails (instead of just one) and provides you with some basic bar knowledge, all while allowing you to create a cocktail that meets your specific desires of flavor profiles.

From there, I found a secondary need within my region for reliable mobile bartending services for weddings and special occasions. I figured this would be a good way for me to keep food on the table while I pushed forward with the cocktail boxes. What I did not expect was for the mobile side of the business to explode in its first year, leading to over 100 events in year one!

Needless to say, I was not at the job I held during the pandemic much longer upon starting this business. In fact, after taking my availability down to just two days a week to focus on my start-up, the bar decided for me to remove me from the schedule because "I just didn't want to work anymore." But that was quite the contrary. I did want to work more and more, AND MORE, on my own business. I decided at that moment that I was going all in on the business and myself and never looking back.

My motivation every day is the fact that I finally took a leap of faith in my life and chose to believe in myself instead of working for someone else's dreams. It has been an intense and uphill battle to see success, but the fight is something I will never tire of!

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment as a business owner is creating something from scratch. We can measure our successes by physical goals or numbers, but had I never decided that I was going to put my whole heart into something and truly go for it, I would not be in the position I am today, being able to wake up and truly feel like I'm doing something important.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Discipline. You will doubt yourself. You will want to quit. You will feel like you aren't smart enough or mentally tough enough to see it through to the finish line. But that feeling is all internal. You must defeat the voices in your head that say you are not good enough, that you don't deserve to be happy, and that you can't do what someone else did because you might fail. But what we don't realize is that the sun does rise tomorrow, that the to-do list can still be conquered, and that we are tougher than we ever thought possible. The ability to persevere will take you to heights you never thought possible. And from there, you can keep climbing.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Have a plan. It doesn't have to be perfect, but make sure you are aware of the hidden costs of starting up your business before you attempt to bootstrap it or take out a loan that won't cover your startup costs.
  2. Balance. Life isn't going to stop just because you are focusing on starting your business. Things are going to happen, and problems in your personal space are going to arise. But it is important to pay attention only to what needs your immediate attention and resist becoming consumed by "busy work" that will prevent you from attaining or tending to your ultimate goals.
  3. Read. Reading and researching will help you figure out all those steps along the way that get you stumped. When I started my business, I had little to no knowledge of how to manufacture my own line of syrups and juices. In order to figure out everything I'd need to do, I had to read, read and read some more. It has only been through my search for answers that I have been able to make it to the point that I am in today with business.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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