Lake Hour is the New Happy Hour

Lake Hour beverage lineup.
Lake Hour beverage lineup.

When looking to create their own ready-to-drink beverage brand, for actor Wyatt Russell and producer Rich Peete, it was all about going back to the basics without sacrificing taste. 

The two friends’ vision for Lake Hour stemmed from their own upbringing around lakes. During the writer’s strike in which both Russell and Peete weren’t working, they began talking about creating a brand of seltzers that could be branded around lakes. “Since we both grew up around lakes and there was nothing similar on the market, we thought ‘oh, that would be a fun idea,’” says Russell. “Eventually, he called me and said he really wanted to do this, and I did too.”

Thus began the journey of Russell and Peete’s brainchild: Lake Hour.

A Refreshing Spin on RTDs

Made with vodka, blanco tequila, juice and only 3.4 grams of cane sugar, Lake Hour sparkling cocktails focus on the simple ingredients. Featuring flavors like Watermelon Cucumber, Rosemary Yuzu, Peach Jasmine and Honeysuckle Ginger, each 12 oz. drink has an ABV of 5%. 

Currently, Lake Hour is available in seven states, with two of them being newly added. Now, the beverages are sold in Georgia, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Rich Peete and Wyatt Russell.

Building a Brand vs. Making a Movie

Even though movie production is a beast, Russell says it’s nothing like starting a beverage brand. “Neither of us had experience with starting a brand, but we approached it like starting a movie where you’re running a marathon at the pace of a sprint. It’s been really interesting and fun that way,” he notes. 


One of the biggest differences between the two, according to Russell, is the fact that with a beverage brand, you have something physical you can sell to people. It’s a real product with immediate gratification to it — which makes the business a little easier to build. 

“You can work on a movie for 10 or 12 years at a time. I have projects that are still bouncing around, and you hear that a lot in the industry,” explains Russell. “You’re kind of in a vacuum where you don’t know what’s working. And once you put it out, you’re crossing your fingers and hoping it does well.”

Another notable difference between the two industries is the fact that movies have a very clear beginning and end. Meanwhile, with a beverage brand, there’s no end. 

“It’s a constant uphill battle,” says Russell. “With movies, once it’s out, that’s it and then you’re on to the next story. Once you start a brand, it’s like you’re pushing a rock up a hill that never stops ― you have to keep pushing.”

The duo are constantly concocting innovative marketing efforts to get the brand name out there, convincing distributors to buy their product, trying to balance inventory against sales… the list goes on and on. The effort of keeping a beverage brand up and running truly is a constant full time job.

It’s Not Always Smooth Sailing for Lake Hour

Aside from the fair share of differences between making a movie and getting a beverage brand up and running, Russell says he and Peete also faced a lot of difficulties in starting Lake Hour. One of them being balancing inventory against sales. 

“We’re trying to fund the growth of the company with revenue,” states Russell. “Early on, that can feel impossible, but we were able to do it.”

Before launching on July 21, 2023, Russell says they made about 3,000 cases and expected that to last them until October. In reality, the cases only lasted three weeks. “We thought ‘Oh man, now we need to make more,’” he says. 

After selling about 5,000 cases in total last summer, Russell explains they had some difficulties convincing distributors that consumers would also drink the beverages during the winter. But they didn’t allow the slow season to stop them. 

“That dip in the winter allowed us to regroup, and now we have the full season ahead to sell,” says Russell. “We’re looking to continue to grow this year. We’re in seven states now, while we were only in three for the most part of last year, and we’re looking to get our beverages into more places.”

Standing Out in a Lake of RTDs

The RTD segment is extremely saturated at the moment. Especially with all the other celebrity-owned beverage brands out there, how is another one expected to make a splash? Aside from Lake Hour being the only RTD on the market branded by lakes, Russell hopes the brand can distinguish itself by making personal connections with consumers and giving them a sessional beverage that’s not too sugary and tastes great. 

“At the end of the day, it’s a cased drink and it has to taste good,” Russell says. “The other ones we’ve tried have too much liquor, they’re very overly sugared and don’t drink easily or they’re not sessionable. With ours, you can have multiple and they’ll all taste good.”

“Marketing with the lips,” as Russell puts it, has been great with spreading the word. This way, people actually get to taste the beverage and see that they like it for themselves. 

“That has helped us a lot,” Russell notes. “We’re looking into influencer marketing campaigns now, but we’re specific on how we want to do things. Just getting people to try the product is the key right now. It’s really good, so if they try it and like it, they’ll buy it.”

Lake Hour Standing the Test of Time

Instead of constantly trying to push new flavors into the market, Russell says he and Peete want to focus and perfect the brand’s four original flavors — which is something that will keep Lake Hour around for the long haul. 

“For us, if you can’t make the first four flavors work, then that’s not good,” he says. “We’re concentrating on being the best in those four flavors ― the favorites ― and that’s what we want people to try, taste and get to know.”

“As long as you have a good drink and people like it, then you can stand the test of time. That’s where we want to be different,” he continues. “You have all these different RTD companies spending a ton of money, but at the end of the day, how long will they be around?”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here