Episode 151: ‘Sweet Success’ for N.O.-Based Maker of Bitters, Syrups and Mixers
El Guapo CEO Christa Cotton continues to build out and scale up her company’s Gravier Street headquarters as three of her products hit the shelves of a national supermarket chain. In this week’s episode, she talks about the success of her young enterprise — which makes cocktail bitters, syrups and mixers — and her love of the city that inspired it.
There’s spirits and then there’s spirit, and Christa Cotton embodies both. A native of Leesburg, Georgia, Christa worked in the family business during college, ultimately helping establish 13th Colony Distilleries — Georgia’s first legal distillery since Prohibition. After graduating from the Harbert College of Business at Auburn University in 2010, she moved to New Orleans, finding work at an ad agency specializing in hospitality, tourism and entertainment. After years working alongside chefs, restaurants, hotels and events, she founded the New Orleans Beverage Group in 2017; acquiring the El Guapo™ trademark and re-joining the craft spirits industry she’s passionate about.
As CEO, Christa is responsible for all things bitters. She leads overall strategy and recipe development while keeping projects and initiatives on time and under budget. She makes a killer cocktail, but spends most days negotiating contracts and managing the business. She’s known for fostering strong relationships, forging partnerships with Neiman Marcus, The Fresh Market, Whole Foods and World Market, among others. Christa is a Fellow in both the Tory Burch Foundation and James Beard Foundation. She’s a 2022 Auburn University 20 Under 40 recipient & received Auburn’s Top Tiger Award, given to the fastest growing companies owned or managed by Auburn Alumni. She’s the President of Les Dames d’Escoffier New Orleans and reigning Monarch of Krewe de Nieux. She also sits on the advisory board for Glass Half Full, New Orleans’ glass recycling company.
She’s an enthusiastic member of the Krewe of Iris, the oldest women’s parading organization in the State of Louisiana. Christa volunteers her time to mentor women looking to break into the consumer packaged goods industry through organizations like The Idea Village, The Lee Initiative and Women In Hospitality United.She’s a passionate advocate for New Orleans culture, history and architecture. In her spare time, Christa enjoys traveling, cooking and exploring New Orleans with her life partner, Brian, daughter, Flora, and Bernese Mountain Dog, Archie Manning.