TONIC, COLA & CIE, MADE IN MONTRÉAL
Bastien Poulain and Mélanie Mamet
1642. Yes, that’s their name. It’s also the year Montréal, the city that inspired company founder Bastien Poulain, was founded.
1642 beverages are premium quality, preservative-free sparkling beverages made from natural ingredients: natural sugars (apple juice, honey, maple syrup, cane sugar), spring water, natural flavours (cola nuts, ginger, bergamot, orange, spruce, etc.):
- 1642 Cola: a cola with a reinvented flavour, thanks to natural ingredients and a touch of maple syrup.
- 1642 Tonic: a tonic water flavoured with spruce and lime, with no quinine.
- 1642 Ginger: a ginger beer combining ginger, apple juice and honey.
- 1642 Orange: an orange soda with subtle notes of bergamot, bitter orange peel and Labrador tea.
Bastien arrived in Montreal in 2008 with a one-year work permit and literally fell in love with the city. A decade later, he feels at home here. “I don’t mind the winters, I feel good here, I’m at home,” he explains. That says it all. You might even say he has almost adopted the accent. It’s true that Brittany and Quebec share close ties. And let’s remember that Jacques Cartier was born in Saint-Malo.
With a master’s degree in international marketing, this young professional first worked in the hotel industry for a few years, where he was responsible for the sales and marketing of two four-star establishments. Coming from a line of entrepreneurs (his father and grandfather), “the apple didn’t fall far from the tree,” he says. He soon identified a niche that he wanted to explore.
“My idea was to start a line of local sparkling beverages. Montreal is brimming with new artisanal microdistilleries that offer outstanding quality products, and to go with them, we only found industrial products that do not stand out,” he tells us. It is true that about three quarters of a gin and tonic is tonic water. You might as well use a good tonic. This very principle led him to devise the other products from 1642. The goal was to enhance the experience of the cocktail and mocktail (alcohol-free cocktail). While his original ambition was to offer a local alternative to carbonated drinks, 1642 dreamed bigger and adapted its products so that they could be served both as mixes and alone.
In 2015, Bastien founded his company, which he named “1642” in honour of Montreal and the pioneers who founded it. “Montreal is a gastronomic city that is constantly reinventing itself, as we also want to do,” says the young entrepreneur.
“If we had done everything we needed to do ahead of time, we definitely would have panicked,” he says. “We went through the steps one at a time, hiring a chemist to help us with the recipes, relying on our friends to act as consultants by tasting our products.”
In terms of product marketing, Mélanie Mamet and Bastien Poulain make a complementary duo. With her as an accountant and him as a marketing specialist, they were able to put their expertise to work so that once produced, the beverages from 1642 took over the market.
“It’s Montréal that provided me with this spark,” says Bastien. “A city where life is good and everything is possible.”
“It’s difficult to make a name for yourself in a market where you’re competing against large multinationals such as those in the sparkling beverage market. But when you’re an entrepreneur, you have to create your product and make it known. And for that, all methods are good. We set up partnerships, we made ourselves known to microdistilleries, we created a network of natural ambassadors.”
“Meetings with all the people who helped and supported us.”
“My greatest inspiration is entrepreneurs: Serge Beauchemin (one of my “dragons” when I participated in the show), Dominique Brown (owner of Chocolats Favoris) and my father, a remarkable entrepreneur. They helped me keep moving forward, even on the rainy days, by sharing their methods, tricks, business models and ways of working.”
“First and foremost, to give back to Quebec what it has given me. And then, buying local is not just a trend or a fashion. It’s here to stay. I’m a strong advocate of this new way of looking at things, which my company must reflect.”
“The day I met Celine Dion by chance at Schwartz’s. I gave her a bottle of 1642 Tonic and she loved it! You know, when Celine Dion hugs you, it’s an unforgettable memory.
And, of course, the day I met Mélanie Mamet, who soon became my partner and without whom 1642 would not have been able to succeed. She said, “I love your project,” and it was off. Today, we have more than a thousand points of sale in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, France… We manage to work miracles! A big thank you , Melanie!”
For Bastien, it’s the ribs on the menu at Les Enfants Terribles (he swears it’s true, it’s not for advertising!).
For Mélanie, it’s her mother’s beef stew, with her garden vegetables and beef raised by her brother, who is a farmer. Apparently it tastes heavenly!
ENFANTS TERRIBLES SINCE 2016