Cupcakes featuring alcoholic icing cater to a niche market.
Montreal Tipsy Cupcakes is the brainchild of serial entrepreneur Jessika Ménard, who also co-owns le Cozy Café restaurant and operates a custom cakes business, Cakes by Haute Couture.
The idea came to Ménard in a flash while driving in her car and talking to longtime friend and chef Matthew Johnson. The conversation turned to cupcakes, and she suddenly had the thought that it would be fun to try spiking the tasty treats with alcohol. By the end of the drive, Ménard and Johnson were in business.
Things moved fast after that. Ménard and Johnson rented space to do the baking and set up a website (tipsycupcakes.ca). Another partner, Niklaas Lambert, joined the venture to help with sales and marketing, too. They put the word out on social media in October, and the orders started rolling in. There is no storefront; customers order online, by phone, or via Facebook Messenger, and pick up or arrange for delivery.
The appeal of the cupcakes isn’t just in the alcoholic icing, Ménard noted. Each variety is a mini work of art, with its own special look and toppings. Prosecco is what Ménard calls “a party cupcake” garnished with colourful candies, gold beads, and a chocolate fan. The Jameson cupcake is buttoned-down by comparison, topped with crumbled pieces of a Skor chocolate bar mixed with shortbread cookie crumbs. “We wanted to keep it more serious than funky,” Ménard said.
Customers can choose either a vanilla or chocolate base for their cupcakes. There are also gluten-free — and alcohol-free — options. The minimum order is six cupcakes, which costs $36 (non-alcoholic cupcakes are less expensive), and there is a volume discount for buying 12 or more.
Some of the most popular of the cupcake shop’s 20-plus flavours include Jack Daniels with Rolo candy and caramel popcorn, Baileys with coated chocolate cereal and a marbled chocolate stick, and Raspberry Sourpuss, which has fresh raspberries and is sprinkled with rainbow Sour Patch Kids gummies.
“I wanted to make sure they had things that matched flavours,” Ménard said. “For example, the Jack Daniels, once you put the Rolo in them and caramel popcorn on top, it becomes a totally different experience of Jack Daniels.”
There are also four new flavours created specifically for the holidays: Grand Mariner Sourpuss with cranberries, Baileys and crème de menthe with Oreo cookies, Amaretto with white chocolate and candy cane-covered almonds, and Jack Daniels with peanut M&Ms, Shreddies cereal and a white chocolate pretzel.
In true 2020 fashion, there is a plot twist: just days after starting the business, Johnson’s partner got offered a job in Toronto that was too good to refuse. Johnson is now packing for Toronto, but the Tipsy Cupcakes founders have already found a silver lining.
“Now we can have two places, two locations,” Ménard said.
Tipsy Cupcakes will open a second location in Toronto in early spring.