Smug AF: Entrepreneurial Spirit in a Can

Image source: Contributed

If the sweet smell of success is eye-balling an opportunity, two inspiring mothers have every reason to feel smug, extols Helen Flanagan.

Jo-Anne Bowyer and Lauren Lakin have much in common. Both were party girls, calling for shots late at night, being the absolute life of the party and insisting everyone stay long after it was over. And let us not forget the hangover.

For ten years Jo-Anne was a business coach with a passion for personal performance, an understanding of how to optimise, sustain and retain the hunger to achieve an edge for herself and clients. 

About five years ago at a mutual friend’s wedding, Jo-Anne met Lauren, who lives in Sydney with husband Kit and their two children, is a primary school teacher, also a semi-pro netballer with a passion for health and wellbeing. 

They hit it off and became involved in different businesses together for about three years. 

“Alcohol however kept coming up as an obstacle to optimum fulfilment,” concedes Jo-Anne who lives in Buderim with husband Matt and two children. 

“So, after being in denial for about four years, I gave my regular wine and cocktails a swerve and quit in 2020.”

“Around the time I was working on quitting Loz’s dad fell gravely ill with pancreatitis, a condition that is related to alcohol consumption,” explains Jo-Anne. “It prompted her to also question booze, and the decision was made to quit for about six months.” 

Together the creative girls were on a mission to be part of a growing movement to change the drinking culture, albeit enjoy the party without getting hammered, by creating a wedge drink that did not kill the buzz like soft drink and water. 

“We were determined to have fun tonight and be fresh tomorrow,” Jo-Anne says. “We are not anti-alcohol, we are for living life to the fullest and encouraging everyone to question their relationship with booze. 

“Even a short break is beneficial.” 

With their undeniable entrepreneurial spirit, Smug AF, targeted primarily at women between 30 to 45, was born. 

“We chose classic cocktails so everyone knew exactly what to expect and of course our non-alcoholic cocktails had to replicate the real thing,” Jo-Anne said. 

“We were missing the taste of our favourite cocktails and figured others would too.” 

The genius name suggests the feeling one has when others are nursing a hangover, the notion endorsed when director of operations Jo-Anne and creative director Lauren Lakin researched the brand and ran a competition. 

The entry with ‘someone who left a nightclub at 2am sober and felt smug looking at the line-up for taxis as she walked to her car to drive home’, was declared the winner! 

They worked with professional beverage formulators with scientific qualifications to scale the drinks, plus a 30-year mixologist veteran and others, over a twelve-month period to ensure the cocktails were true to form. 

“We have non-alc Margarita (Tommy style), Mojito, Cosmopolitan and Bellini, which when surveyed were the top drops,” Jo-Anne said. 

Each of the drinks has a non-alcoholic version of the spirit. Bellini contains ‘sparkling bubbles’ and real peach nectar which is why it tastes so peachy and has a beautiful peach colour; Cosmo has ‘vodka’ and ‘cointreau’ with real cranberry juice and is a pretty pink; in Mojito it is ‘white rum’, Margarita has ‘tequila’, and both have heaps of fresh Aussie lime juice for the tart sensation.

Dress them up with a garnish as directed on the can or something sophisticated and remember sips do not go to hips, as the sugar content is a very low, only 147kJ to 230kJ per can. There is a fifth flavour ready to go and three in concept – but lips are sealed for now. 

When it comes to smart initiatives Smug AF’s run sizes were calculated to minimise juice wastage. 

“For example, when we had lots of peach nectar left over, we contacted a brewer who made peach sour out of it. We felt good about that!” Jo-Anne said.

Smug AF is manufactured in Brisbane although a Sunshine Coast company is preferred by the co-founders who participate in the feel-good container exchange program. 

Customers who return their Queensland EPA approved aluminium cans receive 10c, thus keeping the cans out of the litter systems. 

With sizzling summer days ahead and party season in full flight, keep it classy and stay Smug with great wedge drinks in the fridge to offer friends on a health kick, dedicated drivers and those on a booze break.


In the non-alcoholic category of the Drink Easy Awards, which are a celebration of Australian drinks and the culture surrounding brewing, distilling and fermenting, Smug AF’s Mojito collected the top gong. Making the award even sweeter, Smug AF was also award 8th of ALL drinks judged in the awards! A mighty fine accolade given the field includes all streams of beverage creation such as the heavy-hitters containing alcohol. There are no more medals and no scores – Drink Easy simply finds drinks exhibiting excellence, charisma and deliciousness to inform a wide and inclusive community on what ‘drinks easy’. 

For everything Smug AF including latest stockists, online orders and applying the discount code of SUNSHINE for 15% off everything except Margarita which is already 25% off, visit:

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Noosa’s sophisticated charm, vibrant food culture and the magnetism of a subtropical paradise surrounded by national parks, inveigled Helen’s manic world and flipped it on its side. She pursues the good life with gusto, instinctively understanding the joys of travel, the art of story-telling, a candid review and surviving another reno whilst thriving on the motto Live Laugh Love!

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