NBA Champ Kawhi Leonard and Slightly Stoopid Support New SD-Born Beverage Brand, BUSA

Busa Beverage Inc. is a new ready-to-drink Italian craft cocktail brand conceptualized by the Busalacchis, a renowned Sicilian family recognized for their contributions to building San Diego‘s Little Italy neighborhood and elevating the city’s hospitality scene.

In the 40 years since opening their first restaurant, the Busalacchis have attained the status of local legends. Their stylish restaurants anchor India Street, and their flagship Barbusa is a lively neighborhood eatery that just so happens to attract a celebrity clientele.

From Italian Fine Dining to Craft Cocktails

Now, the team of tastemakers is looking to achieve the same level of success in the bottled cocktail space as they announce a close-knit family of key investment partners, including:

  • NBA Champion Kawhi Leonard of the LA Clippers (San Diego State University Alum)
  • Frontman Miles Doughty of Slightly Stoopid (married into the Busalacchi family)
  • Former professional soccer player and MLS Cup Champion Sal Zizzo (cousin to the Busalacchis)
  • Family friend Chris Randone of Bachelor TV fame

Busa Beverage Inc.’s first product release, BUSA oat milk espresso martini, is an ultra-premium, category-defining formula that raises the bar for spirits-based RTDs.

A blend of four simple all-natural ingredients and free of artificial sweeteners and preservatives, BUSA is certified vegan, gluten-free, kosher, and made with premium organic and sustainable vodka (14% alc/vol).

BUSA Beverage: Setting a New Standard in RTDs

The idea for BUSA was born out of the demand for their Italian restaurants’ hand-shaken espresso martinis, which they spent nearly a decade perfecting.

“It had become one of our best-kept secrets. I mean, we sell more espresso martinis than garlic bread!” said PJ Busalacchi, general manager of Barbusa and Founder of Busa Beverage Inc.

Over the last few years, Barbusa has averaged a sale of ~3,000 espresso martinis per month and is credited for serving one of the Top 10 Espresso Martinis in the U.S. As the demand at the restaurants skyrocketed, PJ recognized the potential for innovation in the RTD space.

He turned to Veteran-owned Distilled Spirits USA in Boise, Idaho, where CEO Walt Kerpa and son Jordan Kerpa, a biochemist-turned-master distiller, produce BUSA’s innovative, ready-to-pour formula.

Navigating a Crowded Market: BUSA’s Strategic Entry

BUSA makes an entrance at the height of the nation’s coffee-fueled cocktail movement, a time when an increasing number of imbibers are reaching for RTD espresso martinis.

Industry leader BevNET reported, “espresso martini RTDs were up 252% in dollar sales for the latest 52 weeks ending December 30, 2023, versus the previous year according to NIQ data.”

More RTD brands have been getting in on the trend, they continue, with “the number of prepared espresso cocktail UPCs rising by 180% at the beginning of 2023 compared to the same time the year prior.”

Albeit difficult to make a mark amidst such saturation, the Busalacchis are no stranger to standing out in a crowd and have already set a new bar in pioneering the category with a first-of-its-kind RTD oat milk espresso martini.

BUSA espresso martini is sold in 1L ($39.99), 750mL ($29.99), and 375mL ($19.99) recyclable glass bottles with shipping available throughout the U.S. In San Diego, you can find BUSA at most major liquor stores, on Instacart with free delivery, and at Busalacchi Restaurants’ Barbusa, Lala, and Nonna in Little Italy.

For more information, please visit here and follow along on BUSA’s Instagram page.

See you there, San Diego!

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