Here's What Happened To McClary Bros Drinking Vinegars After Shark Tank

People have been drinking vinegar since the time of the Babylonians. Combined with water and honey, vinegar was once considered a refreshing, health-boosting drink. Flash forward to the present, and drinking apple cider vinegar has become a trending practice in wellness. However, other flavors, often referred to as shrubs, are available. 

While drinking vinegars typically contain sugar, herbs, spices, and fruit, those created by Jess Sanchez McClary's business weren't of the typical apple cider variety. McClary's journey as an entrepreneur began in 2012 when she worked as a baker selling scones and other treats at farmer's markets. While researching preservation methods, she stumbled upon the history of drinking vinegars and discovered they can be made more palatable as cocktails. With her husband's help, this led her to concoct a variety of unusual shrub flavors, some of which sold out very quickly.

With flavors like beet and carrot, cranberry, Thai basil, and a signature apple pie flavor, McClary Bros wanted to establish itself as an innovative heavy hitter in the market of soda alternatives and healthy beverages. In 2013, not long after the start-up took off, McClary's retail-savvy husband joined the team, helping their product rack up over $312,000 in sales by the time the company reached the "Shark Tank" stage.

What Happened to McClary Bros on Shark Tank?

Seeking to spark enough interest to inspire a drinking vinegar comeback, Jess Sanchez McClary appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2015 in the Season 7 opening episode to promote her already successful business. Intending to get one of the Sharks on her side after letting them try her product's unique flavors, the Detroit-based entrepreneur hoped to showcase vinegar's potential as a tasty health drink. 

The entrepreneur asked $100,000 for 15% of the company. Unfortunately, the "Shark Tank" investors disliked the drink. Considering each bottle was priced between $18 to $25, the Sharks thought the drinking vinegars were more economical sold as drink mixers. Lori Greiner wanted more research-backed data on the health benefits of drinking vinegar, while Kevin O'Leary and Robert Herjavec were both intrigued but skeptical about the market. Mark Cuban simply didn't care for drinks with vinegar in general. 

O'Leary delivered a particularly scathing remark during McClary's pitch, saying, "Let's be honest. It's four guys and a dog that drink this stuff. Why are you doing this to yourself?" The episode's guest Shark, Ashton Kutcher, quickly addressed Mr. Wonderful's unnecessary comment, advising him to accept McClary's answer without belittling her. While the Sharks advised McClary that she was on the right track, they weren't ready to be a part of the drinking vinegar business.

McClary Bros after Shark Tank

Although Jess Sanchez McClary walked away from "Shark Tank" without the investment she sought, McClary Bros pushed forward in the drinking vinegar business for some time. The day after the episode aired, the company had a surge of 1,000 online orders that surpassed the entirety of the previous year's earnings, resulting in the company hiring new full-time employees. McClary speculated that publicity from appearing on "Shark Tank" led to McClary Bros raking in nearly $200,000 worth of sales — more than double what she asked from the Sharks.

Along with creating new flavors, McClary's big goals were bringing more jobs to Detroit and being a positive force in the industry. After reaping the benefits of the famous "Shark Tank" effect, McClary opened a second production facility, introduced new vinegar flavors, and expanded her retail business. McClary Bros also opened a store in Michigan, complete with a tasting room. Within a year of appearing on the show, the flavored shrubs were sold in 700 Midwestern grocery stores across 17 states and 300 bars and eateries. 

Besides selling individually priced bottles, McClary Bros also offered special bundles featuring flavors customers could choose from for $45 and an additional option that included all seven flavors for $100. Loyal customers could even become a part of a rewards program as a perk.

Is McClary Bros still in business?

While it seemed that McClary Bros would do just fine without an investment, it appears the business has shut down. Its Instagram page has been inactive since 2020 despite posts detailing many hopeful collaborations, and its Amazon storefront is empty. As of 2022, there are virtually no signs of McClary Bros and its line of drinking vinegars.

We aren't sure if the COVID-19 pandemic was a reason for the closure of McClary Bros, but currently, its website has also been taken down, and there doesn't seem to be any sign of what's to come for the company. In its final Instagram post (a video shared in July of 2020 showing the all-natural production process of its popular apple pie-flavored drinking vinegar), commenters asked where McClary Bros had disappeared to. Some even expressed frustration about not receiving their online orders after multiple weeks of radio silence from the business' email and social media accounts, mentioning the website was still up at the time of purchase but not assigning tracking numbers.

Although McClary Bros flopped on "Shark Tank," the company's appearance on the show was enough to spur the business to success — even if it was short-lived. If anything, McClary Bros proved that, with the right motivation, a small start-up can find success selling niche products while making a difference in its community.