McClary Bros. Start ‘Shark Tank’ Fight Over Drinking Vinegars

Season 7 of Shark Tank gets underway on Friday, and guest shark Ashton Kutcher starts out swinging. The actor and experienced investor has a face-off with seasoned shark Kevin O’Leary over his discussion with one entrepreneur. As a preview clip provided to People shows, Kutcher objects to O’Leary’s tough talk to Jess McClary, whose unique product is a line of drinking vinegars.

In the clip, O’Leary seems to question whether Kutcher would in fact back McClary’s product with his own money, while Kutcher gestures to indicate that maybe he will. It’s a cliffhanger left for the season premiere to answer.

McClary Bros. is a relatively new company, but it has already achieved measurable success. As McClary told the Detroit Free Press in an article published last week, she stumbled upon drinking vinegars after looking for ways to use fresh produce. At the time, in Spring 2013, she was regularly bringing baked goods to a farmers’ market.

“I’d get up in the middle of the night and bake it and my husband would take it to market. I was making 15-16 dozen scones every Saturday. I did a lot of buckles with fresh rhubarb, blueberries, strawberries, peaches. I felt like I was taking all this great stuff and just covering it in butter, flour and sugar.”

Drinking vinegars, also called shrubs, were once popular as a cocktail mixer, but declined in popularity after the advent of refrigeration. McClary was drawn to the all-natural potential of the product.

“I liked that the ingredients were very simple and there weren’t weird preservatives. Everybody thought I was crazy. But I used the things I had learned in culinary school on how to bring out flavors.”

Modern Midwest noted the flexibility of the vinegars in a December 2014 feature. The article noted the same flavor could make a homemade soda, a salad dressing, or mix well with tequila.

McClary revealed to the Free Press that her business sense has expanded with the growth of her company. She credits the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program for honing her business knowledge.

“Before [the Goldman Sachs program] it was just throw ideas at the wall and see if they stick. Now that I’ve been through the program, everything is much more strategic.”

McClary Bros., named after Jess and her husband Josh’s twin sons, had a 150-percent revenue increase this year, before the Shark Tank appearance.

Have a look at the sneak peek of Kutcher and O’Leary debating her pitch in the preview clip below.

[Photo: ABC All Access]

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