DROUGHT Juice: Serving up fresh elixirs on Washington Street in Ann Arbor

By Meredith Bruckner - Community News Producer

Raw juices on display at the Ann Arbor store (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

ANN ARBOR - Anyone who's tasted DROUGHT Juice knows it's the real deal.

My first encounter with it was at the Local Food Summit and, let me tell you, it was like nothing I've tasted before.

The bold flavor comes from the fact that it's organic, it's cold-pressed and it's raw. The company also uses zero water.

DROUGHT juices are made fresh three days a week and shelf life is only a few days.

DROUGHT offers a variety of combinations of fresh fruit and vegetables (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

The company has locations across metro Detroit, and its Ann Arbor location at 204 E. Washington St. is its newest.

Prices range from $4 1-ounce shots to $11 16-ounce bottles.

What's perhaps more impressive than its flavor is the company's story.

It all started eight years ago when four sisters were living in New York City and became obsessed with the juice bar scene. But one flaw they saw in it was the wait time for fresh-squeezed juice, and they saw an opportunity to disrupt the market.

Originally from Detroit, the James sisters decided to all move back home and give the juice business a shot.

The James sisters (Photo: DROUGHT Juice)

"We started in my parents’ kitchen, which is kind of ridiculous," said Jessie James. "They weren’t happy about it then but now they’re happy we’re successful."

James was working as a hairstylist for several celebrities at the time. While on a film set in Detroit, some of her clients remarked about the lack of healthy food and drink options in the area.

She and her sisters put together a few recipes and cleanses and her clients, who frequented juice bars in New York City and Los Angeles, loved them.

DROUGHT's shops are minimalist so all the focus is on the juice (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

"After several months of doing it in my parents' kitchen, recipe testing, we found an old fudge shop in Plymouth," said James. "At the time we didn’t have enough money to make it and put it on the shelves because it had such a short shelf life. Our idea was people would come in and we'd say, 'Give us your money, we make this juice and come back and get it tomorrow.'"

Sure enough, locals took to it and DROUGHT had a following.

DROUGHT's Ann Arbor location on Washington St. (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

The sisters opened five more locations in Royal Oak, Bloomfield Hills, Detroit and Ann Arbor and also sell their juices at Ann Arbor Farmers Market and Eastern Market.

So what are some of their top sellers?

"One of our best sellers is our apple, lemon and ginger," James said. "It’s a really great immune-boosting juice. It’s antibacterial and antiviral. People are always getting sick during the winter and it’s great to drink during the (cold season). Our immunity potions -- 4-ounce shots that act as boosters with more ingredients, like cayenne pepper, oregano oil -- (are also best sellers)."

DROUGHT's 4-ounce immunity potions (Photo: Meredith Bruckner)

James added that 75% of the USDA organic fruit and vegetables they use is grown in Michigan.

Besides a grab-and-go approach to fresh juices, James feels DROUGHT is unique because of the way it engages with the community.

"What we’re really trying to do is figure out some good collaborations," she said. "We’re really open to it, since the Ann Arbor store is really community based. We’d welcome people partnering and collaborating with us."

For more information about DROUGHT, visit its website.

For inquiries about partnership opportunities, click here.


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