the gentlewoman

The Reader

Fernanda Pichardo, 28, grew up eating popsicles at the local paleterías in her hometown of Mexico City, so it’s hardly surprising the “frozen cocktails” she made in her kitchen as a teenager showed early promise. Her liquor-laced lollies proved so popular that in 2016 Fernanda quit the day-job to launch her own company, Blend Poptails. The freewheeling entrepreneur hasn’t looked back since. A reader of The Gentlewoman since its inaugural issue in 2010, Fernanda talks to Lucy Milligan about taking her business from freezer to fiesta.

Fernanda Pichardo

Lucy: Tell me the story of the first lolly, Fernanda – grand plan or happy accident?

Fernanda: I’ve always loved throwing parties and mixing cocktails for my guests and I was thinking of ways to make them portable. So, I figured, why not freeze them? I made the first batch at home in an ice-cube tray – they were gin and tonic-flavoured and are one of the company’s bestsellers now. There was a bit of trial and error involved initially, experimenting with different quantities of fruit, sugar and alcohol. If the balance’s off the popsicle won’t freeze properly.

L: At what point did you realise this had business potential?

F: Around the beginning of 2014, I started taking samples to food markets, such as Mercado Roma and Los Mercaderes Coyoacan. And customers’ reactions were instantaneous – they just loved them! I couldn’t keep up with the demand so I had to scale up production. I got in touch with some potential manufacturers in Mexcio City, and one has been producing the popsicles since 2016. Shortly afterwards, I left my job at a media agency and went full-time with Blend. Now I have a team of 10 and we produce 2o different flavours.

L: What’s the bestseller?

F: Mexican Mescal does quite well. We mix it with mango and chilli, so you get a sweet, smoky and spicy taste in every bite. That and the mojito – I mean, who doesn’t love a mojito? Sure, it’s a novelty product, but they’re genuinely delicious. We use natural ingredients and take the time to perfect each recipe. It’s not just a gimmick.

L: Would they get you drunk?

F: Ha! The amount of alcohol is actually very small, 28ml – it’s more of a flavour. You might feel the effects if you ate five of them. We also make alcohol-free ones.

L: Is there a big cocktail scene in Mexico City?

F: Oh, yes. My favourite bar is Licorería Limantour in Colonia Roma, a super-fun neighbourhood known for its nightlife. I also like Fifty Mils at the Four Seasons in the Polanco district.

L: And when you’re not working or kicking up your heels?

F: I’m always looking to learn more about history so I love reading biographies. I’m currently reading La Divina Marchesa, the biography of the Italian heiress Luisa, Marchesa Casati – such glamour!

Interview by Lucy Milligan. Photograph courtesy of Fernanda Pichardo. Would you like to be the next featured reader? Then sign-up sister and tell us about yourself!