How the 86 Co. Gave Bartenders Just What They Asked For
By Francine Cohen
You may know them for their big win in the best new product category at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards, or (depending on whether you gained access or had drinks graciously ferried outside to you while waiting on line before being turned away) love them/hate them for their brand’s Tales debut party, The Bare Knuckle Brawl. But do you really know the 86 Co. and their line of spirits?
Unlike many other brands that start off with a product or a marketing plan, the pros behind the 86 Co. (Malte Barnekow, Simon Ford, Jason Kosmas, Kris Roth, and Dushan Zaric) started with goals and a bunch of questions. Kosmas explains, “You need to be able to get great spirits at an honest price. That’s part of the equation. We don’t want to re-teach people how to make drinks. What we did want to do when creating our spirits was to make them be plug and play and have bartenders use our spirits. We want them to be inspiring, which is why they are spirit driven.”
The focus on being spirit driven, and higher proof than some competitors, was all to make bartenders happy. Despite the reality that they’d be facing higher excise taxes, the 86 Co. team made a conscious decision to satisfy the bartender’s need for an impressive ABV number. Says Kosmas, “They think that people’s experience is based on the spirit straight out of the bottle. But it is not until you mix with it that you get the impression of what the spirit does. So we used mixed drinks as a benchmark and a we ended up with a tequila that is so full of agave, rum that is sugar cane; they are all very stereotypes and exaggerated stereotypes. And all highly viscous. It was about producing a tool for bartenders.
Creating precisely the right tools was the first order of business as Ford explains how they arrived at the profile for each brand, “We started with what we wanted the liquid to be before we went into it [production].”
In part the success of the company’s product line (Aylesbury Duck Vodka, Caña Brava Rum, Ford’s Gin, and Tequila Cabeza) has as much to do with the combined spirit wisdom and bar experience of the brand’s principles, as it does the input and needs of the greater Continue Reading…