Squeeze into a coveted spot by the bar at Employees Only on any Friday night…
…and you’ll understand why owners Dushan Zaric and Jason Kosmas became slightly obsessed with creating spirits designed specifically for the rail.
Bartenders who get their asses handed to them four or five (or six or seven) nights a week know exactly which bottle has the best grip, which flavour profile mixes smoothly into cocktails, which products are easy to describe to indecisive customers.
Joined by Malte Barnekow (formerly of Absolut) and Kris Roth, they began in earnest to map the mind of the modern bartender, intent on creating the ultimate bartenders’ product range.
The last member of the team, and the face of the brand, is Simon Ford, the former Pernod Ricard USA Director of Trade Marketing and Brand Education. Simon was also the US brand ambassador for Plymouth Gin and launched the brand in ten countries.
Simon is uniquely placed to launch the 86 Company’s spirit range, having built a strong positive profile within trade, consumer, and media circles in the United States and internationally.
During his tenure as Brand Ambassador and Director, Simon developed and launched many bartender-focused educational initiatives throughout the US. He is widely regarded as a gin expert, and is the driving force behind the development of Ford’s Gin, which was recently awarded five stars by F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal and is one of the most critically acclaimed new products of 2012.
The stated goal for The 86 Company is to (wait for it) 86 the bullshit and give bartenders what they want. To that end, and based on feedback from thousands of bartenders, they put accurate measurement lines on bottles, and designed them for the well. They cut down on the flowery marketing language and set prices that would make the products accessible.
This tactic seems to be working so far – The 86 Company products can be found on cocktail menus in every major US market. There’s no word on when or if these fine spirits will arrive in the UK, but when there is, you’ll be the first to know.
Here’s what they have concocted so far:
Caña Brava Rum
PROOF 86 ABV 43% Made in Panama
This 3-year-old aged and filtered “Cuban-style” rum is continuously distilled in a classic 1922 copper and brass still at the Las Cabres Distillery by Master Distiller and former Minister of Cuban Rum Francisco ‘Don Pancho’ J. Fernandez.
PROOF 90 ABV 45% Distilled at Thames Distillers in London
Distilled in London at Thames Distillers, Fords Gin is a collaboration between 8th generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford of The 86 Co. This gin was designed specifically for cocktails, with strong fresh and floral notes.
PROOF 86 ABV 43% Distilled in Arandez, Mexico
The Vivanco family has been cultivating agave in the Los Altos region of Jalisco for 5 generations – they handle everything from Hijuelo sprout to bottling Tequila Cabeza.
Aylesbury Duck Vodka
40%ABV/80 Proof – Product of Canada
A clean vodka with a spicy and grainy character made from white winter wheat grown in the Western Rockies of Canada.