Paying homage to the profession that they have toiled in for years, industry veterans Simon Ford, Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric today announced the formation of The 86 Co. with a portfolio of spirits intended to meet the needs of bartenders who are elevating cocktail making to an art form. Four specially-formulated spirits, including Ford's Gin, Aylesbury Duck Vodka, Cana Brava Rum and Tequila Cabeza, have launched in select markets, and are already appearing at some of the most prestigious bars in the country. From Texas and California to New York and Chicago, The 86 Co. is making waves amongst the bartender illuminati who desire less marketing fluff and more exceptional spirits that deliver killer drinks – whether serving a novice bar patron or a sophisticated cocktail connoisseur.
Founded by award-winning industry veteran Simon Ford and enlisting the invaluable expertise of Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric of Employees Only and Macao Trading Co. fame, The 86 Co. was created in conjunction with some of the best distillers and distilleries from around the world. Conversations within the bartending community inspired the style, flavor profile and taste of the spirits, which are versatile, full-bodied and above all have been made for mixing.
"Collectively, Jason, Dushan and I have been in the business for a combined 60 years, so I'd say we know our way around a shaker, muddler and other bartending accoutrements," said Simon Ford, Co-Founder, The 86 Co. "Having made this our chosen profession, our products are distilled with an infinite understanding of function, efficiency, mixability and quality of ingredients, which is why we tapped into our network of bartending colleagues to ensure we were delivering upon their expectations."
CANA BRAVA RUM
Made in Panama, Cana Brava is a three-year old aged and filtered rum from local wild sugar cane grown in the mineral rich volcanic soil of the Herrera region of Panama. It 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. The rum is aged in a combination of new un-charred American oak and used American Whisky barrels, and then blended with older rums and carbon filtered to create a light and complex rum. To quote Don Pancho, "rum as that we drunk in Cuba when I was a young man."
Distilled in London at Thames Distillers, Fords Gin is a collaboration between 8th generation Master Distiller Charles Maxwell and Simon Ford. A mix of nine botanicals, the gin starts with a traditional base of juniper & coriander seed and balanced by citrus (bitter orange, lemon & grapefruit peel), florals (jasmine flower & orris) and spices (angelica & cassia). Steeped for 15 hours, the botanicals deliver an aromatic, fresh and floral spirit with elegant notes of orange blossom that plays beautifully in classic gin cocktails.
With the explosion of the tequila category, the entrance of Tequila Cabeza is a welcome addition given its compelling back story and production method that offers up an agave-forward spirit that works well both neat and in tequila-centric cocktails. For five generations, the Vivanco family has been cultivating agave in the Los Altos region of Jalisco – having built their distillery, El Ranchito, on the edge of their 800-acre mountainside field in Arandas. On the nose, there's a bouquet of highland agave that captures both the earthiness and the honey while adding complex layers of green vegetables and a healthy dose of minerality. Full-bodied with a velvety mouth feel, Tequila Cabeza finishes with a light, bitter citrus, cooked agave flavors and black pepper.
AYLESBURY DUCK VODKA
As the most called for spirit in bars, The 86 Co. decided to buck the trend of creating confectionary-flavored vodka, and has distilled a spirit that is rich, robust and something bartenders are proud to carry and recommend. Hailing from the Western Rockies region of Canada, Aylesbury Duck Vodka is a clean spirit with a spicy and grainy character made from white winter wheat. Whether enjoying a pre-dinner martini a la James Bond style or a contemporary twist on a Moscow Mule, Aylesbury Duck is a palate pleasing vodka for both classic cocktails and 21st century bartender creations.