When we first got into making Absinthe, we never thought we would be hit by the "Planning Fallacy," coined by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, where life circumstances push your deadlines back months if not years. In 2017, we started making absinthe after I got drunk on my 1st bottle of home-made wine. Tipsy, I read through my notes, stumbling upon a poem of mine with the phrase “Absinthe Minded.” "Great name!" I thought, subsequently texting my best friend Justin "T-Bone" Slusher, suggesting that we try making absinthe and that we should buy a still. Justin called me immediately. "Dude!" he said, "I've got a still that I bought for my dad to make moonshine and we only used it once." Fast forward to 2 weeks later and we’re distilling absinthe in Justin’s back yard. As absolute noobs, we managed to destroy several batches until, on the 3rd attempt, we arrived at a high-grade absinthe based on the formulation of Pontalier, France. This turned into what we call our Premium Blend, officially titled "Absinthe Minded GOLD." This was November of 2017 and we thought we would be on market by the following spring. But the aforementioned “Planning Fallacy” would ultimately test our patients over the following 2 years.
Then we're in 2018. We have one premium GOLD product, which we successfully conducted beta-testing with other players in the industry with great accolades. Early in the year, we were introduced to Brandon Casey, the President of the Bartenders Guild and owner of Casey’s Woodshed in Tempe, AZ. He's a tall dude with a charismatic personality and a penchant for drinking stuff straight. We poured him a glass of GOLD, asked him to add some ice-water in it. "No," he said as he drank it straight, all at 140 proof. “It’s great,” he said, “but you need something at 40%.” Our Absinthe Minded GOLD comes in at 70% ABV which is recommended to be served the transitional French method:
1 jigger of absinthe poured in an absinthe glass
Absinthe spoon placed on top of glass and adorned with a sugar cube
Ice-cold water is slowly dripped over the sugar cube into the glass to reach a 1:3 ratio of absinthe to water, or until the absinthe “louches”
NOTE: “louching” is the phenomenon where the clear color of absinthe achieves an opaque hue with the addition of ice-cold water. This occurs when the essential oils bonded to alcohol molecules come out of solution in water, ultimately capturing light in a milky hue.
According to Casey, “A premium blend has no place in a high-volume bar,” thus it was imperative that we create our one-of-its-kind, mid-shelf label at 40%. And we did it, after great efforts, trying our best to avoid artificial food colorings and flavors. We are proud to say that Absinthe Minded VERTE blend is ALL NATURAL, and ideal for drinking in shots, neat, on the rocks, or in a simple cocktail. Thanks to Casey, and with 3 more months of R&D, we were finally ready for production with 2 amazing, high-quality spirits.
With a great support network of family members in business, we are soon connected with our first Interim CEO, Kanwar Singh. Singh is incredible and believes in our vision and passions. "This is not just potatoes," Singh says to us during our first meeting. "You guys are the filet mignon of the spirits market." We love his funny analogies, so we meet with him once a week at our favorite cigar bar to discuss logistics and strategy. During our 1-year stint with Singh, we have a fully-fleshed out business plan, financial spreadsheet, and pitch deck for prospective investors. Then fast forward to 2019.
2019 was by far our most challenging years. We spent the majority of the year attempting to nail down a deal with a distillery willing to work with us in producing our product. Then, at the recommendation of Greg Arias at O.H.S.O. Distillery, we met the folks at Adventurous Stills in Tempe, AZ. Adventurous is a 3-man outfit of both mechanical and electrical engineers: Kelly Lattig, Jeff Reisinger, and Chase Estrin. These guys all built their own equipment by hand from scratch—stills, pumps, and all—resulting in a truly unique aesthetic unparalleled in Arizona's distillery scene. These men have been absolutely instrumental in bringing us to where we are today. Kelly and his team have helped us obtain approval for our formulation through the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), obtain approval for our label design, and complete the distillation process for our first round of production.
On December 7, 2019, Absinthe Minded will be sponsoring our first event, taking place at the Sunbar Tempe. Absinthe Minded will be sponsoring the SugarSpoon Vaudeville & Burlesque Festival, featuring burlesque dancers, circus sideshow performers, fire eaters, sword swallowers, drag queens, and live music by the Bourgeois Beggars.
We hope that this window into our long journey can provide you with encouragement to continue on whatever path you pursue. Know that, as Nietzsche once said, “He who has a why to live can bare almost any how.” We have nearly turned in the towel on numerous occasions, but we decided to continue through the hero's journey. Many more hardships and many more victories lay ahead for Absinthe Minded, and we say, “Bring it on.” Cheers!