Not since Prohibition has there been a distillery in Manhattan, New York, but Pernod Ricard’s brand Our/Vodka is about to change all that and create locally produced spirit on the island from officially open its doors to the public on 25 May.
Our/Vodka was started in 2010 by a group of Swedish entrepreneurs and later funded by Pernod Ricard. It invests in and builds micro-distilleries in select cities, using local partners run the business of producing and selling the Vodka. The local entrepreneurs become a part of the Our/Vodka family, investing their own time and effort in return for gaining access to Our/Vodka’s expertise, long-term capital investment and share of profits.
Our/Vodka has built micro-distilleries in Berlin, Detroit, London, Amsterdam, Los Angeles and New York, with each city giving Our/Vodka its local name and character. The company’s multiple awarded Vodkas are unique to each city and we source the ingredients as locally as possible, while never compromising on our quality.
Our/New York will be the sixth subsiduary and will be operated by local skate wear entrepreneur and artist Dave Ortiz, founder of DQM (Dave’s Quality Meat).
Located at 151 West 26th Street in the heart of Manhattan between Sixth and Seventh avenues, the Our/New York micro-distillery will feature a public tasting room, bar, retail shop, gallery and event space. Visitors are welcome to stop by the distillery daily for drinks, tours and tastings starting May 25.
The Vodka is partly distilled, blended in small batches, and hand-bottled onsite at the micro-distillery following the same global recipe.the concept is the brainchild of Founder and CEO Åsa Caap and was treated as a “black ops” secret project within Pernod Ricard before the first distillery opened in 2013 in Berlin.
Caap said: “Our/New York is an important and exciting chapter in the Our/Vodka story and Dave, a born and raised New Yorker, is the perfect partner to write that chapter.”
“It’s been five years since I signed the lease for our space and since then we’ve worked day and night”, Caap continued.
“Amongst other things, we’ve changed the zoning within Manhattan and received a code variance form the New York fire department. In total, we’ve had over 220 meetings with different authorities. As you can imagine, the team and I look forward to finally opening.”
Our/New York is a corn-based super-premium vodka that is blended using New York City tap water for a vodka that is smooth, fresh and pure with a slight grain and fruity note.
The story began in October 2013, when the phone rang at Dave’s Wear House, a skate shop on Baxter Street in lower Manhattan. The caller identified himself as a talent scout for a spirits company.
“We thought the guy wanted us to design a T-shirt. Maybe we’d get a few free bottles,” said Kevin Carney, 47 years old, co-owner of the Skate Shop, along with Dave Ortiz, 47, a former graffiti artist.
The scout visited their shop the following day and introduced himself as Thurman Wise, but he didn’t reveal that he was working on behalf of Our/Vodka. Mr. Carney suggested he hire them to throw a party. Mr. Wise, 32, agreed to consider it and offered that maybe they could also run the distillery.
“Our friends are really into elaborate practical jokes and this guy had hair down to his shoulders. His arms, hands and neck are covered in tattoos. He wore patent leather loafers with no socks. We thought we were getting punked, but we went with it,” said Mr. Ortiz.
Growing up in East New York in the 70s and 80s, Dave Ortiz was swept up in the graffiti and skate culture zeitgeist before developing parallel careers in the skate wear industry while simultaneously pursuing fine art.
He says of the venture: “When Our/Vodka approached me about Our/New York, it sounded too good to be true at first, but Our/Vodka isn’t based on superficial brand ideas; it’s based on real people combined with real expertise and I was immediately attracted by the opportunity to grow a brand that New Yorkers can really identify with.”
Sold in 375ml-sized bottles, Our/New York will be available at the distillery, regional bars, restaurants and liquor stores.