Several years ago, Joe Santos and Emil Jattne decided to leave their corporate careers behind to open up their own craft distillery. Formerly brand directors for Bacardi, both men had extensive experience in the industrial booze world. But when it came to crafting the libations by hand, they started from the ground up like anyone else. The duo sold their first batch of Brooklyn Gin just over three years ago. In anticipation of tonight’s Holiday Spirits tasting event, we chatted with Jattne about what makes Brooklyn Gin special and why he and Santos chose to turn to craft distilling.
Unlike a lot of small-batch distillers in New York, you have previous experience working with spirits. Why did you and Joe decide to start your own brand and how is you past experience helping you today with Brooklyn Gin?
We wanted to create the gin we wanted to drink, to make something we love and can be proud of. We hope people like it. In our previous lives, we had the opportunity to work with some amazing distillers who have mentored us and been tremendously helpful when we created Brooklyn Gin.
Do you feel like you’re coming to Brooklyn Gin as a businessman or artisan or both?
Artisan. We wanted to make a gin the way we think it should be done without shortcuts or compromises. We do everything by hand, 300 bottles at a time. It takes a little more time and effort, but we think it’s worth it.
Why gin, and what makes your gin stand out?
Gin is in so many of our favorite cocktails. It is fun to make, and you can be very creative with it. We love citrus-forward gins, so that’s what we do. We are unique in that we use freshly cut citrus peels, not dried or frozen peels that other distillers use. We believe it provides a more flavorful and vibrant alternative to the older mass produced imports.
What’s your favorite cocktail of all time?
I gravitate towards simple classics that let great spirits shine. If I have to pick one favorite, it’s the martini. I make mine three parts Brooklyn gin, one part Dolin dry, a dash of orange bitters, and garnish with a lemon twist.
Any upcoming projects in the wings?
We are lucky enough to have our hands full with the gin. We have plenty of ideas for new stuff, but that will have to wait a little bit.