We sit down with Gerry Calabrese, Founder and CEO of Hoxton Spirits, who tells us more about the brand, revealing why championing quality yet fun drinking experiences is at the heart of what they do.
Gerry, please tell us the story behind Hoxton Spirits.
I used to own the Hoxton Pony in Shoreditch, which launched in 2008. I was particularly passionate about gin at the time, and during this period, I was introducing seasonal menus, using British ingredients, and gained a lot of my inspiration from botanicals.
The bar had a predominantly young audience, and per week, we would get through a couple hundred bottles of house pouring vodka, as opposed to the 10 bottles of house gin, collectively. I began to think that there must be an opportunity to aim gin at a younger audience, not just in its flavour profile, but in its branding and positioning.
I initially created Hoxton as a labour of love, to serve in my own establishment, and it since, took on a life of its own. By 2019, I decided to take on a full-time role at Hoxton spirits and the rest is history!
Please tell us about the range of spirits you offer.
The word ‘flavour’ has some slightly negative connotations in the industry – there are a lot of products full with synthetic colorants and all sorts of nasties. I asked myself: “Why are we doing such a bad job of incorporating high-quality flavour into spirits categories?”
Hoxton’s aim is to create a range of products that pay homage to their category and the craft of spirit production, and at the same time, incorporate real, natural fruit maceration, botanicals, distillation and infusion.
Our range began with the launch of Hoxton Tropical Gin, which was then followed by Hoxton Pink Gin in 2015 – a beautiful product that makes a bad-boy Pink Martini! I’m a little bit of a Cockney Pirate, so our next launch was the Hoxton Banana Rum, a carefully selected blend, macerated with fresh and dried banana with no added sugar, which tastes great neat! From there, in-line with the remake of our bespoke bottles, we launched three new labels in tandem: the Amaro – inspired by my Italian heritage, Hoxton Dry Gin and finally, Hoxton Spiced Whisky – a real labour of love, which took around three years to develop.
What sets Hoxton Spirits apart from other brands?
We are a portfolio of flavoured spirits under a singular brand umbrella, and to the best of my knowledge, that hasn’t been done before. There is an explosion of flavoured spirits but there isn’t an explosion of flavoured, quality spirits – and that’s something we at Hoxton want to correct. In my opinion, customers should not forego quality in place of flavour.
What makes Hoxton Spirits offerings the superior choice for bartenders, and what makes the range a great choice for a range of serves?
Hoxton Spirits provide the extra degree of versatility for bars: Firstly, customers want flavour and place this above any other criteria. Secondly, in high-energy, vertical drinking establishments, where there’s a DJ and four rows of customers at the bar, you can make a great drink very quickly. If you have limited time or expertise, Hoxton solves this problem.