ORLANDO, Fla. – The man behind a well-known booze business near the campus of the University of Central Florida is teaming up with DJs and promoters from the Orlando area’s club scene to bring a new brand of craft spirits to the area.
“We always said to ourselves, ‘Man, if we were to make something we’d probably do better than a lot of these big (liquor) companies,” Danny Garcia, the vice president of Marketing for Patel Spirits said. “We kind of see what people like. We see how we can help local retailers out.”
Patel Spirits was founded by Mitch Patel, Luis Medina, Eric Medina, Chris Rodriguez and Garcia. Each member of the team has been involved in Central Florida’s nightlife and bar scene for many years.
Mitch Patel is the head of Patel Spirits, according to Garcia, and was also the owner of Pat’s Liquor Leaf & Wine, which opened its first location at 4250 Alafaya Trail, not far from UCF’s Bounce House. After 20 years, he stepped down from Pat’s to fully pursue the new brand.
Eric Medina is the Chief Operation Officer for Patel Spirits. According to Garcia, he is also a Marine veteran who took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom who has been working in education prior to joining the company.
Luis Medina is the vice president on-premise of Patel Spirits. He is also part owner of Novelty, a lounge in the Thornton Park area, according to Garcia, and an event promoter who works with several venues in downtown Orlando.
Chris Rodriguez is the vice president off-premise of Patel Spirits. He is also the general manager for all three Pat’s Liquor locations, Garcia said. He added, Rodriguez had been a DJ in Orlando for several years but stopped after undergoing a double lung transplant in his mid-twenties.
Garcia himself is a full-time DJ and previously worked at Pat’s Liquor.
The group is now getting ready to launch their first spirit, P1 Vodka. According to Garcia, the name is a nod to Patel’s Indian heritage.
“In India they have a culture where when they give money — let’s say that I’m giving you $100 — Instead of giving you $100, we’re going to give you $101,” he said. “(The gift) always ends with the number one. That is one, that’s the beginning of something better. They want you to prosper.”
Patel, Luis Medina and Eric Medina all attended school at UCF, Garcia said. The black and gold design on the P1 bottle is in tribute to their connection with the school, according to the company’s website.
The group uses Two Trees Distillery in Fletcher, North Carolina as a co-packer for their vodka. Garcia said the decision to produce their spirits outside the state came down to water quality.
“We wanted to be 100% local, which is really hard with Florida water. Water makes all the difference in the taste of liquor,” Garcia said. ”(Two Trees) water pretty much comes from the Appalachian Mountains.”
He said that the company’s search for the right water supply for its vodka inspired the owners to donate part of their proceeds to a charity focused on providing clean water, though they have not decided which organization that will be.
Garcia said Patel Spirits is now close to launching their P1 vodka in Orlando, the company is just waiting on the shipment to arrive from Two Trees. He added that their shipment was originally supposed to arrive in July, but was pushed back because of labor shortages at the distillery.
When the vodka finally arrives, Patel Spirits is planning several events to introduce the brand to Central Florida.
“We want to do a city takeover. So there will be like a four or five-day event — may be started on a Tuesday or Wednesday — and every night of the week will be at a different club,” Garcia said.
He added that several bars and nightclubs have already agreed to carry P1, including Gilt Nightclub, Knights Library, Celine, Vyce and Eden. Pat’s Liquor will also carry the spirit, along with Big C’s Liquor Store and Knightly Spirits, Garcia said.
Even though P1 has to yet to arrive, Patel Spirits is already looking to launch a brand of rum as well, according to Garcia.
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