SaloonBox Behind The Scenes: Chris Harrison, Owner, Founder at Liber & Co.
For our June kit, we were lucky to work with an unbelievably delicious tonic syrup made by Liber & Co. As things come down, we took some time to chat with Chris Harrison, one of the founders of Liber & Co. and here's what he had to say:
Who came up with the idea behind Liber? What was the inspiration behind creating your company? When did you launch?
We (Chris Harrison, Robert and Adam Higginbotham) launched Liber in December 2011, after debating what kind of entrepreneurial venture the three of us wanted to get into. Adam and I were testing out homemade tonic recipes in order to put a new spin on our beloved gin and tonics. It eventually hit us that making cocktail syrups is a fairly easy market to enter as long as you're willing to do it on the side for its first few years!
How do you determine your products and recipes?
We develop products by keeping a close eye on the best bars/bartenders in the world. These are the men and women who push our craft forward by using real, high quality ingredients. If they make a ginger syrup, they do not start with high fructose corn syrup and add artificial ginger flavor! Instead, they take ginger root, juice it and then blend it with cane sugar. That's exactly what we do for our products. It's more difficult and expensive this way, but premium quality comes at a price and the proof is in the product!
Specifically, what inspired you to create your Spiced Tonic Syrup?
The Spiced Tonic Syrup was our first product, and from its inception we wanted two things: to complement tonic's heritage, and to chose botanicals that complement tonic's best friend (dry gin). For the first, we chose a natural quinine source - cinchona bark, and for the latter, we selected things like lime and orange peel, plus a touch of allspice and lemongrass.
What trends have you seen lately in the cocktail syrup space?
Spice - Heat is hot right now, and our best seller is our Fiery Ginger Syrup. You see this across the beverage alcohol space from bitters to Fireball. People crave heat!
Savory - Syrups will always be sweet by their nature, but a bit of salt and umami are trending complements. Salts and vinegars can add complexity to an otherwise straightforward sweet syrup.
Herbal - It's tough to pull this off, but herbal infusions are popular and can be excellent when done right. These can be accent flavors that make people go "Ohhhh what's that?!"
What was one of the most exciting moments for your brand?
Being on CNBC's Billion Dollar Buyer and successfully doing business with Tilman Fertitta and Landry's Inc has been a true high-point!
What are some challenges you face?
Our biggest challenge is scaling our business to meet demand and a viable market price. When you start small you start expensive, but as we grow we will be able to streamline our processes and be more competitive in the market.
What's next? Any plans for new products in the pipeline you can talk about?
Orgeat! coming very soon...
Photo credit: Juliet Beletic