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86 Company (Noise and Spirits) Brilliant Liquor Design from Simon Ford

Great Bottle Design-Photo: Warren Bobrow, Leica M8- 50mm Summicron F2

I grew up surrounded by great design.  My parent’s home was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and built by his East Coast representative, the late Morton Delson.   Design was near and far at all times, from breakfast to dinner.  Mr. Wright wanted the exterior space to enter the interior space in an organic fashion.  It infused my dreams and made me the creative person that I am today.  Instead of cartoons, I immersed myself in Japanese art.  Dinner always had wine on the table and although my mother’s food was nearly inedible, the memories of flavors from that table and the intoxicants that accompanied them, will never leave my memory.

All throughout my life I’ve tried to immerse myself in great design.  It is a balance of light to dark, truly what I believe has made me the writer I am today.

Imagine my pleasure when I met Simon Ford of the 86 Company.  Not only is he the consummate gentleman, but he is a talented bartender as well.

(I bar-tend a couple nights a week, damn hard work that I believe makes me a better spirits writer, but I digress...)

Simon is involved through his company (the 86 Company)  some pretty expressive liquors with fabulous design elements.  Glancing over his bottle of his Fords Gin, I read, “It doesn’t take an empire to make a gin.”  I love it!  The bottles are sexy, seductive in shape and the liquor contained within is not an afterthought to the brilliant design, it is sumptuous and lush.  Sipping the gin (yes it’s 9:22 in the morning) I detect a crisp citrus note of the classic London style of gin.  The aromatics are soul filled and transporting.  A trip to the Far East via London in each sniff.  I lust for a Martini made with Dolin, stirred just so.  Maybe I can have one at lunch? Hmmmm.  The gin’s label goes on to teach me that it contains: Juniper from Italy, Jasmine from China, Orris from Morocco, Grapefruit from Turkey, Coriander from Romania, Lemon peel from Spain, Bitter orange peel from Haiti, Angelica from Poland and Cassia Bark from Indonesia.  This is distilled in London, England.  Magnificent stuff.

May I have some in a snifter with a chunk of ice from my Mavea “Inspired Water” pitcher?

If  I want to infuse some botanical oils  into the ice, make it infused ice?  Sure, why not.

The informative label says Botanicals from Everywhere…  This is true!  But what about the flavor of this gin?

Tasting notes: Crisp, quite aromatic and very refreshing.  Citrus on the tip of your nose, the exotic spices build upon the first notes of the burn that is not overpowering. There are the notes of spice on the tongue and the haunting taste of the botanical ingredients that swirl around my mouth leaving me refreshed.

The label says that the water used in the mix is from Mendocino, California… via London?  I’m intrigued!   It also says steeped (like tea?) for 15 hours, then cooked for five hours.  Lovely, aromatic and quite beguiling.  This is the polar opposite from some of the Botanical gins I’ve tasted recently…

Fords Gin is classic in every way.

Fords Gin and Tonic (a bit twisted up)


3 oz. Fords Gin

.50 oz. Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Roses

2 oz. Q-Tonic water

3 drops- Bitter End Moroccan Bitters

Orange Zest

Simple Preparation:

Into a tall “Collins” glass add 3 cubes of Mavea (Inspired Water ice)

Add the Fords Gin

Add the Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Roses

Add the Q-Tonic water

Drip the Bitter End Bitters over the top

Stir briskly to combine

Sip thoughtfully!

Simon Ford’s Cana Brava Rum

The Aged and Filtered Cana Brava Rum is a revelation of rum.  Deeply flavored with pure cane aromatics, the aromatics of white flowers, stone fruits and freshly cut cane bring everything into balance.  The informative label goes through all the steps to making this highly expressive rum.  Francisco J. Fernandez is the master distiller of this rum.  It is distilled in the Cuban Method.  Fresh and inviting, this rum has the guts to go up against Havana Club white rum any day.  The label goes on to read that this rum is shipped to California (from Panama) and blended with the water from Mendocino County, using well water.  Brilliant!  Aged 3 years in a combination of un-charred American White Oak (from the label) and used Tennessee Whiskey Barrels, it is blended with older rums for consistency.  Then it is Carbon Filtered.  The color of the liquor is pale yellow from the sugar cane molasses.   Then it is distilled five times.  This is very elegant rum, fitting of a Gimlet in my own twisted style.

The Cana Brava Twisted Gimlet


3 oz. Cana Brava Rum

1 oz. Tenneyson Absinthe (for the wash)

Crushed Ice made with the Mavea “Inspired Water” pitcher

.50 Freshly Squeezed Lime juice

.25 Royal Rose “Saffron” Simple Syrup

Bitter End Thai Bitters


Fill a Coupe glass with ice, water and the Tenneyson Absinthe to chill

When sufficiently chilled, pour out (preferably into your mouth, as not to waste this spirit)

To a Boston shaker add:

Cana Brava

Lime juice

Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Saffron

Ice to 3/4

Shake for twenty seconds

Strain into your washed Coupe glass

Drip four drops of Bitter End Thai Bitters over the top


Tequila Cabeza is the spirit that I love the most from this tasting.  It has an equally intriguing label that depicts the “Day of the Dead” skull, front and center.  The El Ranchito Distillery is responsible for the twice distilled in a copper pot still, brick oven, winter fermented spirit that uses all estate grown agave.  I love this stuff.  I recently shared some with a couple guys who I work with at the Ryland Inn, located in NJ.  They hail from this part of the world and the looks on their faces when they tasted the spirit was transporting.  It was as if they tasted the first glass of sweet caramel woven with milk custard- in the presence of their family back in the old country.  An honor really to connect with someone through their memory of what Tequila really tastes like.  This is not a commercial style Tequila, but one with true passion.  There is a bit of char, a bit of sugar, and bit of smoke and a large portion of love.

I suggest that you find some and see why this is called a “growers” Tequila.  I won’t do much to this cocktail.. It’s too good to cover up.

The Feliciano Vivanco Cocktail


3 oz. Tequila Cabeza

4 oz. Grilled Grapefruit Juice – sear or grill grapefruit rounds on wood charcoal until just charred, juice then cool

2 oz. Fresh lime juice

2 oz. Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Three Chilies

5 drops of the Bitter End Mexican Mole’ Bitters


To a Boston shaker add:

Grilled Grapefruit and lime juice

Royal Rose Simple Syrup

Fill shaker 3/4 with ice

Shake for 30 seconds and strain into a large rocks glass with 1 large cube of Mavea “Inspired Water” ice.

Drip the Bitter End Bitters over the top of the glass and……

Sip to this incredibly delicious and complex Tequila that truly tastes of the place. 



Florence von Pelet

Florence is a senior editor at Modenus.com. Aside from her natural passion for interiors, kitchens and baths Florence also leads the way on Modenus’ BlogTours around the world so please follow her on Twitter to get the latest information and inspiration about design trends from around the world.


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