Naples now has its very own brand of vodka and barrel-aged rum.
Brien Spina, owner of the Off the Hook Comedy Club on Vanderbilt Beach Road, launched in November. Spina is a licensed Coast Guard captain and a serial entrepreneur: He opened his comedy club on Marco Island in 2005, where he also operated one of the largest commercial fishing fleets in Southwest Florida. The club migrated with him when he moved to Naples.
List Distillery in Fort Myers produces both of Spina’s spirits. The vodka is sugar-free, gluten-free, and organic. The rum, which is gluten-free, is aged in cask for three months for optimum flavor. Much of the exposure for the products is coming from The Captain’s Log, a podcast with a wide social media following.
“The original idea was to make both products exclusive to Naples and spotlight the local community, but the demand has been surprising,” he says. “We currently have nearly three dozen local restaurants, bars, and package stores carrying the brand, and we’ve received interest from national retailers.”
Personalized, high-profile spirit labels are certainly not new. Rappers have long lent their names to brands of Cognac, vodka, and Champagne. In 2013, George Clooney and two friends launched Casamigos tequila; Diageo purchased the company four years later for $1 billion—$700 million in cash and an additional $300 million in performance-based incentives. Numbers like that are inspiring new entrants into the industry.
“Within a year or two, we’ll be releasing additional spirits,” says Spina, who currently is working with List Distillery to develop a bourbon. “We want to become a nationally recognized brand.”