Like all good stories, the story of Iconic Cocktail Co. starts with a first date and a shared dream of opening a bar. You know how it goes: boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl attempt global cocktail domination. But nothing’s quite that simple, is it.
To learn more about Matt Farrow and Kaylee Nedley and the story behind Iconic Cocktail Co. we talked to Kaylee about what she learned working in an ice cream parlor, how she and Matt started their company and what small-batch production really looks like.
How did you two meet?
We met in the restaurant industry! I was finishing up my degree in filmmaking and working at an ice cream parlor that was attached to a popular Phoenix restaurant. Matt was the general manager of that restaurant and he was actually the one who hired me. For the first 2 years of knowing each other, Matt was just my GM and I was just the girl running the ice cream parlor. To this day, I still feel like that is why we work so well together. I have the fondest memories of Matt helping me write the schedule. He taught me how to order equipment, how to read a PNL, and how to become a better leader.
When did your relationship become more than the classic GM-“girl running the ice cream parlor” relationship?
We started hanging out (at the neighborhood dive bars) and it wasn't long until we started scheming our own restaurant and bar concepts. We spent many nights bouncing business ideas around, always knowing that we would have something of our own someday but never knowing exactly what that was. And we also fell in love – there's that too.
How did the idea for Iconic Cocktail Co. come about?
We started a cocktail catering company, but it quickly turned into a handcrafted mixer after doing our first bartending gig. For our signature cocktail menu, Matt would take the time to carefully craft each component. Our host asked if we had any sort of giveaway for their attendees and we thought, "Hey, what if we bottled this grenadine syrup and gave them the recipe to recreate this cocktail at home?" And that's when we realized we had something special that we could share our love for craft cocktails to our community.
What were the first flavors you started making?
We started with our first seasonal flavor, Cranberry Thyme, and with two other signature flavors, Ginga Syrup and Spiced Honey.
And what did that first season of selling look like?
We worked with a local print shop to get a label in time for Christmas but we designed everything ourselves. We started sharing on social media and then sold our cocktail mixers like Girl Scout Cookies. With a minimalist order form, we asked our friends, family and co-workers if they would like to buy a cocktail mixer and we would deliver in time for Christmas. Matt and I made just about 100 bottles to fill the orders and delivered them throughout the valley.
And then you were off to the races!
After that, we figured out how to get into a commercial kitchen and get the correct permits. We sold at local events and farmer's markets (and you can still find us there every Saturday) and worked with small boutiques and restaurants who were interested in the product. Everything was (and still is) produced in small batches, filled, sealed, labeled all by hand. We take whole fresh ingredients and turn them into a delicious and simple cocktail mixer. We pride our company on supporting local and keeping things real.
Where is Iconic Cocktail Co. at today?
Today, we're still in that same commercial kitchen but we now operate out of an office and moved everything from our home. Our team is small but mighty. Our Brand Ambassador, Brian Speer, has been helping us at the markets since the beginning with growing our wholesale and representing our brand at events. We have a part-time production assistant that we hope one day will be able to take over all production. We still really want to open that bar someday but currently, Matt and I run Iconic full time with heaps of passion and optimism.