Local residents Holly Tate and Bob Sutton used to work together at a staffing company. During the group’s evening happy hours, he shared a simple syrup he had made.
“It was something he used to make sangria for family during the holidays,” Tate said of the syrup, which contains cinnamon and anise as well as cayenne pepper. “Everybody loved it.”
When Sutton added it to some bourbon and had his best Old Fashioned ever, he knew he was on to something. After selling a number of bottles out of his house, Sutton asked Tate, who has sales and marketing experience, if she’d like to join forces. And Statesman Beverage Co. was born.
“We’re a good team,” Tate said.
For the first year, they introduced Sutton’s creation – called Sir Winston’s Spiced Simple Syrup – to the market.
“It’s a fall flavor,” Tate said. “We say it’s Texas Christmas in a bottle.”
Statesman’s second offering is called Sir Francis’ Mojito Simple Syrup and is marketed as a spring and summer craft cocktail staple.
The names have significance. Statesman’s website explains that in the 1500s, when Sir Francis Drake visited Havana, the mojito was conceived to help sailors suffering from scurvy. In addition to cane sugar, limes and rum, the local Chuchuhuasi tree bark tea was added to the Cuban mojitos. Statesman’s version contains the organic bark.
As for Sir Winston, look no further than hard-drinking politician Sir Winston Churchill, who enjoyed Scotch whiskey.
Sutton and Tate’s products are gaining a wider audience, thanks to Stateman’s top-20 finish in H-E-B’s Quest for Texas Best contest in August. Tate said they found out about the contest from the Texas Pickle Company.
“There were 800 entries,” Tate said. “It was such an honor.”
Tate said they are now in conversations with H-E-B about the possibility of having their syrups offered in the grocery stores. Statesman now offers its product in smaller stores across 21 states and on Amazon.com.
“We love being in family boutiques,” Tate said.
In Houston, customers can find them at Manready Mercantile on 19th Street, Forth & Nomad on Yale Street and the Williams-Sonoma in Highland Village and at Town & Country.
Tate said they are working on a new syrup that is almost ready for market. They are also seeking to scale the business in order to meet new demand.
“We are still hand-making the syrups,” Tate said. “We’re looking at Texas options to help us grow.”
For more information, visit www.statesmanbeverage.co.