Eric Rubin explained how Good Measure Beverage Company, which he leads, is related to Top Hat Provisions, which his business partner Shane McKnight leads. “One starts where the other leaves off.”
Both companies make premium mixers for cocktails. Good Measure’s are shelf stable liter bottles and made from natural ingredients, with “at least one special ingredient in each mixture.” The Good Measure customers are mostly catering companies and large venues, such as stadiums. Top Hat makes “craft concentrates for craft cocktails,” and many of the ingredients are organic. Its customers are bars and restaurants, and retail sales are being developed.
As a boy on his family’s farm in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Eric took care of the goats and chickens, rode horses, fished and hunted. This upbringing planted a seed: that it’s important to know where your food comes from. Then at the ripe “old” age of 7, it “clicked” for him. “Our family moved to Mobile, Alabama for about 6 months. The hotel where we lived had a great restaurant, and I discovered so many new foods from different regions. At 7 I was eating raw oysters!”
Back in Tennessee, the family lived on Eric’s grandfather’s farm. “He had a smoke house and smoked his own hams. As a kid, I got a great education in genuine country food that had direct links to the land.”
After college, Eric lived in Chicago, where he experienced ethnic cuisines, including Mexican. His appreciation for 100% agave tequila led eventually to his opening Tres Agaves, a restaurant specializing in the cuisine of Jalisco, the region of Mexico which is the source of most tequilas. As a restaurateur, Eric visited Jalisco many times, both experiencing the food and forming relationships with tequila distilleries.
Shane first experienced mixing by mixing paint colors. “I was good at matching colors and coming up with new formulas. I didn’t know that job was preparing me for a different kind of mixing as a bartender. I began managing the bar service for huge events: concerts, sporting events, company holiday parties, and celebrity weddings. I became dissatisfied with the quality of cocktails served at these events because so many people had to be served so quickly.”
“So, I came up with the concept of ‘craft on draft.’ Using a concentrated syrup that I mix from fresh ingredients, we can serve premium cocktails on draft. For instance, my craft concentrate ginger beer, made with organic ginger and organic cane juice is fermented with live active yeast. It was a huge success, and in my job with Best Beverage Catering, I began to curate elaborate cocktail programs. I’m now making a ‘farm to glass’ option for every category, for every beverage gun. The flavors are fresh and bright, because we can make fresh kegs quickly all day long.”
“Two-thirds of what’s in a cocktail is the mixer,” Eric points out. ‘It’s impossible to make a good cocktail with mediocre mixers, even if the distilled spirit is top quality. Besides, mixers are more fun, and you can be more creative.”
That’s the point at which Eric and Shane met, and ultimately they joined forces. “Shane was already a very accomplished bar tender with Best Beverage Catering, and he wanted to know more about tequilas. We both had ideas for mixers. I had been bottling mixers under the Tres Agaves Tequila brand, while Eric had been experimenting with ginger beer craft concentrate and other mixer flavors.”
The common denominators are that both men decided to look at areas where others weren’t focused, they wanted to raise the bar for mixers with better ingredients, and they wanted to design a more efficient direct distribution system for mixers, outside of the usual distilled spirits distribution networks.
For Eric, “it’s all about food and beverages, contributing to making the whole experience more exciting and flavorful.”
Shane has personally seen people come to an event with low expectations, assuming that they will be poured a mediocre cocktail. “When a beautiful cocktail is served to them quickly, it transforms their experience. They notice the difference in quality and really appreciate it. That is what I enjoy.”