Innovative purveyor mixes things up to craft the ultimate cocktail
Kaylee Nedley and Matt Farrow can truly say the idea for their business started over drinks at a neighborhood bar.
“When Matt and I first started dating, we always talked about having our own bar,” says Nedley, a former restaurant server. “We’d hang out at the local dive bars and talk about how, if we got $50,000, we’d design this bar right now, ready, set, go. And we’d draft these ideas on pieces of paper and dream really, really big.”
In 2015, after three years of envisioning their goal, the couple launched Iconic Cocktail Co. by catering community events where they served hand-crafted cocktails using Farrow’s experience as a bartender and his original recipes for mixers. The first event was so successful, the duo decided to bottle and sell their all-natural mixers.
With positive feedback pouring in from their customers, Farrow and Nedley took their business to the next level. They set up shop in a commercial shared kitchen to brew and bottle their mixers in small batches. With a $2,000 loan from Farrow’s parents, they secured a license, launched a website, and began selling at farmers markets and community events. By the spring of 2016, the couple was ready to bottle and sell their creations.
With such flavors as Lime Leaf Tonic, Spiced Honey, Ginga Syrup and Meyer Lemon Balm, Iconic’s mixers are flavorful syrups designed for creating a cocktail, boosting the flavor of coffees or teas, or sweetening baked goods.
“Mixers are known as simple syrups, which are a one-to-one ratio of 100-percent natural cane sugar and water. I like to call ours ‘elevated simple syrups’ because they have a flavorful, robust concentrate,” Nedley says.
“On every bottle and on our website, you’ll see our simple method for making a cocktail which is 2 ounces of spirit, 1 ounce of our mixer and then a half ounce of tart, meaning lemon lime, or grapefruit juice.”
Nedley remembers the excitement and trepidation she and Farrow experienced when they introduced Iconic’s mixers to the public for the first time.
“We just celebrated two years of selling mixers to the public and I remember our first event at Phoenix Flea,” she recalls. “Matt and I just stood and looked at each other right before it opened and we were like, ‘Is anyone going to like this? Is anyone going to enjoy this at all?’ Then we blinked and ended up not talking to each other for the next four hours. We were just talking to customers and that was how it all got started.”
From that point on, the business took off and continues to grow at a rapid pace.
“We were very proud to start small with what we could do,” says Nedley, who was able to leave her job as a restaurant server. “We both had full-time jobs when we first started.”
The duo continued selling Saturdays at Phoenix Flea and made numerous appearances at local farmers markets. They also reached out to small retailers in the area and scheduled pop-up tastings to serve cocktails with their specialty syrups.
“We really hit the pavement running because we knew that’s what we had to do,” Nedley says, adding that fusing locally-sourced ingredients into their mixers is a key component of their business.
“One of our side missions is to support local, so we pride ourselves on sourcing an ingredient locally any time that we can. I think there is a finesse to having an artisan product and being able to keep it artisan and keep it local and keep it fresh.”
The company’s current seasonal mixer is Grapefruit Fleur de Sel. Nedley and Farrow source organic grapefruits from McClendon’s Select Farm in Peoria and French sea salt from See Salt, a Phoenix-based company that hand-harvests salt off the coast of France.
For their coffee mixer, the Salted Cocoa Nib, they partner with Zak’s Chocolate in Scottsdale and also use cascara vanilla from Blue House Coffee, a purveyor of specialty hot drip and cold brew drinks started in Flagstaff.
“We’re very proud to be made in Arizona and we are keeping it all local to help our community grow,” Nedley says.
Story: Leigh Farr
Photos: Mark Lipczynski