Leopold Bros. Artisinal Booze Finds Wide Distribution
on 10/12/10 at 12:09 amSpirits
Just over five years ago, Todd Leopold flew from Ann Arbor, Mich., to Atlanta to persuade high-end restaurants to carry his distillery’s all-natural spirits. His pitch: Diners willing to spend on wine can learn to care about handcrafted booze, too. After days of unfruitful meetings, Leopold chanced upon Greg Best, the head bartender of Restaurant Eugene, a five-star Atlanta eatery known for its locally sourced ingredients. Familiar with Leopold Bros.’ unusual blackberry liqueur, Best invited Leopold to the restaurant that evening. By the end of the night, Restaurant Eugene’s chef-owner had agreed to stock Leopold Bros., becoming its first out-of-state customer. “It was the first time we didn’t feel like a spotted zebra,” says Leopold.
Today, Leopold’s spirits are distributed in nine states, including California and Illinois, as well as England, Scotland, Spain, and Switzerland. Scott Leopold, Todd’s brother, says revenue will reach $1.6 million this year, up nearly double from 2009, and he estimates about $2.2 million in 2011. Todd, 40, who studied distilling in Kentucky, Germany, and Austria, handles product development; Scott, 42, a former environmental engineer for construction company Black & Veatch, focuses on operations. Following in the footsteps of boutique wineries and microbreweries, the brothers are betting consumer interest in artisanal products will sustain their handcrafted booze, which can cost twice as much as the mass-produced stuff.