Infused basil, cucumber, lavender, rosemary, verbena and other herbs — fresh cocktail flavors that match the quality of the most culinary dishes is what Allison Evanow has accomplished with Square One Organic Spirits.
It’s not about all those single-fruit spirit concoctions that only end syrupy and too sweet on the palate.
A past life in tequila as Jose Cuervo’s head of international marketing for several years, Evanow recognized her passion for spirits after experiencing new creations by Bay Area mixologists, who were moving away from fruit-only, infused spirits and into more multi-layered ingredients featuring herbs and spices. “I started to see it from the tequila business when people were making craft cocktails with tequila that had absolutely nothing to do with a margarita,” said Evanow. “One day I woke up and said, all these guys are focused on hand-crafted, local, sustainable drinks in the bar and don’t have many spirits to work with.” Evanow started Square One to create spirits with herbal flavors “that are organic or with a more culinary approach to the flavor extensions, instead of the soupy, sweet and very fake-tasting kind of stuff.”
At first, Evanow wanted Square One to produce all spirits — gin, tequila, whisky, rum and more. This takes multiple millions of dollars, so Evanow decided to focus on creating one unique vodka — and then another and two more. “I chose to stay small and focus on the culinary side of my passion instead of being the organic spirits company in every category,” said Evanow.
Back to square one, Evanow, along with master distiller Bill Scott of Distilled Resources in Ketchum, Idaho, created the signature vodka, as well as Botanical, Basil and Cucumber versions. Scott, whose background is in aromatherapy and organic cosmetics, was already developing herbal products. “[Scott] was just used to companies coming to him saying ‘I want XYZ flavors,’” says Evanow. “He wasn’t used to them telling him what they wanted to do with it. They just wanted it to taste like a fruit bomb. Square One is really meant to be layered into a cocktail just like an ingredient in food. I forced him to rethink how he does product development. It was more important how the spirit performed in a cocktail than how it was on its own.”
All USDA Certified organic, Square One vodkas are distilled without chemical additives, synthetic de-foaming agents or GMO (genetically-modified) yeasts. Made using water from the Snake River in the Teton Mountain Range, the distillation process is exclusive to Square One, meaning no one else can make what they’re making. The Square One Basil uses four different types of the herb: Genovese, Thai, Lemon, and Sweet with a touch of coriander, honeysuckle and lemongrass. The latest Botanical vodka is an organic blend of pear, rose, chamomile, lemon verbena, lavender, rosemary, coriander and citrus peel.
“It’s still the idea of dry, herbaceous, garden spice character,” says Evanow. “You’ll never see me go down path of single fruit and sugar. All of our spirits have absolutely no sugar, which is unusual in world of flavored vodka. It’s really blending these organic botanicals.”