The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2017

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Page 89 of 102

march 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  87 "I went to Mexico from New York every four or five weeks for a year to create this beautiful trio of tequilas." It was through these frequent trips and plenty of reflection on the direction of his career that 6 Degree was born. "My background is in food and beverage," he says. "I have 27 years running hotels and restaurants in New York." With that kind of pedigree behind him, he knew that it was time to create new priorities for the next phase of his F&B life. "My family is very important. I have small kids, and I didn't see myself working weekends and holidays. When I found this opportunity, I decided this was my chance," he remembers. Originally from Sicily, Cimino is the son of a cattle rancher, and he's no stranger to taking chances on himself. "At the age of 18, I took a leap of faith and came here to the U.S.," he recalls. "One of my strengths is that I'm not intimidated by this. I grab the bull by the horns." And taking that chance has paid off well. Launched in April of 2016, 6 Degree immediately landed two Double Golds, Best in Show, overall Best Tequila and a Silver medal at last year's Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America competition. Their biggest hit is the American oak–rested Reposado. So much so, that even states with strict liquor laws seem to favor their two- month aged selection. "I just received official letter from the state of Pennsylvania that they chose the Reposado for their 603 stores." And 6 Degree isn't just finding success on the mainland. "In Puerto Rico, we're doing great," Cimino says. "It's such a rum country, but we're in 37 different restaurants in San Juan, as well as in the Caribbean, Barbados and the Cayman Islands." After a nearly five-year percolation period, now at full steam, 6 Degree is starting to experience rapid growth as a brand. The company now has seven employees, and their reach extends even to Hong Kong. "We were a big hit there," Cimino beams proudly. Marketing and advertising for the brand has expanded to match its high-end consumers. "We're sponsoring a BMW series racecar this year. We just got the car wrapped with 6 Degree, and it's gorgeous," he says. At the root of his passion, though, is still Cimino's love for the spirit: "It takes seven years to harvest one plant; that's about 3,000 days before the harvest, a long time to wait!" Cimino also maintains great working relationships with his backers as well as his customers. He still buys his juice from Michael Maestri, the person who introduced him to the business of making tequila in the first place. "One of my goals is to bring people together and get them to understand the beauty of tequila." He's also open to knowing what it is that the people who enjoy the fruits of his hard work and dedication are after: "I like to listen to people—if you don't listen to your customers, you're a dead man." And after only a year in market, his success would suggest that his hearing is alive and well. Watermelon Parfait ◗ 1 oz. 6 Degree Blanco Tequila ◗ 1 oz. 6 Degree Reposado Tequila ◗ ½ oz. pomegranate juice ◗ 2 oz. simple syrup ◗ 2 cubes 6 Degree Añejo Tequila– infused watermelon ◗ 1 slice dragon fruit ◗ 1 blackberry ◗ 1 slice jalapeño ◗ Splash club soda ◗ Thyme 6 Degrees of Separation "6 Degree Tequila opened the doors for me to experience what a true cocktail is about, but also change my perception of tequila," says Madison Pirolo, Mixologist, 6 Degree Tequila. Pirolo is new to the industry, yet has developed a strong palate for great cocktails made with 6 Degree Tequila. Originally from Washington, she moved to Warwick, New York, to try something new—where she met Joseph Cimino, founder/CEO of 6 Degree Tequila. Pirolo and Cimino worked together to develop the brand's signature cocktails. "I love the fact that I get to work with fresh fruit, herbs, spe- cific ice shapes for every drink," Pirolo says. "It's a beautiful tequila." Tegroni ◗ 1½ oz. 6 Degree Añejo Tequila ◗ ½ oz. sweet vermouth ◗ Splash club soda ◗ Caramelized orange peel Serve over an ice sphere. Simply Añejo ◗ 2 oz. 6 Degree Añejo Tequila Serve over an ice sphere.

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