Meet the Cocktail Expert Pursuing Sustainability in the Spirits Industry
Amanda Victoria's personal recipe for professional satisfaction was a cocktail that blended her passions for entrepreneurship, environmentalism, and giving back with really good whiskey, natural ingredients and hand-crafted production. The result was a Ready-to-Drink can of fizzy love called Siponey (prounced: SIP-OWN-EEE).
Bronx born and Hudson Valley raised, Amanda Victoria, the daughter of first generation Puerto Ricans, attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in Manhattan in the late aughts, studying Advertising and Marketing Communications, where she also worked various front-of-the-room hospitality jobs in high-profile restaurants and bars. She eventually pivoted her academic focus to Media at The New School.
Graduating in the teeth of the Great Recession, Amanda turned toward the corporate side of the spirits industry, where her previous positions in service had earned her gravitas and contacts. Thus began a string of jobs for premium liquor brands (including Remy Cointreau, Lillet, St. Germain, and LVMH's Belvedere Vodka) as an internationally-eminent ambassador, a role of advocacy for the brands and their history that appealed concurrently to Amanda's respective loves of storytelling and fine liquors.
"I loved learning about the brands themselves, often family-run for generations, and their adherence to transparency when it came to process and ingredients," Amanda said. "The story of what's in the bottle and how it's made. By talking about the product, I was talking about the people's heritage and passions, sometimes spanning generations."
After over a decade of constant travel, Amanda was not so much fried by the job itself but by the limitations of corporate interests in actuating her personal ethos. "I've always been interested in giving back, in building community, in being mindful of the environment," Amanda said. "And I could not make the sizable change I wanted to see while operating on the corporate fringe."
Amanda left the corporate world in early 2018 and took a personal sabbatical of sorts where she lived alone in Brooklyn Heights and considered her next move. On a serendipitous and solo trip out of the city, she met Joseph Mintz - an entrepreneur and horticulturalist, who studied at the New York Botanical Garden - on the beach in Westhampton, Long Island, who became Amanda's partner in life and in business.
"I wanted to make a spirit-based product, but I was aware of the difficulties along the way," Amanda said. "From day one, Joey kept asking me, 'Why don't we do something?' and eventually we did."
Siponey was born as a more environmentally-friendly alternative to the fizzy canned cocktail trend, with a focus on quality as much as quaffability. The drink consists of four-year old rye whiskey, wildflower honey, real lemon juice, sparkling water- all locally-sourced- with the good of both the consumer and the environment as a priority. Sustainable practices are used in all aspects of production to have minimum impact on the ecosystem.
The family-owned business (now including baby Mila Mintz) also embraces non-profit partners, most notably Detroit Hives, an NFP that converts vacant inner-city lots into bee farms tended by local youth. Amanda sits on the advisory board of the 501c(3) and is proud to donate 5-10% of all Siponey profits to their efforts, as well as similar organizations around the country.
And while the bee motif is an important part of the brand (see their merch; along with their "buzz" messaging) and, of course, the product itself, the symbolism of honey is important as it matches Amanda's ideas all along, those of quality, sustainability and community.
"I'm all about quality ingredients made with people in mind and the planet in mind," Amanda said. "This is the story we tell, and the product we think the consumer deserves."