A couple years ago, Matt and Bryan Quigley decided to start making vodka in their parents' basement on a whim. Their dad kicked them out—he initially thought they were making drugs, which Bryan attributes to the fact that his dad must have been on a Breaking Bad bender. Fast-forward to 2016, and now their Philadelphia-based Stateside Vodka is the official vodka of the Democratic National Convention. (Yep, that's a thing.) They've supplied more than 500 cases to keep things lubricated and moving smoothly at the convention—and considering the recent email hacking scandal that has cast a pall over the proceedings, everyone is likely in need of cocktail about now.
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We called Matt Quigley up to talk about Stateside Vodka and boozing with Democratic leaders.
MUNCHIES: So how did you become the official vodka sponsor of the Democratic National Convention? Did you have to get anybody drunk? Matt Quigley: That goes hand-in-hand with a lot of stuff that happens in this industry. You have to be on your best behavior, but 99 percent of the time if it's after 4 o'clock in the afternoon and you have some sort of meeting and you're the guy that manufactures vodka, people want to taste it. So you get to be better friends than you would be if you were drinking just a cup of coffee, that's for sure. But truthfully, they reached out to us. Stateside is everywhere in Philadelphia, and the committees that are putting on all these welcome parties and putting everything together must have had our product and they reached out to us through our website.
Watching some of the Republican National Convention, there were a lot of times I felt like I could use a drink. People come up to the booth and they might be weighed down by the amount of traffic or what's going on, and a lot of those people just want to drink our vodka straight. We're also making a bunch of different cocktails throughout the event. If you end up being there, you're coming over and I'm going to pour it straight for you before anything else. For first-timers, we throw a couple rocks in there to chill down the temperature and whatnot.
Your vodka is finished with electrolytes—what's that about? When Bryan and I were in our parents' basement, they had a nice water filtration system but we didn't want to trust it. So we would go out to all the differing grocery stores and buy different cases of mineral waters that you could find all over the world. We were doing distillation runs and blending them with specific waters and logging them and doing taste tastes. All of our taste tests were going in a certain direction, so we learned how to reverse engineer that water in our distillery. So every bottle now has a mineral spectrum very similar to what you'd find in a Gatorade or a SmartWater. It's great for a hangover. Electrolytes are great because water molecules grab onto them and it hydrates the cells in your body. From that angle, it's wonderful.
Have you ever tried Trump Vodka? What is it?
Trump Vodka. It's Donald Trump's vodka. I have not. Is it any good?
I don't know. I was going to ask how it stacks up to Stateside. Yeah, I'm not sure. We're connoisseurs and any time we're in a liquor store and see a new product we buy it and bring it to the office. That's one we haven't seen yet.
Unfortunately they don't make it any more. How'd you choose the name Federal Distillers and Stateside Vodka? It's very patriotic. We were really going for a name that basically said we were from America but wasn't as cheesy as Screamin' Eagle Vodka or something like that. The goal for Stateside is to grow it and one day become an international brand. If you're sitting in a bar in England and there's a high demand for US craft beers and you see a product called Stateside, you're automatically going to know it's from America.
Are you going to be able to get Hillary to try it? A little something to take the jitters off before the big speech? I'll probably have to get all of Hillary's security guards to try it before she gets anywhere close to my booze.
Who do you think would drink more: attendees of the Democratic National Convention or the Republican National Convention? I don't know. Who do you think is sweating harder right now? That's probably the true question. Do you think the Democrats are sweating harder or the Republicans? That's my answer.
What Democratic leader would you most want to have a drink with? I mean, come on—who wouldn't want to have a drink with Hillary? She's the queen bee and she's got to be an incredibly charismatic woman to have gotten as far as she has in her career. Shoot for the stars, I want Hillary.
Maybe if you get her drunk she'll tell you what happened with the email server. Maybe. I would love that. Everyone would.
Thanks for talking with us, Matt.