Sippin’ on Southern Hospitality
The world’s first Sweet Tea Vodka came to be thanks to a few coincidences, some serious perseverance, and a couple of hearts full of Southern hospitality. It all started with a visionary and a scientist. Jim Irvin and Scott Newitt met at a winery back in the early 2000s. Jim Irvin was making muscadine wine and Scott Newitt was a wine distributor, but after getting to know each other, they realized their true connection was not through wine, but through their desire to distill their own liquor. Jim, a Vanderbilt University chemistry and biology graduate, knew how to make the magic that filled each bottle, while Scott knew how to sell it. So back in the early 2000s, the two constructed their own still and found a spot just outside of Charleston to get the process started. They shared a Southern upbringing that involved memories of fireflies as children, so felt the magical bugs deserved to adorn the front of every bottle. And so, Firefly Spirits was born. By 2008, Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka was on the shelves and within the first nine months, was being sold in 40 states. The distillery has since moved to an expansive 25,000 square foot location just 15 minutes north of Charleston in beautiful Park Circle, which offers plenty of room for tastings, tours, concerts, and private events.
Firefly Spirits’ line of vodkas, moonshine, and specialties encompass the flavors of a Southern summer making them the perfect pours for the long weekend kick-off. We caught up with co-founder Scott Newitt to talk about his experience and share a few summer cocktail recipes for a spirited Memorial Day.
TLP: What is your go-to summer cocktail?
SN: My summer favorite is Firefly Lemonade Vodka, soda water, and a lime. It’s refreshing, simple, and flavorful. All I need on a hot Lowcountry day.
TLP: Your spirits are created in South Carolina. How does Firefly Spirits embody Lowcountry living?
SN: We feature flavors that embody the Lowcountry and natural ingredients to keep it authentic–Louisiana sugar cane and tea from Charleston Tea Garden. With our vodkas and moonshines being simple to sip, they’re made to be enjoyed by both locals and visitors of the Lowcountry for boating, beach days, family barbecues, creekside chats, and porch sipping with an old friend. They all embody the warm, generous, and slower paced lifestyle of the Lowcountry.
TLP: How has Firefly evolved since the first Sweet Tea Vodka was made?
SN: Our success with Sweet Tea Vodka allowed us to go on to create a variety of other spirits including 4 more flavored vodkas, 7 different flavored moonshines, and some distillery specialties that you can only pick up at our Park Circle location. From whiskey and bourbon to gin and rum, we like to experiment and create great tasting spirits with natural ingredients.
TLP: What are your perfect plans for Memorial Day?
SN: Memorial Day is one of my favorite holidays because it always reminds me to not take my freedoms for granted. I’ll be working at the distillery with my wife Trisha and our amazing team here during our Memorial Day event and I’m thankful for it!
Firefly Spirits Cocktails
Shake up Firefly’s lemonade vodka with blackberry jam whiskey for a Lowcountry-inspired cocktail.
This effervescent, four-ingredient punch maintains its tart taste to refresh a crowd.
Combine the flavors of a Southern summer for a peach tea punch made up of sweet tea, lemonade, and peach moonshine.
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