By Dan Roark   New Hope is proud to have Tito’s Handmade Vodka as Bar Sponsor for the Gala again this year. They were the Bar Sponsor for the inaugural Hope Gala last year.

Tito Beveridge wasn’t always “the vodka guy.” He was born and raised in San Antonio, went to Vanderbilt for a year, returned to Texas  to attend UT and earned degrees in geology and geophysics. Then he went into the oil and gas business in Texas, then Venezuela, and back to Texas.

Then Tito started a drilling company in Houston. Eventually he tired of “chasing the buck” and moved back to Austin. In Austin, he got into water geology, then gave the mortgage business a try. It was around this time, in ’92 or ’93, when he started making flavored vodka as gifts for friends. One night he was at a party and a stranger came up to him and said “Hey you’re the vodka guy,” and he said “No, contraire, I am the mortgage guy. “ But, that really got Tito thinking…

When mortgage rates went up a couple points, he started going to liquor stores to ask the owners and managers if they would buy his flavored vodkas. They all turned him down saying, “No, go look at all the dust on the shoulders of those bottles there!” But then they told Tito that if he could make a vodka that was so smooth you could drink it straight then he might have something.

Once he had “a vodka that was so smooth you could drink it straight,” Tito tried to get some financing, but hit a wall. Investors turned him down again and again, convinced that he would never get his permits, as there had never been a legal distillery in Texas, and they said he would never get a distributor. So, he ended up just taking the money he had saved up while working overseas, and racked up 19 credit cards to the tune of about $88,000. Tito built a one-man distillery, fought to re-write the laws in Texas, setting the precedent for the microdistillery movement, built a production still, and just kinda got himself into business.

Early on, Tito worked day and night in the one-room shack, cooking vodka and catching sleep sporadically. He spent his days hand-bottling vodka, screwing caps on bottles, and putting Elmer’s glue on paper labels. He would canvass Austin, meeting with local liquor stores and bars, and taking his vodka around to parties, introducing his brand and building up a cadre of loyal followers. Tito would head home exhausted and exhilarated; then, he would wake up, and do it all over again. “I’d go out and make it and sell it and come back and make some more and you know, I was sleeping next to the still and you know just kind of boot-strapped it up.”

It took the company more than eight years to really find its legs. Today, Tito’s Handmade Vodka is one of the most successful distilleries out there and remains one of the cleanest spirits available. Tito unknowingly started a revolution, and has stayed true to those upstart roots even today.

Hope Gala guests will have an opportunity to try Tito’s Handmade Vodka during the evening. New Hope thanks them for their second year of sponsorship!!

Ride on and ride for hope.