What is Smith & Sinclair?
Smith & Sinclair are the world’s first cocktail confectioners producing alcoholic, edible cocktails.
How long have you been doing what you do?
We came up with the concept for the cocktail pastilles in autumn 2013 for a series of ‘adult play’ board game dating nights. The company launched Jan 6 2014… it’s been a busy year!
When did you have your eureka moment?
We had been trying to work out an ‘icebreaker’ for the events, something that people could enjoy and discuss as they entered. Something that would enhance guests’ ‘inner child’. Inspiration definitely hit Emile when he was told a representative for Hendrick’s was coming to one of the nights and he wanted to work on an unusual gin / food based concept. A gin & cucumber pastille was created and they went down a storm. We also worked on a whisky tasting event with speciality drinks using Buffalo Trace and Compass Box and before we knew it the pastilles were catching on.
Why did you set it up?
It was an egg before chicken scenario – the sweets were so popular with events, individuals and drinks companies, and we were getting orders before we even had a company. Once we had the company it was about working with the right people to maintain the brand identity that we wanted.
What would you be doing if you weren’t running Smith & Sinclair?.
Emile would be a chef in a creative London restaurant, ideally somewhere looking to achieve/ had achieved significant accolades, somewhere that encouraged creativity. He may also be dabbling in the drinks industry, having always enjoyed the creativity behind bartending he would potentially love to work somewhere like Nightjar.
I would be working in the arts, most likely production for an arts festival or venue such as The Thames Festival, Southbank Centre. I always enjoyed doing my own events on the side as well…keeps things fun…maybe in a smoky jazz bar doing some singing as well (if we’re allowed to dream about what we’d be doing).
Big up someone that you’ve met along the way?
I could big up a number of people. The Marshmallowists are ammmmaaazing! – wicked fun and have a great product. The guys behind Langley’s Gin – we’ve worked on lots of projects together and hope to work on many more.
Emile’s is a Sazerac, I’m enjoying a buttered rum Old Fashioned (particularly the ones at Hawksmoor).
Advice for other people looking to start their own thing?
Not to be cliché or to quote Nike but just do it! Even if you don’t have the light bulb moment, once you start working on things you’re passionate about, being creative, meeting people, the idea can come second – but once you’re on a roll of ‘doing’, it enables everything to move a lot quicker.
There are a lot of ideas people and not a lot of people making things happen – make it happen.
If you had a super power what would it be?
Me: apparition, Emile: mind reader.
What’s been your biggest achievement?
In the business? Managing to make & package 20,000 sweets for Imbibe before having a stationary production kitchen.
Who would play you in a movie?
Emile: Lenny Kravitz
Me: Tatiana from BarChick orrrr James Franco in drag.
Tell us something amazing about the candy /drink industry?
So there is totally a ‘West Side Story turf war’ in the confectionery industries: marshmallows, macaroons, chocolates, ice lollies – there are so many great companies, but there can only be so many in one place at any time….so just try and keep everyone ‘sweet’.
Do you have any quirky / OCD rituals while making the pastilles?
Not that I can think of – our playlists are definitely worth a follow on Spotify – think Rick James meets R Kelly meets garage – things probably get odd during the taste tests.
Other brands you respect?
White Lyan, Innocent drinks, Jimmy’s iced coffee, Rococco chocolates, Propercorn, Disappearing Dining Club, Secret Cinema, Punchdrunk…the list goes on.
Worst day at Smith & Sinclair?
Walking into our kitchen and thinking 6,000 sweets had potentially spoiled overnight.
What is your morning ritual/evening ritual?
Morning: up around 6.30/7 (reluctantly), loud Motown music, preferably a bagel, make a tea with everyone, get to work...
Evening: sadly right now a lot of evenings are work filled – that said, I love the arts, Emile loves the pub - a lot of our friends and staff are actors/ musicians so we go to gigs/ cocktail bar research (of course)/ theatre… on Fridays we’re trying to get into a ‘cocktail hour’ habit to really routine a weekly debrief.
Best day / achievement ?
Walking into Harvey Nichols and seeing our boxes on the shelf by the till next to bottles of huge alcohol brands – and then a stranger buying one – to get there and know we made that happen was an unbelievably satisfying feeling!