UC San Diego: Mixin’ it Up
Michael Esposito, M.A. ’04
What verbal concoction would Michael Esposito create to describe his company, Snake Oil Cocktail Company? Simplicity, seasonality, the finest ingredients, creativity and taste.
When Esposito first thought of starting a cocktail company, he was pursuing a master’s in communication at UC San Diego while working in event production at the Milken Institute. This allowed him to look at the many details required for large-scale events and conferences. “All this money and effort [would be put] into things like lighting, audio visual [and] registration process,” says Esposito, “But when it came to the bar… it felt so overlooked.”
Esposito made it a point to create his own personalized service, and it’s been widely successful. Since its founding in September 2009, Snake Oil Cocktail Company has doubled sales every year and has forged some big partnerships with celebrity chefs and events. Esposito was most recently involved in this year’s Sundance Film Festival and the TED Global Palm Springs Conference.
“The company is less about mixology, and more about the experience,” Esposito says, “[We’re] building a brand, not just one mixologist.”
Snake Oil’s unique approach with customers isn’t the only thing that sets it apart from its competitors. One of their biggest influences has been the new idea of culinary mixology. Most of the ingredients tend to be both exotic and organic.
Snake Oil constantly challenges itself to personalize each experience including themed libations for events at the Sundance Film Festival like “Femme Fatale” and “Stage Kiss.” And some movies, like the James Bond series, lend themselves only too easily to cocktails with drinks based on a number of its iconic characters including Vesper (gin, vodka, lillet and a twist of lemon peel), Honey Ryder (bourbon, pressed Ruby Red grapefruit and jalapeno-honey reduction) and Miss Moneypenny (vodka, fresh cucumber-mint, pomegranate-limeade and cinnamon).
Esposito leaves the drink mixing to his mixologists. “I sometimes get behind the bar to put something together, but to be honest, I like their results a little better.”
As Snake Oil continues to grow, so does Esposito’s expectations.
He hopes to branch outside of San Diego and work with larger restaurant establishments. It’s likely that his recent premiere at the Sundance Film Festival will be just one of many standouts on Snake Oil’s future resume.
For more movie-themed cocktails, click here.
— Claire Yee, ’14