“Market Brand Manager” is not a common title used for employees of a spirit company.

But how else do you describe someone who acts as a hybrid of a brand ambassador and dedicated sales manager? We caught up with Texas-based Justin Daniels and Thomas Murphy of Southwest Spirits to learn more about the intricacies of their jobs. Here, they chat about the best parts of the position, the daily challenges they face and their favorite cocktails to sip right now.

Justin Daniels portrait

Justin Daniels

What about your role do you like the best?

Justin Daniels: Building and maintaining relationships is by far what I like best about my position. I have a lot of experience with the restaurant/bar industry, so I have a good idea of what the needs and wants are of that side of the business. I also enjoy keeping myself organized and running my own schedule. I was not built to be in an office all day long.

Thomas Murphy: I love the freedom my job offers. Having the ability to set my schedule, be present in the market, and see the effect I am having on my territory is invigorating. Of course, there is also nothing like the thrill of a completed sale.

What are the biggest challenges you face in the on-premise, and how do you overcome them?

Daniels: One of the biggest challenges is the oversaturation of brands in the market. Bars and restaurants have a plethora of options and explaining to a buyer why my products are going to work for them over another brand can be tricky. I overcome this problem by focusing on the facts. We are Texas and we have high quality products at great price points. Above all, the proof is in the bottle. I stand by our Nue Vodka as one of the best tasting vodkas out there. Not just the best Texas vodka, but [one of the] best vodkas period. I challenge your readers to find a smoother vodka at our price point.

Murphy: One of the things that keeps me on my toes is the distribution system in Texas. Having to work hand in hand with a distributor is a privilege, but it can also be a bit clunky—especially when you have a Class A distributor and a Class B distributor to work with. Some people may view this as too many cooks in the kitchen, but I see it as a way of being able to cast a wider net. Communication is always key with texts, phone calls, emails etc. I always try to stay ahead of any situation. Whether it’s an issue or an opportunity for me or the distributors, I always think an open line of contact is key.

Thomas Murphy portrait

Thomas Murphy

What is a unique or interesting way you have showcased the brands?

Daniels: Thinking outside of the box is sometimes paramount to being successful in this business. From utilizing our Henderson Blended Whiskey in a homemade barbecue sauce for one of my Texas BBQ accounts, to supplying our Nue Peach Vodka to a local baker to use in desserts, I am always on the lookout for unorthodox ways to get our products in front of consumers.

Murphy: I like describing our brands in an unconventional way. For Blumenpflucker, I love talking about the story of Princess Charlotte Christine Sophie, the German princess who fled her abusive husband. People’s faces really light up when you talk about the way she traveled across Europe and then to present-day New Orleans. Another fact I love to use is when I talk about Calamity Gin. I love saying “In most gins, juniper is the Beyonce, it’s up front, you definitely know it’s there and there is no question who the star of the show is. However, in our Calamity Gin, the juniper is more like Kelly Rowland in Destiny’s Child. The juniper is present, it’s just singing back up.” This phrasing generally elicits a laugh followed closely by a sale. I always want to make everything I do bring a smile to a person’s face. If I can do that while working, then I am truly blessed.

What is your favorite cocktail to make at home or suggest to accounts and why?

Daniels: I have to give a shout-out to Annex Crafthouse in Vintage Park for this one! They have a Lemon Rosemary Gin Fizz with Calamity Gin that is outstanding. Very fresh, crisp and well-balanced. I also love to make my version of vodka lemonade with equal parts Nue Vodka and lemonade, a splash of cranberry, and fresh mint.

Murphy: My favorite cocktail for accounts changes with the seasons. Obviously, accounts want to constantly update and change their menus so their customers don’t get too bored. But when it comes to at home, I have to say that I absolutely love an Espresso Martini. Anyone who knows me, has worked with me or has had a drink with me (essentially half of the South) knows I love them. I was introduced to them by my friend and colleague Kristen Vesely. I love using Nue Vodka, coffee liqueur, Irish cream and fresh espresso. This libation has the added bonus of giving you a little energy boost. After a long day of selling or maybe gearing up for a night out with friends, an Espresso Martini always does the trick.

***Southwest Spirits’ Market Brand Manager program was implemented in the second half of 2019. Considering their growth, Southwest Spirits has identified the need to double the program and will be adding Market Brand Managers in two other markets in 2020.