Urbane Vodka takes flight thanks to the determination of a NE Ohio woman

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — A friend who brewed beer inspired Simone Woods to become a related business venture: she’s the creator of Urbane Vodka.

A colleague surprised her one day when she told Woods that she and her husband were making beer.

“I said, ‘No way, you don’t make beer.’ Of course, they said, “Come on, I’ll prove it to you.” They gave me a bottle to take home.

She was struck by everything she saw about the hobby – from the operation, the process, the tastes of the fruits of their labor to the fact that the couple did it together.

“I literally fell in love with everything – the masks, the buckets, the hot mess. I liked it; I was intrigued. I asked him questions all the time.

Woods enjoyed traveling to distilleries and wineries, so some of the equipment she saw her friend Becky using was somewhat familiar.

“It’s easy; you can do it,” Becky encouraged her.

“The beer, to me, was stinky and it was way too messy for me,” Woods said. “I liked the moonlight aspects – liquor, rums and whisky. This part was more my thing. We were like a dueling brewery.

They could buy gear – one piece here, another there – and share their thoughts. Her friend’s hobby has become her hobby.

She’s read seven books, viewed YouTube, and pitched ideas to her friends. She continued to research.

“I was obsessed with it,” said Woods, a Cleveland-born and raised nurse. She moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana, through the foster care system, but returned around age 18. In her 40s, she lives in North Ridgeville.

But things weren’t getting tough until Woods tried to turn his vodka into a business.

“I’m pretty good; I asked a lot of questions,” she said. “I traveled. Lots of roadblocks, though. A lot of people really tried to chase me away – ‘You’re crazy, you don’t know anything.’ They would set up a meeting with me just to tell me who I thought I was? »

She hired a liquor consultant in New York who treated her like a human being, she said, and respected her brand. They helped her develop a recipe.

She considered several suppliers and contracted a Columbus company through a nondisclosure agreement to produce the vodka. She learned even more, from the aroma to the finish.

“I remember my sample like it was yesterday,” she said. “It brought tears to my eyes. Man, they nailed my vision.”

She started her research in 2017, distilled in 2018, built the brand in 2019. Covid delayed the planned launch of Urbane Vodka in 2020 until July 2021.

Vodka can be found in about 30 bars and other venues, in addition to about 17 liquor stores. Considered a premium vodka, it sells for $23.99. The vodka is considered too strong, which means it is above the average 80 degrees / 40% alcohol. His is 45.5% alcohol.

“I can open the pipeline as much as I want,” she said.

There is still a lot of work behind the scenes. She easily works seven days a week, between her job as a nurse and whatever it takes to move the vodka business forward: marketing planning, updating accounts, merchandise work, creating cocktails, hosting tastings. .

The future is open for where Woods wants to take Urbane Vodka.

I have so many options, I haven’t really thought about it,” she said. “I am a whiskey drinker. I actually wanted to see if I could press a limited edition whiskey for Urbane. If it’s not whiskey, rum. I also like rum.

Woods added: “The future of Urbane Vodka? It will definitely be a household name.

Want to taste? The Urbane Vodka Facebook page posts updates on tastings in northeast Ohio.

Related coverage: BKO distillery expands space and production in Medina (photos)

I am on cleveland.comfrom the Life and Culture team and covers topics related to food, beer, wine and sport. If you want to see my stories, here is a directory on cleveland.com. Bill Wills of WTAM-1100 and I usually talk food and drink at 8:20 a.m. Thursday morning. Twitter: @mbona30.

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