It seems like Mike DiFiore and Mike Mena have always been friends. They sit next to each other in Difiore’s father’s office finishing each other’s sentences as they excitedly talk about their dream of a new type of vodka. Fire Fighter Vodka.
“I found it on a concepts website about 1 1/2 years ago,” DiFiore said. “I thought this is something unique, something that can compete and I brought the rights to it.”
Ever since then the two Mikes have been working on what they hope will one day be a full-time job for them. In the past year and half the two have gone through numerous bottle designs, spoke with Long Islanders about the idea and taken trips to different craft distilleries around the country learning about the vodka business.
DiFiore and Mena say they like the challenge of creating something from scratch where success depends on their ability to be fun, dynamic and compete.
The two, however, weren’t always such good friends let alone willing to go into business with each other. They met working in a warehouse and weren’t crazy about each other to start with.
“We had some reconvened notions about each other at first,” Mena said. “But once we got over that he’s become one of my best friends.”
Mena describes himself as the yes or no guy saying he always gives DiFiore an honest answer even when he’s calling at 2 in the morning with an idea for a new bottle design.
They bought the idea of the vodka off a concept website where Russian designer Timur Salikhov had posted it. Salikhov wanted to create a striking concept for the bottle, which is what attracted Difiore to it in the first place.
The bottle design they’ve settled on is glass and shrink-wrapped making it bit more environmentally friendly than a lot of other bottles, with a shot glass attached.
By the end of this year, the two hope to be sending out those bottles full of their vodka to wholesalers.
“We’re going to turn a new group of people onto craft, quality made vodka,” DiFiore said.
To do that they two will partner with a distillery that already has a history of producing award-winning vodka. They’ve narrowed those distilleries down to one in upstate New York, Florida, and Oregon. They also need to raise $30,000 more they say that they’ve been trying to through a variety of means including a kickstarter campaign and possibly vodka club of some sort.
They also plan on giving a portion of their proceeds to the first responder community to which Mena is part of.
“We’ll give back to the first responders, they’re our heroes,” Mena said.