The Best Vodka in the South

2_Banyan_Reserve_Labels.jpgDon’t settle for just any vodka. Settle for the best vodka.

In Southern Living’s 2016 Food Awards, St. Petersburg Distillery was honored with that very distinction: best vodka. On the winners list, St. Pete’s Banyan Reserve Vodka is described as, “Sophisticated not saccharine, sip it straight or choose it when making your next Moscow Mule or dirty martini.”

Banyan Reserve is, quite legitimately, the best vodka in the South and it’s made in our own backyard.


Steve Iafrate, Dominic Iafrate, Sr., and Dominic Iafrate, Jr.

The distillery was founded by Dominic Iafrate, Sr., and his sons Steve and Dominic after relocating their recycling business to St. Pete. (The three have been working together for decades in their family businesses.) I had a chance to speak with Steve, Dominic, Jr., and Paul O’Renick, their director of sales for the distillery, soon after Banyan Reserve was announced as Southern Living’s choice for best vodka.

As we spoke, the community, their products and their team remained the focal point of their collective pride.

“We’re so proud of being out of St. Petersburg,” Paul said. “We’re local in the Tampa Bay area and that win–it’s pretty neat to be able to hand that back to the area and St. Pete specifically and be able to say, ‘Hey guys, you have a nationally renowned vodka that is made right here. You’ve got something big to be proud of.'”

“It’s a pretty amazing honor,” Dominic, Jr., added. “Especially for a new distillery…the credit goes back to the team who helped get us to where we are.”

BanyanTree (13 of 17).jpgNamed for the ornate trees that can be found in St. Pete, Banyan Reserve pays tribute to nostalgic Florida. It is a robust spirit with a complex palate, but easy to drink and delicious in cocktails. “We charcoal filter is eight times and we distill it a minimum of six times,” Steve said. “So it’s definitely very smooth.”

You can find Banyan Reserve Vodka in ABC stores and online now, as well as St. Pete Distillery’s other products.

“We are small, we’re nimble, we’re creative,” Paul said. “Consumers are looking for the discovery and they don’t want to give up the authenticity and the quality. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Learn more about the distillery in our spring issue of Highball.

Meghan Guarino, copywriter

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