I personally discovered Filthy brand at Tales of the Cocktail last year at my first Tales event ever. I walked into an event hosted by Filthy Mixers & Ganishes that was serving Filthy Bloody Mary’s at The Alibi in New Orleans . Sadly, I don’t like Bloody Mary’s and Filthy Founder Daniel Singer happened to be bartending and said I’ll make you a Filthy Margarita. And it was literally the best margarita I’ve ever had to date.
The Miami- based brand provides high-quality organic mixes and delicious garnishes for your favorite cocktails through a natural production process that takes more time but produces a better-tasting product. You can get Filthy products at some of the best bars in the world, a mile high in the sky, or you can order them to make your own favorite cocktails at home.
This summer the brand also released a video series call “Love Is In The Details” that Singer calls a love letter to the industry professionals that have lifted the brand up over the years. The series features conversations between influential industry leaders that Filthy Founder Daniel Singer credits for shaping the hospitality landscape that allowed Filthy to thrive.
We caught up with Daniel again this year at The Alibi in New Orleans to discuss what makes the olives taste so much better, his favorite Miami spots, the Love Is In The Details documentary campaign and what’s next for the brand.
You traveled across Europe with your brother in search of the perfect olive. Where did you find it?
I would say there’s a couple of things that go into the perfect olive. Olives by nature of beautiful, right? It’s the same family as a peach or a plum. It’s like a single stone surrounded by flesh. The only thing is they don’t ripen on the tree. They’re very hard, so you have to cure them. So, all olives start out beautifully.
What happens is people essentially f*ck them up during the curing process. They use chemicals to cure them. They accelerate that process down to four days with chemicals. What that does is it thickens the skin. It shuts down all the pores of the fruit. People have to add salt and oil back in afterwards to give it a flavor and texture. That’s why back in the day, you used to put olives on top of your martini and you’d always get that oily, salty, slick. We naturally cure the olives for months just with salt and water.
From 2007 to 2009, I met loads of different families. It was really about finding a family that was crazy enough and brave enough to want to naturally cure olives at scale. And it was just my brother and I, so we weren’t a big American company saying, “Hey, we’re going to buy 100 containers or 200 containers.” It was like, “Can you just do it for like 3 or 4 barrels?”
There’s this little region Thessaloniki in Greece where a family was insane enough after a lot of conversations to say, okay, we will naturally cure the olives and we’ll see what comes out. So, we came back to America just with four barrels initially of naturally cured olives and built the business for those three years out the back of our cars. It’s a beautiful coastal region of Greece where olives are very fleshy and don’t produce a lot of oil. They were absolutely perfect.
Are you still using them?
Yes. Now we’re at over 100 containers. I’m super happy. And they’re lovely people and happy they took a chance.
You mentioned making the trip with your brother, what’s your biggest advice for traveling with family?
I have teenagers now 19, 17 and 14. So here’s the advice. Commit to the adventure. Sometimes everybody is at a different frequency. Somebody just needs to lay down and rest. Somebody wants to go out into the city and explore. Other people just want maybe play in the ocean.
I think it’s just about just making sure that everybody gets what they need to experience their fullest version of a vacation or time away or a city or whatever it is. And to be kind to each other and accepting somebody who may need something different than you.
That’s such good advice because most people feel like they have to drag everybody everywhere. And this turns out to not make it fun for anyone.
I always try to ask questions like What do you need? What are you looking for? How can we make this great for you? Try to find something to commit to for everyone.
Very good advice for anyone you may travel with.
What’s your perfect day in your hometown of Miami look like?
Well, I’ve got to tell you something. I don’t subscribe in any way to the negative. So, I think the perfect day in Miami is to be around people that love me back. I think that’s so important.
If you’re in hospitality, you’re always putting out all of this energy and you’re always trying to be kind to people, so conscious of people. I think it’s important to be around people that love you back and then everything else to a certain extent is background music. And I also mean, sometimes you can wander around Miami by yourself, love yourself.
I love South Beach in the morning with a Cuban pastry for breakfast.
Watching the sunrise is incredible. Discovering all of the local culture and cuisine. I think that’s ultimately what everything is about. It’s about feeling every day, like you’re open to discovering things and being curious. And sometimes you make plans and they don’t work. And rather than being upset about that, just embrace it and roll with it.
There’s so much amazing stuff to do and I think every city is about the people you surround yourself with. I think it’s plugging into the people that give you the experience that you need in that moment.
Tell us about a few places in Miami where we can enjoy Filthy Cocktails.
Sweet Liberty is like my heart place. John Lemayer opened the place. Our kids were the same age. John passed away five years ago, but we walked around that bar when it was bare bones. Our kids were running around before there was anything on the wall. That is my soul place. That’s the place where if Filthy was never in any bar in the world, that would be the one place that would still have us. That’s the one place that would protect us because they always believed in it and always so deeply care about the guest experience and understand that we are one instrument in the in the in the symphony that they want to create for the guest and that we contribute. And so sweet Liberty is my heart place. I just love so deeply.
If you’re coming to Miami, you have to go and see Café Trova. Julio Cabrera and the whole team there do an incredible job of bringing that Cuban experience to Miami. I think what’s so interesting is sometimes we go to places and we become part of the place and we contribute to the place. But you go there and they it’s like going on vacation for those two hours that you go there right into the middle of Havana and there’s live music and there’s joy and there’s excellence, and you just can’t help but leave that place feeling so full and so happy and so loved, whether it’s the incredible food or the cocktails or the service or the music.
And then late night, there’s this wonderful place called Medium Cool. It’s in the basement of the Gail Hotel and it has incredible cocktails and it’s a real vibe. It’s an incredible cocktail lounge and I just can’t recommend that place enough. If you want to extend your evening out.
Tell me about The Love Is in the Details campaign.
Well, first of all, I think creatively it is one of the most joyful things that I’ve ever been a part of. I was very conscious that there was a shift happening in the industry. COVID meant that everybody in bars and restaurants had a really difficult time and a lot of people were transitioning out of the industry. There was perhaps going to be this new post-pandemic landscape.
I just felt like I needed to show everybody in the industry really how much I love them and how grateful I am to them and to what they do. Taking care of us and showing service every day. Last year was the first Tales of the Cocktail for a few years and I thought wouldn’t it be wonderful for all of those bartenders from all around the country that maybe couldn’t afford to come to Tales or would never have the opportunity to sit next to Charlotte Voisey or Sean Kenyon or Simon Ford or Julio Cabrera to be able to hear their stories, feel how much they loved the industry, and maybe take a little nugget of wisdom back to their bar to give their guests a better experience or improve their bar program.
They would know that they were part of something bigger than maybe that moment in time for them as hospitality people. What I really wanted to do was shine a light on the people that I think are so incredible and love so much and just let them know that they were loved and that I saw them and appreciated them. I just wanted to get this this group of people together. We had no narrative. We had no art to the story. We just put special people together and pointed the camera and let them talk and hope that they trusted us to honor them and protect them and celebrate them in the right way. And they and they all did and really committed to the to the piece.
I fly every week for work on Delta and I was so happy when I was flying last week and I saw somebody with a little bag of Filthy Bloody Mary mix on the plane. How did the airline collaborations come about?
I think first of all, to say like we just try to beautiful things into the world and you hope that people notice that’s really it. Whether it’s airlines or cruise ships or anybody that’s doing things at scale, restaurant or hotel groups, they’re really starting to look at how in the details they can give their guests or passengers something special to experience.
There’s this really incredible phrase, which is essentially, you know, when does the experience start? Does it start when you land or does it start when you actually get on the plane? Whether it’s your only vacation for the year or you travel all the time for business, I think what a lot of people are thinking about right now is how can we take care of you in a different way that your pleasurable experience starts not when you land, but when you board.
Incredible people that were really impactful behind the bar were suddenly starting to get jobs within these huge airlines or inside these great cruise ships. And they started to bring all of the brands that they really believed in that they really felt could give their passenger a better experience on board.
Before it was all about, you know, low cost and moving people around. And it was basically just a loss leader for a lot of them. It wasn’t really a profit center. Now, I think they’re really conscious about making sure you get something great.
We went into a trial and I think a couple of things that were really beneficial for us. One is all natural, right? It tastes super fresh. There’s a lot of people that have allergies. We could just do something that’s super clean. So there was no worry about that. The sustainability nature of our packaging was benefit for recycling. They could fold into nothing. For an airline, every ounce that you carry onboard costs you money. We could solve this problem, minimal weight, minimal waste and completely recyclable. And our pouches just totally fit that goal. And it’s really been great with the smaller pouches. And on the back of them, it says, “We met on a plane. Now take us home.”
Those “delight” features make a huge difference for customers.
We are on cruise ships now as well. Carnival has been an incredible partner. They started us out in one bar with the black cherries. And then over time, they just saw the value of what we were providing. We’re based in Miami and we produce everything there. So, all the trucks come down to Miami full and they leave Miami empty. So, we put our products on those empty trucks so we can pass those savings on to people all around the country because we’re so close to the port.
Virgin and Norwegian Cruise Lines have also been wonderful partners. I think more and more people are discovering who we are from those early days of delivering out the back of your car to having this mission. It is amazing.
What’s next for the brand next?
I think that until every bar, restaurant, hotel, liquor store, cruise ship and airline in the world is choosing Filthy, I will never, ever stop. And I heard this expression, which is about generosity and optimism. It talks about an old man that plants the seeds of a tree whose branches he knows he will never feel the shade of. So in a way, my job is like the foundation of Filthy really. It is to make sure the roots are really, really strong and that as it grows long after I’m dust people will continue to know that in these tiny little moments and these tiny little details, somebody really deeply loves them enough to naturally cure olives for four months to put everything into every product that goes out there. And we hope they may not notice it, but that they’ll feel it. And that’s it. That’s really it for me.