Premium Blend's Chocolate Wine, 24 Percent Wine-Based Rum Substitute

Henry Santos Warehouse 260 High Res.jpg
The Santos Brothers in their warehouse.
Hialeah-based Premium Blend produces standard wine products, such as Santos Sangria, Choco Noir (its chocolate wine), and V'Nillâ Noir, as well as wine-based products geared toward making restaurateurs' lives easier.

Using wine, PB makes alcohol-flavored products that can be used in place of hard liquor. Your cocktail calls for vodka? They got you covered with Klir Red. Need rum instead? Try the Rhumbero Spice. Premium Blend products are composed of hard liquor and cordial-flavored wines as well as today's most popular cocktail mix flavors. The products are made from a combination of fermented and distilled alcohol at 14 to 24 percent alcohol by volume, depending on each specifc state law.

If you're wondering why someone would want a wine that can be used as a liquor substitute in cocktail recipes, think about how such a product would benefit bar and restaurant owners with only a beer-and-wine license. Suddenly, they have a full-service bar.

We interviewed CEO, Henry Santos, about his company's products and how Miami has influenced them. Although Premium Blend has nationwide distribution, Miami is still home. "We have distributors all over the country. We work with small mom-and-pops as well as the giants of the industries, like Republic National and Southern Wine," Santos says. "We love Miami and especially Hialeah because it's our hometown."

Short Order: How did Premium Blend come about?
Henry Santos: Premium Blend was started by my brother Gino and me. Coming from a show-business background and knowing how difficult it is to obtain a full liquor license, we discovered a product that could make it possible for small to midsize restaurants and bars with only a beer-and-wine (2cop) license to make cocktails like margaritas, piña coladas, and bloody marys with the same taste and alcohol content as if it was made from hard liquor, so we decided to market and distribute Premium Blend.

How do you choose what ingredients PB uses, and from where do you get them?
We choose our ingredients from wherever the best quality is available, like in the case of our 100 percent agave wine, El Guitarrón, which is a wine, but can be used to replace tequila in tequila-based cocktails. It comes from Mexico, where the world's most famous agaves are grown and processed, taking advantage of their expertise in cultivating and processing of this unique plant to produce a product that ranks up there with the taste of the finest tequilas on the market.

Your product Santos Sangria is said to be based on a family recipe. Whose recipe was it originally?
Santos Sangria is our family's pride and joy; that's the reason it bears our family's name. Growing up, our house was always a party house where the entire family would gather on weekends and special occasions -- and there was always a good excuse for a special occasion. Out came what was known as Santos Sangria. This was a secret concoction that my grandmother would mix up. She had been given the recipe by her grandmother that had migrated to Cuba from Spain as a young lady. Once Gino and I got into the cocktail-and-wine business, we wanted to put it in a bottle and share it with the rest of the world. Ten years ago, working with one of our suppliers in Spain, we were able to duplicate our grandmother's formula.

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