It’s a family affair at Doers Vodka. Arianna Ixcaragua founded the company after she asked her son, Samuel Aguilar Jr., to create a vodka that can be sipped like tequila. She likes the smoothness of tequila, but she specifically wanted to create a Latino-inspired vodka after she saw a lack of representation within that community.
“We wanted to bring that to the forefront to show that Latinos do enjoy vodka,” Samuel Jr. told Luz Collective in a recent Zoom interview.
Samuel Jr. studied with master distillers and perfected a recipe that has won four spirit awards since its debut last year. Rather than distilling potatoes or wheat, Doers is made from corn, an important and traditional staple in Latino heritage. The use of corn is a nod to the Goddess Ixmucané, who mixed corn of all colors with water to create masa that would mold the Human race. And, as they use corn, it also means the vodka is free from sugar and gluten.
“He mastered the vodka, and now it’s super smooth,” said Ixcaragua.
The name Doers represents their do-it-yourself mentality. Once they started the business, the family came together and organically took on their roles. Ixcaragua is the founder and owner, while her husband, Samuel Aguilar Sr., is El Presidente of the company. Samuel Jr. is the CEO and Master Distiller. Both father and son built the distillery from the ground up, laying down the foundation and installing the water and electrical lines. Ixcaragua’s daughter, Inne Aguilar, became the creative director and incorporated her heritage into their branding. The logo features vibrant blue and gold with an image of two people holding a bowl of corn.
“I did draw the label, but everyone here was like, ‘What if we did this? What if we put this over here and made sure that this was on here.’ Everyone was completely involved 100% of the way so we literally did everything ourselves,” said Inne.
They even label most of the bottles by hand.
Another inspiration for the name is the American immigrant story as Ixcaragua moved to the U.S. from Guatemala when she was 17 years old. Her husband came from El Salvador. They met when Samuel Sr. was 19 years old.
When he lived in El Salvador, Samuel Sr. learned how to make molasses from sugar cane with his grandmother. While it’s not the same process, it prepared him for the hard labor it would take to distill vodka.
“I didn’t even know that the process that we were learning how to make molasses to create rum was one day going to come back to us and help us with that,” said Samuel Sr. “It never even crossed my mind that we were going to be in the liquor business.”
Their new business started before the COVID-19 pandemic, but when restaurants and bars closed, things quickly slowed down and derailed their distribution. Now that the industry has (mostly) reopened and they have the help of a distributor, the vodka is available for purchase in various liquor stores throughout Texas. The family also shares their story and promotes their product at events and tastings while taking safety precautions from the Delta variant.
According to them, the response to their vodka has been great. Samuel Jr. said that his parents’ story really resonates with others.
“First-generation children, we all can share the same story,” said Samuel Jr. “Our parents came from somewhere with the hopes of giving us a better opportunity in life, and I think that breaks cultural boundaries.”
One of their goals is to become an international brand that represents the Latino heritage as well as work with local artists and different foundations that have the same vision in creating this representation.
“Millions of immigrants came with dreams and goals, and that’s what we want to represent with our vodka,” said Ixcaragua. “I also think that it’s very important for us to present our culture through our vodka.”
The family had worked together for another business, so coming together to produce Doers Vodka wasn’t a hard feat. Inne said they still disagree as one would expect with family members, but overall they work well.
“As a child of immigrant parents who came here, I can say that I’m very proud to see my parents and the hard work,” said Inne. “They came here and they work, but they worked and they have worked. They haven’t stopped working a single day in their lives. And so as a child, I can say I’m thankful for the opportunity and also thankful to be working here as a family. This is amazing.”
For Ixcaragua, this is a dream come true.
“One of my dreams was to work with my family,” said Ixcaragua. “This is very important to me, and I feel super happy that we are working as a family. I feel like one of my dreams is complete.”
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