Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that all alcohol production of Fred’s Vodka will be handled in full by Sugarfield Spirits. Additionally, the new brand will not be the sole vodka served at Fred’s.
Fred’s Bar in Tigerland is collaborating with Gonzales-based distillery Sugarfield Spirits for a new vodka. The liquor is set to bring better quality to mixed drinks like the iconic Fred’s Screwdriver made with fresh-squeezed orange juice.
The idea to make the vodka came about after Fred’s general manager and part owner Jason Nay went to the Sugarfield Spirits with his bartending staff. When Nay was late to the tour, he found himself talking with the owners about the alcohol-making process and potential collaboration.
“We felt a little connection to them,” Nay says about Sugarfield Spirits. “We always try to promote local if we can. In my mind, I’d rather pour Sugarfield over Captain Morgan because who knows where that money goes.”
Andrew Soltau, a part-owner of Sugarfield Spirits, says that the new product was a great way for Sugarfield to work with another local business, which is something the distillery also strives to do.
“This is part of our whole ethos,” he says. “We work with local farmers, and this is just the opposite side of that. We’re working with local suppliers as well. These are the retailers that we’re working with to try to get the word out about who Sugafield is. It’s a wonderful collaboration, and it went both ways.”
The collaboration also allowed Fred’s to bring a new tradition to its 40 years of business.
“It was kind of a chance to market ourselves in a different way,” Nay says.
The 80-proof vodka is bottled at Sugarfield Spirits. It comes from a small batch, which Soltau says gave the creators more freedom to determine exactly what they wanted this new liquor to be.
“Whenever you see ‘small batch’ on a label that means that it’s more meticulously checked and it’s a better quality product, most of the time,” Soltau says. “Whenever my brother and I put a product out, we’re going to make sure that it’s a high-quality product. If our name goes on anything, it’s going to be top-shelf stuff.”
Nay has tried the new product in a screwdriver and says he can barely taste the alcohol when combined with the orange juice. Although the new vodka is a little more expensive than big-name brands the bar usually pours, Nay says the quality is unbeatable and worth the slightly elevated cost for the bar. He added that the price for the bar’s famous screwdrivers will remain the same for customers.
“We’re making fresh squeezed O.J. every day, and the old vodka you can kind of taste it,” Nay says. “But with this new one, the only thing we’re worried about is people are going to think that we didn’t put enough vodka in their fresh-squeezed screwdriver because you can’t taste it. Which is the point of vodka, right? I mean, you don’t want to taste it.”
The bar will be stocked with the new spirit starting Sept. 16—and, according to Nay, for years to come.
Fred’s is open Monday through Saturday from 8 p.m. until 2 a.m., and Sunday from 4 p.m. until midnight. Fred’s is located at 1184 Bob Pettit Blvd.