Shannon cans a Bermuda beverage icon
Rum swizzle is arguably the iconic Bermuda drink, but until now has not been very easy to pack.
Now, visitors and locals alike, can just throw a few into a bag on the way to the airport, barbecue or party, thanks to Shannon Simons’ new canned Simons Swizzle.
Mr Simons, owner of Thyme Restaurant in Paget, launched Simons Swizzle earlier this month, in two flavours: mango and traditional, and plans to add more flavours by the end of the year. He has also released pre-mixed bottles in flavours such as banana, jungle guava and loquat.
"I have always been making rum swizzle for family and friends since I turned 18," Mr Simons said. "It is something I have been doing ever since.“
He even won a rum swizzle competition at the Corporation of Hamilton Food Festival in 2016.
Since then, he has been working on new flavours of rum swizzle and offering them to his customers to try at his restaurant, Thyme, on the Elbow Beach property, in Paget.
“I thought I could just make it in the restaurant, and be able to sell it,” he said. “But that was not the case."
He found he needed special permits from the health department and a brewery to make it in. One day, he thought, why not put it into a can? After much research, he decided to have it canned in Canada and shipped to Bermuda.
"I found it was quite easy and cost effective to do it that way," he said.
After finding a company to can it for him, the pandemic erupted in 2020, and interrupted the process.
"They were not able to send me samples to try," he said. "This first production was completely off the faith of my team in Canada.“
But Simons Swizzle is entirely his own recipe. He came up with the recipe for ingredients such as the grenadine and bitters used to make it.
Through the process he was mentored by veteran entrepreneurs Leon O'Brien and Jenefer Brimmer of BKS Wholesale & Liquors.
"I am here to be Shannon's right hand," Mr O'Brien said. “This collaboration started last year when Zane DeSilva was the Minister of Tourism.
"He talked about offering swizzle in a can on the cruise ships, because the cruise ships don't have many Bermuda beverages for passengers to take home as souvenirs. Swizzle is a signature product."
Mr O’Brien also thought the canned swizzle would save local bars and restaurants a lot of money.
“A lot of times bars put aside fruit juice to make swizzle, and then it goes off, waiting for the next customer to order a swizzle,” he said. “Sometimes bars waste a lot of money throwing out in ingredients reserved for swizzles. This way, nothing has to be wasted. They can just pop open a can.”
He praised Simons Rum Swizzle, saying it was fantastic. He predicted it would become a major template for other products by young entrepreneurs in Bermuda.
“Through the restaurant, Shannon had a following anyway,” Mr O’Brien said. “This is just success on the next level. Shannon got the endorsement of the Premier David Burt, who came to the launch at Thyme Restaurant.”
He said Bermuda should do more to celebrate Bermuda’s young entrepreneurs. Who come up with ideas and work through the process to completion.
“It is not like Shannon just woke up one day and did it,” Mr O’Brien said. “Shannon has been a pioneer when it comes to rum swizzle on the island.”
Mr Simons said launching it now gives it some time to become established before summer comes. He thought it’s simplicity made it great to take along to beach parties and barbecues. Ultimately, he would like to make it available in local bars, restaurants and hotels.
The big dream is to have it available overseas in big box stores such as Walmart and Costcos like certain other gingery Bermuda drinks.
Simons Swizzle is distributed locally by BKS Wholesale Liquors at 55 Dundonald Street, owned by Jenefer Brimmer.
Ms Brimmer was delighted Mr Simons had chosen to team up with her company.
“It is my responsibility to help Shannon to grow his business,” she said. “I am looking forward to that.”
She said most people who have tried it have loved it, and are surprised it is made locally.
“We wish him well with this venture,” she said. “I am happy we are able to help him get to that point."
But she said it is not the first time she has worked with young men in the 30 years BKS has been in business.
"I have always helped other young men with their businesses," she said. "People still come to me today and say Ms Brimmer can you help me with this, because I helped them years ago. We are small ourselves, but it does not hinder us from helping other Bermudian businesses.”
Simons Swizzle retails for $5.99 at BKS. It can also be ordered through the Sargasso Sea app, and purchased at gas stations, grocery stores, bars and liquor stores around the island.
For more information see www.enjoysimons.com
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