By Leslie Gray Streeter – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
When Garett Hagan and Drew Shprintz explain the years it took to get the absolute perfect formulation on Myschyf, the first liqueur made from hemp, they’ve been asked if they’ve spent long hours bent over bubbling test tubes in a windowless laboratory.
“And I said, ‘No, it’s just two guys at my house!’” explains Hagan, of Jupiter, who with pal Shprintz, of Palm Beach Gardens, created the pistachio-accented sipper after a fruitful discussion while hiking.
It’s true – Palm Beach County’s own successful spirit, now available at about 150 restaurants, bars and liquor stores, wasn’t created by a focus group or a giant conglomerate, but by bar business vets who met working at Boca Raton’sBlue Martini.
The American dream is alive and well and living in a green liqueur with a flirty fairy on the bottle.
“No one’s done this before,” says Hagan, 39, a Fort Lauderdale native who’s been working in the restaurant industry since he was 13. He was the VIP manager at Blue Martini while Shprintz, 31 and originally from Philadelphia, was the general manager.
Myschyf is a play on the word mischief. It was created from discussions between its creators about the perfect spirit. They were hiking through Loxahatchee’s J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area“telling bartending stories,” Hagan says.
What would their creation look like? What would be inside? As they thought, they stopped to have a snack.
“I pulled these hemp seeds out of my bag – they have tons of protein and Omega 3. They’re so small but have all this flavor,” remembers Hagan.
“I said ‘Hemp, like marijuana?,’” Shprintz says, “and he gives me some. It had kind of a nuttiness, but you know how some nuts are more earthy, more roasted? It’s like a caramelized sweetness, like a good bottle of wine. That started us down that rabbit hole.”
Shprintz soon learned that hemp and marijuana are both from the cannabis plant, but hemp has relatively little, if any, THC, which makes marijuana potent. So, no, you can’t smoke Myschyf.
The research began, with the two trying different sorts of hemp seeds, and then searching for a good flavor to pair it with, as “most people don’t know what hemp tastes like,” Shprintz says. Pistachio, with its rich, familiar nuttiness, was the winner.
After a year or so of developing Myschyf’s flavor, Shprintz and Hagan then had to submit their formulation to inspection by the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), part of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau of the federal government. Because the hemp had never been used in this sort of product, “it needed to be inspected,” Hagan says.
While the TTB eventually accepted the hemp formula, Hagan and Shprintz are not allowed to use the word “hemp” on the Myschyf bottle. Speaking of their bottle, the guys stuck to their original plan to make it good for the bartenders handling it.
The neck was made shorter to prevent breakage when clanked with other bottles behind a busy bar. The bottle fits a pour spout well “so it doesn’t fall out like some do,” Hagan says, “and rather than a label that can come off in your hand when the bottle gets wet, the writing is on the battle.”
Hagan and Shprintz say that Myschyf was created to be consumed straight, as a shot, but that bartenders have found that it plays well with others, either as the primary spirit or with other alcohols.
“It’s really, really versatile,” says Josh Gates, a veteran local bartender currently working at Tiki Ono, a pop-up tiki bar at Lake Worth Beach’s Benny’s On the Beach, who created a cocktail called Getting Into Myschef featuring pineapple juice, orange bitters, cream of coconut and a smoke cinnamon stick. “It works with a lot of things.”
Myschyf is available around South Florida, including all of the Rocco’s Tacoslocations, Dirty Martini in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter’s Jumby Bay and others. Hagan says it’s popular not only because it’s new and different, or because of its smoothness, but because it has less than one gram of sugar an ounce, giving it fewer calories than vodka and, therefore, a popular shot or mixer for the calorie conscious.
Of course the guys would love to see Myschyf available all over the place, but are planning to “build it slowly, grass roots,” says Hagan. “We’ve created a new category. It’s high proof, low sugar.”
And as they build it, they think you’ll come.
“We want it to be your go-to” liqueur, Shprintz says.