Tony Guilfoy and Mark Tinus holding liquor bottle and mixer (photo by Wendy Pramik)
Food + Drink

Meet Two Ohio Spirit Makers Finding Success Together

Noble Cut Distillery and Simple Times Mixers find their businesses are more profitable by working together.

Fans of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups may recall the candy bar’s classic TV commercial, when two absentminded citizens munching on peanut butter and chocolate clumsily bump into each other.

“You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”

“You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!”

Tensions are eased when the announcer proclaims they’re “two great tastes that go great together!”

Two central Ohio distillers had a Reese’s cup moment that has proven to be a sweet delight for spirits fans.

It happened in 2018, when Tony Guilfoy, founder of Noble Cut Distillery, was chatting with Mark Tinus, founder of Simple Times Mixers. Noble Cut makes limoncello and other fruit “cellos” from a family recipe, and Tinus was repositioning a startup spirits business into the craft cocktail space by creating freshly made mixers.

The entrepreneurs discovered a natural synergy when they realized that Guilfoy was using only fruit zest to make his cellos and Tinus was using only juice, without zest, to make his mixers.

“I tasted his Pineapple Mule mixer, and I said, ‘Dude, you got something here,’” Guilfoy says. “He said he was going to be making lemonade, and I said, ‘I’ll tell you what. Can I zest them, then I’ll bring all the lemons back to you?’”

Limeade martini between Simple Times mixer and Noble Cut Distillery vodka (photo by Wendy Pramik)
The plan worked, although Guilfoy says the first weekend he had to recruit his parents and friends to help because Tinus needed the fruit back within 24 hours.

“The partnership was nice, and we became friends,” Guilfoy says. Adds Tinus, “We created some mixers that go great with his spirits, which was the birth of our Mint Lemonade flavor.”

They began working together then became neighbors in a commercial district when Tinus moved Simple Times to an available space in the Gahanna corporate park where Noble Cut was located. They’re separated by only one tenant, which makes it easy to share zest and juice from common fruits. And, they’ve streamlined the process since then out of necessity — Tinus projects Simple Times will process 10,000 pounds of fruit weekly in 2024.

The product line of mules, lemonades, limeades, margaritas and teas includes seasonal and monthly releases to freshen up the offerings. The flagship flavors are Pineapple Mule and Blueberry Basil Lemonade. Other core flavors include Blackberry Lemonade, Raspberry Mule and Simple Margarita.

Simple Times has a thriving commercial business. For instance, Tinus supplies its base margarita mix to Local Cantina bars and has partnerships with BrewDog, as well as Woodford Reserve and Leiper’s Fork distilleries.

Noble Cut also produces handcrafted bourbon, a tasty line of flavored whiskies and several versions of vodka. A separate partnership produces Shiphouse Vodka, put up in bottles reflecting the Benson Ford Shiphouse at Put-in-Bay.

Both companies are in expansion mode thanks to their successful ventures. “I never say no to a good idea,” Guilfoy says.

Proof Magazine is for Ohio spirit lovers. It is produced by Great Lakes Publishing three times a year. Don’t miss an issue by subscribing to Ohio Magazine. View a digital version of the Proof Magazine Spring 2024 edition here.