ROKA LIQUEUR-INSPIRED LOCAL SPIRITS
Author: Lindsey Hawkins | Photographer: Photography by Anne
You thought they would stop with the flavor craze at cookies didn’t you? Well, you were wrong. The brilliant spawn of family who owned and operated Hilton Head Cookie Company, brothers Brent and Ryan Elam, have jumped off the cookie wagon into the very fluid and tongue tingling world of cocktails. It was a fated trip to a local bar in Marbella, Spain that was the catalyst for a three-year journey that has landed the Elam brothers all over the United States in some of the swankiest watering holes in America, even Vegas, baby.
RŌKA Liqueur, the brand name of the Elam brothers’ exciting new beverage line, is not easily categorized on today’s market because of its unique content and complex experience of taste and smell. Though it was a shot of a caramel flavored, mystery concoction taken at a Spanish bar that was the muse for their product, the innovative recipes for RŌKA Liqueur Chocolate, RŌKA Liqueur Apple and RŌKA Liqueur Caramel are quickly being recognized by some of the top mixologists in the nation for their distinct scents and subtle palates.
“When I want to drink something that’s flavored, I’m looking for flavor; I’m not looking for the burn of alcohol on the backside, which this just plainly doesn’t have,” said Brent Elam, 33-year-old vice president of RŌKA Beverage Inc.
Based on the packaging alone, RŌKA already looks the part of a top-shelf libation, not to mention the spun aluminum bottle is perfect for keeping its contents at an ideal temperature, but the genius lies within. For six months, the Elam brothers worked with five flavoring companies to assemble an experience that couldn’t be easily matched by competitors. Focusing on dark chocolates with hints of black tea, Granny Smith apples with flecks of sour, and homemade caramels with traces of butterscotch and vanilla, the goal was to make something that could be incredible right out of the bottle with no additives.
“Lots of people out there would like to compare our product to something like Apple Pucker, but it’s not even close to the same; you don’t drink Apple Pucker straight. Pucker is 30 proof whereas RŌKA is 60 proof, so there’s more alcohol content, its smoother, the profile the flavoring, everything is stronger, the aromas, the colors, everything is different,” Elam said.
The triple distilled RŌKA is made from 100 percent grain alcohol, fermented 100 percent naturally and is said to be smoother than most any beverage of its kin. Drinkability aside, buying a bottle is like purchasing a bartender right along with it. All RŌKA flavors can be poured straight or on the rocks; the caramel can be mixed one ounce to one ounce with the apple and taste exactly like the perfect caramel apple. The chocolate can be floated on top of a strawberry daiquiri and you would think you were eating a dark chocolate covered strawberry. Drizzle any flavor over your favorite ice cream, or pour a round of snifters with RŌKA chocolate and caramel to add a perfect night-cap to your favorite cigar. The fun is in the simplicity, and let’s be honest. It’s a 60 proof cordial with no sugary mixers to regret the next morning.
So how can a couple of 30-somethings be trusted overnight as savants of a trade that has been around for centuries? The brothers are no strangers to world travel, and when the age was right, they began to develop a broad palate and strong appreciation for European wine and spirits over the years. With local bartending experience under his belt and a marketing degree from Clemson, Brent Elam modestly accredits timing and a love of food and beverage. But cocktail engineers from Los Angeles and Las Vegas might give the brothers a few more kudos for just understanding what simplicity and natural tastes are all about.
RŌKA Liqueurs can be found locally on Hilton Head Island and in Bluffton at The Jazz Corner, WiseGuy’s, Daniel’s, The Skull Creek Boathouse, Red Fish, San Miguel’s, The Brew Pub, Reilley’s Grill and Bar, The Boardroom, The Big Bamboo Café, Bomboras Grill and Coconut’s Bar and Grill. Bottles are available for purchase at Bill’s Liquor and Fine Wines, Big Jim’s Liquors and Roller’s Wine and Spirits.
For more information visit rokabev.com.