We had the good fortune of connecting with Tony Del Pino and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tony, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
This business venture first began in 2018 as a way to make some extra cash on the side for the Holidays. I utilized my network of family and friends to provide Coquito. This also was a great way to begin honing in on what people liked and didn’t like about the product. Then in 2020 like many people in the world, I was furloughed from my job as a bartender in NYC. After a few weeks I decided to open up shop on May 1st, 2020 and began the official Instagram account of The Coquito Shop. In my mind I had nothing to lose. Are there other people out there like me who would want to consume this beverage all year round? That 1st month of business was incredible and it really opened my eyes to the possibilities of where this can go. I knew then and there that I really wanted to utilize this platform to connect with people and share a piece of my culture with anyone out there who was willing to ask “What is Coquito?”
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Besides building and maintaining The Coquito Shop I am a full time Mixologist at Dirty French located at The Ludlow Hotel in NYC. I have been in the food & hospitality business for 6+ years working in every type of venue from a dive bar, to fine dining and all in between. Prior to that I was a Social Worker. Foster Care, foster care prevention, teen mental health, etc. These experiences have provided me with a diverse skillset. I have experienced every possible situation one can imagine in the industry. I’ve helped open up bars. I’ve had to break up fights among patrons (and staff). I’ve created cocktails for some dope programs as well. There have been many trials and tribulations over the years but it has strengthened me and now I am grateful to be part of the strongest team I have ever worked for. I’ve had some mentors help guide not only the Mixology aspect of bartending, but how to brand myself and how to really focus on service of the people. I’ll be forever grateful and appreciative of them.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh man that is such a tough question! NYC is huge and we all can be very particular of our favorite locales. There are too many to name but I’ll break it down to some of the better places for food and drinks in Manhattan and Brooklyn especially when it comes to pizza.
Pizza – L& B Spumoni Gardens. Best Square slice hands down
Hotel Bar – Westlight in Williamsburg @ The William Vale. Probably best views of the NYC skyline in Brooklyn and killer cocktails
Cocktail Bar – Clover Club. One of the 1st modern cocktail bars during the revival in the 2000’s. They still have an excellent program, comfy seating and great bar snacks. Duck fat chips for the win!
Live Music – Avant Gardner. Its a castle in the middle of nowhere. Dope sound system and space. Always a vibe!
Pizza- Scarr’s Pizza. Sourdough starter which gives it a great crisp and chew. Perfect cheese to sauce ratio
Cocktail Bar – Raines Law Room. It feels like the basement you wish you had. Cocktail kitchen in the back where you can watch the team work and top notch libations. Perfect for a date night or catching up with friends.
Comedy Club- Comedy Cellar. It’s an institution in NYC. Located in the West Village easy to bar hop after and the acts whether they are headliners or not are always funny. Pop in during the week and a popular comic may swing thru for a quick 15.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Anyone who has ever played sports and were fortunate enough to play on a great team knows that it truly is a collective effort in order to be successful. I have to give credit to all of my family and friends for where I have reached at this point in my life. Without their support, encouragement, and constructive criticism I am nothing. They help lift me up as well as keep me in check if they see that I am veering off of the path I should be on. I never want to be surrounded by “yes men”. I need people to tell me the truth even if it hurts. It is the only way to learn and grow from mistakes made.
Other: Note: Located in NYC but we ship nationwide!