Ok Google... by Rachel Ford

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...You are crushing it.

Through our partnership with Google and #teampixel, we had the opportunity to visit San Francisco for Google's big October 4th announcement. The visit began with a happy hour at Google SF, where we sipped beverages while staring out at stunning views of the Bay Bridge. On the morning of October 4th, we visited the SF Jazz Center for the presentation. There had been speculation regarding a new Pixel phone, but that was just the beginning; you can read all about the new products here. Obviously we want them all!

Following the announcement, we visited the Google Donut Shop pop-up in Hayes Valley. Because the new Google Home Mini resembles a donut, the shop was serving up Johnny's Donuts and demonstrating the Google Assistant's capabilities.

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Aside from the excitement of the announcement, it was amazing to spend time with the team in sunny San Francisco – I always forget how warm it is this time of year! It was so warm, in fact, that I didn't get a chance to wear my custom Alpha Industries x Google jacket, featuring artwork by Baron Von Fancy. I have a feeling I'll have plenty of opportunities now that I'm back home in New York!

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Taking over a brand's Instagram: how to archive promoted posts by Rachel Ford

So, you’ve taken over a brand’s Instagram account and it’s time to clean house. You start by changing the password. Next, you begin to archive images that don’t fit the new grid, but there’s a problem; Instagram will not allow you to archive or delete “active promotions.” Here’s the catch: only the person who registered the promotion (which is not still active, by the way) can end it. What do you do?

Been there, figured it out; however, there’s no easy search that tells you how. He tried contacting Instagram (nearly impossible). Tried changing the password back so we could attempt to get the previous manager to take care of it (you can’t change a password back). We tried to Google the answer (nothing). Then Kyle had a genius idea…

Personal accounts can’t run promotions. In the settings, change the brand from a business account to a personal account and all promotions will automatically be ended. Next, go ahead and change the account back to a business account and archive away!

Sure, it seems almost too obvious; but now that we know it works, we hope it will save you the trouble of trying – and failing – to contact Instagram.

FML hearts radio: on the air with The Fork Report by Rachel Ford

Looking for a little #mondaymotivation to get you through the day? Plug in those headphones and listen to a podcast that will help you make it to happy hour!

Kyle and I stopped by the I Heart Radio studios over the weekend to chat with Neil Saavedra on his weekly show, The Fork Report. Neil is based in Los Angeles and happened to be on a whirl-wind bar tour of New York City with his brother Craig, where we were able to join him in the studio. The first hour was a tough act to follow – it was National Guacamole Day, after all – but we hung in the studio for hours two and three to talk cocktails and 1806 Magazine. Listen to the episode here, and catch his show weekly from 2-5 pm PST/5-8 pm EST.

Our visit to Whistle Pig by Rachel Ford

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Last week we visited the Whistle Pig distillery in Vermont for their annual Grand Party. Kyle had the opportunity to attend last year, but this was my first visit to the WP farm. They pulled out all of the stops for hundreds of invited guests over the two-day celebration that culminated with a black-tie gala.

I remember first trying Whistle Pig while tending bar at Rickhouse in San Francisco; shortly after the rye whiskey launched, Master Distiller Dave Pickerell visited for a tasting. At the time the rye was not their own distillate, but seven years later they are now selling spirit distilled and aged on the farm. After tasting the current 10 year, 12 year, Farmstock and 15 year bottlings (not to mention the whiskey named best in the world), I can now say I am a true fan!

The WP farm is located a short drive from Middlebury, Vermont, a quaint town almost too wondrous to be real (for more on Middlebury, check out our previous post). We stayed at the charming Middlebury Inn and were transported to the farm over two days by yellow school bus.

The welcome party on Sunday featured a hog roast, bonfire, games, and musical acts – like The Tricksters, an 80s cover band that was really lively and fun. On Monday we were invited to barrel, blend, and witness whiskey distillation before enjoying lunch from a local food truck. Monday evening we returned in our cocktail attire for the formal event with casino games, a fireworks demonstration and helicopter rides over the scenic Vermont countryside. 

Aside from offering delicious whiskey and cocktails at every turn, the farm itself was photographic gold. Kyle and I earned a reputation for wandering off to capture the natural beauty and stage impromptu photo shoots, like the image above of me holding Farmstock in the field overlooking the distillery. Below are a few of my favorite snaps, and you can check out the #WPgrandparty tag on Instagram if you're thirsty for more.

Down the rabbit hole in Vermont by Rachel Ford

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Have you visited Vermont? We just returned from a trip to the Green Mountain State and I was absolutely dazzled by its natural beauty. Every time I turned around, I felt like Alice in Wonderland: rushing waterfalls, spider webs glistening in the setting set, giant mushrooms... It was a natural fantasy land!

If you enjoy capturing images of nature, you must check out Middlebury! We ate and drank some amazing things (more on that later), but mostly we got carried away snapping photographs until the sun set. Some of my favorites are featured below:

Where is the most fantastical place you've taken photographs? Tell us in the comments below.

A gallery showing in the mountains by Rachel Ford

Image 1: Reflection

Image 1: Reflection

Today marks the end of Camp Go Away, the sleep-away photography camp in Big Indian Springs, New York. Four days ago, we arrived to a giant white dollhouse in the woods with an interesting history; apparently the property was home to a ballet boarding school in the 1960s and remnants from its past life still linger – like the tags on the backstage theater walls (yes, there is a theater) with names and years like "Jocelyne '61" and "Debbie '66."

Aside from being an amazing opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded creatives and learn new techniques, the week culminated in a gallery showing of everyone's individual projects. You may remember from my last blog post that I was nervous about selecting a project. Well, it didn't get much better when I learned that many of the other campers had very clear ideas for their own. I ended up drawing inspiration from the house and surrounding nature, particularly the way light and reflection added interest and dimension to the objects around me. In the end, I chose three of the images I captured to be hung for the gallery showing.

Image 2: Self-portrait

Image 2: Self-portrait

When we headed out to the porch this morning to view everyone's printed projects, I was overwhelmed with emotion; first, I'd never seen my work printed to 17" x 22" before. But the real source of feeling was viewing the work of all of the talented artists I'd come to know over the course of the week. It was such a cool experience!

When you get a bunch of artists together, it's easy to breed a competitive vibe, but seeing the fruits of everyone's labor served to highlight the unique perspective (and talent) of each camper. Instead of competition, there was an enormous feeling of unity and inspiration.

Image 3: Welcome to the Dollhouse

Image 3: Welcome to the Dollhouse

As Kyle and I drove down the long driveway away from the dollhouse, we talked about how thankful we were to have had the opportunity to attend camp. We pushed ourselves, learned so much, and formed new friendships. Now to get these prints framed...

Stay tuned for details about Kyle's project...

On fear of failure... by Rachel Ford

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Last week as we walked along the riverfront, we saw a paddle boarder out alone on the East River. He fell time and time again, only to get right back up. I admired his lack of fear: of failure, of embarrassment, of the [possibly questionable] water... Anyone remember the Seinfeld episode where Kramer takes up swimming in the East River??? Perhaps the paddleboarder was terrified of all this and more, but he kept trying anyway. 

As I was looking through my photos this morning and saw this image, I found myself thinking back to the fearlessness of the paddle boarder. In the image above, he is owning it – balanced, confident, upright; but peppered throughout my memory card were pictures that told a different story. What inspired me was that for every image that captured him tumbling into the dark water, there was another of him pulling himself back up. Fear or no fear, it's how many times you climb back on that board and find your balance that counts. If life were all smooth sailing, it would probably get pretty boring.

On Monday, Kyle and I are heading upstate to Camp Go Away, a project-based sleep-away camp for photographers. At the same time that I'm really looking forward to it, I'm also a little nervous. What will my project be? Will I find inspiration? Will I be able to push myself creatively? Well, I'll never know until I try. And as I get older and wiser, I realize that magic tends to happen when I have a little fear. So I say to that photo project, "Bring it on!" I'm planning to take my feelings of fear and channel them to find inspiration and growth as a photographer. We'll be sure to post our finished results when we're back on the grid.

What was the last fear you conquered? Share your stories and tips below.

Burn the Ice: Bryan Cerenzio by Rachel Ford

“I’ll tell you about my first and only trip to New Orleans…” says musician Bryan Cerenzio, who tends bar at Richlane in Brooklyn and works with House of Vans. What follows is a tale of lust and youthful inhibition while touring in 2009.

In his early twenties, Bryan was on tour with his psychedelic rock band, The Technicolor Victrola, traveling the United States in a Blue Bird school bus that had been converted to run on vegetable oil. The bus, nicknamed Greased Lightning, carried the four members (Bryan, his brother, and two childhood friends) from their hometown of Southern California cross-country to pick up their tour mates, a mix of hippie-punk musicians on the east coast.  

After reaching New York and amassing a group of 18-20 people –plus their gear ­– for the 30-day tour, they headed south in the grease-fueled bus (which had no cots and no bathrooms). “We had to coordinate bathroom breaks for 18 people,” recalls Bryan. “It was pretty awful.” There was limited access to comfortable bathrooms and showers, and many nights were spent either sleeping on the floor of the bus, or on the floors of homes in the towns they passed through.

Following shows, they’d drive in search of a restaurant from which to fuel up the bus, covertly siphoning vegetable oil from tanks around back. “Japanese restaurants always had the best grease,” he notes. Only once were they caught and threatened with criminal consequences; more likely, they’d face unusable frozen oil when the temperatures dropped or trouble finding the resource they needed altogether – all while exhausted after performing.

There were three or four women on the bus, one of whom was Bryan’s childhood friend-turned-girlfriend, a relationship that lasted until precisely the night of their last show on the road. Young, crazy, and partying every night, the couple cycled through constant fights and passionate love, which was exacerbated on a cramped school bus with no privacy or personal space. “We had good days and bad days. New Orleans was the beginning of the end…”

After a show in North Carolina and an especially challenging time finding grease in the freezing March night, everyone was on edge as they made their way to the Big Easy. They arrived in New Orleans in the early morning hours, eager to fully experience the city before their show that evening. A local band met them for lunch, bringing with them a cardboard box of boiled crawfish and corn on the cob, which they all ate hungrily while constantly drinking Hurricanes. They followed the meal up with beignets. Everything was going well.

They showed up to the location of their gig, a building that looked like a church, possibly located in a far corner of the French Quarter, and after setup they had some downtime. Bryan and his girlfriend were having a good day and she approached him to tell him she wanted to spend some alone time together. They boarded the empty bus, only to be met by two local kids asking to come on-board. They let the kids on and set out to find another place to be intimate.

The sun was still out and they were in a neighborhood, but they managed to find an isolated ghost town of a promenade with no one around where they could get busy. When they were finished, Bryan looked over her shoulder to see an “old crackhead guy” with a flip phone out and pointed in their direction. After a heated exchange that ended in threats to call the police on both sides, all parties left the promenade. Bryan was chuckling to himself about the situation; Bryan’s then-girlfriend was very unhappy and when they arrived back at the venue, it was no longer a good day. The two continued bickering and drinking throughout the show and by the time it was 5:30 am and they had reconciled, everyone was gone from the venue except one of their roadies.

The next show – later that evening – was an important one; they were heading to Austin to play SXSW. Thinking they’d been left in New Orleans, the three ate breakfast and proceed to post up in a bar until about noon, when their angry tour manager found them and ushered them back to the bus. After twenty hours of solid partying (which he compares to a scene in Almost Famous), they began what Bryan calls “the shortest walk of shame of all time.” They boarded Greased Lightning with their heads down, avoiding eye contact with 18 angry faces. He calls the ride to Austin the worst hangover of his life.

They made it for the show and were stuck in Austin for two weeks afterward. Bryan and his girlfriend broke up on the night of their last tour stop, the “Welcome Home” show back in Southern California. Two years later, in 2011, Bryan moved to New York. Today he plays in PPL, a three-piece 90s grunge band formed with one of his Technicolor Victrola bandmates. They just released their first album, Post Personality Loss (now available on Spotify), and started their own label, No Hitter Records, a reference to baseball.

Selfie central by Rachel Ford

Have you ever visited a location that made you ask yourself, "Which international tour book is this in?" We experience this feeling every time we exit our building (yes, we live in Williamsburg, Brooklyn). But seriously, which tour book?

Last week we rode our bicycles to DUMBO (which stands for "Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass"), where the two bridges frame a waterfront park. We were expecting tourists; we were not expecting mayhem. Surrounding the intersection on Water and Washington streets were hoards of people with various apparatuses for taking photographs: cell phones, selfie sticks, iPads, GoPros, and even professional cameras. It was comical to watch people compete for space to snap an image of their subject with the bridge in the background. Apparently it's a known thing, as evidenced by this article.

There were parents heeding their teens' requests to take sexy photos as others waited for their turn to get a shot.

There were people risking trespassing violations to get the perfect angle with the bridge in the background.

And it just wouldn't stop: partial nudity, supermodel posing, even pushing to get a clear view. Plus, the threat of cars trying to use the street as an actual street!

Here are a few more of our favorite photos of people taking and posing for photos. So meta.

Have any unexpected tourist locations of your own to share? Leave them in the comments below. We're always looking for interesting places to capture photos...

Burn the Ice: Thomas Spaeth by Rachel Ford


“I’ll tell you one of the most unique, memorable experiences of my life…” offers Thomas Spaeth, bartender at Dear Irving in Manhattan and Bar Uni in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. What follows is his true tale of seeking solitude and finding solidarity as a young twenty-something abroad.

In 2009, Thomas was living in Madrid and funding his vagabond lifestyle by teaching English. Teaching afforded summers off from work and he found himself with a lot of time on his hands to travel throughout the country. Up until this point, Thomas had never experienced traveling independent of friends or family, but wanted to experience the independence of traveling solo. After visiting a friend in Barcelona, he boarded a bus to San Sebastián; in one day of travel he fell in love with the country and decided that wanted to stay longer than his intended six months.

While in Northern Spain, Thomas decided to embark upon an ancient pilgrimage called El Camino De Santiago to grow as an individual. He bought a backpack and supplies and set out on his journey. The pilgrimage is thought to be a spiritual path leading to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. Modern pilgrims follow the ancient route directed by distinct markers and stop to sleep in hostels called albergues. Each leg of the journey is a step leading to the next hostel, all directed by the markers that became Thomas’s lifeblood. He describes walking along unmarked paths, hoping he was not lost and the relief felt upon seeing the symbol of the gold scallop shell (the modern symbol of the way).

Because he spoke Spanish, Thomas could communicate with fellow travelers and though he set out alone, he made friends along the way. When his adopted group was caught in a rainstorm, they sought shelter and came upon a charming albergue with an attached farm. Wet and weary, they were met by staff at the gate and led to a stone tavern room, where they were served fresh fruit by the warmth of a fireplace. Once settled, they were taken to the bunk house and offered rest and a warm shower.

When it was time for dinner, the group was led to a communal table with a full spread of food and bottles of wine. At the head of the table was a man who resembled Santa Claus, the presumed host. When the meal was complete, the man rose from the head of the table and welcomed the group in Spanish. He announced that he wanted to speak to them about the important things in life and selected Thomas to translate.

As the man spoke about humanity and the inequality in the world, he paused periodically for Thomas to share his message with the group, and Thomas recalls twelve wide-eyed faces turning in unison between the two men with each pause. Through Thomas, the host encouraged everyone to seek to understand the people of the world, and attempt to walk in each other’s shoes. “There I was delivering the words of a prophet at twenty-three years old,” he recalls.


The group eventually retreated to bed, and when they awoke, Thomas approached the man to thank him. He led Thomas upstairs to tour his own personal museum of humanity, with old photographs and cultural artifacts from places including Southeast Asia, South America and Africa – a glimpse into global citizenship. Thomas set out on a journey to find himself, and instead found the power of human connection.

All in all, the pilgrimage took thirty-four days, but the highlight remains the experience at the albergue. “Am I the same?” he ponders. He likens the encounter to a really long mushroom trip: so clear in the moment but in the end the specifics are a hazy memory. To this day, Thomas does not know the identity of the man. “It was just a stop along the way, but one day I hope our paths cross again.” As a permanent reminder, he has the scallop marker symbol tattooed on his big toe.

Burn the Ice by Kyle Ford


We are excited to announce the return of a regular segment on the FML blog: Burn the Ice

Burn the Ice will be an on-going story-telling blog series. The name is derived from an industry term for melting the ice in a bar's well by adding hot water. Typically this is done at the end of the night. For us, it's symbolic of the end of a shift, when random stories and unique aspirations are shared over a shift drink.

The idea for the series grew out of the 30-Second Stir interviews we conducted back in our Ford Mixology Lab days, when we would interview some of our favorite bartenders while sitting at their bar. The premise for Burn the Ice is perhaps more open-ended, as it starts with a single question:

"Tell us a true story."

Check back here for regular updates and explore the photos at #burntheice on Instagram.

Want to be featured? Shoot us an email at info@fordmedialab.com. We plan on adding to the series near weekly.  As we live in Brooklyn, Burn the Ice will be predominately NYC focused, but you never know where our adventures will take us. 

Be defiant by Rachel Ford

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Have you watched HBO's The Defiant Ones? It is amazing for so many reasons, but above all we found it to be highly inspirational. Watch it – and then live by these quotes.

"If you want to accomplish something that hasn't been accomplished, you have to be relentlessly and unapologetically determined." – Bruce Springsteen

"Be true to yourself. Be true to your art. Never take it for granted." – The D.O.C.

"You don't have to conform. You can be as raw as you need to be." – Ice Cube

"Don't ever change who you are." – Eminem

"You can't please everybody." – Patti Smith

"Deliver quality." – Tom Petty

"Do more. Do more. You're the underdog." – Will.i.am

"Do it again. Do it again. Do it again." – Gwen Stefani

"Stay in the fucking saddle." – Jon Landau

"Treat everything like it's your first opportunity." – Kendrick Lamar

"Quit fucking around." – Trent Reznor

Which will be your new mantra? Share in the comments below.


FML book club by Rachel Ford

In an effort to never stop learning, I've made it a goal to read at least one non-fiction book each month. I'm currently an avid reader of fiction – I tear though a book every week on my Kindle – but murder mysteries are hardly going to inspire action (at least any action I will be taking). I searched online for favorite motivational books of entrepreneurs and picked a few promising titles to start.

This week, I tore through The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don't Have with People You Don't Like Doing Things You Don't Want to Do by Sarah Knight. We give it four martinis up, highly recommend.

I couldn't put it down. The title is cheeky (it is a parody, after all), but the sentiment is completely practical. The idea is to opt out of obligation without being an asshole and to free yourself from caring about what others think (#notsorry). I laughed, I made lists, and I stopped giving so many f*cks. If you constantly feel overextended and obligated to people or things, READ IT!

What should we read next? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Exploring what lies beneath by Rachel Ford

A few weeks ago, Kyle and I participated in an underground tour of the New York Subway system. The last time I signed us up for a tour it did not go well (Kyle WOULD NOT recommend a ghost tour of Greenwich Village, if anyone is interested), so he was hesitant when I told him we'd be touring the subway. I pictured us walking through damp and dark underground tunnels, snapping photos of the dwellings of the illusive Mole People, but that was obviously not what the MTA had in mind.

On a summer Saturday morning, we trekked down to the Financial District for the tour, which began at the entrance to the Chambers Street station. Our guide, Gary, was awesome. Once I knew we weren't going to be wandering around in the dark next to the tracks I wasn't sure what to expect, but it was interesting and informative nonetheless. Did you know there's a commissioned work by Roy Lichtenstein in the Times Square station? Or that the original (now closed) City Hall station can be seen in all its glory from the windows of the 6 train? How about the amount of horse manure (in tons) that polluted the city streets before the trains were built – trains that were once above ground?

Aside from the learnings of the tour itself, it got us thinking... Here's something that we walk over and ride on every day that we never once had taken the time to contemplate or appreciate.  When you think about it, the subway is really an incredible thing. What is also fascinating is that tour guides like Gary have so much knowledge about one specific aspect of the city. What inspires one to become an expert on the history of the subway, or pizza places, or graffiti murals – or ghosts for that matter? Perhaps some day we'll write about it, or rather them. There is wonder all around (and beneath) us; sometimes you just have to stop and take the time to process it.

Subway station lighting is not designed for beautiful photography, but we made due. A few of our favorite snaps are below. For more subway-related imagery, keep an eye out for our upcoming project, Last Stop.

The making of a magazine: sharing our process by Rachel Ford

He shoots/she writes. Want to know what it takes to make a magazine? 

Kyle Ford, Creative Director

What inspired you to make a magazine? Honestly, a great question to which I have a two answers. First, I have an affinity for thoughtful printed publications. With information and entertainment in our day to day lives having gone nearly completely digital, I find myself having a certain romanticism for something you can hold. Print is only dead until you pick it up again. However, I do believe that the quality of printed projects today needs to start with the intent of being non-disposable (think bi-annual publications like Cereal and Drift). Otherwise, digital channels will certainly eat your content and work alive.

As for 1806 magazine, specifically, I spent 7 years working in the spirits industry, 5 as a brand ambassador for Rémy Cointreau. While traveling the world, training bartenders, bar owners, and consumers on the merits of fine spirits, I got to know a lot of people. It was my job, after all. I learned that the bar industry attracts some of the most creative minds with intriguing back stories. The idea eventually formed over conversations (and martinis) with Rachel to somehow tell these stories. The intent of the project was to do something completely disruptive in the cocktail space. Instead of creating just another magazine about cocktails, why not make a magazine about the people who make and enjoy cocktails? An interesting recipe that we’ve since realized can be applied to any industry. Stop talking about the product! You know? Talk about the people who make it and the people whose lives are enriched by it. That is far more interesting.

What is your process for taking photos for the magazine? For 1806 magazine, I wanted to visually capture three things: the people we chose to interview, their individual context, and their shared context. For Volume 1, this meant portraits, scenery and textures from bars, and photos evocative of the uniqueness of New York City. Photographing the portraits was the most challenging, as I intentionally shot the majority of them while Rachel was interviewing the subject.  

What do you aim to capture in your portraits? People in thought. I actually credit this project with helping me develop this very specific style of portrait. I tried to avoid taking posed portraits as much as possible, often utilizing Rachel as my “squeaky toy” to engage the subject in thought. While it is not simple to capture the right moment, when it is done correctly it reveals to the real person behind the stories being told. This can sometimes produce difficult images to look at, but that is okay with me. I want to portray the underlying emotions that make people who they are.

What do you hope to convey with your photos? Going back to my process for taking photos, I would say context. I want the reader of 1806 magazine to gain a sense of who these characters are – within their environment. Only then can we truly begin to understand each other. This is one reason I included so many photos of the textures of the bars and surrounding city. For someone who has never been to New York City, I wanted them to get a strong sense of what it feels like to be here.

Rachel Ford, Editor in Chief

What is your process for selecting contributors for the magazine? Our aim was to tell the stories not often told. As one bartender recently put it best, "Most people get into bartending by accident," which generally alludes to an interesting backstory. Over the years as a brand ambassador, I met and connected with so many talented individuals and got to know details about their lives beyond the bar; these stories were worth telling. For volume 1, we were able to draw upon the bartenders in our own backyard; for volume 2, we relied upon the eyes and ears of local bartenders to help fill in the blanks of our storyboard.

What is your process for interviewing contributors? I require only three tools for contributor interviews: a spiral-bound notebook, a pen, and listening capabilities. I take all of the notes by hand and am repeatedly asked why I don't record the interviews to either electronically transcribe or play back later. My answer is that there's something about writing as I listen that keeps me present in a way that transcribing afterward does not. By the end of interviews for volume 2, my hand was perpetually cramped and I was rethinking my strategy!

What questions do you ask in your interviews? I remember our first interview in NYC clearly. Having minimal experience interviewing people, I was worried about being adequately prepared, so I purchased a spiral-bound notebook and wrote five or six questions inside as prompts. An amazing thing happened when we sat down for that first interview: I only had to ask question number one. This question became so powerful in eliciting the response that we wished to capture that it has been the only question asked of all contributors to date: Where are you from? 

What do you hope to convey with your writing? My goal is two-fold; I feel both a responsibility to the city and to the contributors to tell their stories with authenticity, accuracy and respect. From the standpoint of the city, it is important to us to include as comprehensive of a snapshot as possible. For the contributor stories, it is important to us to convey the uniqueness of the individual and a relatable human element. I hoped to write something that would read like an inspiring biographical story and draw interest from readers both inside and outside of the world of cocktails and spirits.

Have any other questions for us? Leave them in the comments below.

A new perspective by Rachel Ford

When you're hyper-focused on achieving your goals, it can become easy to get stuck in a rut. Specialization and repetition are important for establishing your brand identity, but so is growth; in order to grow, you've got to challenge yourself. Whether it be by reading, observation, or attending educational sessions, it's crucial to step outside of your box every once in a while to see what else is out there. 

One way to gain new perspective is to collaborate with and learn from others in your field; in our case, that means connecting with other photographers, writers, and creatives. In the past several months we've attended some valuable free photography events at Adorama and Sony Square in NYC, where we've gained knowledge and made connections with other photographers.

Yesterday Kyle and I joined talented photographer and Sony Alpha Collective member, Dave Krugman (pictured above), for a Depth and Composition photo walk hosted by Sony at Sony Square NYC. After getting inspired to add layers of depth to our photographs, we headed out into Madison Square Park to test out the technique. We have been fans of Dave's work since discovering him on Through The Lens: Cuba (which we watched to prepare for our own trip), so we were excited for the opportunity to shoot with him.

The premise of the exercise was to view either the foreground or background as a secondary subject and utilize it to add depth and perspective to the image. This technique is something that I had already developed a fondness for because I love the context that a slightly blurred object in the foreground adds. What I had not tried was shooting from behind a bush with our 200mm lens, which made me feel both super creepy and oddly exhilarated at the same time. Kyle focused on the foreground image in his shots, utilizing a blurred background to add context. By challenging ourselves and viewing the images of Dave and the other photo-walkers, we gained a new perspective.

Check out some of our favorite shots from the walk below (Kyle's are on the left, mine are on the right), and visit Sony Square for a list of upcoming events. What do you think of the technique?

Soaring into our second year by Rachel Ford

As Kyle and I approach our the first anniversary of making FML our full-time gig, we've been experiencing many emotions: accomplishment, awe, anticipation, excitement, hope, and a little fear. Even in such a short period of time, the business that we started has evolved into a different – and better – version of itself. Change is necessary for growth, but as we've grown it has become apparent just how much our business has changed. 

When we drafted our business plan over one year ago at a quaint wine bar in Manhattan, we wrote out the vision, mission and values; eleven months in – with tons of content created and two magazines under our belt – it was time to revisit the ethos of our company. First things first, you may have noticed that we've changed the M in FML from Marketing to Media. This change was born out of realizing that what we planned to do was ultimately only a small piece of what we would actually end up doing. Finding our niche allowed us to better understand our strengths and capabilities, as well as our limitations.

Here are three lessons from our first year that we hope to bring into year two:

1. Find balance- When you're solely responsible for your business, it can seem like there's no such thing as free nights and weekends. It's easy to get caught up in working constantly, which can lead to burnout. Use tools like time blocking and calendar management to hold yourself accountable to a schedule and remember to make time for exercise, meals, rest, and quality time with your friends and family. Not only will you be healthier and happier, but you'll avoid setting a dangerous precedent with your clients that you are always available.

2. Stay flexible- If opportunities present themselves that are outside of your intended wheelhouse, consider if it is worth it to expand your capabilities. If clients are consistently seeking a different service from you than the one you offer, ask yourself if you're offering the correct product or service. If something you thought you'd be willing to do suddenly seems like a waste of time or resources, stop doing it. Understand your market and constantly seek ways to improve your business; change leads to growth and growth leads to change.

3. Be aware- There will be challenges. Often, the same challenges will present themselves time and time again. Pay careful attention to the actions that continually lead to frustrating circumstances and invest the effort into achieving a different outcome. On the flip-side, take note of actions that lead to positive outcomes and repeat them! Many of the most annoying problems have incredibly easy solutions – you only have to be open to finding them. 

Do you have any tips of your own you'd like to share? Leave them in the comments below.

Choosing a magazine cover by Kyle Ford

Looking at the calendar, I can't believe that it has already been 3 months since the launch of 1806 Magazine! Today, Rachel and I decided to go through the photos used (and not used) in the making of Volume 1 and came across the 8 different covers we pitched to Collectif 1806.

I thought it would be useful to share some insights into our creative process, since we struggled with what should be present on the cover.

Choosing the right cover for volume 1 of 1806 Magazine was vital, since it would literally be the project's first impression to the world. It would also set a precedent for any forthcoming volumes. We wanted something that would attract the eye, pique curiosity, hint at the contents within, and create strong brand recognition. 

This first question we asked was, "Do we put a cocktail on the cover?" After all, this was to be a magazine that focuses on cocktail culture. As you'll see below, our instinct was no. We wanted to simply highlight the locality of the volume and draw people in with Collectif 1806's arcane logo and the tagline: "The defining stories of thirsty people." We knew that the personal stories and variety of photographs within would be interesting regardless of the reader's penchant for consuming cocktails. We didn't want to limit our potential audience by making a visual statement about the contents.

Alas, by the time we had placed a cocktail photo into the InDesign template, we knew that there was no going back. Fate was sealed for 1806 Magazine. Cover 8, as predicted, was quickly approved over the other options. Once the beautiful printed copies of the magazine were in hand, I had already forgotten about what could have been.

Looking back, I still have an attachment to number one, three, and five. Cover 1 served as the placeholder during the making of the magazine. The rays of light beaming down upon the dark silhouette of Manhattan seemed to nearly capture the inimitable spirit of New York and the people who live here. Plus, I just got used to looking at it.

As we toyed around with alternate covers, I was sold on Cover 3, which is the door to Do or Dive. I liked that it was a photo of a dive bar in Bed-Stuy and not some fancy cocktail bar in Manhattan. This is a place that NYC industry folk, who often live in Brooklyn, would easily stop after a shift for a shot and a beer. Also, the sign touted an undeniable message of hospitality: "You are always welcome here."

Cover 5 was taken under the elevated subway tracks of Queens. It had absolutely nothing to do with cocktails, but everything to do with New York City. Since our headline story ventured into the street art scene, and photos of street art would be scattered throughout, a graffitied cover made sense.

The final cover was actually a photo I took at a Collectif 1806 cocktail hour at Featherweight. It is of a Begonia cocktail, containing The Botanist Gin, Creme de Violette, Cointreau, Cocchi Americano, and Absinthe, crafted by Matthew Houlihan. Funny enough, I had only intended to use the photo for my Instagram (I did on January 23), as we had more or less wrapped the magazine. As cover doubts emerged in the magazine's finalization, I remembered the Begonia photo and decided to try it out. What do you think? A beautiful cocktail ended up as a beautiful cover.

Cover 1

Cover 1

Cover 2

Cover 2

Cover 3

Cover 3

Cover 4

Cover 4

Cover 5

Cover 5

Cover 6

Cover 6

Cover 7

Cover 7

Cover 8

Cover 8

1806 Magazine, Vol. 1: New York City by Kyle Ford


We just launched a magazine!

We collaborated with Collectif 1806 to create the bi-annual 1806 Magazine. Each volume will focus on a different city and reveal a photographic and journalistic cross-section of its cocktail culture. By sharing a snapshot of unique individuals and their settings, we hope to pay homage to a community-at-large that thinks outside the glass – the bold few who were called to the bar to shake up the status quo and inspire the stories worth telling.

Available now: Volume 1 - New York City.

Only 3,000 copies. Check our store for availability.