Deborah Francovich Stoker, Samuel Boyd Francovich Jr. and Jeff Francovich have treasured the tradition brought to us, along with our spouses and our mother. For the past three years, we have manufactured this wonderful beverage for sale to others. Now you, too can “Start a Tradition” by enjoying Francovich Holiday Nog and giving it as gifts, as has our family for over 130 years.
As a young man in 1850, our great, great grandfather, Eli Francovich, migrated to California from Petrovac, Yugoslavia during the early gold strike in the Mother Lode. In 1859, he moved to Reno, Nevada. As one of Reno’s early settlers, he built his first building, which later became known as “The Wine House”, on Commercial Row. The Wine House became Reno’s leading gathering spot for locals and visitors. It was the perfect place to share a special treat with friends and guests during the holiday season – a delicious Nog he created from an old family recipe!
Eli’s son, our great grandfather, Spiro Francovich, successfully ran the Wine House. It enabled him to build a mansion for his family that is now referred to as “The Francovich House” The house is listed in the National Historic Register as a significant architectural structure built by a prominent Renoite. Spiro instilled the importance of family to each of his seven children. He also reinforced the “tradition” his father had begun of bottling “Francovich Holiday Nog” and giving it as gifts to friends and patrons during the holiday season.
The popularity of Francovich Holiday Nog had grown so much that our grandfather, Samuel Francovich, perpetuated the tradition by making many bottles to give to friends. Sam remained in the family’s restaurant, bar and casino business until his death in 1957. His siblings maintained business operations until city expansion required the business to close in 1964.
Our father, Samuel Boyd Francovich, was a Navy Aviator Lieutenant during World War II. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroic accomplishments at the battle of Samar Island on October 25, 1944. He opted for a career in law, serving as Reno’s City Attorney in the 1950’s instead of pursuing the family’s restaurant business. Tradition was very important to our dad. Each year, under his loving and serious direction, we made and gave as gifts the same great Nog Cordial that had been passed along to him through the generations.
We lay no claim to the origins of the Manhattan. Rather, we celebrate it by passing across the bar our family’s interpretation of this storied libation. For generations, the Francovich family has stirred the finest bourbon, rye whiskey and sweet vermouth with bespoke measures of bitters and maraschino cherries in the spirit of kinship and lofty aspiration. We offer it to you here, a cocktail experience without peer, and a towering achievement in the distilling arts.
The family is filled with unyielding Manhattan iconoclasts. Our great-grandparents, and great-aunts and great-uncles, were all very particular and enjoyed this cocktail every evening before dinner. Our granddad Spiro was, as they say, a man’s man. A man with a passion for many things, especially his bitters. Adoring Aunt Maritza could get downright persnickety when it came to her usual: “That’s right – two splashes of cherry juice. Thank you very much!” And in the eyes of great-uncle Eli, it simply was not a Manhattan without a twist of lemon peel.
Francovich Distillers’ descendants Sam and Mike have made a business of blending and mixing these ingredients, under strict control for the past 12 years, to create a Manhattan that cannot be duplicated or matched. Many have tried, but we believe – and know that you will agree – this ready-to-drink cocktail is smooth, with just the right amount of edge to make this beverage one of superior quality and luxury. Made in micro-batches in our Reno distillery, we hope you enjoy it as we do.
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