• The Cocktail Snob

HH Bespoke Spirits: The Harlem Haberdashery Experience is Now a Lifestyle

Updated: Mar 4, 2019

The HH Bespoke Spirit Collection's Rum, Gin, and Vodka

After 26 years of elevating your wardrobe with custom designs through their clothing line, the family behind 5001 flavors and the Harlem Haberdashery Boutique, wants to elevate your cocktails too.

Over the last two decades, Sharene Wood and her husband, Guy, have built an empire with an impressive list of clientele that includes some of the music industry’s most talented movers, shakers, and tastemakers. What began as an idea in Sharene’s Columbia University dorm room many years ago has blossomed into a full-fledged lifestyle brand with an impressive reputation. Just a few months ago, the Wood family announced that they’d be taking their talents to the spirits arena, when they joined forces with another family owned and operated company, Astra Luna Brands, to launch their spirit line.

Today, I’m sitting down with Sharene, President and CEO of Harlem Haberdashery, to talk about her experience in the spirits industry and taste the HH Bespoke Spirits Collection. We’re at Harlem Hops, a Black-owned boutique beer hall, where her brother and business partner is celebrating his birthday.

Sharene is not shy about taking full ownership of her black girl magic, which she says she had way “before it was a hashtag.” Her confidence is reassuring and especially critical in an industry that’s been predominantly white and male for far too long. When I ask her what it’s like navigating that space as a Black woman, she confidently declares, “I didn’t think of who wasn’t there because I knew that’s where I was going to be.” According to Sharene, the family always knew they wanted to “transform the Harlem Haberdashery experience into a lifestyle” and for them, a line of spirits was a natural brand extension. They’ve taken the same brand aesthetic Harlemites have grown to know and love through the Harlem Haberdashery brand and created a successful collection of premium liquor.

Fashion War Veteran, signature cocktail at Harlem Hops featuring HH Bespoke Spirits rum

After our conversation, I had the chance to taste the liquor myself. Overall, the collection is really high quality and I’m looking forward to featuring one of their liquors in a recipe soon. The gin is an updated take on London Dry Gin with a fragrant finish. The Vodka is super premium, extra smooth and made from corn. The rum, my personal favorite, is a young age rum with a hint of sweet vanilla. When asked what distinguishes their liquor from other brands on the market, Sharene says that, in addition to it being uniquely family-owned and operated, the design of the bottle is distinct. And yes, the bottle is as stylish as you would expect from a family of style influencers.

Although the spirit brand launched a mere four months ago, the collection is already being sold in 10 stores across New York City and they have done some successful collaborations with brands like Harlem Chocolate Factory and Rozi Sweets. And of course, specialty cocktails featuring HH Bespoke Spirits are available at outposts all over the city. And with no signs of slowing down anytime soon, HH Bespoke Spirits has plans to dip into the hospitality sector with wholesale offerings. In addition, Sharene promises new flavors out this spring.

The rich legacy of the Wood Family is definitely one to aspire to and, judging by the warm reception from beverage aficionados, including Florence Fabricant of the New York Times, the trailblazing family has made history once again. Known for their expertise in designing custom, bespoke threads for your favorite celebrities, they have also had great success in designing clothing that the average consumer can wear for their own red carpet moments. And now, the Woods want to help us all celebrate life’s most cherished moments with their new premium spirits. And I will drink to that!