Damon Industries continues tradition of crafting and distributing local beverages.
Written by Claire McArthur
Photos by Asa Gilmore
Bottles of strawberry daiquiri come off the bottling line
Take a sip of a bloody mary at a restaurant in Reno or enjoy a frozen daiquiri while cruising the Las Vegas Strip, and the likelihood is high that you just drank a product developed and manufactured by Damon Industries, a third-generation, family-run business in Sparks.
“We’re a well-kept secret, and we’re trying to change that a bit,” says Josh Damon, who, along with his brother, Aaron, and sister, Tiffany English, officially took over the business a couple of years ago.
More than 50 years ago, their grandfather founded Miles Distributing in a building on Wells Avenue in Reno, supplying bars and restaurants with everything from cups to Maraschino cherries. Their father eventually bought the business and expanded it to include manufacturing and distribution of shelf-stable beverage concentrates and, eventually, custom drink mixers for clients in Nevada and across the country under the new name, Damon Industries.
Cocktails prepared with Mt. Rose Mixers from Damon Industries in Sparks
“We help create custom cocktails to go along with casino shows in Las Vegas, like a peanut-butter-banana-frosted cocktail for an Elvis show,” Josh says. “We’ve developed a maple-bacon-doughnut frozen cocktail and even a biscuits-and-gravy frozen cocktail.”
The business manufactures the infamous rum runner served at Camp Richardson in South Lake Tahoe, helped craft a signature bloody mary mix at The Depot in Reno, and even developed a line of mixers and syrups (with unique flavors such as jalapeño and lavender) for Total Wine & More under the Brother’s Reserve label.
In 2011, Damon launched Mt. Rose Drinks, a premium brand of drink mixers that it supplied to restaurants throughout the region, which is now under the Damon Industries umbrella. From a classic margarita to a blueberry lemon drop, chances are you’ve consumed Mt. Rose Drinks concoctions countless times without realizing it.
For Damon Industries, it’s always been about collaboration. This fall, for example, Mt. Rose Drinks partnered with Verdi Local Distillery in Verdi to create a pumpkin spice mixer to combine with the distillery’s cinnamon whiskey.
From left, Damon Industries’ owners, siblings Tiffany English, Aaron Damon, and Josh Damon, stand at the end of the bottling line in their production room
The family’s latest endeavor, a series of cannabis drinks, is no different. Under the brand name The Happiest Hour, Damon partnered with Nevada Botanical Science, a Reno-based producer of cannabis oil, to develop 12 THC-infused drinks, including such flavors as blood orange and watermelon margarita. Each of the 12.7-ounce bottles contains 100 milligrams of THC and is available for purchase at dispensaries such as Sierra Well in Reno and Silver State Relief in Sparks.
“We’re lucky in Nevada as we’re at the forefront of changing the culture of cannabis, but a lot of times people who consume cannabis are left out,” English says. “‘Go outside to smoke. You can’t smoke here. You can’t consume here.’ But with something like The Happiest Hour, we can all stay together.”
Damon was sold on the possibilities of cannabis when he saw how a sample of The Happiest Hour helped his mother-in-law with leg pain.
“She put a tablespoon of our strawberry mix on her ice cream, and half an hour later, she said she couldn’t remember the last time her legs didn’t hurt,” Damon recalls. “She got some pain relief and was able to relax.”
Damon Industries’ line of THC-infused drinks, The Happiest Hour. Photo courtesy of Damon Industries
At the helm of the company, the siblings hope to continue evolving and innovating in the beverage industry.
“The company is drastically different from what my grandpa started, but I know he’d be proud of the legacy that he left for all of us that continues to be part of the community, and of our wonderful family, which includes everyone who works here at Damon Industries,” Josh says.
“The three siblings all have their strengths and weaknesses, and together we make the perfect CEO,” English adds with a laugh.
-Claire McArthur is a freelance writer who would very much like to have a peanut-butter-banana-frosted cocktail developed by Damon Industries in her hand … like, right now.
Mt. Rose Drinks can be found at Total Wine & More, Lee’s Discount Liquor, and Dart Beverage. For details, visit Damonpacking.com.