The American Dream, some would say, would be to move from terrible living conditions in another country to the United States. Some would say it would be to come up with an invention and go into business for yourself and be successful.
What if those two dreams were somehow combined?
Then you might be the partners of Peel fine liqueurs. Gianfranco DiDomenico, the son of immigrants, and his partners Sal Calafiore, Emmanuele Mangiafico and Angelo Mastrodomenico, opened a new distillery in the old Tuttle and Bailey building in 2015 to make Peel limoncello. It was in that very same building that DiDomenico’s father Frank first worked as a machinist when he came to America from Italy.
The business started in 2009 after the friends and partners came up with the recipe for Limoncello in DiDomenico’s Cromwell kitchen. “It was a family recipe from back in Italy,” said DiDomenico. “We had to outsource the production and it was made in a distillery in Ashford, CT. After a while, we thought it would be more cost-effective to produce it ourselves and that’s why we worked to get it off the ground. We originally wanted to have the business in Berlin because I live in Berlin now but the zoning and regulations and red tape were just too much to go through. We felt like we weren’t welcome at all. We are all New Britain guys originally and we knew and supported Mayor Erin Stewart. She and the administration from New Britain made us feel welcome and they gave us a couple of ideas of where we could open and that’s how we ended up at the 1 Hartford Square location. The building owner, Peter Niro, has been amazing to us.”
Peel now has four flavors and the group attempted to launch a hard-hittin spiked soda but had trouble with the production and distribution. It’s website tells of the recipe and ingredients as well as honors and it’s locality. The site says Peel Liqueur products contain no artificial sweeteners or flavorings and uses only the highest quality all-natural ingredients. They are produced in small batches and hand-made for intense smooth flavor. All products are also gluten-free. Peel Liqueur was a Double-Gold winner in the 2013 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Some of the entrants included Absolut, Bacardi and Bailey’s just to name a few. Peel’s Bananacello also won a bronze award for it’s unique bottle design. DiDomenico says he still is surprised when he sees the product on shelves. “The first day we had distribution and saw it on shelves of package stores or in a restaurant we couldn’t believe it,” DiDomenico said. “We wondered how we went from mixing things in my kitchen to being sold on the shelves. It was crazy. To take something from nothing to a real product takes a lot and we worked hard all the way along the line to try to make it great.” This American Dream has had it’s challenges. Right now, the group is lacking distribution in the southern part of the state. “It’s not easy,” DiDomenico said. “We are going back to a grassroots marketing and sales force and we’re hoping to grow it organically. All of the phases of production and distribution as well as marketing can be super expensive so we’re hoping this approach will help us turn the corner.” For now, the partners are happy to be in New Britain and are living