IndieAustin: Tito’s Handmade Vodka

Tito’s Handmade Vodka is the creation of former geophysicist, Tito Beveridge (yes, that is his real name). After earning his degree at UT Austin, Tito’s career path took him from running heli-portable dynamite seismic crews in South America to mortgage brokering back here in Texas. Somewhere along the way, he started infusing vodka with ingredients like habaneros to give to friends. One night, at a party, a stranger approached him, “Hey, you’re the vodka guy!” Still selling mortgages, he quickly corrected the man with, “No, I’m the mortgage guy,” but that got him thinking…
Inspired, and during a time of self-reflection, Tito drew a line down a sheet of paper, listed his skills and passions, and looked for overlap. Soon enough, he set out to distill vodka. On a plot of land outside Austin, he built a one-room shack and started building stills based on photos of old moonshiners and prohibition-era busts. He toyed with the still and the recipe until the result was “a vodka so smooth you could drink it straight.”
Then he hit a wall.
Tito tried to get some financing, but investors turned him down, convinced he would fail. The State of Texas had never been home to a legal distillery, after all. So, with a mix of savings and 19 credit cards (on which he racked up about $88,000), he funded himself.
Hunched over books of code, he soon discovered nothing in the law prevented him from starting a vodka operation. He convinced the state to let him incorporate and obtained the first legal distilling permit in Texas, selling his first case in 1997. For years, he spent most days alone in the shack, distilling, hand-filling, and labeling every bottle.
During those early days, Tito started donating product to local nonprofit fundraising events. He would show up with a case, pour drinks, and serve them with a simple request: “If you like it, tell 20 of your closest friends.” Over the years, this small, localized gesture evolved into a nationwide movement as the company grew, empowering employees, customers, and fans to make a difference in their communities through the Love, Tito’s and Vodka for Dog People programs.
With a goal to turn spirits into love and goodness by joining forces with nonprofits across the country, Tito’s works to give back in meaningful ways. One of their latest projects is a new Love, Tito’s retail space downtown at 215 Lavaca Street. 100% of net proceeds of whatever you purchase – a new collar for your four-legged friend, a Tito’s tee, some branded barware — go to the nonprofits they support.
While you can’t enjoy a Tito’s there due to Texas liquor laws, the store has a bar finder listing local spots that serve up Tito’s cocktails, brand new merchandise, a doggy photo booth, and more.