An Ohio State alumnus has brought a new flavor to the liquor scene: honey wasabi.
Mark Tinus, who graduated from OSU with a degree in mechanical engineering in 2004, is president and co-founder of Karate Cowboy, a 28 percent alcohol by volume specialty spirit that mixes American grain with Japanese sake, made from rice.
“The idea was to create something completely different than anything else on the back bar in the style and in the flavor profile,” Tinus said.
He created this product with his partner, John Rohlwing, after working for years in the liquor and beer industry and really establishing affection for the liquor side of things.
“We have a huge challenge in educating people on flavors they had never had before,” Tinus said. “Being different is our No. 1 asset and our No. 1 deficit.”
Karate Cowboy launched in October, first appearing in bars around the OSU campus such as Too’s Spirits Under High, Oldfield’s North Fourth Tavern, Out-R-Inn and Ugly Tuna Saloona before moving to the Short North, Grandview, Easton and Dublin. It also launched in Chicago in November.
“For a college-aged student, we are a drink you have on a special occasion,” Tinus said. “We want to give people a social experience that stands out in their mind as something they would have never tried if they would have stuck to what they are used to.”
In terms of serving options, Karate Cowboy focuses on the three M’s — mules, margaritas and Bloody Marys — as possible mixers to enjoy with its product. It has also developed a line of shots, bombs and cocktails, which can be found on the company’s website and social media accounts.
Rohlwing, co-founder of Karate Cowboy, said that there is truly nothing else out there in the world like what he and his partner have created.
“Besides being very unique in terms of flavors and ingredients, product features like the bottle, the name and our branding are all eye-catching assets,” Rohlwing said.
He also said the company plans to expand on all of this in the near future.
“You can look for our new flavor, ginger mint, coming to the market in a couple months,” Rohlwing said. “You can also look for more exciting promotional events with ninjas and karate cowboys creating Karate Cowboy shot rituals, along with other friendly competitions or drinking events.”
Tinus said that all the company asks is for consumers to come out and give its product a try.
“Love us or hate us, you have never had anything like us,” he said.