As president and CEO of Sovereign Brands, Brett Berish created a list of fast-growing wine and liquor labels known for their elegant packaging and celebrity liquors (and, in some cases, buyers—in 2014, Jay-Z bought Armand de Brignac Champagne, aka Ace of Spades, from Sovereign Brands for an undisclosed amount). The family-owned wine and spirits company, founded by Berish in 1999, is today responsible for drinking products such as French Luc Belaire sparkling wine, Bumbu rum, McQueen and Violet Fog gin.
But despite all the hard-nosed social vibes that his business provides – Luke Belair was notably featured by the Los Angeles Rams after their recent Super Bowl victory, and Bumbu counts rappers Lil Wayne and Rick Ross among his fans – 53-year-old Birish General a family man at heart. The father-of-six, who lives primarily near Chicago but maintains additional residences in New York City and Florida, becomes mobile when he talks about the holidays with his clan and keeps utmost praise for his snowboarding mom. “She’s my teacher, my role model,” he says.
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Entrepreneur Spirits (who, prior to launching Sovereign, worked as a commercial banker) also created D’Ussé Cognac alongside Bacardi. Recently, Berish brought a new alcoholic cognac drink called Villon to the market. “Success is the next brand. It is the next thing for me.
What did you do recently for the first time?
I just had my sixth child, so it feels like it’s starting over. It’s new.
First thing you do in the morning?
I drink two cups of coffee and walk for two hours. I have a walking stick that I drop and sand myself, and I walk anywhere from 7 to 15 miles a day. If I don’t do it, it destroys me.
What advice would you like to follow?
Trust my intuition. It’s the most important thing. I have an expression I just told my team, “Consensus doesn’t make good ideas.” I wish I had learned this earlier, but that comes with confidence and time.
What does this still analog?
Anytime I travel, I’ll go to a liquor store, liquor store, and grocery store. I love walking the aisles, seeing brands that will never change, and influencing and feeling the brand. For me, brands are a personal thing, and that’s my favorite part of it.
How do you find calm?
I’m doing a series called “self-made” where I interview people: influencers, celebrities, businessmen, sports personalities. I love hearing the exit part; I don’t like hearing about success. Knowing that other people have gone through struggles is very comforting to me because I can understand it.
What’s the latest thing you added to your collection?
I own a Charlie Bucket Gold Ticket from the original Willy Wonka movie. I bought it at an auction from the director’s family, and I got the backstory in full. Whoever remembers her golden ticket, it only brings smiles. I love him. It’s the most valuable thing I own.
What’s the latest thing you regret not buying it?
Volkswagen Microbus 1967 with 21 windows. I wanted it because I have six kids, and I see my whole family walking around the place. Because of Covid, I didn’t pull the trigger, because I would have bought it without seeing it, and I needed to see it in person. But she was beautiful.
What is the most impressive dish you cook?
It’s scrambled eggs with cheese, burnt bacon, two sausages, and toast. I can do well. You should have burnt bacon, though, really burnt and crunchy bacon.
What does success look like to you?
Success for me constantly proves that our ideas worked. If I have a new idea, I want to see it become a reality. Anyone can have an idea, but that’s the hard part.
How much do you trust your intuition?
My success has been based on trusting my instincts. And when I didn’t trust them it didn’t work out.
Driving or driving?
to cut. You have to be in control, you have to do it.
Are you wearing a watch? How much do you have?
I own one hour. It’s one of the most special things I own because of Rick Ross He gave it to me, a gold Rolex watch. It has been engraved to me, “from one chief to another.” And I love him, I absolutely love him. It is very heavy and hard to wear.
The last time you separated?
Last summer I went camping with my three brothers, three of my kids, and all of my nephews. Three days of camping in the woods, which was great.
What was the last piece of advice you gave?
Don’t be afraid of failure. I tell my team every day: Try things; Don’t wait for approval. If it doesn’t work, don’t worry about it. Life is like improvisation. You make it a little better every day.
What are your email etiquette?
tracking. I will always respond as quickly as possible. For me it is about respect.
What car(s) are you most associated with?
I have a 1988 Defender, which has been beautifully restored. They have seats facing each other in the back. We call it Frosty, as in Frosty the Snowman – brilliant blue. And I have a red Mock, which the kids named Sharktooth. It is an electric car. It looks like a jeep that cuts in half horizontally but does 35 miles per hour. It’s street law, and it’s amazing.
What do you crave the most at the end of the day?
It must be a drink. I drink every day, and at the end of the day it’s my favorite. I’ll pour a rocks glass full of one of the brands, and I’ll sit alone and calm down. It’s my favorite thing. There is nothing better. Yes, you should drink with friends, but I am an excellent drinker on my own.
Bowie or Dylan?
Definitely boy. I don’t understand Dylan.
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