One-On-One With Spirits Industry Vet Patrick Richards

Patrick RichardsPhoto Credit: Romain Maurice

Serving as the Business Development Manager – Spirits for MHUSA, focusing on the brand’s scotch whiskey, bourbon, vodka and tequila brands, Patrick Richards is an eight-year veteran in the spirits industry, calling the beautiful city of Miami his home. Hailing from Washington, D.C., and quickly conquering the 305, Richards knows the city like the back of his hand. From key restaurants to in-demand nightlife destinations and beachside hangouts, you can find him holding court on any given day of the week, bringing with him his deep knowledge and passion for the wine & spirits business.

After cooling down from one of his busiest weeks of the year—Art Basel Miami Beach—we caught up with the connoisseur to find out his top tips of the industry and his passions outside of work, his love for Miami, favorite destinations and more.

HL: What do you do to unwind when you’re not working?

PR: I enjoy working out four-five days per week, going to Miami Dolphins and Heat games and watching different types of movies. In addition, you can catch me relaxing at the beach or catching a vibe at Soho House.

HL: Favorite TV series of all time?

PR: Game of Thrones, hands down. Nothing is even close! My future child’s name will be Arya Stark.

HL: What are some of your other passions?

PR: Above all else, traveling is my No. 1 passion. My top five favorite cities in the world are: 1. Florence, Italy; 2. Tokyo, Japan; 3. Toronto, Canada; 4. Berbice, Guyana; 5. Amsterdam, Netherlands. There is so much inspiration and culture all over the world and any free time I have, it’s usually spent traveling overseas.

Patrick RichardsPhoto Credit: Romain Maurice

HL: Who are some of your greatest sources of inspiration?

PR: God – I always put him first and I am extremely grateful for my blessings; My family – My parents instilled morals and values in my brother, sister and me at a young age and it has paid off, as we have all become extremely successful; My girlfriend, Gabriela – Her ambition and success is contagious, she provides a strong support system and pushes me daily to consistently overachieve; My close friends – I am fortunate to have an inspiring circle of friends who are incredibly successful in their respective fields.

HL: Favorite dinner destination in Miami?

PR: Wow! That’s a tough one since there are so many solid restaurants in Miami, but I’ll say, Cipriani. They have amazing food, a great atmosphere and phenomenal service. You must order the Vanilla Ice Cream “a la Minute” for dessert!

HL: Favorite all-around aspect of Miami?

PR: Miami is like being abroad without technically being abroad. I love how people hold true to their cultures. In addition, I love the overall aesthetic (culture, weather, water and lifestyle). There’s the beautiful, blue waters, year-round sun and happy people! We are lucky enough to live where most people vacation.

Patrick RichardsPhoto Credit: Romain Maurice

HL: Tell us about your history in the spirits industry. How did you get started?

PR: I was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in Silver Spring, MD. I attended Morehouse College in Atlanta for undergraduate studies and Mercer University for my MBA. Upon graduation, I began working for the Department of Housing & Urban Development. While working at HUD, I was frequently on the scene in Atlanta and a good friend of mine approached me with an opportunity to work with him at his marketing agency. At the time, one of his top clients was one of the biggest suppliers in the industry where he was serving as the Brand Ambassador for the Georgia market. The primary responsibility was to develop marketing strategies and create visibility and awareness for a specific on-premise campaign. Long story short, we had a great deal of success in a short period of time. I ended up soaking up a tremendous amount of knowledge regarding lifestyle, cultivating relationships and the spirits business in general. Fast forward to a few years later, where I was named the Key Account Manager for Hennessy and began my journey of maneuvering to where I am today. Lastly, I have been fortunate enough to have had some phenomenal mentors who have helped guide me in this industry. The rest is history!

HL: Toughest challenge of the industry?

PR: Two challenges come to mind. The first is staying ahead of the curve and being innovative. The spirits industry is competitive, so it’s imperative to stay creative and welcome evolution. This entails working closely with my national teams to drive brand innovation and consumer excitement. The second is saying ‘no’—this is always challenging for me. I am consistently approached with event opportunities and partnerships. Many of these concepts are great but are simply not the right fit for my brands. I try to be as transparent as possible to avoid miscommunication.

Patrick RichardsPhoto Credit: Romain Maurice

HL: What is your favorite aspect of the industry?

PR: Most definitely the people. I love interacting with a wide array of people. I engage with distributor partners, retail store owners, restaurant & nightclub owners, mixologists, celebrities, competitors and general consumers daily. I have gained many valuable relationships and have learned a great deal from rubbing shoulders with so many different types of people.

HL: What drew you to MH Spirits?

PR: Each brand has a distinct personality and many brands have hundreds of years in history. I have so much admiration for the MH portfolio.

HL: What makes the Miami market so unique?

PR: The city of Miami is constantly evolving. First, it is considered the gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America, which clarifies the extremely diverse culture. Second, there is a tremendous amount of European influence on the city during the height of season. In addition, Miami has been referred to as the “New York of the South,” and is considered one of the most influential cities in the Wine & Spirits industry. If you establish a strong brand presence in Miami, there is a great chance that presence will transfer to other markets around the country and ultimately around the globe.

Patrick RichardsPhoto Credit: Romain Maurice

HL: Best piece of advice for achieving success in this industry?

PR: A few keys to success: 1. Value, establish and maintain all relationships; 2. Do your homework (casually read wine & spirits magazines, articles, newspapers, etc.); 3. Set short and long-term goals. Stay focused and work tirelessly to achieve them

HL: What’s your go-to cocktail of choice?

PR: This changes based on the occasion, but I’ll go with Volcan Cristalino on the rocks garnished with orange wedges.