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  • Who owns the ‘cuse’? Inside a trademark fight between SU and a small business
  • U.S. Rep. John Katko visits Lock 1 Distilling Co. in Phoenix NY



    August 6, 2019

    U.S. Rep. Katko visits Lock 1 Distilling Co. in Phoenix NY

    Congressman John Katko Visits Lock 1 Distilling Co. in Phoenix, NY
    Lock 1 Owner Stephen Backus, Mayor Caleb Sweet, Superintendent Jim Lynch, Lock 1 Owner Brenden Backus, Rep. John Katko, Hill Island Distilling Owners Ann and David Benton pose for a photo during the Congressman’s recent visit to Lock 1 Distilling Co.

    Focus on small business highlights impact of State & National Legislation

    Congressman John Katko(24th District, NY) visited Lock 1 Distilling Co. in Phoenix, NY on Tuesday August 6th. Katko was welcomed by Village of Phoenix Superintendent Jim Lynch and Mayor Caleb Sweet. The visit gave the Congressman, a strong supporter of small business, an opportunity to see the effect that NY State grant funding opportunities can have on a small community.  It also gave Lock 1 owners, Brenden Backus and Stephen Dates(Owner Kevin Dates was unable to attend), an opportunity to voice their support for the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. (H.R.1175/S.362)

    Extension of tax break critical for small business growth.

    Introduced by Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) in the House and Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in the Senate, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act (CBMTRA) would permanently extend the reduction in the excise tax on beer, wine, and distilled spirits that was passed as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.

    Passage of this legislation is crucial to sustaining healthy growth in the craft beverage industry.  Failure to act will result in small craft distillers facing up to 400% increases in their taxes. That would force many distillers to shut down. Backus and Dates were joined by David and Ann Benton of Hall Island Distillery (Triple E Vodka) in Cicero, NY.  All four are members of the NY Distillers Guild which strongly supports passage of H.R.1175. They urged Katko to consider co-sponsoring and vocally supporting passage of this legislation before time runs out at the end of the year.

    “Distillers reinvest these critical tax savings in their businesses and local communities–hiring more employees, investing in new equipment and increasing both grain and packaging purchasing.” – Distilled Spirits Council

    Joining Mayor Sweet and Superintendent Lynch were Debbie Dates – Brand Ambassador for Lock 1 Distilling Co., Roxanne Demo – Village of Phoenix Clerk, Laura Gonzalez – Deputy Clerk, and local business owner Tammy Remington Lynch.

    Show us your Cuse Juice!

    Congressman Katko took time to view the Distillery, paused for a brief tasting and even purchased a bottle of Cuse Juice, an extremely popular Lock 1 Distilling Co. product which is currently the topic of a heated public debate. Syracuse University has insisted that Lock 1 Distilling Co. stop selling Cuse Juice by October 1st of this year and have entered into an agreement with Lock 1 for the products end at that time. SU is asserting Trademark protections over the word “CUSE” in the products name, even though they do not hold a registered Trademark under that name in the Distilled Spirits category.  The Congressman is a graduate of the College of Law at Syracuse University (1985–1988).

    Lock 1 Distilling Co. is a grain to glass, Farm Distillery located in sight of Lock 1 of the Oswego Canal in downtown Phoenix, NY. We proudly ferment, distill, bottle and sell handcrafted spirits made in small batches from local ingredients.  Lock 1 Distilling Company is family owned and operated.

    Visit – for more information on our Award winning Ryze Vodka, Inferno Cinnamon Whiskey, Liquid Candy Cane Peppermint Whiskey, Locktender’s and Drawbridge Gins.

    For interviews contact

  • Eat Local CNY discusses Cuse Juice with Lock 1 Disitlling Co.
  • The End of Cuse Juice

    Broken Hearts

    Syracuse University forces the end of Cuse Juice Orange Liqueur

    Since the fall of 2018 we have been in discussions with Syracuse University about their “concerns” regarding our popular Cuse Juice Orange Liqueur.  After full consideration, weighing the impact of any potential litigation, we have entered into an agreement with Syracuse University which required us to cease production of Cuse Juice and to liquidate all remaining product by October 1, 2019. All the Cuse Juice we, our distribution partners and your local bars and liquor stores have is all there will ever be. Our agreement prevents us from using the name in the future. In short, Cuse Juice is no more.

    Together “WE are Cuse”

    Cuse Juice has been an extremely popular product since it’s initial release at the New York State Fair in 2018 and has found its way into many bars, restaurants and homes. Ironically Syracuse University itself purchased several cases early on to gift to University donors. Cuse Juice has been specifically requested and donated to numerous charitable organizations throughout the Central New York area.  Demand even stretched far beyond our distribution reach with requests coming in from Syracuse area natives living out of state. Cuse Juice found its way into Lock 1 Distilling Cuse Juicemany people’s hearts. We know because we have heard it, and still hear it, everywhere we go and it always makes us smile. Our homage to the city next door struck the nerve we intended as people felt a personal pride in that “Nectar of the Sun from the City that sees none!” Cuse Juice was always about that connection to Syracuse. Whether you live downtown, or in the suburbs as we do, the City is a big part of who we all are and together, collectively, “WE are Cuse.”  Many people felt and feel that same way. We are proud of that. We set out to make the best tasting premium Orange Liqueur on the market and we feel we achieved that goal. We could never have imagined the way it would be embraced and it has been our privilege to share that love for it, and for the City of Syracuse with all of our customers and fans. 

    A Tough Decision

    We are sad to see that end but we felt that we had few if any good options. We are a small, family business, and those who work for us and with us: employees, grain producers, bottle makers, label makers all live right here in the greater Syracuse area. They are counting on the decisions we make to guarantee they can meet their day to day needs. We take that responsibility and trust very seriously and have chosen to act accordingly to protect those interests and to continue to deserve and earn that trust.

    Our agreement ensures that our distribution and retail partners (ie.local liquor stores, bars and restaurants) will not face any potential litigation and may continue to sell any current stock or any units acquired from our final, existing stock,  without restriction, after the October 1st deadline. You will be able to get your Cuse Juice “fix” for a little while longer but, not too long. There just isn’t all that much out there when it comes down to it.

    Get it while you can!

    To this end the last remaining bottles are available immediately on a first come, first served basis. This extremely limited supply (approximately 4800 bottles) represents the final bottles of Cuse Juice ever to be produced.  We anticipate demand will be extremely high. Wherever you get your Cuse Juice you should be sure to pick it up sooner rather than later. We have bottles and even cases for sale while the supply lasts at our Tasting Room & Cocktail Lounge located at 17 Culvert St. in Phoenix, N.Y. and you can ask your local liquor stores and favorite bars and restaurants to be sure to have it on hand as they can continue to use it and sell it. After October 1st, we cannot have any in our possession. 

    The future is bright

    In closing we want to express to you our appreciation for your continued support. We have exciting plans for new products to join our award winning Ryze Vodka, Inferno Cinnamon Whiskey, Liquid Candy Cane, Locktender’s and Drawbridge gin. We are also patiently awaiting the July 2020 release of our first NY Bourbon.  We can’t wait to show you what the future holds. 


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