Distillery lends a hand - sanitizer - in battle against coronavirus

Manifest Distilling delivers 2,000 bottles to front line healthcare workers

Manifest Distillery, in partnership with Telescope health, is making sure health care workers who are screening patients for COVID-19 have the tools they need to stay safe themselves. The distillery in downtown Jacksonville made its first batch of hand sanitizer for those on the front lines who may be exposed.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Their industry has been rattled down to its foundation due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Manifest Distilling employees, like many across the food, beverage and alcohol industry, have been seriously affected by the health crisis. The state has barred restaurants from having customers dining in establishments during the pandemic, forcing an unprecedented halt to business as usual.

Business as usual now looks a bit different for Manifest Distilling president David Cohen and his employees.

Instead of serving whiskey and spirits to customers, Manifest employees were delivering their newest blend — hand sanitizer — to those working on the front line in the coronavirus pandemic. In a partnership with Telescope Health, Manifest and its employees were able to deliver 2,000 bottles to health workers at the coronavirus testing site at the Prime Osborn Convention Center.

It helped create a massive buffer for healthcare workers who need those supplies, and, in turn, helped Manifest and employees get back to work.

“It was a no-brainer,” Cohen said. “As soon as we realized we could do it, to be able to do something that gives back.”

Manifest Distilling employees deliver boxes of hand sanitizer to healthcare workers at the Prime Osborn Convention Center on Saturday. (WJXT)

Manifest just needed a little help to get things moving.

Up until this month, the distilling industry was strictly policed and regulated on what could and couldn’t happen within its walls. Parts of what distilleries create can be used to make cleaning supplies or ethanol-based hand sanitizer, but they weren’t permitted to do that until the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau waived some of those guidelines on March 18.

That cleared the way for Manifest to begin producing hand sanitizer that aligns with the standards set by the World Health Organization and the Food and Drug Administration.

Like several distilleries during the pandemic, that March 18 easing of guidelines allowed Manifest to make hand sanitizer.

“We don’t know what the state of our industry, the beverage, alcohol industry, the hospitality industry, is not in a good place right now and we don’t know what’s going to happen,” Cohen said. “This is kind of a nice distraction in terms of being able to do something for a city, for the healthcare workers and give back.”

Matthew Thompson, co-founder of Telescope Health, which partnered with Manifest on the project, said that the amount of hand sanitizer was a blessing for those on the front line to have.

“This is an amazing surplus of supplies to keep those workers at the tent site safe,” he said. “I can’t tell you how amazing this surplus is for us.”

About the Authors:

Justin Barney joined News4Jax in February 2019, but he’s been covering sports on the First Coast for more than 20 years.

Multi-media journalist with a special interest in Georgia issues.