By Dave Ficere

Many people dream of getting out of the corporate world and starting their own business. They want to exit the “rat race,” control their own schedules and pursue their dreams while working with others of their choosing.

That dream of wanting out of corporate America and pursuing a dream was the primary motivator for Mike Mazzarotto, co-owner of Paradox Distillery. “About three years ago, I wanted out of the corporate world and wanted ownership of something of my own and more control,” Mike says, “and so I began looking at the home brewing of beers, which quickly moved into spirits.”

After working for about a year with a friend on some small-scale testing, they decided to turn their hobby into a business. “My family comes from a long line of farmers that produce wine in Italy,” Mike says “so it’s in the blood – a part of my heritage, so to speak.” He also found it interesting to experiment to find the correct “craft” product – something different in the marketplace with a unique taste that others would enjoy. Their slogan says it all: Never compromise the spirit within. Paradox takes pride in their product which is “handcrafted from grain to bottle.”

Enter co-owner John Racer who dove into home brewing on his own about four years ago and got to know Mike and some of the other people in the industry. “I saw where Mike was heading and that there were just a few companies doing this – and still are only a few. And, because Craft spirits have an identity of their own, much different than beers, there’s room in the marketplace for the unique products we want to produce.”

There are about a dozen or so licensed distillers in Arizona, and three or four in the Phoenix Metro area,” John says. “The breweries and wineries have led the way with the local vibe.”

Hand-craft or hand-made is our niche,” Mike adds, “and we do everything from milling the grain to cooking it, all the way to the bottling. We know exactly the grains and profiles we’re looking for so we can control the production process.”

So how does one define “craft” brewing? “Craft defines the ‘smaller guys who do it by hand’ as a way of differentiating themselves from the big boys,” John says.

Sam Adams started the trend, but now the market is over-using the term.”

Some of the experimentation that goes on also helps define the craft process,” Mike chimes in, “and we’re able to tinker with different grains and processes.”

Paradox Distillery is a small, start-up company will plans for increasing growth, including eventually offering tastings and private tours to give visitors a chance to try new products. Currently, they only produce vodka, which is the easiest to get to market, but rum is in their short-term plans as well as some whisky.

Their Vodka product is just about ready to hit the market so begin looking for it at some local restaurants and stores. John and Mike will also soon be working with a distributor to get their products to a wider audience.

My vision is to continue to grow so we can reach all of Arizona and perhaps the Southwest. I’d also like to tinker and continue to experiment with new products that are unique in the marketplace,” Mike says.

Paradox will also have a presence at several local events this year including the Chandler Craft Spirits Festival at the end of April. You can also learn more about them and their unique products on their website,, or by following them on Facebook.