Joe Fee, co-owner of bitters godfather Fee Brothers died away on Thursday (2.06). According to a statement from Joe’s sister Ellen Fee, he passed away due to complications from a respiratory infection.
Fee was a unmissable—tall in stature and not shy in personality—presence on the international cocktail and restaurant trade show circuit. While Ellen tended to operations and product development, Joe focused on sales and outreach. One could be forgiven for believing that Joe was born for the role.
Born in July of 1964, Joe Fee was the eighth and youngest child of Jack and Margaret Fee. Like his siblings, Joe spent much of his childhood helping out at Fee Brothers HQ in Rochester, NY. Eventually, he decamped for Notre Dame University where he graduated with a degree in Business Administration.
However, the family business remained close to his heart. In 1991, Joe returned to the fold and began working for Fee Brothers full time. According to the company’s history, Joe leveraged his initial position as Office Manager to bring the company into the computer age.
Joe also began to assume other responsibilities. In 1995, he worked with Ellen to revamp the packaging on Fee Brothers products. He also started to assume sales duties and within a few years, Joe found himself leading the department.
In 2012, Joe and Ellen assumed ownership of the company making them the fourth generation of Fees to run the business.
The tradition was one that Joe took very seriously. He worked constantly promoting the brand. Although work took him to scores of countries, he rarely had time to for leisure. He described a 2016 cruise in Alaska as his first vacation in a decade.
Yet, it was a job that Joe loved. He was a man who loved a good conversation and a good drink. While he held his native Rochester close to his heart, he clearly revealed in being a citizen of the globe. And, today, cocktail lovers all over that globe are missing Joe Fee’s oversized presence.
Details of the memorial will be announced soon on the Fee Brothers social media.