About Carmen

Canadian-born Carmen O’Neal is a cocktail expert, founder of 58 and CO Distillery and TV personality known for her award-winning spirits, sustainable practices and championing female-led businesses.

As well as being a Saturday Kitchen regular, Carmen is making waves in the industry as a cocktail and spirits expert, whilst championing sustainability - 58 and CO is the UK’s first female founded alcohol brand to be awarded B Corp status.

Carmen O’Neal was born and raised in Canada. Her mother, Rae, was an aromatherapist and started one of Canada’s first health food stores before launching her aromatherapy brand. So, Carmen grew up understanding essential oils and the distillation process. A serial entrepreneur from a young age, Carmen started her first business aged 5 selling beeswax ornaments at Christmas fairs.

In her early twenties, while she was working as a celebrity and bridal makeup artist, she got the idea to start her next venture – designing bespoke wedding shoes. Never doing anything by half, Carmen trained as a shoemaker and split her time between Canada, Spain and Italy. Following her mother’s death, she moved to London to set up her business and finish her degree at London University of Arts. With investors in place, she was in the middle of designing her first collection when she was hit by a lorry while cycling in central London. Her helmet saved her life, but the right side of her body was crushed and left her unable to design or make shoes. The investors pulled out and her shoe venture folded - so she started drinking gin (her mother’s favourite tipple).

Typically, Carmen didn’t just drink gin - she wanted to learn how to make it. Starting on a 2 litre still, she
began experimenting with different botanicals and, 58 recipes later, had a London Dry Gin that she was excited to share with the world. The business grew, the stills got bigger, and Carmen opened 58 and CO in an archway in Haggerston in 2019. As well as being the distillery and housing every part of the production, the space is also a stunning venue and host to gin schools, tasting experiences and private events. When the pandemic hit in 2020, it was one of the first places in the UK to switch production to making sanitiser and 58 and CO became an official supplier for the Met Police and NHS, as well as women’s shelters and home care.

In 2021, 58 and CO was awarded B Corp status (a certification that a business is meeting the highest standards of social and environmental impact), making it the UK’s first female-owned alcohol brand to achieve the accolade. Carmen distilled sustainability into the heart of the business – from the solar panels that power the distillery, to the recycled glass bottles, labels made from discarded grape skins and the worms that compost all excess food waste.

Today, 58 and CO’s multi award-winning spirits can be found primarily in bars and restaurants throughout the UK. As well as their core range of spirits – London Dry Gin, Apple & Hibiscus Gin, Navy Strength Gin and Triple Distilled Vodka – their House range is growing rapidly, favoured by brands leaning more towards quality sustainable, cost effective, quality craft spirits for their house pours. The newly launched CO-LAB Series features limited edition, experimental, innovative spirits, made using excess or by product from other brands.