Copyright © All rights reserved. Site by T. Wilson Site Published 17 September 2013
The BUNDABERG rum trade marks and brand assets are owned by Bundaberg Distilling Company Pty Ltd and are used on this supporter site under licence.
We wish to thank the Frangos family for their assistance with the information on this site.
The Frangos family began a family tradition of making liqueurs in Greece in 1820. Let's put that into a little bit of perspective. In 1820 Australia was still receiving convicts from England. Penal colonies such as Moreton Bay, Macquarie Harbour, Port Macquarie and Norfolk Island were all established in the 1820's. To the left is an image of Sydney painted in 1823. Such is the legacy and the tradition behind the business that was Frangos Liqueurs.
The Frangos family, originally from Greece had a long tradition of liqueur making, passing the family recipes down from generation to generation. In approximately 1870, the family tradition of liqueur making transitioned to a commercial enterprise. Eventually the tradition passed to the hands of Demetrious Frangos. Demetrious lived in Megara with his wife Cleopatra and sons Michael and Constantine. All was not smooth sailing however.
Demetrious struggled alone to maintain the family tradition. In the bleakest of times he even refused outside finance because he “wanted it for the boys.” He also met with a certain amount of racism, being greek and speaking little english (something his sons Michael and Con would also experience while they ran the business). In 1959 Demetrious died suddenly, putting his liqueur business in jeopardy. Frangos Liqueurs nearly went out of existence. Con and Michael, who were 26 and 25 years of age respectively, could not see how to carry on but they decided they had to at least try to go on for their Dad's sake. In their words they were “Born and bred in the tradition and couldn't just let it drop.”
There was no written record of the key basis for the formulae but Demetrious had imparted the knowledge to Michael, who was undertaking an Industrial Chemistry course at the Queensland Universtity. Along with his brother Con, who was a clerk studying accountancy, the brothers would forge ahead with Frangos Liqueurs.
Frangos Liqueurs was the only industry of its type in Queensland, being the only complete liqueur makers in the State. In 1962 the Millaquin Sugar Company (at the time, owner of Bundaberg Distilling Company) acquired a capital interest (but not controlling) in Frangos Liqueurs. Over the years Millaquin and its other subsidary company Australian Rum Distillers (ARD) would try to buy outright the business. Michael always refused, stating he wanted to further build the reputation of the business and himself before “getting into bed fully with them”.
Frangos Liqueurs became well known throughout Australia, with Michael Frangos declaring that their locally produced liqueurs were the equal, if not better, then liqueurs found overseas. Their liqueurs, made from all natural products, were award winners. The formulae for the liqueurs were kept under strict secrecy. Only the two brothers and the Commonwealth Customs Department representative were privy to the secrets. Michael would keep the recipes written in the families traditional Greek for an extra layer of protection.
The business did make an attempt to push into the overseas market but did not meet with too much success, thanks largely to the market being pretty well tied up already with established competitors.
Frangos Liqueurs catered to an elite clientele, gaining a reputation nationwide for quality. Michael himself became a very well regarded Australia-
Con continued on with the business after his brother passed away, but struggled to keep up. Michael was really the driving force behind much of the business and his presence was missed. The emergence of larger liquor merchants such as liquor barn etc also added to the pressures on Frangos Liqueurs and eventually Con was unable to compete. In the late 1970's the Millaquin Sugar Company sold its share holdings in Frangos Liqueurs back to the Frangos family. However, due to liquidity problems the business was placed into liquidation in 1980 and wound up. The liquidation auction of the business and its world class cellar drew attention from far and wide.
Mike Frangos, born in Greece 38 years ago, maker of exotic liqueurs, food expert extraordinaire, businessman with a nationwide reputation, Australian wine judge. In these few words the life of Mike Frangos could quickly be summed up.
There were a few other things. He was married to an Australian girl Margaret and they had four children – plus more friends than most men make in a long lifetime. For the last two months he has worked long and hard to raise money for an old people's home.
He knew wines probably as well as any expert in Australia. But he was no wine snob. In his job as a partner in Frangos Liqueurs he frequented places like Lennons, the Milano, Cordon Bleu and the other plush restaurants of Brisbane. But he was no food snob.
High on his list of pleasurable ways to spend a Tuesday lunchtime was at Bailey Pitt's Shamrock Hotel. The monthly Tuesday Club began a year or so ago when Mike won a chook raffle. Cook Josie made the chook into the basis of an Italian dish.
It was no fancy club for the eight members who met in a corner at the end of the bar. Mike loosely could be described as the president, jollying along the other members to make sure they remembered the meeting date.
Mike and his brother Con came to Brisbane with their parents 25 years ago. With them they brought the recipies for Frangos Liqueurs, a company founded in Greece in 1820.
For two kids in short pants who couldn't speak English they did pretty well, to say the least. When their father died they took over the little firm – and turned it into a business known throughout Australia.
The dozens of liqueurs he devised personally have put Queensland on the map in the industy. One of the best known was one called Cleopatra, in memory of his mother. It's a best seller.
His sudden death from a heart attack last Monday shocked business people across Australia. For a guy like Mike Frangos, 38 was just too young to die.
(NB: The Frangos History section is still being worked on with the kind participation of the Frangos family and other people associated with the brand.)
During World War II during the Axis occupation of Greece, Cleopatra would spend some time in a concentration camp with Demetrious having a role in the Greek resistance. During WW2, the boys (Michael and Con) were cared for by their Aunt Marika. Immediately after the war was over, Marika moved with the boys to Australia. A little while later, in roughly 1949/50, Demetrious and Cleopatra joined their sons in Australia, where Demetrious established Frangos Liqueurs at Precision St Salisbury in Brisbane. In 1950 the business launched with four liqueurs but by 1960 the business was producing 18 liqueurs with more in development.