This cleverly packaged rosé has been a smash hit since it debuted three years ago. But what makes it extra buzzy is that the wine is a side project for a couple of industry superstars, whose names do not even appear on the label.

It’s almost like infusing an element of mystery adds to the appeal of this collaboration between Mark McNeilly — the giant behind Mark Ryan Winery — and Sleight of Hand’s Trey Busch.

Mr. Pink wasn’t the first wine produced for the pair’s “Underground Wine Project,” which began in 2007. There has also been super small production syrah from Lewis Vineyards, and cab/syrah blends made over the years, sold out in a snap.

The Mr. Pink project started over a glass of wine and a conversation about Reservoir Dogs, a Quentin Tarentino film about hit men. “I think we were probably drinking Chablis and talking about Steve Buscemi’s character and we decided Mr. Pink would be the greatest name for a rose,” said Busch.

“I love rose, I’ve been making it for years at Mark Ryan,” said McNeilly. “We wanted to make something that was fun, but not campy or cheesy. Something that would look equally at home on a massive display at Met Market or on the table at Cafe Juanita.”

Shortly after that conversation, the pair sat down with McNeilly’s go-to label designer, Gary Fozzard, and he sketched something on a cocktail napkin. There was no need for a second draft. It was an instant “let’s do this.” And after the 1,000 cases of sangiovese rose made with fruit from Ancient Lakes and Waluke Slope hit the shelves in Seattle in the summer of 2015, it was gone in five weeks.

Tommy Garland, the wine, beer and spirits manager at the Sand Point Met Market, was an early adopter. “Mr. Pink hits all the right notes. It’s a great patio pounder or a porch sipper, a real crowd pleaser.”

Fast forward to 2017, and the production has been seriously ramped up.

“We’re talking 80 ton ferments. It’s mind blowing,” said McNeilly, who credits Kendall Mix at Waluke Wine Company with helping guide this major move to the Next Level.

The making of Mr. Pink involves skin contact during pressing only, looking for that pink that pops, but doesn’t look too dark. “We treat the red wine grapes like we’re making white wine,” said McNeilly. That’s followed by a series of tastings and then blending, a group exercise among McNeilly, Busch and Mix. “Once we came up with the style, our decisions synced up pretty quickly,” he said.

Distribution has grown from a Seattle-only market to major cities around the country including New York. (McNeilly said he heard that a bartender in Brooklyn once presented Steve Buscemi with a bottle of Mr. Pink.) This not-so-secret side project is gearing up to produce 30,000 cases next year. “When it was a big hit in Seattle, one of the coldest, darkest places on the planet, we knew it had legs,” said Busch.

So, what could make Mr. Pink even cooler? Get ready for to sip some frose made with this runaway success at Willows Lodge after McNeilly fell hard for this frozen cocktail while on a trip to Palm Springs for a charity dinner. He bought a machine, and the Willows’ Director of Food and Beverage, Anthony Berkau, was all in.

“What Mark and Trey are doing with Mr. Pink is so on point,” Berkau said. “This just seems like a such fun idea.”

The Mr. Pink frose is scheduled to make its debut this weekend, and, if you mention that you read about it here, 15 percent will be knocked off the tab until May 6. Score!

Of course, that’s not the end of the Underground Wine juggernaut. The two winemakers have created a special four-bottle collection that will be sold at Pearl Jam shows this summer, a blend of cabernet and syrah that will feature four different labels. Proceeds from the sales will hopes to raise at least $83,000 to help address homelessness in Seattle. That deserves a standing ovation!

Guest Writer: Leslie Kelly