- Hot on the heels of news that William Grant & Sons has purchased Philly's Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction brand, including its ROOT liqueur, AITA is now bottling its next organic spirit, SNAP, based on a Pennsylvanian Dutch black strap molasses ginger snap recipe. The bottles will be on Pennsylvania shelves later this summer; widespread distribution of both SNAP and ROOT to be announced.
- Craft beer fans (like myself) will sate their thirst and then some at this Saturday's Fourth Annual New York Brew Fest on Governor's Island. More than 300 styles of beer from more than 100 breweries from New York and beyond will be sampled from 3:30 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $55 and include water taxi to and from the island.
- It's that time again--the New York Bar Show is this Sunday and Monday at Javits Convention Center. Although last year's show seemed to highlight the clash between nightclub-style bartending and cocktailian bartending, it will be interesting to see if this year's show will take itself a little more seriously. The agenda includes Le Cognac's cocktail competition awarding $3,000 in prizes, USBGNY mixology demonstrations, and a cognac seminar led by Dale DeGroff, Dave Wondrich, and F. Paul Pacult. Tickets are $50 for the floor show and $150 for all-access to seminars.
- And on June 23, the Indy Spirits Expo rolls into town from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Touch nightclub. [Odd venue for this, but the club is centrally-located.] The expo will feature tastings and presentations from some of the best artisanal spirits producers around. Tickets are $55.
- Earlier this week, the team behind Scottish gastropub Highlands got approval to turn the former Allen & Delancey space into their next concept, Mary Queen of Scots. Billed as "Highlands meets Vivienne Westwood and the Sex Pistols," the brasserie will feature whiskey cocktails and is slated to open in the fall.
- Scientists are getting closer to growing livers, which is good news for those of us who may be beating them up more often than we'd like to admit. [No need to worry Mom, I take my milk thistle!]
- Summer cocktail season is upon us, and I was honored to contribute a write-up of the best summer cocktails in town for this week's issue of Time Out New York. It was hard to choose from so many delicious drinks at so many of my favorite bars, but for you, dear readers, this is the kind of research I go to great lengths to do.
- In case you haven't heard already, Albert Trummer, proprietor of Apotheke and the recently-unveiled Theater, was arrested Saturday night after undercover fire marshals witnessed his signature fire show at Apotheke. The Apotheke bartenders I've spoken with say given the size of the bar, it's doubtful that the flames were six feet wide, and the bar also does not have curtains, as The New York Times reported. The bar, which does not have an open flame permit, reopened the following night. Trummer is facing charges of reckless endangerment and criminal nuisance, both misdemeanors.
Philly's love for all things antiquated is really exploding right now, which isn't too surprising given the City of Brotherly Love's rich history as the centerpiece of early America. The classic cocktail scene is thriving at bars such as Franklin Mortgage & Investment Co., Southwark, and APO Bar & Lounge (formerly Apothecary). There's also interesting non-alcoholic concoctions (such as orgeat, grape, and bitters phosphate) to be found at Franklin Fountain, a classic ice cream and homemade soda shop. So it's not too surprising to see ROOT, an organic root tea liqueur based on a Pre-Prohibition recipe that was a predecessor to root beer, sprout up in Pennsylvania. Only available for online purchase ($38.99) in 28 other states, ROOT was released in May as a small-batch spirit by crafty collective Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction in collaboration with the producers of Hendrick's Gin and Sailor Jerry Rum.
Long before the Pilgrims breezed into Plymouth Rock, Native Americans were sipping root tea as an herbal remedy. As colonial settlers handed the recipe down from generation to generation, the drink grew in potency and complexity. During the Temperance Movement, a Philadelphia pharmacist removed the alcohol and mixed the tea with soda water, renaming it (ironically) as "root beer" to folly hard-drinking coal miners and steelworkers. Turning back the clock to the colonial era, ROOT is an 80-proof sugarcane spirit containing birch bark, smoked black tea, essence of sassafrass, orange and lemon peel, anise, allspice, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The essence of sassafrass is a mix of citrus, spearmint, and wintergreen since actual sassafrass root was banned by the FDA in 1960 because the root bark contains a mildly toxic oil.
I can't tell you what ROOT tastes like because I haven't ordered it just yet, but I thought you all should know about this exciting new spirit which is getting added to many cocktail menus in Philly. Hopefully NYC will catch up soon! Just this week, the makers of ROOT held a cocktail competition at Silk City in Philly. Here's the winning recipe by Kate Loeb of Oyster House:
Dr. Hadley’s Root Restorative
.5oz Demerara simple syrup 6 large mint leaves 1.25 oz. Lairds Bonded (100 proof) Applejack 1.0 oz ROOT Liqueur .5 oz. Benedictine .5 oz. fresh lime juice 2 dashes Fee Brother’s Aztec Chocolate Bitters 2 dashes Angostura Bitters Garnish: Mint sprig
Muddle mint in simple syrup. Add ice and other ingredients. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with a spanked mint sprig.