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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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The dimly lit bar contains zero televisions and zero distractions. Generic wooden tap handles hide the brews on draft, and you won't find too many recognizable bottles on the shelf or the wine rack. With an encyclopedic knowledge of beer, wine, and spirits Ryan Travers will take you on a trip around the world and bring bartending back down to earth.

Ryan is part owner and bartender at Of Love and Regret in Canton, located directly across from The 'Natty Boh Tower'. Affectionately referred to as OLAR, the bar and bottle shop have been operating for almost five years. 

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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A NEW WAVE OF COFFEE-INFUSED SPIRITS, BEERS AND WINES BREW INNOVATION

BY DAVID LINCOLN ROSS

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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IN TODAY’S COMPETITIVE MARKET, HAND-SELLING GIVES SAVVY MERCHANTS AN EDGE

BY ZACHARY SUSSMAN

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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WITH SUCCESS IN THE U.S. AS TOP PRIORITY, GLOBAL GIANT PERNOD RICARD STEPS UP THEIR GAME

BY KRISTEN BIELER

A company doesn’t become the second largest wine and spirits supplier in the world by sitting still. The Pernod Ricard success story—which dates back to 1805—is one of continuous evolution and adaptation, and a keen understanding that what worked a decade ago may no longer be relevant today.

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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Arguably no spirit has seen the highs and lows of gin, across centuries and continents. History has seen it hailed as a societal scourge as well as a miracle drug. It has been a political tool, a soldier’s support, and famously “mother’s ruin.”Locales with rich gin history run from Holland (where it all started) to Italy (where they, too, claim gin started) to London (epicenter of than two-thirds of the gin in the UK) to Spain (where “Gin Tonics” have developed into a national specialty) and, naturally, to America.Here, artisans and big brands alike are riding a current upswing in gin momentum, both off- and on-premise, and with a tilt toward the high end. Meanwhile, the gin-sipping public appears increasingly open to the particular possibilities of gin, whose styles nowadays often take juniper as a starting point rather than focus.

 Click Here to check out the rest of the article. 

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

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IS IT FINALLY VERMOUTH’S TIME? 
SUPPLIERS ARE RAMPING UP…

BY JACK ROBERTIELLO

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Posted by on in May 2017 Editions

 

Beer_Big_Tent.jpgCraft beer continues to punch above its weight value-wise, but volume growth appears to be slowing—rising just 6% from 2015 to ’16. “The era of 18% growth rates is probably over,” Bart Watson, the Brewers Association’s chief economist, offered recently.  

That’s one reason big brewers continue to step aggressively over the craft fence. Between brand acquisition, product development, packaging updates and outside-the-box marketing efforts ... 

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Posted by on in April 2017 Editions

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TEQUILA CONNOISSEURSHIP EMERGES, TRANSFORMING IT INTO A SIPPING SPIRIT

BY JEFF CIOLETTI 

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While there is some debate over what is the king of red winegrapes (Cabernet? Nebbiolo?), Chardonnay is the undisputed queen of whites. The most widely planted winegrape in California, it is also clearly the most popular wine in the U.S., with sales increasing every year.

People love Chardonnay because it is generous—full of fruit and then some. It is sometimes called a wine-maker’s grape because it is so moldable; treatment in the vineyard, during fermentation and barrel-aging can dramatically impact style. Which is all the more reason to take a look at what makes this popular wine tick.

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Posted by on in April 2017 Editions

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David Metz is the Wine Director and Sommelier for The Jefferson Hotel in Washington, D.C.  and its affiliated restaurant named, Plume and cocktail bar, Quill. Coming up on one decade with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, David embraces the new challenge the Jefferson presents with the confidence he exudes.

David served as the sommelier at Bourbon Steak for a majority of his time spent with Four Seasons. Despite his own accomplishments he quickly honored his predecessors when asked how great of a challenge it was to take over the entire beverage program for the Jefferson saying, "I really inherited a candy store. There were two sommeliers there before me who really set the tone and laid the groundwork for what I consider to be a very impressive wine list."

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There's a classic moment in the movie "Top Gun" when pilots Maverick and Goose land their fighter jet, high-five on the runway, and exclaim, "I feel the need … the need for speed!"  Well, former Naval Flight Officers Arch Watkins and Mark McLaughlin have felt the need … the need for mead!  

Arch_Mark.jpgOK, more specifically the need for whiskey.  They are the co-owners of Old Line Spirits, a craft distillery now up and running in Baltimore and offering small batch whiskey made of 100 percent malted rye.  McLaughlin stated, "Arch and I were friends in the Navy and lovers of fine whiskey.  We met on active duty.  We also spent time in the reserves.  In the reserves, we were in the same squadron.  So, we became closer friends then.  And now we're neighbors in Baltimore.  Arch really couldn't avoid me if he wanted to!"

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Posted by on in April 2017 Editions

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One of the most mysterious social media outlets to many restaurant owners is Instagram. The restaurant owners that utilize it are seeing it pay large dividends.

The first thing to do is get familiar with the social media avenue and application. Because it is a mobile-based social media avenue it will need to be managed from your mobile device. However, software is available that can be used to schedule your posts from a desktop. Facebook purchased Instagram years ago, so it can be fully integrated with your Facebook campaigns.

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"To our knowledge, we are the only African-American liquor distributorship in the state.  That in and of itself is unique.  So, you want to build around that.  If you can get a niche in this business, if you can carve something out that's special, then you can be successful."

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Posted by on in April 2017 Editions

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On February 5, 2017, Edwin 'Eddie' R. Malin; beloved husband of Doris Malin and a long-time, highly respected member of the licensed beverage industry departed this world. 

I met Mr. Malin in 1993 shortly after Lee W. Murray, Publisher of the Beverage Journal, hired me ... 'Nice to meet you Mr. Malin.'  "Stop that 'Mr.' stuff, I'm Ed or Eddie.  Either is fine."

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

Brown goods are where the green is—
all the more reason to put more care into organizing your whiskies

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By Robert Haynes-Peterson

In Emmett, ID—a former mill town with a population of 6,500—Main Street Beverage is also a bait & tackle shop. The Roundup Bar down the street serves strong pulls of vodka or Fireball to actual cowboys, and a vested craft bartender is nowhere in sight. Yet at the liquor store, where once only Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam and Wild Turkey were offered, you’ll now find labels like Whistlepig, Bulleit and more. It’s not a big selection, but it’s evidence that today’s growing whiskey market reaches deep and across many lines. How you sell that whiskey is increasingly important.

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

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Ken and Matt Praay could've kept with their normal day jobs.
Instead they decided to give back to their city by becoming brothers in beer
as co-owners of Monument City Brewing Company.

The brothers Praay decided -- not so accidentally -- to begin brewing commercially after a series of fortunate events. Ken explained, "I started brewing at home in about 2006, long before [Matt] could even start drinking beer. It started out on the stove and he would get involved when he was home, and in about 2012 we started writing a business plan." 

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

It is an unfortunate reality that bartenders loathe cleaning the bar. With few exceptions they would prefer to take their tips and go home. On the other hand, allowing guests to sit at a filthy bar with their elbows stuck to the bar top is bad for business.

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Patrons will naturally presume that if the front of the house is unsanitary, the same is true for the back of the house, including the kitchen.

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

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Old Line Fine Wine, Spirits & Bistro in Beltsville

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

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Some marketing professionals will tell you that Email Marketing is dead. Open rates for Email Marketing campaigns have dropped significantly in the last two years. A large reason for this is the launch of the many text programs that have been released.

My opinion of email marketing is varied. I believe if you utilize this tool correctly it will pay dividends to your business … even when the time comes for your succession plan or exit strategy.

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Posted by on in March 2017 Editions

What's Behind The Irish Surge?

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These are the best of times for Irish whiskey, which represented 1.4% of the spirits overall U.S. spirits market in 2015. May not sound like much, but 10 years earlier that figure was 0.4%.  Of course, the Irish boom has been famously brand-driven, with Jameson not merely in the driver's seat, but essentially helping fill up the whole car, having deftly in recent years expanded the brand’s Expressions to include reserve bottling and special finishes, most notably Jameson Select Reserve and Caskmates; and Jameson Black Barrel made a splash with its launch in 2016.

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Posted by on in February 2017 Editions

TO STAND OUT FROM THE PACK, RESTAURANTS ARE SHAPING THEIR WINE LISTS IN PROVOCATIVE WAYS

BY JIM CLARKE

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Champagne is a portrait in irony. Inarguably an icon of luxury, the liquid itself is more like a silk purse made from a sow’s ear; the now-famous method of nurturing a secondary fermentation in the bottle effectively compensates for the inability of grapes to ripen consistently in the (extremely) cool region. And while the grapes are farmed by thousands of small growers, production remains dominated by a relatively small number of Champagne houses. Champagne has not made headlines since the turn of the century, when fears of a Y2K shortage loomed (and proved unfounded). The price tag led Champagne to lose market share as the Recession played out; but while it has slipped from its 11.4% share of the sparkling wine market in 2005, it has held steady at 8% since 2010, according to IWSR, and posted a 3.5% growth in sales from 2014 to 2015. 

  Click Here to check out the entire article as it appeared in The Journal. 

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At the 2016 Army/Navy football game, event reporter Doug Mace caught up with Seth Jordan, founder of Dog Tag Brewing LLC, to ask about the impact of this heroic brew.

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The effects of September 11, 2001 spread far across the globe and to every American. In Los Angeles and particularly in New York, and everywhere in between, the country mourned the loss of thousands of innocent American lives. In the aftermath many people's lives were changed forever.

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Dan Colasurdo wears many hats and in his experiences has worn some that you would never guess. From service staff, to owner, to manager, to script writer and back again, Dan is a great example of the importance of balanced, educational and experiential learning that can be so successful in the food, beverage, and hospitality industry.

Since growing up in northern New Jersey and working in a pizzeria, Dan worked around food from a young age. While attending school at the University of Maryland he also worked at a local bar honing his service and bartending skills. By the ripe age of 24 he was already the operating partner at a restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland called Cafe Bello. 

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I hear all the time from clients, friends, and family of how they are going to do things different in the New Year. They are going to update their restaurant, spend more money on marketing, and improve their customer service and staff. However, I have always been curious as to why they are waiting until a specific time to make the decision to do these things. Stop thinking of how you are going to market your restaurant or liquor store online, just do it!

Many online marketing gurus will give you a litany of do’s and don’ts. I am simply going to give you some pointers on how to start, and/or improve what you are already doing. 

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Harbor Wines is bringing the richness of Eastern European wines to Maryland.  At the helm of this venture is Cristina Tufts, who grew up in Moldova where she learned the art of viniculture. Moldova, a small country that borders Romania and Ukraine, boasts especially fertile soil that makes it ideal for growing some of the world's best grapes.

"My family made wine," Tufts said, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal. "Therefore, I grew up learning the process.  Ironically though, I never had an appreciation for Moldovan wines until I came to the United States.  Here, I had better access to wines from around the world.  . . . It took leaving Moldova to realize just how good our wine is."

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From a farm dog at an Austin, Texas brewery to a brand that self-identifies as Vodka for dog lovers, Tito's brand Vodka exemplifies a pair of passions becoming a national favorite. Furthermore, Tito's shows how successful people can contribute so positively in a variety of different mediums.

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Posted by on in January 2017 Editions

 

Cape South Coast, An Emerging Collection Of Maritime Regions, Represents The Country’s New Winemaking Frontier

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The 2017 General Assembly Session is upon us and, as always, the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA) is gearing up to play a big role in looking out for our industry's interests.  As in years' past, one of the key players will be attorney and MSLBA lobbyist Steve Wise.  "I think the industry continues to have a significant presence in Annapolis," he stated, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal, "and that helped us out on a lot of legislative fights last year as it usually does.  That's true not just of the retail segment of the industry, but the Maryland-based wholesalers as well."

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It happens to every restaurant owner at some point. You wake up and get a notification, or one of your employees tell you about that customer from last night that left you a one star review on Facebook, Yelp, Google or another review site. We have all been here, you start running through your mind. “I hate Yelp, or this is just one of those customers, or why wouldn't they tell me there was an issue while they were here?”

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At this point you are pondering on the wrong issue. The real issue at hand is how do you respond? How do you deal with this customer that has had a less than satisfactory experience?  Let's start with the review itself.  Read it thoroughly and try to remove any emotional heartstrings while doing so. Try to see it from the customer's perspective. I know that this may be difficult, however we have all had bad service in one way or another at some point. Once you have read and reread the review, look for evidence of fake or malicious sentiment. Has the customer ever reviewed any business before? If there is evidence of fake or malicious sentiment you need to move your attention to flagging the review. Only flag the review within the review page in question if you do in fact see this type of sentiment. 

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Posted by on in January 2017 Editions

 

The ‘Sessionable’ Concept Finds Footing In The Cocktail World, Not Just Beer

 

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By Jack Robertiello

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Posted by on in December 2016 Editions

 

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Brandy is the oldest of the distilled liquors; and Cognac is considered brandy’s highest expression. There’s probably no other spirit that is so tightly linked with France as Cognac—which is odd when you consider very few French people actually drink the stuff. The hugely popular brandy is popular just about everywhere but France, as only about 3% of all of the Cognac in the world is consumed in its home country. But that just means there’s more for everybody else, and it’s enjoying some impressive gains in the United States these days. Shipments of Cognac to the U.S. grew a solid 13.6% in 2015, with gains being led by the largest suppliers.

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Fully Reinvented, Austrian Whites and Reds are Ready to Captivate Americans

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Please know that the Austrians are sick and tired of talking and hearing about the 1985 wine scandal—in which a lousy bunch of unscrupulous wine merchants added a chemical used in manufacturing antifreeze to their wines, in a ham-handed, criminal attempt to increase sweetness levels. That was over 30 years ago, and Austria long ago reinvented its wine industry with some of Europe’s strictest wine laws and quality-control procedures.

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Posted by on in December 2016 Editions

Huge, Fragmented and Peppered with New Products, The Beer Market Continues to Churn

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Beer has had an incredibly turbulent year, from the Big Guys down to the little ones. Buyouts, mergers and unprecedented growth in both breweries and SKUs have made the marketplace a confusing one for beer consumers and producers alike. In the process, the oft-abused term “craft” inches closer and closer to the brink of losing all meaning with respect to beer—even as wine-centric glassmaker Riedel delivered a stamp of approval to the beer biz by designing a special Riedel beer glass.

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OnPremiseOwensOrdinary_2.jpgGreg Engert and Sean Griffin might be a former English major and Engineering major, respectively, but they are giving Marylanders and Washingtonians alike an education in Maryland beer.  Both men have been key to the early success of Owen's Ordinary, Neighborhood Restaurant Group’s (NRG's) first restaurant in Montgomery County, which opened its doors on Oct. 17.  The 6,000-square-foot, 175-seat space delivers 50 different draft beers to customers, along with 150 beer bottle selections.  The bar focuses heavily on Maryland brewers, with around 75 selections from the state.

Engert serves as Owen's Beer Director (he is also a managing partner for NRG), and he has been instrumental in putting together the impressive selection.  "As far as selection goes," he stated during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal, "we've worked with the county and the brewers to offer a beer selection Montgomery County has never seen before.  It is an unparalleled selection representing the very best craft beers sourced from Maryland, from the broader region, from the Mid-Atlantic, and from the international scene. So, we have something for everybody." 

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For reference or Research, Quick Answers or In-Depth Articles, The Internet is the Place To Be For Your Retail Management Questions

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The best wine information is online; we all know that.  But which sites should you be bookmarking?  Most guides to wine websites are for consumers, not the industry.  Here are some sites especially useful to members of the industry ... 

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What catches the eye? Bright colors. Bold shapes. Moving objects. The products in our annual roundup of holiday gift packs are certainly colorful and boldly designed—and while we don’t expect them to literally jump off the shelves, they are built to move.

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The idea behind customized Value Added Packs (aka VAPs), as they are often called, is simple—and timeless: make gift-giving even easier for shoppers.

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Posted by on in November 2016 Editions

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Fast expanding local craft brews have again exploded across the United States over the last decade. Even with such rapid growth and concerns over a “tapped out” industry, many young entrepreneurs are still buying in and staying current, and seeing their thirst and effort pay off.

Tom Foster, Francis Smith, and Colin Marshall are the founders of Diamondback Brewing Company and grew together from homebrew to a full brewery located at McHenry Row in Locust Point. You may recognize beer names like Three Thirty Amber Ale, Omar’s O.P.A., The Bamb Black IPA, and others as part of the Diamondback repertoire. With their recent expansion and upcoming plans there surely is plenty yet to see.

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Posted by on in November 2016 Editions

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Communication between business and customer has never been easier than it is in today’s world.  With the additions of Instagram, SnapChat, and Facebook messenger a customer can ask a complex or simple question to your business in seconds. However, one communication avenue gets overlooked more often than not. I am talking about Text Messaging, and Loyalty programs.

A liquor store that implements a Loyalty and Text program has more opportunity then one without.  This gives your establishment the ability to keep your customers ‘in the know’ about new releases, current specials that are occurring as well as rewarding that customer for returning multiple times. I personally go back to the same liquor store every week because on my 5th visit I get something FREE. This particular store updates me via text of seasonal beers that are being released as well and this stops me from visiting other stores by keeping me loyal to their business with giveaways. 

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Posted by on in November 2016 Editions

Back to Basics:  Sherry 101

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Sherry is a case study in premiumization. Volume has been declining (gently), but premium Sherry has never been so diverse and vibrant. In 2015, imports of grandma’s sugary tipple, Cream Sherry, were down 45% compared to 2006, but Amontillado, a more premium, dry style, rose 334% over the same time.

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Posted by on in November 2016 Editions

Why Fight It? Celebrity Wines Can Have Powerful Fan Appeal

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In the 1960s, celebrities like Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner released record albums. Today, they make wines. And while the vinyl boomlet faded rather quickly, the parade of wines continues to proliferate. Death metal singers, senators, quarterbacks…they’ve all got wines. Some are more about the fan base than about vineyards, but as long as they sell, that’

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People often say they will always remember where they were when John F. Kennedy was shot, when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up, and when the planes hit the Twin Towers.  It's very safe to say that folks around Maryland and Howard County, specifically, will always remember where they were when the floodwaters hit Ellicott City's beloved Main Street district.

It was the evening of July 30, a swingin’ Saturday night where people had come to eat, drink, and be merry at many of the popular bars, taverns, and restaurants that have made that area of the Baltimore suburb such a popular destination for people young and old.  But six inches of rain in two hours changed everything. The ensuing flash flood caused severe damage in the historic district, particularly along Main Street.  Many businesses, sidewalks, vehicles, and more were destroyed by the rushing waters, including the town's landmark clock.  Two people lost their lives.

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Posted by on in October 2016 Editions

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From a distance, the tale of the Scotch whisky business has been much the same for some time: single malts keep climbing, up about 50 percent in the last five years, while blended volumes continue to sag, now accounting for only about 80 percent of the category here in the States.

But what’s beneath the macro data points? Like with all spirit categories, there are trends and issues on the horizon poised to impact the Scotch whisky business.

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Posted by on in October 2016 Editions

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Saké is hot! Perhaps not literally. While hot saké is still popular, much of the growth in the U.S. is in premium styles, typically consumed chilled. More than a third of Japan’s saké production comes to the U.S. these days, and that doesn’t even account for the majority of saké Americans are drinking (over 70% of which is domestic).

While most drinkers still probably have their saké experience at a sushi restaurant, saké is also finding a place in retail shops and Western restaurants, just as other Japanese ingredients like wasabi are finding new homes. Wine and beer importers are taking note, so saké is moving beyond specialist Japanese importers, who have traditionally focused on Japanese outlets. Wine and spirits importers have added saké to their books and are bringing it to all sorts of accounts. The recently signed Trans-Partnership agreement will also make it that much easier for sake to find it’s way here.

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Linganore Winecellars in Mt. Airy, Maryland, one of the oldest wineries on the East Coast, and in their second generation of wine making is celebrating its 40th anniversary with the start of the 2016 harvest from their 75-acre estate vineyard.  Committed to making excellent wines, dry and sweet, grape, fruit and artisanal wines, the celebration will kick off in late September at the winery.  Events are also planned for October, November and December 2016 (details at bottom). 

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Started in 1971 as a hobby in hope of a dream, Jack and Lucille Aellen purchased the 230 acre farm and planted a few acres of vines on its rolling hills.  Wine making was a hobby then, having German-Swiss roots on Jack’s side and Italian roots on Lucille’s.  In 1974, Lucille’s father gifted the Aellen’s with his hand press and two hand-crank crushers, which the family used to open the winery in 1976.  Understanding that one-size-did-not-fit-all when it comes to taste in wine, Jack strove to produce many different (30+) wines, becoming a pioneer in the industry, denoted by the Maryland Wine Association’s “Jack Aellen Cup” for Fruit wines and Meade.  That tradition continues to this day, with the winery producing 38 different types of wine in 2016. 

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Posted by on in October 2016 Editions

Throughout history, there have been many famous Belles.  Belle Watling was the original hooker with a heart of gold in "Gone With the Wind."  The Memphis Belle was one of the great flying fortresses of World War II.  And 'twas Belle who captured the heart of the man-turned-monster in "Beauty and the Beast."

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Well, there's a new Belle about to make history.  Local beverage history, that is.  Old Dominion Spirits' Belle Vodka has already taken Virginia by storm.  Next on its list?  Maryland and Washington, D.C.  Billy Reilly, the company's vice president of sales and marketing, has the lowdown.  When he started with Warrenton-based Old Dominion back in February, founder and President Townsend Lundsford and his partners had Belle in 40 ABC stores and about 20 bars, restaurants, and other venues.

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Posted by on in September 2016 Editions

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When people talk about the worldwide whiskey renaissance, the first word that comes to most minds is bourbon. Sure, other styles are on fire at the moment—Irish, American rye, even Canadian—but the one that’s got most of the globe talking is America’s native spirit. A couple of decades ago, producers could barely give the stuff away—it was “grandpa’s drink” after all—but today bars in the most far-flung corners of the world (even Scotland!) have multiple shelves dedicated to the U.S.-made, corn-based whiskey.

Where is it produced?

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Posted by on in September 2016 Editions

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As bartending continues to grow as a career and attract the attention of aspirational achievers, the standards on display in the many and varied competitions held throughout the year have improved as well. A trip to a distillery or a hefty check are great prizes, but today, bartenders are just as keen for the accolades that an intense, multi-day competition can bring them.

Now in its seventh year internationally and fifth including U.S. participants, the lengthy test of skills produced in collaboration with the United States Bartenders’ Guild, USBG World Class Sponsored by Diageo, is a global training program and internationally recognized competition that aims to elevate the craft of the bartender and build careers in the drink industry.

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Posted by on in September 2016 Editions

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KarashiIt’s the Japanese word for working oneself to death.  Whether you realize it or not, some of your bartenders may be committing karoshi on a nightly basis.

A nine-year study recently published in the Journal of Occupational Medicine cited bartenders as having a higher risk of heart attack due to job-related stress than the 243 other occupations reviewed. California Occupational Mortality, a report compiled at the University of California at Davis, found that the heaviest drinkers by occupation were bartenders for men and waitresses for women.

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"Sometimes we feel like cowboy pioneers out here!" exclaimed Judy Crow, who co-owns Crow Vineyard and Winery with her husband, Roy.  Located in Kennedyville, Md., just west of Middletown, the property has been a family-owned farm for three generations and began growing grapes and bottling New World-style wines about six years ago.

"It actually started eight years ago when Roy and I got married," she recalled, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "We were looking for a way to reinvent this 365-acre farm.  Phase one was to renovate the main 1847 farmhouse into a farm-stay bed and breakfast.  We did that.  And then we planted grapes.  We have five sons between us.  One son, Brandon, came back and became the vineyard manager.  Then, we went to a winemaking seminar with John Levenverge, and we eventually hired him to be our winemaker consultant.  Soon after, we took an equipment shed and made that into our 5,000-case production winery."

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