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Here you will find a chronological list of articles from The Beverage Journal, Inc. Feel free to tag, comment and share.

Jon Arroyo In Charge of All Things Liquid for Founding Farmers

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Mike Rizzo is in charge of all things baseball for the Washington Nationals.  Chuck Hagel is in charge of all things defense for our country.  And what about that other great Washingtonian, Jon Arroyo? "In a nutshell, I am in charge of everything that is liquid for the Founding Farmers Restaurant Group," he stated.

As the company's Beverage Director since its inception six years ago, he truly is responsible for not only all of the beer, wine, and spirits served at Farmers Table D.C., MoCo's Founding Farmers in suburban Potomac, Md., and a soon-to-open location at the upscale Tysons Galleria II mall in Northern Virginia, but also the three restaurants' coffee program, their tea program. "Everything!" he exclaimed, "Every liquid product. I love the juggling act that is my job. There are lots of moving parts, lots of chess pieces."

When the original Founding Farmers location opened on Pennsylvania Avenue six years ago, cocktail programs were few and far between citywide. "We were very new to the scene," Arroyo recalled, "and we had a very specific approach. We had the farmers' table approach. We wanted to work with smaller producers of spirits and producers who practiced some of the same belief systems that we do, which are sustainable practices, more organically grown products, and things of that nature."

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Patrón's Barrel Select Program Comes to the Mid-Atlantic

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Patrón Spirits has inaugurated a buy-the-barrel program called "Patrón Barrel Select" where spirits retailers and on-premise accounts are able to taste and choose their own bespoke barrel (about 27 cases) of aged Patrón tequila unique for them. Each barrel has been in the company's aging room for a specific period of time.  As a result, no two are alike.

Greg Cohen, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Patrón Spirits, recently sat down with the Beverage Journal to discuss the program.  "The way that tequila is produced and aged and blended from different barrels is such a challenge," he stated.  "Our master distiller and his team blend different barrel types, different wood, different lengths of aging to create those products.  We thought it would be really interesting if we gave people an opportunity to sample those different tequilas that are aging in those different barrel types over the different lengths of time, on their own ... just straight out of the barrel. Each is very unique. When they are blended together to create reposado, for example, that's the taste that people know is Patrón.  But when you taste those barrels individually, and there are so many different combinations, you get really distinct and different tastes.  It's still Patrón.  It's still very recognizable.  But you get a lot of different flavors and a lot of different complexities."

One of the first retailers in the country to purchase a barrel of “Patrón Barrel Select” is Lax Wine & Spirits in Washington. D.C.  The store received a big helping hand from Patrón Spirits Production Manager Antonio Rodriguez, who selected the barrel.  Rodriguez remarked, "I was very honored that Lax asked me to help choose his barrel, and I was given such free reign to pick something special.  The request was for a light reposado.  So, this particular blend of reposado, Barrel #24 of Batch 111.2, matched what they were looking for."

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Aaron Joseph Shares His Wit & Wisdom

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Aaron Joseph has been bartending for 13 years, most of them in the Maryland-D.C. market.  But it was his brief time early on in the Caribbean working for the former Orient-Express Hotels Ltd., now Belmond Ltd., that stoked his passion for using fresh ingredients in cocktails -- a passion that has helped position him as one of the best craft bartenders in the Baltimore market.

Early in his career, he learned his craft at such places as the Inn at Perry Cabin on St. Michaels and Farmers Fishers Bakers in Georgetown.  He really got traction at Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons in Washington, which led to his current position as lead bartender at Wit & Wisdom in Baltimore's Four Seasons Hotel.

"Wit & Wisdom is Michael Mina's vision of an American tavern," Joseph described, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "Our beverage program reflects craft cocktails. We use fresh ingredients, fresh produce, and we make a lot of our own bitters and syrups and things of that nature.  We try and keep it as crafty and as interesting as possible by incorporating new and up-and-coming spirits.  We love providing our customers with an array of flavors, and we change our menu roughly four times a year to capitalize on the different seasonal ingredients."

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The Numbers Add Up for Datta at Rasika West End

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Before Dante Datta got into the bar and restaurant business, and way before he became bartender extraordinaire at Rasika West End, he led a very different life.  "I had a nearly 10-year career in finance before this!" he exclaimed, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "My last job in that field was actually working for the Washington Nationals.  I would write a sales report for the ownership each week."

So, what made him leave the world of numbers and number crunching?  "I turned 27 years old," he recalled.  "It was my birthday, and I went to New York City to celebrate.  A friend of mine asked me, 'If you could do anything, what would you do?'  And like many other guys, I answered, 'Well, I'd open a bar!'  So, I started mopping floors in a restaurant while I was working during the day.  As far as the restaurant business is concerned, I guess you can see I got into it a bit late in life."

That first part-time gig was at Ping Pong Dim Sum in D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood.  He took other jobs and eventually found his way to his current full-time position at Rasika, one of the District of Columbia's top Indian eateries.

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Sergi Is Commander-in-Chief Behind the Bar at Lincoln

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You know you are talking to a person who has found his or her true calling in this world when you ask them: "What do you consider to be the hardest part of your job?" and the answer is: "Going home!  When you are doing something that you love, it can sometimes be so hard to go home and just turn your brain off.  You want to be back THERE!"

That "there" is Lincoln Restaurant in Washington, D.C.  That happy employee is lead bartender Rachel Sergi, who has been in the business for nearly two decades now. She started her career in the nation's capital at New Heights Restaurant before eventually hooking on with Lincoln, an American small plates eatery that focuses on organically sourced menu offerings with a heavy emphasis on its fresh cocktail program, as well.

"I love creating cocktails," Sergi stated, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "One of the cocktails I am known for is a drink that is not on our menu right now, but I've had it in my arsenal for some time.  It's my favorite, and it's called the Betty White.  It's actually a beer cocktail.  It uses beer and gin and a cherry liqueur.  It's light and bright, and I serve it in a martini glass. It's almost like an alternative to a champagne cocktail.  People seem to really like it."

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Union Craft Brewery Looks to Put the Charm in Charm City Beer

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Country music fans often sing of having a "hometown honeymoon."  Those who like to strap on the old feedbag and stuff their faces with fried chicken, pizza, and pasta will tell you there's no better place for that than the Hometown Buffet restaurant chain.  But Baltimoreans looking for a hometown beer?  More and more are gravitating to Union Craft Brewing.

Founded by three local friends -- Adam Benesch, Kevin Blodger, and Jon Zerivitz -- this growing operation is quickly becoming a hometown favorite to locals and Marylanders alike.  Benesch, who recently sat down with the Beverage Journal on the eve of Union Craft's two-year anniversary, stated, "Being that all three of us are hometown guys, a lot of our passion for what we wanted to create here revolved around community.  We really wanted to be a community-based brewery.  What that means to us is hosting community-type events at the brewery, but also being very involved out in the community, whether it's partnering with local charities or coming up with ways to connect with other people in Baltimore doing great things.  That could mean restaurants holding various events or local causes that we connect with.  And beer is just that great thing everyone loves having around."

Among the most popular events that Benesch and his partners have hosted on site was a recently completed summer movie series.  For four straight Fridays in July, they showed films on a 20-foot inflatable screen in the brewery's large parking lot that all revolved around a theme of "bro's on screen."  The titles included everything from "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Wayne's World" to "Top Gun" and "The Lost Boys."

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Tino's Italian Bistro & Wine Bar

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can't write about Tino's Italian Bistro with Wine Bar in Columbia without acknowledging that in a couple of days, or at most a week, I'm going to break down and go have dinner there.  It's that kind o' yummy!  But while it may be the authentic Italian recipes that lure customers there in the first place, most likely return for its impressive beverage selections that complement such dishes as Ravioli Chesapeake, Tortellini Bolognese, and Seafood Mare Bella. 

And those who do return often come back on a Sunday for what may be Howard County's best beverage promotion. Free Wine Sundays!  For every entree order, owner Chris Infantino and his staff take 25 percent off a bottle of wine from a list of 25 bottles to choose from. So, if there is a table of four and they all order main courses, they get a free bottle of vino. 

During a recent interview with the Beverage Journal, Infantino remarked, "The original idea was, 'Let's make it so that two couples can get together -- whether they are younger with no kids or are in their 50s or 60s and their kids are grown -- have dinner, and get a free bottle of wine.  So many other places offer half-priced wine nights.  I wanted to do something that had a bigger value.  Come in for the food, and I'll complement the food with a wine that you normally spend $33 or $28 on.  Our Sundays have literally gone up 50 percent since we started that."

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Marylanders Retailers Recognized

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One of the highlights of the American Beverage Licensees (ABL) conference was the recognition of twenty-one beverage licensees for their success in, and dedication to, the retail beverage alcohol industry with the 2014 Brown-Forman Retailer of the Year awards.  This is the twelfth year that the distilled spirits company has sponsored the honor. “Thanks to the support of Brown-Forman, we’re able to honor the best bar, tavern and package store owners in America,” stated Bodnovich.  “Independent beverage licensees, both on- and off-premise, are where customers discover the brands they love in settings that foster a sense of community, responsibility and hospitality.”  

Among the 21 recognized were Maryland's own Ashish Parikh, proprietor of Kelly's Liquors in Ellicott City; and David Dent, proprietor of WJ Dent & Sons/Chief's Bar in Tall Timbers. Eligible retailers had to be members of the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA), and they had to be nominated by its members.

"It was a real surprise, and it means a lot to us," Dent said.  "We're just a little country grocery store basically that has a neighborhood bar.  My family has owned the business since 1978, but the business has been here since 1927.  It has a long tradition in the community … for us to win such a prestigious award is overwhelming," Dent stated.  

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Garrick Lumsden: The Company's Pride at Acadiana

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One might describe Garrick Lumsden, bar manager at the Passion Food Restaurant Group's popular Acadiana eatery, as a "company man."  Sure enough, he started in the hospitality business in the late 1980s on the corporate side, serving first as a corporate trainer for the Houston's restaurant chain.  After five years in that position, he moved over to the P.F. Chang's chain to serve in that same capacity.  

In those early years, he stuck close to his home market of Chicago.  "I did some traveling and opened up a few restaurants," he recalled, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "I got tired of Chicago and decided to move to New York City.  But I stopped in D.C. for a year and fell in love with it.  I never made it to New York!"

But the Windy City didn't completely leave Lumsden's being.  He served as pointman in opening Michael Jordan's restaurant in Washington when No. 23 played for the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s.  Bartending was always a passion, though, and he eventually found his way to Passion Food.  He worked behind the taps at the company's Ceiba for a couple of years before trying his hand at the sales side of the business, working for Washington Wholesale.  He found that it wasn't for him and decided to go back to bartending at Passion's Acadiana just prior to briefly opening his own restaurant called Toyland around 2010.  He eventually sold the business and returned to Acadiana as bar manager.

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For the Love of District Commons

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Caitlin Love has definitely found both her love and her passion working for Passion Food Hospitality.  She is a seven-year company veteran and has served as bartender at the firm's District Commons eatery since its September 2011 grand opening.  Located on Washington Circle, it's basically a 21st century take on the traditional American tavern.  In terms of food offerings, customers love the huge raw bar and the open-hearth oven where everything from flavorful tarts to tasty flatbreads are baked.  But Love believes it is the drink selection that gets so many customers coming back for more, especially those who like to sample from District Commons' 99 Beers on the Wall.

"District Commons and Burger Tap and Shake are conjoined restaurants," she stated, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "We are the sixth and seventh restaurants the company has opened.  District Commons is American-themed, so we have an all-American wine and craft beer list and lots of American spirits, as well."

Love says she most enjoy working with the newer spirits.  "There are so many beers and wines coming out now, especially on the American side!" she exclaimed.  "I especially like working with Shannon Crisp and FEW Spirits.  I really like the FEW Rye Whiskey.  I want to make a bourbon punch this summer with it.  Bourbon is such a fast-growing part of the industry right now, so I'm really excited to get to work with that.  I like using FEW's gin, as well.  It's very flavorful and blends really nice in a gin and tonic."

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What's on Tap for Frisco's Michael Cermatori

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Michael Cermatori, bartender at the Frisco Taphouse & Brewery in Columbia, has a pet peeve.  "I do not like a sticky bar top!" he declared, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "That's just lazy bartending.  If you go in someplace and it's sticky, it's not some place you want to go back to.  Now, if you work in a dive bar, I don't want you serving me with white gloves and your pinky in the air.  But have some pride in what you're doing."

Cermatori will only turn 29 in July.  But he already sounds like a longtime veteran of the business.  "I would tell anyone new and young in the beverage industry to know your product, know your clientele, and be aware of your surroundings," he said at one point.  "Things can happen pretty quick in the bar business.  I am lucky because Frisco is a great place.  But I've worked at some other places where things would get out of hand real quick.  So, keep your head on a swivel and know what's going on."  

In truth, Cermatori has been in the industry for a decade, having started as a barback and a bartender in fine dining in Long Island, N.Y.  "That's where I'm from," he said.  "I moved down here in the summer of 2005 to attend college." 

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Comedian Adam Carolla Mans Up With Mangria

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Adam Carolla is a man known for wearing many hats.  Comedian, author, actor, talk-show host, podcast host,... and now beverage biz mogul.  The third of his highly successful Mangria products recently launched and is now available in our market via Atlantic Wine and Spirits.  A Brand Profile is running in this month's edition of the Beverage Journal complete with a few quotes from Carolla himself.  As a Web edition extra, here is the full Q&A:

BEVERAGE JOURNAL: Every brand has a story behind it. What is Mangria's?

ADAM CAROLLA: I drink red wine every night to knock me down after my typically stressful days.  One night, I went to pour my second round and I only had half a glass left.  I still wanted to get my end of the day buzz, so I foraged around and dumped a little vodka in to fill the glass.  It tasted like Hell.  But I don’t waste booze.  It’s against my alcoholic moral code.  So I put some orange juice in and created an extra powerful Sangria.  I brought it up my podcast the next day and dubbed it Mangria.  Then, I started mixing batches and bringing it to Jimmy Kimmel’s for Football Sunday and people liked it.  Eventually, we hooked up with some real wine guys in Napa and started bottling and marketing it. It kind of started as a joke but now it’s bloomed into a real business.  We’ve sold over 200,000 bottles!

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Amy Russell: Her Casa Luca Is Your Casa Luca

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"I love taking care of the guests.  I like judging how their day has been going and what might make their evening better.  That's always been what I have loved about bartending.  When you get somebody who has clearly had a bad day of work, and they have that first sip and you can see their shoulders just -- ahhhhhh -- relax.  In those moments, I think, 'OK, I'm helping.'"

Those are the words of Amy Russell, bar manager at Casa Luca.  This popular establishment on New York Avenue, is one of Fabio and Maria Trabocchi's most popular dining concepts.  Russell is just proud to be a part of the couple's legacy.  "Casa Luca is Chef Fabio's more family-style restaurant," she stated, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "My understanding is a lot of his regulars kept saying to him at his other restaurants, 'We love this place, but we'd also love some place where we can bring our kids.  That was the inspiration for Casa Luca."

As such, Russell has had to tailor Casa Luca's beverage menu to fit the style and concept.  "What this focus has done in terms of my cocktails is bring them back down to Earth a bit.  Instead of weird syrups, it's been about going back to basics with classic cocktails and tweaks on classic cocktails.  The idea has been to make the drink selection more approachable."

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Teeling Tells a Tale of Irish Whiskey

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Some say that whiskey is in the blood of any true Irishman. Well, it's positively surging through Stephen Teeling's veins.  Teeling comes from a long line of 

whiskey makers, as far back as the late 18th century, in fact.  He cut his teeth in the business working at Ireland's Cooley Distillery, which was founded by his father, John, in 1987.  Beam Inc. acquired Cooley in early 2012, and Stephen briefly stayed on as global marketing manager for Irish Whiskey.

But it was his brother, Jack, who persuaded him to live up to his family legacy and strike out on his own. Jack, the former managing director of Cooley, had launched The Teeling Whiskey Co. and had been steadily releasing a series of Irish whiskey bottlings in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and France.  Stephen left Beam to become his brother's sales and marketing director, and they soon set their sights on the U.S. market.

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Withall Finds a Home at The Hamilton

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Samantha Withall, Beverage Director at The Hamilton on 14th Street, has certainly bounced around the biz locally.  She has been a chef for nearly a decade, having worked at such venues as Cafe Atlantico and Restaurant Nora and helping to open Minibar on E Street and Oyamel Cocina Mexicano.  At one point, she got out of the kitchen and served as Purchasing Director for the Park Hyatt Hotel.  "After that," she said, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal, "I did some restaurant consulting work before jumping into a wine and beer buyer position for an all-natural, organic market in Olney, Md."

That job ended up stoking her passion for the beverage side of the business, and she eventually accepted her current job at The Hamilton.  "The Hamilton is the cruise ship of restaurants!" she proudly declared.  "We are very large.  We have a lot of square footage.  In fact, the actual space that we are in used to be a Borders bookstore.  Before that, it was a Garfinckel's department store.  We have six bars and a live music venue in our basement. We offer a ton of all-American cuisine, but we also have our own sushi bar in-house that is manned by a full team of sushi chefs.  We're owned by the Clyde's Restaurant Group, and we're very eclectic in what we offer."

As for her duties and responsibilities, they are just as eclectic.  "I oversee our draft line-up, which for the upstairs restaurant is about 20 different draft lines.  We focus on as much local, all-American craft beer as we can with a few imports that are popular brands.  I also oversee about a 150 to 200-bottle wine list that focuses on small production wines, nothing more than 5,000 cases per vintage or per style per year.  Even though we are a very large restaurant, we really look to focus on the more artisanal and smaller production wines and, similarly, that follows suit with the focus of our beverage program as well.  For our cocktails, although we have a ton of the big-name brands that most everyone has behind the bar, we really look to focus on the resurgence of the American craft distillery movement.  All of our specialty cocktails focus on small craft distilled spirits."

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Beso del Sol Sangria

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… Aims for Mucho Success In Maryland and D.C.

In early March, Beso del Sol Sangria expanded distribution to 10 states, including Maryland and the District of Columbia. The product is a joint venture between Arctic Beverage LLC and L&B, LLC, which have endeavored to bring a premium product in the high-growth sangria category to market. Arctic Beverage, importer of Beso del Sol, is partnering with Prestige Imports in Maryland and D.C.

The product features a colorful and modern box packaging that makes Beso del Sol ideal for celebrations and other gatherings -- both indoors and out. Christina Staalstrom, Commercial Director of Arctic Beverage LLC, comments, "We decided to go with a bag-in-the-box design. That category is growing in the U.S. and it's a category that we feel is perfect for our sangria. Not only does it stand out on the shelf in terms of packaging, it is attractive to have out for group gatherings. It's also great from a convenience and a cost-savings perspective to the consumer and the distributor. We feel like our timing is really good on this one. A lot of sangrias on the market tend to target the Spanish consumer. We're targeting the American consumer."

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Tim Schestag: Making a Fist at Palm Bay

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Whenever an Industry Snapshot subject tells me he is gotten into boxing in his spare time, I have to fight the urge to frontload the article with all sorts of fight cliches.  "When he got into the beverage business, he had the eye of the tiger ... and he still does!" "He's been punching and counter-punching in our industry for 10 years now."  "His company went 15 rounds with the last recession and was still standing at the end."

That's why I had to chuckle when Tim Schestag recently revealed: "I've taken up boxing.  I got tired of the monotony of being in a gym, and I can't stand running.  It was something different, something unique.  And believe it or not, it keeps me level on the job."

That job is Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager for Palm Bay International's Quantum/Spirits Division.  Schestag has been with the company for four years this July and has indeed been in the business for a decade.  He started when he was 24, working for everyone from F.P. Winner to RNDC.  He seems to have found a home with his current employer.

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DC Coast Enjoys the Highs With Lauren Lowe

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It's been eight years since Lauren Lowe made the move from the wilds of Michigan to Washington, D.C.  A part of her is still getting used to the transition.  "I lived in Michigan until I was 22," she stated.  "Needless to say, there is a thriving city life here in comparison to where I'm from."

Lowe has been part of that thriving city life for eight years now, specifically its bar scene.  Her first job behind the taps was at Chef Jeff's on 13th and F Streets.  She left there after about a year and a half to take a job at DC Coast.  She's been head bartender there for nearly six years now.

"I love it!" she declared.  "I love bartending, and I especially love working in downtown D.C.   DC Coast is the first restaurant opened by Passion Food Hospitality.  We are on 14th and K downtown.  What we serve is 'tri-coastal cuisine' with our chef-owner Jeff Tunks and our executive chef Miles Vaden.  Tri-coastal cuisine means we offer specialties from the Mid-Atlantic region to the Gulf Coast and a little bit of West Coast-style cooking."

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Keith Kerkoff: How Templeton Rye Went Legit

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In the 1987 movie "The Untouchables," Sean Connery's Irish beat cop famously instructed Kevin Costner's Eliot Ness on the "Chicago way" to get Al Capone and his notorious gang: "They pull a knife, you pull a gun.  He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue!"

Well, if it had been Keith Kerkoff in that scene, he would have told the Prohibition-era enforcement agent, "Just offer 'em a bottle of Templeton Rye!"

Prohibition indeed outlawed the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages in 1920.  That's when the residents of tiny Templeton, Iowa, decided to become outlaws and produce a high-caliber whiskey they dubbed Templeton Rye.  So smooth was the finish, that it became Capone's whiskey of choice and one of the centerpieces of his bootlegging empire.

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Frank Jones: Front and Center at the Gibson

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Frank Jones, bartender extraordinaire at The Gibson in Washington, D.C., is quick to list star mixologist Gina Chersevani among his first mentors in the business.  Chuckling at the memory of her early tutelage, he recalled, "Gina would always tell me that I was messy and slow!  What she was trying to get me to see was, as a bartender, you are constantly on display.  You don't really think of yourself as being part of the atmosphere, per se, but you are.  Unlike a server at a table, you can't leave your post.  You're stuck there, you're in a fish bowl, and they're watching you.  So, in turn, I've learned to be much more neat.  It's very important to always be aware of the fact that you are being watched and to bring some degree of elegance to the job."

Winner of last year's Artini competition at the Corcoran Gallery, Jones has been tending bar in the Washington metro area for a decade now. He started at the Poste Moderne Brasserie in the Hotel Monaco.  From there, he went to Ardeo + Bardeo, the Belga Cafe, and the Jack Rose Dining Saloon.  "Now I am very happy to be at The Gibson," he stated, "where I pretty much manage the cocktail program."

Jones describes The Gibson as a "speakeasy-style cocktail bar," which is located on 14th and U Streets in the District.  He and his staff specialize in pre-Prohibition-style cocktails, as well as craft cocktails.  "My favorite part of the job," he stated, "is coming up with the drinks and then seeing the guests interact with them, seeing them surprised and happy with what has been set in front of them.  Few Spirits are especially great to work with.  I have two favorites.  One is the Few Rye and the other is the Barrel Aged Gin.  I think the gin, in particular, is just amazing."

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Longtime RNDC Salesman Mitch Laziuck Retires After 42 Years

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On Friday, Jan. 31, Republic National Distributing Co. (RNDC) held a luncheon at its Jessup headquarters in honor of salesman Mitch Laziuck, who has retired from the company after 42 years of service.  The event started at 11:30 a.m. and drew at least 200 RNDC staffers; customers; vendors; Laziuck's wife, Patty; and his daughter, Heather, and her husband.

RNDC Executive Vice President Gary Herd served as the emcee.  "It goes without saying that Mitch has had a tremendous impact on our company throughout the years," he stated, while at the podium.  "When you think about 42 years, that's a lifetime, and he's seen a lifetime of change at this company.  He has seen brands grow, and those are brands we all reap the benefits of today."

In an interview with the Beverage Journal the day before the event,  Laziuck was relaxed, jovial, and full of stories of his four decades in the business.  He recalled working part-time at Western Auto in 1972 when he managed to score an interview at what was then the Kronheim Company.  "My dad didn't think they were going to hire a Polish kid, because back then Kronheim was predominantly Jewish. 'Forget it, Mitch. It ain't gonna happen,' he said.  I ended up interviewing six times, and I finally got it. Forty-three years later, I'm retiring from the only full-time job I've ever had!"

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Joe Bozick: Bringing Up the Beer

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Joe Bozick owes pretty much everything he has to the beverage industry.  He currently serves as Vice President of Bozick Distributors, the Waldorf-based beer distributor his father, Peter, founded in 1959.  The job has brought him closer to his brother, Brian, who serves as company President.  Joe even met his wife, Cheryl, through the industry as she was a longtime employee of Boston Beer.  They've now been married for 21 years.

Bozick Distributors serves the Southern Maryland area of Prince George's, Charles, St. Mary's, and Calvert counties.  Among the major suppliers and brewers the company represents are MillerCoors, Heineken USA, Brown Imports, Boston Beer, and Pabst.  "I love working with everyone here," Bozick declared during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "When Brian and I were growing up, everything was a lot more challenging in the sense that it was a struggle through the '80s and '90s.  We were in survival mode.  Back then, I really didn't have time to enjoy the people, because every day was a grind.  But now, everything runs smoothly and everybody does their job."

He continued, "The most difficult thing nowadays is the consumer is expecting such a variety, and matching that want with what we have and what we can get has been a challenge.  It's been a challenge for the supply channel all the way through.  There's been a lot more 'industry out-of-stocks' due to the variety and complexity of what the consumer is expecting now."

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Dorothy Bakker Bubbles With Optimism Over Krug's Future

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In January, Krug National Brand Director Dorothy Bakker visited Baltimore in advance of the much-anticipated release of the Champagne house's new vintage.  But Bakker was in town to do more than just pour bubbly and hobnob with the local beverage elite.  Charm City was her latest stop on a tour she has undertaken to spread the word that champagne should be regarded as so much more than just a special-occasion drink one has on New Year's Eve or after a best man's toast.

"Champagne is actually a great and incredibly personable wine," she declared, during a special luncheon at the Capital Grille's Inner Harbor location.  "It's no longer just something with bubbles for weddings or for toasting someone's retirement.  At Krug, we want champagne to be more than just a compulsory thing.  I think you can have it every day whether it's with a good burger and French fries or with a richer pairing like Parmesan Reggiano."

And, indeed, as she poured Krug's newly released 2000 vintage and then the Krug Grand Cuvee, she demonstrated how the flavors of each indeed danced off the various menu items those assembled had ordered -- everything from the restaurant's signature mini-tenderloin sandwiches to its Maine Lobster Pot Pie.

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Maurizio Farro: Bringing Italian Wines Close to Home


Maurizio Farro, founder of Cantiniere Imports & Distributing Inc., is a true American success story.  He even talks like a proud American, albeit with a way-cool Italian accent. He doesn't refer to the year he came to the United States as "2002."  He describes it as "the year after the Towers fell."  He didn't let the language barrier stop him from prospering.  He went to community college in Towson to improve his English ("I realized I had to not only learn the language, but be able to hear the people").  And when asked what his secret is for becoming his own boss, he answers: "If you come here to this country, you must come to work hard.  Otherwise, there is no reason to be here."

Farro indeed came to America in 2002.  "I come from a winemaker family in Naples," he said, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal.  "My family has been making wine for decades.  Both of my grandfathers made wine, my father made wine, and so did my uncle.  There was always wine on the table.  . . . My father eventually didn't want to do the job anymore, and my brothers and I didn't follow in his footsteps.  It was my cousin, who was working for my father's brother, who kept the family business.  Today, I purchase his wine." 

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Reliable Churchill Teams with Maryland Shock Trauma on New PSA


In every profession, there are some projects you work on that are just more "important" than others; projects that become less of a work task, and more a responsibility.  Into my lap a couple of weeks back fell a story about Reliable Churchill funding a new PSA (public service announcement) video for the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. Commonly known as "Maryland Shock Trauma," it's the place on the news where you hear people taken to or flown to when they have been in very bad accidents.  It's also the place where you as a parent do NOT want to get a call from in the middle of the night or anytime of the day or evening.

The executives and employees of Reliable Churchill know that.  In fact, management had been looking to do something along the lines of a video that was dramatic and immediate and real for some time.  The result is "Someone Like You," a 12-minute presentation that the company and Shock Trauma are hoping gets seen at every high school and in every Driver's Education class in the state.

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A BEVERAGE BIZ Look Ahead at the 2014 LEGISLATIVE SESSION



The next General Assembly Session is scheduled to re-convene in January, marking the last year of the current four-year election cycle in Maryland.  That means all 188 legislative seats in the General Assembly -- along with the Offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller, and Attorney General -- are up for election.  In addition, for the first time in the state's history, the primary election will be held in June just 60 days after the Session's conclusion.

For beverage industry interests, this politically charged time represents an opportunity to become even more actively engaged than they have in the past.  The Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association (MSLBA), in particular, has no plans to sit idly by.  MSLBA President David Marberger comments, "It's not really politics.  You're just talking facts.  You're saying, 'These are things that I experience.  These are things I face.  These are challenges that we have to overcome.'  And these are challenges that your local politician may not be aware of.  At some point in time, there has to be a give and take.  If you want your politicians to listen to you, you have to listen to him."

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Bill Burrill Maintains His Prestige at Republic National


"It is a industry that is endlessly exciting because it is ever-changing and no two days are the same.  I've been in this business 37 years, and I bet I am going to learn something new today about the business that I didn't know yesterday!"

The industry Bill Burrill is speaking of is, of course, our beloved beverage biz.  And Burrill indeed speaks from nearly four decades of experience.  He started right out of college in June 1977.  Early on, this University of Baltimore graduate worked for Carlton Importing.  "When I was there," he recalled, "it was owned by McKesson.  Back then, McKesson was the largest wine and spirits distributor in the country and they also owned suppliers. So, I got some experience on the supplier side.  But after two years, I came back to the wholesaler side and have been in it ever since.  I've represented pretty much every major supplier, every major winery, and every major importer as well as many smaller ones.  I've worked in mostly Maryland, but also in South Carolina, Boston, and upstate New York. I've always been transferred back here. I'm like that bad penny. I keep turning back up!"

Today, he is manager of Republic National Distributing Co.'s Chesapeake Division, which encompasses off-premise accounts throughout the entire state of Maryland.  In that post, he represents such major suppliers as Pernod Ricard, Heineken, and Bombay Imports, among others.  He was brought aboard RNDC earlier this year after selling his interest in the Prestige Beverage Group.

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