For a product launch: Felt + Fat Ceramics and Reanimator Coffee have teamed up to unleash a seasonal clay coffee mug — perfect for all the piping hot coffee and cocoa you’ll be sipping. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Art in the Age (116 N. 3rd St.), shop the mug and other items at the Felt + Fat sample sale, while sipping on some coffee cocktails.
I, Madame Barfly, am here to help you with all of your booze-loving needs. As a nine-year veteran of the restaurant business, I’ve learned a worthy trick or two. In this monthly column I’ll share trade secrets and scope out what’s shaking at local bars.
Craft cocktails are all the rage right now — bartenders everywhere are using complicated, multiple-item recipes and house infusions to put a personal, artisanal stamp on their cocktails. With the holiday season in full swing, it’s a great time for creative inspiration. This time is marked by warming, wintry flavors, often including pine, allspice, brown sugar, and winterberries.
We all have our go-to cocktails — our “old faithfuls,” as they say — but the holidays are a great time to spice them up. Take mine, for example: the Tanqueray and tonic. It’s simple and it always does the trick, but around this time of year I start to crave a little something more. I find the Art in the Age Sage, an organic 80-proof “tea” you can find in the liqueurs and cordials section, a pleasant addition. By itself, Sage is dry and floral — hints of pine, lavender and fennel mingle with a dominant sage flavor. For most, it doesn’t make for great stand-alone sipping, but it pairs nicely with gin and vodka tonics.
Also by Art in the Age, Root and Snap are welcome additions to any holiday mix. Snap is especially festive — flavors of ginger, vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg meld to create a strictly adult version of gingersnap deliciousness. Snap is great on the rocks and also pairs well with spiced rum. Add some to your Captain and Coke to make things more interesting. Root — fermented with black birch, cinnamon, clove, anise, and allspice — also goes nicely with the darker distilled liquors. Use it to spice up your whiskey and Coke, or drink on the rocks with Bailey’s and reminisce about your childhood root beer floats.
St. Germain, a popular French liqueur made from elderflower, is a sweet and tasty addition that fits the holidays. Many elder-lovers add a splash to their bubbly, or make a cocktail of it by stirring it in with Prosecco and vodka. Little known fact: St. Elder, a Boston-based company, makes a delightful version of the French favorite that packs in even more elderflower flavor and is actually less expensive.
GrandTen Distilling — also Boston-based — makes Amandine and Cranberry liqueurs that are worth a try. The distillery, which joins Art in the Age and a number of distilleries in a trend that veers away from the overly sweet, manages to capture the essence of almond and cranberry in the two products without making them sickeningly syrupy. For those in the mood for sweet, remember you can always add simple syrup.
Craft cocktails are often expensive, thanks to a number of pricy ingredients, but not necessarily. Take Johnny’s Tavern in Amherst, for example — they’ve infused vodka with Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal for a fun spin on a White Russian. You can add dimension to your home cocktails by infusing liquors with your favorite flavors. Steep chunks of leftover pecan pie in your bourbon for a tasty holiday treat — allow to sit for two to three hours and strain before drinking. Shake that up with some Rumchata — a creamy spiced rum liqueur—for a luscious pecan pie a la mode martini.
And to the next point of creative opportunity — simple syrup is becoming, well, more than simple. Classically, sugar is melted into boiling water on the stove to create a syrup that blends easily in cocktails. Now, bartenders and home cocktail creators are putting together flavored syrups that can add another layer to your cocktails. Add mistletoe extract to your simple syrup and shake it up with your favorite vodka for a martini worth kissing under.•
Today's cocktail inspiration comes from the contemporary song, Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song). Christian country singer Amy Grant first heard a version of the song when the composer, Chris Eaton, was a member of her touring band. Pregnant at the time, Grant thought the music and the chorus fit perfectly with the idea of a frightened young girl who was told she was going to bear the Messiah. She reworked the verses and turned the song into one with a Christmas message.
Breath of Heaven brought to mind something light and airy with a bright flavour. We started with a riff on the Twentieth Century cocktail which is a combination of gin, lemon and touch of chocolate; we used Godiva White Chocolate and added egg white to create a lighter texture. As noted below, we eventually changed out the lemon for orange and added a bit of sasparallia flavour to create a unique and fresh-tasting drink.
Breath of Heaven Cocktail
1 oz gin (we used Beefeaters)
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz Godiva White Chocolate liqueur
1 oz egg white
1 bar spoon of rootbeer liqueur (we used Art in the Age's Root)
1 dropper Apothecary Bitters Eldergrowth Bitters
Orange zest for garnish
Pour all ingredients into a shaker. Dry shake for approximately 30 seconds. Add ice and shake until chilled. Double strain into a coupe glass.
This cocktail underwent several trials (and some tribulations .. like Mary). We started with the lemon juice and Lillet Blanc (ala the Twentieth Century cocktail) but found that they didn't mix well with the Godiva. Eventually, we switched out the lemon for orange and went with a liqueur (Cointreau) instead of using any fruit juice.
The Root adds some caramel and sarsaparilla notes to the cocktail that reduce the sweetness and round out the flavour. Adding more than a barspoon causes the Root to overpower the cocktail. The cocktail is not necessarily meant as a dessert drink since it isn't that sweet. But it does have a unique creamsicle taste with a little bit of rusticness from the Root.
We tried three different types of bitters, all from Apothecary Bitters.
- General Ambrose: Brings out more of the Root spiciness.
- The Darkness: Keeps the Root but decreases the orange.
- Eldergrowth: Keeps the orange and brings out the sarsaparilla finish.
Feel like celebrating local food and drink, businesses and nonprofit organizations? Visit Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction‘s flagship store in Old City for this pair of must-attend December events.
Thursday, December 11: Launch of the ReAnimator Mug
From 6–8 p.m., Art in the Age will be hosting ceramics studio Felt + Fat and Philadelphia roasters ReAnimator Coffee to unveil the first item in a collaborative line of coffee-centric wares: the ReAnimator mug. Join them for coffee cocktails, raffles and the first ever Felt+Fat sample sale.
Thursday, December 18: Benefit for AFT
Return to Art in the age the following Thursday from 6–10 p.m. for Night at Standard Tap, a benefit for the American Farmland Trust (AFT). The bar will feature four Art in the Age cocktails, priced at $6 each, as well as Art in the Age food menu items. A portion of the proceeds from these specials will go to the AFT to help to further their mission of preserving family farms across the country.
Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is located at 116 North Third St. in Philadelphia; phone: (215) 922-2600.
Though the official start of Winter is a couple of weeks away, there are plenty of reasons to enjoy these cold and frosty times. One specifically delicious reason is Zauber’s craft cocktails, created and served by their team of awesome bartenders, using a variety of seasonal (and seasonal-themed) spirits and ingredients. Like the Spring drink menu, Zauber’s Winter cocktails are full of flavor, easy to drink, and epic in every way, from presentation to taste – truly spectacular taste.
After the dryness of the Manhattan, the Rootbeer Float follows a different path completely. Made with OYO Vanilla Vodka, Art in the Age Rootbeer Liqueur, and almond milk, this drink is ultra creamy, and just as herbal. The Rootbeer liqueur (simply named Root), offers up a laundry list of herbs and spices to create that rootbeer flavor. Additional heat from the vodka creates an additional rawness that butts heads with the almond milk for control. A slight sweetness allows a hint of vanilla to emerge, but not enough to diminish the herbal punch.
Another using an Art in the Age neutral spirit, Grandma’s Pie brings Art in the Age Rhubarb, Grand Marnier, Jackie-O’s pumpkin beer, cinnamon, and nutmeg together as a mighty powerful drink. Initially boozy and in your face, the fruity sweetness of the Rhubarb liqueur cuts the burn and allows mild pie spices to mellow on the tongue. The beer adds a decent amount of body, giving each drink a palpable mouthfeel.
We’ve all got a healthy foodie in our life: They call you crying when their food processor breaks, they jump with joy when they spot an organic cocktail on a bar menu, and they probably made their own mayonnaise the last time they invited you over for lunch. To help you find the perfect gift for the healthy foodie in your life, we enlisted Philly blogger Sherrie Scaglione Castellano, who writes all about being a healthy foodie over on her blog With Food + Love. Here, her top five picks for holiday gifts for the healthy foodies on your gift list.
1. Art in the Age Spirits, $32.99.
“Because if you’re going to imbibe, you should do it in style. Art in the Age Spirits are made from the finest organic ingredients and are naturally gluten-free. They include SAGE, RHUBARB Tea, ROOT and my favorite for the holiday season, SNAP. This is a great gift for your friend who likes a quality cocktail.” Note: You can find Art in the Age Spirits at many liquor stores around Philly.
2. Online cooking classes at ROUXBE, six months of classes for $99.99.
"ROUXBE Cooking School is an online learning platform that offers cooking classes to home cooks, culinary professionals and health-and-wellness enthusiasts. No matter your level of expertise, ROUXBE has a class for you; they offer courses on everything from plant-based cooking to stir-frying to how to make the perfect egg. This works as a great gift for foodies in your life, both near and far."
3. Ohio Stoneware Crock, $29.99.
"Fermented food is so major right now. If you aren't already brewing your own kombucha and lacto-fermenting your veggies at home, you need to start now. This crock will make the perfect gift for the DIY-sauerkraut-loving pal in your friend group."
4. Blendtec Blender, starts at $279.
"Green smoothies are a part of my daily routine, and I don't know what I'd do without my Blendtec. High-powered blenders can be somewhat of a splurge, but thanks to Blendtec's certified refurbished blenders you can give the health-conscious foodie in your life the luxurious gift of a blender without breaking the bank."
5. Philly FoodWorks CSA Share, starts at $243 for 17 shares.
"What's better than gifting a full winter's worth of fresh, local produce and artisan foods to your loved ones? Philly FoodWorks, which just so happens to be one of the most flexible CSA programs around, has pro-rated winter shares still available for purchase."