The Find: February 2015

Posted on | January 22, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Just in time for Valentine’s Day, E. & J. Gallo is launching Apothic Crush 2013 as an addition to the Apothic line. A seasonal release following on the heels of Q4’s Apothic Dark, Crush goes in a surprising direction, combining the darkness and structure of Petite Sirah with the subtle and floral aromatics of Pinot Noir. The palate includes chocolate-covered strawberry notes and features the signature Apothic smooth texture. Available February 1st as a national limited edition, at SRP $14.





Speed Rack, an all-female speed-bartending competition created by bar industry leaders Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero, has been gaining international notoriety since it first kicked off. Now, as the fourth season gets underway around the U.S., the founders of Speed Rack have teamed up with Giffard Liqueurs to launch Speed Rack Black Rose Liqueur, an all-natural Crème de Rose liqueur. Petals of Moroccan Rosa Damascena are macerated in neutral beet spirit to extract their delicate aroma and flavor. Net proceeds will be donated in support of breast cancer awareness and education; available in all Speed Rack competition markets, including NY, NJ, CT, IL, TX, CA, WA & CO, with more to come. SRP $34.99; 40 proof.





With Valentine’s Day on the calendar, romantic spirits and cocktails will be in vogue all month. Since diamonds are still a girl’s best friend, this Russian Diamond Vodka cocktail is is a good bet to make the holiday memorable.

1½ oz Russian Diamond Vodka
¾ oz Kahlúa
¾ oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
2 oz freshly brewed espresso coffee
Frothed Milk
Chocolate-covered Espresso
Beans for garnish

Pour ingredients into an iced mixing glass. Shake contents and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Spoon on a layer of frothed milk and garnish with chocolate covered espresso beans.



Cognac in the U.S. is red-hot—up 12% in IRI channels in 2014. Premis brings a sexy new twist to the genre, with a VSOP
called Legened, and Premis VS Pink, an eau-de-vie developed by a female chemist and designed to appeal to women with its fruity-floral character. Distibution began in NY and GA; SC, MI & FL being added in 2015 Q1.

2 oz Premis VS Pink Cognac
5 oz Strawberry Lemon Drop
Syrup by Unique Syrups
3 Lemon slices

Combine Cognac and syrup in a mixing glass with ice; shake and strain over lemon slices into snifter, martini or rocks glass. Garnish with sliced strawberry on a stick.





It seems figs have been making “top ten aphrodisiac” lists forever. Some historians argue that the soft, fleshy fig, not the apple, was the original, true forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. This much is certain: Figenza captures true fig flavor,
making it a mixologist’s go-to for exotic drinks.

2 oz Figenza Fig Vodka
1 oz Elderfl ower Liqueur
1 oz Pomegranate juice
Splash of Champagne
Lemon wheel for garnish

Combine ingredients, shake well and serve straight up in a martini glass. Garnish with lemon.

New Products & Promotions: February 2015

Posted on | January 22, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Kahlúa announces the debut of Kahlúa Salted Caramel, the latest of the brand’s delicious limited edition flavors. Set to hit retail outlets mid-February, Kahlúa Salted Caramel delivers sweet caramel, a hint of salt and of course the brand’s signature flavor of 100% Arabica coffee blended with sugarcane rum. It is a tasty addition to coffee and the perfect foray into frozen cocktails. 40 proof.

SRP: $17.99



M.S. Walker’s portfolio continues to shine as it expands. Their West Cork 10 Year Single Malt Irish Whiskey earned a Platinum medal and “Best of Show” honors at the recent 2014-’15 World Spirit competition (whose entrants came from 27 countries). West Cork is a non-chill filtered whiskey matured in first-fill, flame-charred bourbon barrels for 10 years, giving it a real point of distinction among Irish whiskies.

SRP: $39.99



The latest innovation from Sutter Home Family Vineyards is a California Red Blend that combines Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. This well-balanced wine fits right into the red-hot blend category, displaying juicy red fruit, soft tannins and a lush, velvety finish. Its accessible price point continues in Sutter Home’s tradition of offering consumers what they want at a great value.

SRP: $6.99/750mL (also in 187mL, 1.5L)




Opici Wines is launching two new wines from Argentina producer Goulart. The limited-production Goulart Black Legion (60% Malbec, 40% Cabernet Franc) honors the volunteer soldiers who fought under military Marshall Gastao Goulart during the Brazilian Revolution of 1932. Goulart Reserva is 50/50 Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Both wines are dark, rich and savory expressions of Mendoza terroir, and each spent 12 months in French oak barrels, gaining further depth and dimension.

SRP: $19.99 each



Now on the fast track of critical acclaim, Garnet Vineyards 201 2 Monterey County Pinot Noir recently earned the #11 spot in Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Best Buys of 2014. Sourced from select blocks of small, premier vineyards, Garnet wines are nurtured to reflect their cool-climate sites. The 2012 Monterey Pinot Noir presents a perfect combination of elegance, silky texture and vibrant flavors. Marketed by Bronco Wine Co.

SRP: $17.99 each




The folks at Chateau La Paws are crazy about two things: dogs that inspire and delight them every day and delicious wines that do the same. These three new wines are the natural result of those interests. The delicious, affordable Chardonnay, Red Blend and Pinot Noir each have four different labels featuring real rescue dogs from the North Shore Animal League, and the sales help support no-kill animal shelters.

SRP: $12.99 each



Davos Brands, an importer and national marketer of luxury sakés, wines and spirits, welcomes Aviation American Gin into their portfolio, joining premium brands such as Ty Ku Saké and The Real McCoy Rum. Long a mixologist favorite, Aviation American Gin brings together traditional craft distilling with a unique blend of exotic spices and botanicals, making it extremely flavorful and versatile. 84 proof.

SRP: $29.99



Following a successful debut overseas, Diageo has announced the U.S. launch of Haig Club, a Single Grain Scotch whisky developed in partnership with global icon David Beckham and British entrepreneur Simon Fuller. The square bottle draws on the tradition of blenders using blue glasses to focus their senses of taste and smell. The whisky itself is fresh and clean, showcasing butterscotch, tropical fruit and harmonious spice. 80 proof.

SRP: $70




Segura Viudas is making 2015 a statement year, with the launch of a brand new Gran Cuvée Reserva, and a sharp upgrade to its line packaging. The Gran Cuvée Reserva is a blend of Cava’s traditional Macabeo and Parellada grapes, with a touch of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The modernized packaging creates a unified family of wines that celebrates the winery’s history while appealing to an audience that values authenticity and adventure.

SRP: $14




Terlato Wines has announced the debut of Don Pancho Origenes, a new line of super-premium aged rums, in the U.S. Don Pancho Origenes is produced in Panama by the legendary Cuban master rum blender Francisco “Don Pancho” Fernandez. A connoisseur’s rum, Don Pancho Origenes is designed to appeal to whisky aficionados. The line includes three expressions: an 8-year-old, an 18-year-old and a 30-year-old.

SRP: $40/8YO, $90/19YO, $425/30YO




Celebrating the tradition of readying canoes along Colorado riverbanks to take advantage of snowmelt, New Belgium Brewing’s Portage Porter is a true spring seasonal. The easy-to-drink, medium-bodied traditional American porter features dark, roasted malts with almond notes and coffee and chocolate aromas. Added American-style hops enhance the roasty complexity while keeping the hop bitterness in balance. 6% ABV; 12oz bottles. Available in 37 states.




In ancient times, the amphore was a popular container for important liquids, including wine. An original creation, this bottle was designed to accommodate the clean, fruity and generous rosé made by the Gassier winery in Provence, the spiritual homeland of dry rosé. The Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah grapes are completely destemmed before direct pressing and fermented at low temperature to maintain flavor. Marketed by Bronco Wine Co.

SRP: $18.99

Fedway Holds Corporate Ugly Sweater Competition

Posted on | January 20, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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The competition was fierce this year! Judges in this fun and festive annual event had a difficult time selecting a winner so first place was awarded to two contestants. Congratulations, Linda Kovach in Purchasing and Annette Wright in Customer Service.

Annita Scerbo, Maria Gesek, Linda Kovach, Luz Soto, Annette Wright, Barbara Amalfitano, James Cherrick, Lucy Vieira and Tino Yebra

Cusqueña hosts ‘The Perfect Pairing’ at H-Mag Headquarters

Posted on | January 20, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Cusqueña’s “The Perfect Pairing” took place in Hoboken at H-Mag headquarters, where fans, bloggers and bar and restaurant professionals gathered to enjoy Cusqueña beer paired with the culinary stylings of Chef Miguel Aguilar from Surfish Bistro.

Joe Mindak, H-Mag; Corolla Enright and Kevin Enright

Chef Miguel Aguilar, Surfish Bistro

Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Visits Fedway

Posted on | January 20, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Chris Morris, Master Distiller at Brown-Forman, performed a series of seminars at Fedway’s Grand Tasting room on January 13th. Attendees also got to taste two new offerings that Fedway will represent exclusively, Woodford Reserve Rye and Old Forester 1870.

Jessica Randall, Brown-Forman; Charley Whyte, Brown-Forman; Marianne Barnes, Brown-Forman; Neil Barnett, Fedway; Chris Morris, Brown-Forman; and Rob Ortiz, Fedway

Gary Fisch Receives 2014 ‘Retailer of the Year’

Posted on | January 20, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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R&R Marketing/Charmer Sunbelt Group recently presented Gary Fisch, owner of Gary’s Wine and Marketplace, with a plaque to recognize his achievement in earning the 2014 “Market Watch Retailer of the Year” award.

Marco Vollero, R&R Marketing/CSG; Gary Fisch, Gary’s Wine and Marketplace; and John Barry, R&R Marketing/CSG

Local NJRA: New Laws Demand Attention

Posted on | January 20, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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On August 11th, 2014, the “New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act” was signed into law. This new legislation will change the employment application process for New Jersey employers with 15 or more employees, starting March 1st, 2015. 

Employers will no longer be permitted to ask about a candidate’s criminal history during the initial employment application process, either on paper or verbally. The initial employment application process includes the time from which a candidate first inquires about a position until after the employer has conducted a first interview, whether in person or by any other means. Employers also are prohibited from producing printed material that says they will not consider anyone convicted of a crime or offense. 

After the initial employment application process is complete, employers may make inquiries regarding a candidate’s criminal history. Employers also are not precluded from refusing to hire a candidate for employment based on the candidate’s criminal history; unless the criminal offense has been expunged, there are some exceptions to the Act. 

If you are unclear on whether an exception applies to a certain position, please call the NJRA or your attorney. Failure to comply with the law includes penalties that range from a fine up to $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation and $10,000 for each subsequent violation.

These fines are the only penalties available under the Act, and the Act specifically indicates that it does not allow for a private cause of action against an employer who is alleged to have violated the law. 

With March 1st approaching quickly, please review all your documents, applications and review with your managers or HR staff.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed H.R. 30, the “Save American Workers Act.” 

Changing the definition of “full time” has been one of the restaurant industry’s top priorities since the health care law was passed in 2010. Though the House passed identical legislation during the 113th Congress, the legislation failed to find its way onto the Senate floor for a full vote. 

While the House passed H.R. 30 by a margin of 252-172, passing the bill in the Senate is expected to be more challenging, as 60 votes are required to bring it to a vote. 

The National Restaurant Association’s CEO Dawn Sweeney and Chairman Jack Crawford, along with NRA advocacy staff, met with several members of the House and Senate earlier this week to build support for the legislation. Crawford spoke at a press conference alongside Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Joe Donnelly (DIN) in support of the Senate bill.

The National Restaurant Association’s 2015 Public Affairs Conference registration is officially open. This year, the conference will be held in conjunction with the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Legislative Action Summit at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. We will join forces for some events and then separate to focus on issues that are specific to the restaurant industry. There will be some dual-networking opportunities built into the agenda, but attendees should only register for their applicable conference. 

If you are interested in attending, please call the NJRA office at (609) 599-3316 or email Alicia Papp at

Local NJLSA: Local Counts

Posted on | January 20, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Just after Christmas I was sent an article highlighting some hidden truths about buying at local stores vs. national or regional big box retail chains. Kimber Lanning wrote the story as an op-ed in the The Arizona Republic as a rebuttal to another writer’s attempt to put down the growing “buy local” trend. 

The bottom line was simple: If you measure the “true cost” of doing business with most national chains, there is simply no reward for economies of scale. Numerous economic studies released over the last decade by recognized professional economists pretty much all concluded that an average of $30 more out of every $100 spent will stay in the local economy when money is spent with a local-based company versus a non-local corporate entity. 

Further, it has been well documented that the national chain store model actually eliminates three jobs for every two it creates. The short-term consumer savings of money in a customer’s pocket for a day certainly doesn’t change the outcome of a community when the overall community’s economy is attached to a lead balloon that includes low-wage jobs, no health-care benefits, and no secondary or tertiary job market.

Hard Economic Truth

Economies of scale only work in a freemarket society, which we “actually” are not. Our food is subsidized—consider 80% of all farm-bill dollars since 1995 went to the largest 10% of America’s farms for commodity crops, which is why processed food is so cheap (think fastfood dollar menus)! Our oil is subsidized, our biggest banks are subsidized. And even chain stores are subsidizedincluding billions to Walmart—all using taxpayer money. 

To believe in free markets in the U.S. is like believing in the tooth fairy. Americans actually have forgotten how the economy works and have no tools to measure the “true costs”—human, social or environmental—of doing business, and anyone ignoring these costs is being shortsighted and reckless! 

Look around at low-wage jobs and the shrinking middle class. The corporate economy is failing the country, and our government is using our money to pay for it. One solution is to do business locally. Will it save our country? No. Does it empower people to make significant changes within their own communities and local economies? ABSOLUTELY! 

The time has come for our State-based alcohol industry to pull together and create a BUY-LOCAL marketing plan incorporating newspaper ads, in-store merchandising and POS signage promoting the advantages of BUYING LOCAL, The bottom line is that buying local wines means saving jobs, lowering taxes and building a stronger economy— all of which will lead to a better quality of life! 

It’s time to turn the tide and help shore up our businesses…

Local NJLBA: New Year, New Training

Posted on | January 20, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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As we kick off 2015, we are all very concerned about saving money and complying with regulatory requirements, while at the same time protecting our businesses. The NJLBA has applied for a grant from the Department of Labor to conduct free training programs to assist our members. Below is a brief description of the classes being offered:

Technique of Alcohol Management (TAM):
The course is structured to offer a variety of problem-solving techniques as they relate to businesses selling beverage alcohol for consumption on- and off-licensed premises. A TAM-trained alcohol server is one who has learned to balance the responsible sale of beverage alcohol with the day-to-day service of his/her customers. For participating establishments there is a possible discount on insurance offered by certain companies.

ServSafe and ServSafe Recertification Classes:
New Jersey retail food rules (chapter 24, Sanitation in Retail Food Establishments and Food and Beverage Vending Machines) require that if a food establishment is classified as a “Risk type 3” food establishment there must be at least one certified food protection manager on site, per shift, who is responsible for food safety operations. Through the ServSafe training program, food managers will become knowledgeable of the latest FDA Food Code and New Jersey’s food safety regulations. For those managers that have already taken the ServSafe class but need to be recertified, we also have a ServSafe Recertification class.

New Business /Compliance Training (ABC Bootcamp):
This class will cover a wide range of compliance issues with regard to owning and operating a New Jersey bar, restaurant and tavern. The program is designed to ensure that new business owners are aware of the responsibilities, laws and regulations attached to the sale of beverage alcohol and the operation of a liquor establishment. The course will assist owners in achieving success in the operations of a new business venture. New business owners are not the only members that can benefit from this program. Existing licensees and staff may want to attend this training to brush up on the rules and regulations.

Fake Identification Training:
This comprehensive course assists licensees in the growing trend of the use of fraudulent identification documents. Sessions utilize the latest intelligence and identification techniques to counter emerging technology that is used to produce high quality, authentic-looking counterfeit identity credentials that are readily available via online marketplace. This class is excellent for servers, bouncers and management.

Dates and Data
As training dates and locations for all of these programs become available they will be posted on our website at If you are interested in taking any class or hosting a class at any time contact Kristina at our office and have your Tax ID number available. If you are not already an NJLBA member, now is the perfect opportunity to JOIN. Please contact the NJLBA at 609-394-6730 or at 1-800-LBA-0076 or, should you have any questions or require further information. This is an excellent opportunity to get your training requirements up to date, protect your license and become an NJLBA member.

NYC Wine List: Natural Selection

Posted on | January 20, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Vinateria carries 125 wines, many priced around a $50 sweet spot.

In New York’s churning restaurant scene where neighborhood joints are challenged to over-deliver, wine becomes a valuable tool for small restaurants aiming for an edge. Some of the globe’s lesser-known grapes, regions and styles can become calling cards for dining experiences with a point of difference.


Up in Harlem, Vinateria is beating the pants off local competition. Opened in early 2013 by locals Yvette Leeper-Bueno and husband Adrian Bueno, it is pulling crowds nightly. It’s homey and chic at the same time, relying on antique church pews, vintage lamps and stainless accents. 

The talented young chef, Gustavo Lopez (Scarpetta, Hearth, Del Posto), cooks with market-fresh ingredients for his Italian/Mediterranean menu. And his house-made pastas are as good as any served in some of New York City’s heavily-starred Italian joints. Menu items are grouped by plate sizes: small, medium and large. Small plates include Golden and Red Beet Salad with Cripsy Pistachios; and Grilled Baby Artichokes with Lemon-Anchovy Sauce. Medium plates are all homemade pastas. Large plates feature Sautéed Artic Char with Salmoriglio, Dill Potato Purée and Swiss Chard. 

The wine list—125 selections, concentrated on small producers—and the artisan cocktails are the work of Gabriela Davogustto. The 125 selections change as Gabriela’s new discoveries are added. Says Davogustto, “When I started creating Vinateria’s wine list I had in mind wines that I truly loved, due to their honesty and the way that they expressed their terroir. They were made with a high respect for their vineyards and the nature that surrounds them, and with little or no intervention at all.” 

On the list, large categories (White, Red, Rose and Sparkling) are broken down further as Light, Medium or Full. Prices for by-the-glass are $10-$15 while bottles run from $40 to $150 with quite a few around a $50 sweet spot (2010 Contra Soarda Marzemino Nero, $56; Los Bermejos Diego Seco 2012 from the Canary Islands, $52; 2012 4 Kilos Vinicola “12 Volts” red Mallorcan blend, $50). Wines that customers love are the Rafael Palacios Godello 2011 ($66), Foradori’s Teroldego 2010 ($55) and a Côtes du Rhône Les Cranilles from Vins de Vienne ($52).


Bay Ridge—the end of the R line—has changed much in the past couple of decades. In the midst of this multicultural mash-up sits The Owl’s Head wine bar. You could hit it with a hub cap pitched from the Gowanus expressway. 

Owner John Avelluto migrated here from Gravesend a decade ago and, being a wine lover, figured the neighborhood needed a wine bar. So he created The Owl’s Head. Wines are diverse, the staff is knowledgeable, and prices are real. 

“The Owl’s Head seeks both quality and surprise.” says Avelluto. “I often select wines from off-the-beaten-path locations or uncommon, indigenous varietals that don’t get a lot of attention in your neighborhood restaurants. If we are featuring an international varietal, we are most likely to show it grown in an unexpected context [i.e., Syrah from high-elevation Penedes rather than the Rhône], but with attention paid to balance. In terms of quality, I maintain a list that features good vineyard practices, with most selections exhibiting organic or Biodynamic certification if not full-on ‘natural.’” 

The ever-changing old school chalkboard at The Owl’s Head

The 14-bottle wine list is on a chalkboard next to the maple bar, which is good, since it changes daily. Glass pours ($8-13) recently included the Louis Antoine Luyt 2013 Pipeño Pais (Mission grape) from Chile’s BioBio Valley ($8) and a Falerio DOC 2012 (Pecorino, Passerino and Trebbiano) from Tenuta De Angelis in the Marche. Bottle prices settle into the wallet-friendly $28-$39 range. A special, oft-changing Reserve list recently had six offerings, including two from the Scholium Project. 

Avelluto is excited about their collaboration with The Red Hook Winery nearby to make a proprietary blend: The Owl’s Red. Released in December 2014 on their three-year anniversary, it is a 2009 blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon from three Long Island vineyards (Onabay, Macari and Jamesport vineyards), priced at $10 glass/$38 bottle. One of the longest running entries on the list due to its popularity with regulars is a pear cider from Domaine Pacory Domfront in Normandy, France ($10/$35). 

There is a short but interesting list of cheeses, charcuterie and sandwiches, and specials often draw from the diverse cultural influences in Bay Ridge. For example, the Sicilian and Middle-eastern contingencies inspired chickpea and herb “hushpuppies” topped with lemon ricotta ($7). Avelluto is also an artist, so artwork from several local artists deck the walls.


The east Village has a sauce-pot full of Italian restaurants, and east Second Street is home to three or four of them. One of the best, if less-well known, is Il Posto Accanto, now in its 15th year. The owners are Julio Pena and his wife Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta, or Bea to regulars, who does the home cooking that brings people back time and again. She is a perfectionist; homemade tagliolini with lemon and shrimp or the tripe alla Romana braised in tomato sauce with thyme
and Parmigiano-Reggiano are just the tip of the iceberg. 

 Il Posto Accanto in the East Village.

This cozy spot has no fewer than 175 wines spread over three wine lists. Vinny Arce, an old friend, created the 50-plus bottle winelist, which features a wine from every Italian region on it. He sees the current best value as a Therra Poder Nuovo A Palazzone 2009 from Tuscany ($48). An interesting feature is that about half of the regular list is available either in half or quarter-carafe or by-the-glass. Pricing for a half-carafe is 70% of bottle price, quarter-carafe is about 40% and a glass is around 30%.

The “Riserve” list features 50 rare and complex bottles for the more educated and advanced wine lover. And “Gabrio’s Selection” 75-bottle list is a tribute to Beatrice’s brother who was the first sommelier at Il Posto Accanto. He added an international touch with wines from France, Germany, USA, Australia, Israel and Italy. Some wines don’t even make it to the list but are listed on the blackboard until they run out. Overall, prices run from a nicely affordable $35 for two dozen up to a Sassicaia 1988 ($920).

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