R&R Stages Bartender Battle with Bluecoat Gin

Posted on | December 23, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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On December 14th, R&R Marketing and Philadelphia Distilling hosted the “Battle on George Street” Dueling Cocktails competition at INC featuring Bluecoat Gin. This was the first in a series of competitions focusing on the growing cocktail culture in New Brunswick. Eight contenders from various bars and restaurants in the area faced off in three rounds. The winner, Bernard O’Connell from The Dillinger Room, received a replica trophy of George Washington’s 1748 Hawkins Flintlock dueling pistol, courtesy of Bluecoat Gin.

Chris Chamberlain, Philadelphia Distilling; Winner Bernard O’Connell, The Dillinger Room; Jenna Gill, Philadelphia Distilling; and Warren Bobrow, cocktail author










Bernard O’Connell



Alex Artishenko, Clydz












Samantha DiMaio, INC


Max Goldberg, The Dillinger Room












Carly Martin, Steakhouse 85



Mike Howlin, Destination Dogs












Rachel Shiel, INC

NJLBA Holds 82nd Annual Convention

Posted on | December 23, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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On November 17th and 18th, the New Jersey Licensed Beverage Association held their annual convention at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City, with industry members from all three tiers in attendance.

Jim Bennett, President NJLBA: Diane Weiss, Executive Director NJLBA











Jonathan Orsen, NJ ABC Director










Kevin Barber, Wes Geiselman, Jonathan Orsen and Kevin Schatz, all with the Division of Alcohol Beverage Control











Jeffrey Warsh, NJLBA lobbyist










Bob Pinard, retiring director of the Beer Wholesalers’ Association of New Jersey











Joseph Policastro, Division of ABC

Bethenny Frankel Bottle Signing at ShopRite

Posted on | December 23, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Bethenny Frankel visited the ShopRite in Westfield, NJ for a bottle signing of her Skinnygirl Margarita and Skinnygirl Vodka. Over 100 people had their previously purchased bottles signed by Frankel.

Adam Lewis, Beam Suntory; Justin Braverman, Beam Suntory; Bethenny Frankel; Bruce Maurer, Beam Suntory; and Ned Marini, Beam Suntory











Ken Kimble, ShopRite Westfield, with his senior management team and Bethenny Frankel

Jean-Charles Boisset Visits Opici Family Distributing

Posted on | December 23, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Jean-Charles Boisset, leader of Boisset Family Estates, visited Opici Family Distributing at the Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange for a “Breakfast and Bubbles” tasting, followed by a customer luncheon at Pascal & Sabine in Asbury Park. The whirlwind day concluded with a consumer dinner at One 53 in Rocky Hill.

Jeff Schermerhorn Sr. and Jeffrey Schermerhorn Jr. of Wonderful World of Wine with Jean-Charles Boisset











Dr. Howard Solomon, Bootleggers; Natalie Solomon, Bootleggers; and Jean-Charles Boisset











Jean-Charles Boisset and Richard Bach, Langosta Lounge










Jean-Charles Boisset and Mike Lynn, ShopRite Freehold










Scott Clayton, Constellation Brands; Jean-Charles Boisset; Lucy Salvan, Opici Family Distributing; and Mike Bruntz, Opici Family Distributing

Straight Outta North Bergen

Posted on | December 23, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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From Nano-Brewery to Micro-Brewery, New Jersey Beer Co. Finds its Stride.

Paul Silverman knew a lot about real estate development, trucking, warehousing and marketing when he purchased New Jersey Beer Company four years ago. What he didn’t know much about was making beer.

“I had always loved beer, and when I decided to get serious about opening my own brewery, I went to NJ Beer Co. to learn how it all worked,” he recalls. In bad financial shape, the brewery, founded in 2009, offered Silverman the opportunity to invest, but he was still determining if he would start his own operation from scratch. When a Today Show segment several weeks later featured All About Beer editor John Holl recommending NJ Beer Co. Garden State Stout as his top pick for St. Patrick’s Day, he made up his mind. 

“I called them back the next day and said I was in,” says Silverman, who spent the next year upgrading the brewery with the goal of achieving more consistent quality (hiring a second brewer with a science background was a big help). He also secured a distribution deal with Allied Beverage across the state—“I like that Allied has only a few beers in their portfolio; it helps us stand out,” he notes.

Located in a North Bergen industrial strip in a converted warehouse within sight of midtown Manhattan, NJ Beer Co. has undoubtedly benefited from the boom in craft beer—there are currently over 30 breweries in the state of New Jersey with murmurs of close to 20 more in construction. (Interestingly, Hudson County was once packed with breweries; the nation’s first opened in Hoboken in 1642.) But it’s the phenomenal quality of the beer, as well as fierce customer loyalty, that explains why the company’s beers sell out immediately upon release.

With Jersey-themed names like Garden State Stout and Weehawken Wee Heavy, the beers have tapped a vein of local pride. Two years ago, NJ Beer Co. launched a Long Beach Island IPA—shortened to LBIPA, with the “I” pictured as a lighthouse—and donates proceeds to benefit the beach in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Today it’s their best seller.

Silverman expects to double production this year, which means NJ Beer Co. will produce a mere 2,000 barrels—half in bottle, half in kegs. One of the brewery’s biggest accounts is the Prudential Center in Newark where the New Jersey Devils play hockey. While he’d like to see his volume grow again next year, he never wants to exceed 4,000 barrels.

“What is the definition of craft? For me it’s when a brewer is really hands-on in making the beer, and tasting it daily,” he says. “You can’t do that when you are making tens of thousands of barrels. Large breweries make their beers with computers.” Budweiser operates a massive facility nearby, and Silverman jokes that they spill more beer in one night than NJ Beer Co. makes in a year.

He’s OK with running out of beer—which happens more often than not—and fine to not be in every market or every account. “We have a lot of demand outside New Jersey, certainly from New York, but it’s kind of fun to tell people they can’t get our beer unless they come to New Jersey.” 

Local NJLSA – The Hits Keep Coming

Posted on | December 23, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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What is the NJLSA Fighting? 

For the last decade, the NJLSA has continually stood up and defended your industry and your livelihood. We have built a solid coalition with our state-based industry partners, who all understand the need for industry solidarity on core issues that threaten the foundation of our threetier system as well as our common sense laws that protect the welfare and public safety of our citizens.

It is clear that the continual threats are from the hands of those who attempt to manipulate public perception via the media while leveraging special interest support with pay-to-play funding to bolster political posturing in our state legislature. These efforts are led by carpetbaggers with self-serving, out-of-state agendas hiding behind the façade of consumer advocacy.

Unless we all do our part, the visible cracks in the foundation of our regulated retail sector will turn into much larger fissures that many licensees will fall into creating a tsunami of small business failures reminiscent of what happened when two home improvement giants, Home Depot & Lowes, decimated New Jersey’s unregulated home improvement sector. We need to look no further than our state’s growing list of COD licensees to know that many of us are dying the death of a thousand cuts.

The biggest threat today is from the one-stop shopping crusade lead by Wegmans & Walmart, who will stop at nothing in their free trade crusade to satisfy their insatiable appetite for market share. Ah, the irony. Look no further than now-bankrupt Jersey-based A&P, the holder of dozens of grandfathered licenses from 1962, which did little to help them in the end.

Our state-based regulated industry represents the last front on a vast “one size fits all battlefield” that has consumed more retail jobs and produced more small business obituaries in the last twenty years than our nation created over the course of the last half century.

It’s Time to Get Connected To Your Industry!

The NJLSA will be expanding the rank and file of our membership in the first half of 2016. If you are a retailer, these dues will be the best investment you can make to protect your business in 2016. If you have been sitting on the sidelines, thinking others are fighting your battles for you: Do not wait until it’s too late, join the NJLSA and get connected to your industry! GO TO OUR WEBSITE, download your membership application and send it in! 


At the time of submitting this “Message from the NJLSA” efforts were under way in the State Assembly to push for an expansion of the two-license limit law. The timing for us could NOT be worse for retailers and wholesalers as all of us are tied to our businesses during this very busy and most important holiday selling season. Needless to say, that is exactly what our opponents are counting on and why they take advantage of what is referred to as “the Lame Duck cover of Christmas.”

On a positive note, the Assembly Speaker has pledged that the NJLSA will have a seat and major input in the negotiation process, which he will oversee between us and the Majority Leader, who has continually carried the water on this issue. The Lame Duck session ends on Friday, January 15th, which means the NJLSA may be putting out a CALL TO ARMS during the first week of the New Year. As of press time, it was too soon to report on the status of our efforts. Please go to NJLSA.com to get an update on this issue!

Local NJLBA – Now in Season: Training

Posted on | December 23, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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It is a great time to kick off the New Year by getting all of your employees certified and trained. The NJLBA has a grant from the Department of Labor to conduct free training programs to assist our members to meet state requirements.

Technique of Alcohol Management (TAM):

The course is structured to offer a variety of problem-solving techniques as they relate to businesses selling alcohol for consumption on- and off-licensed premises. A TAM-trained alcohol server is one who has learned to balance the responsible sale of 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 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.

Challenges Facing Today’s Licensees:

This new innovative training program will assist the licensee in a game plan to ensure that an establishment will remain safe and violation free. Some topics to be covered will include the use of promoters, undisclosed interest issues, tax implications and disqualified employee issues. As training dates and locations for all of these programs become available they will be posted on our website at www.njlba.org. If you are interested in taking a class or hosting a class at any time contact the NJLBA office.

Hero Campaign and UBER

We are also pleased to announce our partnership with the HERO Campaign and Uber to provide safe rides homes for thousands of our patrons. Participating NJLBA bars and taverns throughout the Garden State will offer free soft drinks and other benefits to designated drivers who sign up for membership cards with the HERO Campaign and Uber. Uber will provide free rides for up to $20 for first-time riders who sign up through the NJLBA. Uber will bolster their efforts to increase the number of drivers available near bars and taverns at peak late night hours and on weekends for those NJLBA members who participate. To sign up for a HERO/Uber special event or to receive special Uber rates please contact the NJLBA office.

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 visit our website at njlba.org for a membership application. This is an excellent opportunity to get your training requirements up to date, assist in providing safe rides home for your customers and become an NJLBA member. Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. 

Trendspotting: Ready, Set, Cocktail

Posted on | December 22, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Meeting timeless demand, bottled cocktails are now moving upscale.

Ready-To-Drink (RTD) cocktails aren’t exactly new. Jerry Thomas’s How To Mix Drinks, circa 1862, advised bottling pre-mixed drinks for “fishing and other sporting parties.” Heublein’s “Club Cocktails”—boosted by celebrities—were the rage in the 1950s and ’60s into the ’70s, well before the genre was Ready-To-Be-Named. But the category appears to have taken a remarkable turn of late, with some RTDs going decidedly upscale.

The national market first got a taste of high-end bottled cocktails in January of 2014, when Cooper Spirits Co. (the folks who created St. Germain) launched Hochstadter’s Slow & Low, an 84 proof Rock & Rye, based on rye whiskey, rock candy, citrus peel and bitter herbs. The original worked so well that Cooper is now back with Slow & Low 100 Proof Rock & Rye (SRP $34.99). The current trend is “directly linked to the rise of cocktail culture,” says Rob Cooper, founder of the company. “Consumers now want quality cocktails at home.” And the trend is bound to get even stronger now that big industry players have joined in.

Campari’s entry seems particularly bold—they have essentially bottled their namesake product’s most famous cocktail, the Negroni. “We feel strongly there is a new opportunity for high-quality ready-to-enjoy cocktails,” says Dave Karraker, Vice President Marketing at Campari America. “Campari Negroni Ready to Enjoy allows consumers to have a perfect Negroni every single time.” Equal parts Campari, customized sweet vermouth and London Dry style gin, the new product is 52 proof, with an SRP of $39.99/1L and rolling out first in CO, MA, FL, DC, IL, NJ, CT and NYC.

Meanwhile, Diageo has tossed two hats into the bottled cocktail ring, offering the Studebaker Old Fashioned and the Studebaker Manhattan. The rationale was grounded firmly in American shopping habits, notes Jeff Parrott, North American Whisky Development at Diageo: “Through our research, we discovered that mixers are one of the top 10 items found in a shopping basket with whiskey, and ready-to-drink and pre-mixed drinks have grown +33% since 2011.” Inspired by the Prohibition classics, both products use a Canadian whisky base, are 60 proof and retail for $24.99 nationwide.

Cape Classics CEO Honored at Benefit Gala

Posted on | December 22, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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Andre Shearer, Chairman and CEO of Cape Classics, was awarded the 2015 Desmond Tutu Phelophepa Achievement Award for Excellence at the Annual American Friends of the Phelophepa Train Benefit Gala. Partners included representatives from M.S. Walker, Glazer’s and Western Carriers. 

Andre Shearer, Rob Bradshaw and Molly Choi, all of Cape Classics











Andre Shearer; and Barkley Stuart, Glazer’s

Allegrini Supports Guggenheim’s Alberto Burri Exhibition

Posted on | December 22, 2015   Bookmark and Share
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“Allegrini and the Art of Wine” was hosted at the Guggenheim by Allegrini Estates and LUX Wines, a luxury brand of E. & J. Gallo Winery. Joe Gallo and Marilisa Allegrini welcomed guests with a toast. Richard Armstrong, director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum, also spoke to the partnership with Allegrini. 

Ben Bisordi, LUX Wines; Aggie Bek, E. & J. Gallo Winery; Marilisa Allegrini, Allegrini Estates; Allison Morales, E. & J. Gallo Winery; Giovanni Nencini and Niccolo Salvadori, LUX Wines

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