The Spritz: It’s All Built on Bubbles

Spritz culture is rooted in the cities and towns of Northern Italy.  The drink can be found at restaurants, cafes and even at the airport.

The Spritz is a wine-based cocktail commonly served as an aperitif (an alcoholic beverage served before the meal to stimulate appetite) in Northeast Italy. The drink is prepared with prosecco (Italian white) wine, a dash of some bitter liqueur such as Aperol, CampariCynar, or, especially in Venice, with Select. The glass is then topped off with sparkling mineral water. It is usually served over ice in a lowball glass and garnished with a slice of orange, or sometimes an olive, depending on the liqueur.

Thanks to the recent publication of a light-hearted book named “Spritz”, these drinks have become popular and American bars will serve them this summer.

American bartenders have taken the liberty of creating their own spritz concoctions.

At the Llama Inn in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the bartender mixes gin, fino sherry, strawberry shrub, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Peychaud’s bitters, Spanish sparkling wine and Perrier for the Señorita Spritz, a pretty pink concoction.

At Montana’s Trail House in Bushwick, Brooklyn, the owner piles Aperol, grapefruit juice and sparkling white wine atop a base of Mezcal with agave syrup.

Summertime is the perfect time for something light, refreshing and bubbly.  One bartender on the Lower East Side is quoted as saying, “Who doesn’t like something that feels like its dancing on your tongue?”

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Tara Paige Travels: Bacchanal, New Orleans

bacchanal-5.jpgAt Tara Paige, we love summer in the city – the patio dining, food festivals and street fairs (not to mention the reduced lines at some of our favorite spots). But we still need to hit the road occasionally, and check out the concepts that have people buzzing all over the country. Which brings us to this special travel edition of our retail spotlight, on Bacchanal – a unique concept off the beaten path in New Orleans, Louisiana. Located in Bywater (just over the canal from the Ninth Ward), Bacchanal highlights the vitality of a city where music comes from every street corner, and great food and wine require no excuses or white tablecloths to enjoy.

The heart of the concept is a simple but rarely imitated one; Bacchanal is a wine and cheese shop with a large backyard, where local musicians play sets from lunch till late night. Guests can browse the shop, chat with the knowledgeable staff about vintages and cheese pairings, and then grab their chosen bottle and an ice bucket and head for the back, where a selection of mismatched patio furniture offers about 100 first-come-first-serve seats for watching the band. Servers will put together a plate of your chosen cheese and charcuterie, and bring it out to the table while you sip and listen. For those feeling a bit more peckish, there’s also a full dinner menu, served out of a small window in the back of the wine store from a kitchen barely big enough for the two cooks working inside. The tables fill up early in the evening, but most are large enough to share between multiple groups of friends, inspiring conversation and new connections.

When they began, Bacchanal was primarily a little-known wine shop on the outskirts of the city. After hurricane Katrina devastated the area, they began hosting guest chef pop-ups with live music each Sunday – helping revitalize the city by bringing its residents together around great food and wine in a neighborhood setting. As their website and owners describe, the business model was not without its legal hurdles, since Bacchanal exists somewhere at the intersection of wine store, restaurant, speakeasy and block party, and was not always licensed to be all those things. We’re glad they took the risk though, and the concept remained intact after their day in court.

The food “is dedicated to the ingredients themselves and the wine that flows with them, it is focused Mediterranean minimalism.” This is somewhat in contrast with the big Cajun flavors to be found in the heart of the French Quarter, for which tourists rightfully travel from thousands of miles. There’s no gumbo on the menu, but there is a fantastic ceviche and a delicate, garlicky bucatini. Many items are seasonal, and local produce is prominantly featured. No matter what guests ultimately order, the Bacchanal experience still captures the spirit of New Orleans: an unpretentious commitment to living life to the fullest, come rain or shine.

Bacchanal is located at 600 Poland Avenue, New Orleans LA, 70117. Visit their website at

Brooklyn Winery Team Opens New Crown Heights Restaurant

brooklyn-made-wines-01.w600.h400.jpgCrown Heights now has another new restaurant to add to its list – this time, it comes from the team behind Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Winery. Owners Brian Leventhal and John Stires will open the doors to BKW on Tuesday at 747 Franklin Avenue. They’ve brought on chef Michael Gordon, formerly of Bouley, to design the pared-down menu. Some highlights include konbu-cured mackerel with whipped feta and roasted grapes, root beer glazed pork ribs, and homemade donuts with butterscotch and lavender. The wine list will of course be well curated, with flights offered for those who are feeling indecisive and full bottles available to take home.

To read more, click here.


Coffee Giant, Starbucks, Serves Alcohol

UnknownOver the past five years, Starbucks has been implementing plans to sell wine, craft beer and small plates. While Starbucks is already an international hub for coffee, they are expanding into a larger scale of beverages. This week, 24 new locations will enact in the “Starbucks Evenings” program. Starbucks locations in Brooklyn, Denver, Miami, Orlando, Northern California, Washington, Oregon, Los Angeles, Chicago, Florida and Atlanta have been secured liquor licenses and are the initiatives to this new program.

“Starbucks Evenings” offers a small-plate menu like truffle macaroni and cheese, bacon-wrapped dates, and includes ten wine options. Starbucks executives are hoping to appeal to women as a safer and more comfortable place to drink than a bar. With the pilot stores, Starbucks found serving wine helped the stores attract book clubs, knitting circles, Bible study groups, and a number of online daters meeting for the first time. Starbucks is hoping to utilize their convenient and familiar brand name as a comfort place to not only grab coffee, but to also grab a beer.

To read more, click here.

Made in China

Imported-Wine-in-ChinaChina is infamous as a leader in mass production- “they can reproduce Western manufacturing or technology overnight, but they lack prestige to replicate European artisan culinary delicacies.” China, recently, is successfully producing wine in their growing boutique wine market that has debunked its conventional stereotype. European countries like France and Italy have a long history and generations of producing wines in their vineyards while China has never been recognized for their wine. However, the Chinese have reoriented their wines to reciprocate the production methods held in Europe to produce their own wine in their vineyards and it has successfully entered the industry. The Cabernet blend Jia Bei Lan became the first Chinese wine to take the prestigious international trophy at the Decanter World Wine Awards in 2011. Chinese wine has grown in clientele across elites in China, but still face a challenge in convincing consumers to give Chinese products a chance. Because of China’s reputation of mass production elitists and wine enthusiasts label Chinese wine to be foul. Moreover, the idea of wine based from vineyards is a new concept to the Chinese culture. For 4,000 years the Chinese have preferred grain-based wine rather than grape wine. Along with productions of boutique wineries in China, China has also been influencing the shifts of the luxury ends of the market as China’s elitists are increasingly showing interest into the wine market.

To read more on China’s influence in the wine market, click here

Momofuku Ko uses Instagram for more

Instagram is frequently used as an outlet for companiesB2M7E5DIYAAy0fg.0.0 in marketing, but Jordan Salcito, the Momofuku Wine Director, utilizes Instagram not only as a distribution medium but as a base in creating Momofuku’s wine list. Instagram along with other social media outlets like Twitter is essentially numerous social circles created from following friends and “liking” interesting posts. Salcito theorizes that within social media social circles are aroused through similar interests and style. Similarly winemaker friend groups on social media are indicators of actual wine styles.Through this idea Salcito creates a wine list where every bottle of wine can be suggested through the relationship between its corresponding sommelier.

Momofuku Ko’s wine list attracts wine enthusiasts through its stark photography of sommeliers and a description of the relationship between wine bottles but also attracts customers on a smaller budget. Often wines that are buzzed throughout social media are rare and start at a high price range But, Salcito’s intentions with grouping similar styles of wine potentially allows customers to drink a Boisson for $85 instead of a Coche-Dury for $795.

To read more on Momofuku Ko’s Wine list, click here.

Pinot Days Festival NYC

On Sunday, January 18th the 4th Annual Pinot Days Festival will take place at City Winery at 154 Varick Street. The Grand Tasting will showcase 35 phenomenal producers of pinot noir. Consumers will be able to sample up to 100 pinots from every important pinot noir region, from the Russian River Valley to the Santa Rita Hills, Oregon to the Anderson Valley, Burgundy to New Zealand to the Sonoma Coast. Attendees will be able to taste these highly acclaimed wines, meet the gifted and charming winemakers who create them, and experience the passion and romance that the pinot noir industry continues to embody.

Attendees will get the chance to discover and celebrate pinot noir in its many diverse styles, explore new producers, and perhaps even become a new pinot devotee! The standard price for the festival is $75 per person. For more information on the festival or to read about other events and exhibitors, click here