Living Local features AITA products
One might say Grasse’s advertising career drove him to drink, however he’s not perched at a bar stool all day but lodged firmly in a full-fledged spiritual advisor role, responsible for developing the explosive brand Sailor Jerry Rum. In 1999, QCM took possession of an estate belonging to Norman “Sailor Jerry” Collins, a tattoo artist best known for his sailor tattoos and pin-up girls. Nothing about this acquisition was going to be warehoused; instead, it was launched into the sky as would be a fireworks grand finale on the 4th of July. The result, the Sailor Jerry lifestyle and storefront complete with clothing, merchandise and an old-fashioned “roll out the barrel” music program for this Caribbean spiced rum. Steven knew the best way to get this product to market was to “let it flow” by giving garage bands cases of product to take with them to their offbeat venues and share with their fans. Toss in a van full of social media efforts and the rest is Sailor Jerry’s second legacy.
Eventually the Sailor Jerry brand was sold to William Grant & Sons, an award-winning independent family distiller, for a BIG bag of doubloons. Contractually, QCM agreed to maintain this volatile rum which is one of the fastest growing rums in the world: over 650,000 cases were sold in 2010 and it continues to set records in its category. (For your information, a 750 ml bottle costs about $16.)
The next brand to make a splash in the juniper pool is Hendricks Gin, in its dark brown apothecary style bottle and handsome packaging. This sensual gin is a blend of juniper, botanicals, rose petals and cucumber making this spirit rather sexy to say the least and self described as “A most peculiar gin”. It is truly peculiar and well received by spirit critics everywhere. Unique to the Scottish production of Hendricks is the Carter-Head Still, producing small pot batches, and there are only a few of these operating stills in the world. Hendricks Gin is also a leader brand for Wm Grant & Sons and retails for about $30 a bottle.
Root, the first to launch into the market, was inspired by Native Americans and their Root Tea recipe which goes back to early American settlers in the 1700s. As the recipe evolved over the centuries, the potency also increased, especially in Pennsylvania. The flavor profile for Root include: anise, birch bark, cloves, cardamom, and spearmint. These make for countless imaginative beverages as a result. Poured over vanilla ice cream with a splash of club soda in a stem glass, and you’ll have to choose a straw or a spoon!
Snap is the second born to Art in the Age also influenced by our German American neighbors in PA Dutch country. Snap is what you would expect if you could drink a “Lebkuchen” which is German for ginger snap. This organic liqueur mimics the flavor of this beloved cookie such as molasses, brown sugar, cinnamon and, of course, ginger.
Rhuby, short for rhubarb, is also a Pennsylvania staple during the height of its growing season and made into everything from pies to preserves. Why not a liqueur? The stores and bar scene are drowning in a sea of flavored vodkas and Rhuby for certain is an exquisite gem of her three other muses Art in the Age siblings.
Lastly, there’s the newest Art in the Age, baby Sage. Just as you would expect from her name, she’s a lovely and herbaceous infused spirit with thyme, rosemary, lavender, fennel and sage. This product is literally a liquid spice elixir worthy to compliment any vodka or gin concoction instantly. Imagine a beef stock-laden sage infused Bloody Mary or Mojito with the vim and vigor gently kissing the bruised mint leaves in a tall glass.
And what would a family of products be without the little one… Spodee. Yep. Good ol’White Mule Farms Spodee, a first in the wine category for Quaker City. The muse for this product came to Grasse from Sticks McGhee song, Drinking Wine Spo-Dee O-Dee. Curious to create the depression-era style beverage that takes its name from the song, QCM set out to create this chocolaty moon shine-fortified wine. Interestingly enough Spodee can actually be utilized as a spirit to create hoochy drinks since it’s made with real down on the farm hooch. Spodee is adorably packaged in 500 ml milk jars complete with a cork finish and red cap.
So flip your lid for Steven Grasse and Quaker City Mercantile who are really living la vita local, embracing our rich roots of Pennsylvania history and folklore, insisting on quality ingredients, artesian packaging and labeling, and choosing to make it all happen right here in the city of Brotherly Love. Grasse grew up in Souderton and his own father had a Bucks County printing business. So Cheers – to real hometown manufacturing hero – Steven Grasse. Thanks for your messages in the bottles.