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Feature on Tamworth Distillery in the Conway Daily Sun Praises Architecture, Farm-to-Table Philosophy

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TAMWORTH — There’s a new “spirit” in this bucolic rural village — the first batch of farm-to-table rye whiskey was made this month at the all-new (but old-fashioned looking) Tamworth Distillery in the center of town.
As the Facebook blog for the new distillery noted for Oct. 9, “Happiness is often a rebound from hard work, and in this case we have just been rewarded with 53 gallons of goodness. We’re incredibly pleased to announce that we have just barreled and sealed our first official batch of whiskey! Whiskey takes a while in those barrels. It’s a sort of wait and see practice, but years in the making.”
“We’re not there yet, but this is a start,” is how distillery owner, spirits product line developer and former Philadelphia advertising executive Steven Grasse of Quaker City Mercantile put it in a phone interview from Pennsylvania Tuesday afternoon.
During his years as an ad man in Philadelphia, Grasse’s Quaker City Mercantile company launched both Hendrick’s gin and Sailor Jerry rum. He also is an owner of Narragansett Beer. He then founded his Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, and his Art in the Age liquor line which features Sage, Root, Rhubarb, and Snap, the last of which was developed from Grasse’s grandmother’s ginger snap recipe.
The Tamworth facility will feature a line of Tamworth distilling products as well as a limited edition of Art in the Age spirits.
As Grasse noted, his ventures embrace Transcendentalism ideals that go back to the pre-Industrial Age, the literary, political and philosophical movement that was centered around Ralph Waldo Emerson and his call for each person to find “an original relation to the universe” and to find solace through nature, as celebrated by fellow writer Henry David Thoreau of “Walden Pond” fame.
The architecture of much of the village looks like something out of a 19th-century painting from that era, with Main Street home to the Remick Country Doctor Museum, The Barnstormers, The Other Store, the Cook Memorial Library, the Tamworth Townhouse and the Tamworth Congregational Church.
It also now is home to three buildings restored by Grasse — the Tamworth Lyceum next to The Other Store, the Tamworth Gardens barn, and part of the old Tamworth Inn — and a fourth building, the new but old-looking distillery.
The new distillery now nearing completion in the heart of the village will serve as a laboratory for “farm-to-bottle” spirits, with botanical gardens to be planted out on the meadow between the distillery and the Swift River.
Grasse and wife Sonia also own a 77-acre farm in Tamworth, which they also are using to grow crops that can make their way into their Art in the Age of Mechanical Production products.
“It will serve as a test kitchen for a lot of brand products that we will be creating, some sooner than later,” said Grasse, who has been in the spirit-making business for more than 20 years, and who is a proponent of agriculture and conservation. “It’s going to take a while. We will open the doors to the store in the distillery when we feel we have enough product — it could be this winter, but it may not be until next summer.”
HOMEGROWN SPIRITS
He said “the sky is the limit” in terms of new spirits, but that the facility is not expected to be a big tourist draw, other than offering a retail store with windows which offer views of the still and other equipment, and eventually the pub.
“It will primarily be a test kitchen and a small batch facility — we’re not going to be a Jack Daniels,” he said.
The botanical garden will aid the distillery, and will also be used as part of a full botanical kitchen food laboratory.
“We will make all sorts of botanical experiments to use as infusion for our spirits, but also as a commercial kitchen for our food stuffs as well,” said Grasse.
Within two years, if all goes according to plan, he would like to open up the small pub in the transformed and downsized former Tamworth Inn.
The botanical gardens lawn along the Swift River could eventually be used for weddings and catered events, along with the pub.
He says he will be looking to work with local farmers in growing grains such as rye and wheat along with corn for his Tamworth Distillery spirits.
Until that time, he will be using grains from nearby areas such as Maine and Massachusetts, all within a radius of 150 miles.
“We don’t want to go too much further than that, and that is very important to us,” said Grasse. “The plan eventually will be for us not just to be a distillery — it will be an ongoing mission we have to aid land conservation and also revitalize local agriculture.”
Grains left over from the distilling process will be brought to local farms for feed. That beef potentially could be served in meals at the new pub.
The spent grains could also be used as fertilizer.
“We’re talking about completing the circle: It will be farm-to-bottle, then bottle-to-farm, and then farm-to-table,” said Grasse.
Rye is used for whiskeys; corn for bourbon. Grasse hopes to use alternative grains such as barley as well.
“You can make whiskey and vodka out of all sorts of things,” he said. “And we will work with local people who forge through the forest as we can make various products made with maple [syrup].”
WATER RESOURCE
Grasse said the key aspect to the venture is using New Hampshire water that draws from the local Ossipee aquifer.
“The reason we built this in New Hampshire is that New Hampshire doesn’t have fracking,” said Grasse. “That is very important. The distillery water is from the Ossipee aquifer; it is one of the purest in the whole East Coast so we will make a big point of this using White Mountain water. The water here in Pennsylvania is being destroyed by fracking (the process of drilling and injecting fluid into the ground at a high pressure in order to fracture shale rocks to release natural gasses and oil). France and Germany have banned it as their food industry is so important and New England should.”
TAMWORTH: NEW BUT OLD LOOK
Take a stroll down Main Street in Tamworth Village, and you’ll see the results of the Grasses’ preservationist efforts over the past four years. His efforts complement the town’s existing architecture — and that’s no accident. They consist of the Lyceum, built in 1826, and restored over a year’s time period in 2010 and which opened on July 4, 2011.
As Grasse explained when he first was interviewed by The Conway Daiily Sun three years ago about his Tamworth plans, lyceums were started in Greece by Aristotle. In the 1800s, lyceums for the improvements of adult communities caught on in the United States, starting in Massachusetts. They were places where ideas could be exchanged, art displayed and music performed, noted Grasse.
Now part of the village vibe three years after its opening, the Tamworth Lyceum celebrates those themes, and features locally-made products while also selling coffee, hosting forums, and an ongoing Sunday afternoon concert series at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
“Sales are up 45 percent at the Lyceum. It’s now cool to get your coffee there,” quipped Grasse.
His work crews have restored the Tamworth Gardens barn, once used by Barnstormers actors for rehearsals, and now to be used in for the storage of whiskey in the oak barrels in a climate-controlled environment.
Grasse bought the closed and in-need-of-repair, 19th-century Tamworth Inn in 2012. The east wing and original core of the inn was razed, and the pool removed, but the western tower portion was saved. It will eventually be used for the pub.
“The key to me regarding the pub is keeping The Barnstormers active. That will make a complete night out at the theater,” said Grasse. “We will need to get all of our state approvals, but that is the idea.”
The original goal was to get the distillery up and running by spring 2014 — that did not happen, as Grasse said it took a lot of time and an unspecified amount of money to make it all work, but said in the end, all of the planning and planning with the local community was well worth it.
“I give thanks to the town of Tamworth for really putting me to the test about preserving the old inn and initially making it a giant pain in the [butt], but it caused us to slow down and work on a plan. The end result is it took us longer and it cost us a lot more money, but I feel this is one for the ages,” said Grasse.
“We have been in the spirits business 20 years now,” he added. “(For us to do this in Tamworth) seemed like a natural progression. I am very big into conservation and agricultural endeavors, so to me, distilling spirits is a way to revitalize this effort. Look at a town like Tamworth — if I could I would replicate what we have done there in farming towns all over country. It could revitalize rural communities.”
LOCALS’ REACTION
Most residents interviewed this week agree that the Grasses worked with the community, and have succeeded in their efforts to make it appear as though the buildings belong — all this in a town that has no zoning, more than one resident noted.
“They used great consideration of the appearance of the village to create a structure (the distillery) that is designed to complement the village, and they were able to keep part of the Tamworth Inn and restore the Tamworth Gardens,” said civically involved resident Pat Farley, a member of the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council’s regional collaboration committee, and chair of the Tamworth Development Commission which not-so-coincidentally enough is presenting an agribusiness economic forum at the Tamworth Townhouse Nov. 1.
Jim Hidden, chair of the Tamworth board of selectmen, and operator of Hidden Auto, also praised the design and the Grasses’ willingness to work with the town.
“I understand that folks were concerned about parts of the old Tamworth Inn coming down, because I care about history, too, and I hate to lose anything. But that building was dilapidated, and I am satisfied with how that building now looks,” said Hidden, noting that the east wing of the old 19th-century inn was razed while the towered side was kept and renovated.
“They were very conscientious,” Hidden added, “and they made it look as though it all belonged. He could have done whatever he wanted to do — but he is certainly trying to be a good neighbor, and, from what I can tell, he succeeded.”
Added Bob Cottrell of the Tamworth Historical Society, “The inn had already been shut down, and it had sat empty — so it could have gone the other way,” said Cottrell, adding, “People had a lot of concerns, but I feel all of those questions were addressed, and the proof is in the pudding.”
Katie Thompson, a member of the Tamworth Historical Society, is operator of The Other Store, the in-town eatery and hardware store in the middle of the village. Although she and others were sad to see the oldest part of the inn razed, she agreed that it was becoming a health and safety hazard.
She said there is a new vitality in the village.
“It’s good to have new energy in town,” said Thompson. “We have all these young people working at the Lyceum. Demographically, we are getting some wonderful young people in their 20s and 30s — some as part of the farm revival, and for the music that’s offered at the Lyceum. And the distillery will be part of that.”
She said townspeople seem to have embraced Grasse’s efforts as part of an overall desire to preserve Tamworth and keep it appealing.
“The general response I have heard in passing here at the store is that in general, people find the architecture [of the new distillery, the restored barn and the old inn] pleasing,” said Thompson.
For more information, visit http://www.tamworthlyceum.com/the-distillery.
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Distillery adds ‘spirits’ to Tamworth: New distillery looks like it’s been there for 100 years 

A ROOT Beer Float with a Twist at Style Me Pretty

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I’m pretty sure that the Root Beer Float is sort of like the cupcake. Universally loved by all. But, the lovely Sarah at Juniper & Dash, is taking the classic to new places by adding a hint of Root Tea and a drop (or five) of warm caramel and the result is anything but ordinary. With photos by Alexandra Whitney, we’re literally mixing one up as we speak.

From Juniper & Dash…This recipe combines some of my favorite ingredients… well, really all the ingredients are my favorite! The standard root beer float is one of my summer essentials, add a twist and it gets even better! Whenever I discover something new and yummy I have a tendency to add it to everything. So to spice up the normal float I added Art in the Age’s Root Tea and The Caramel Jar’s new caramel sauce. I’m telling you this float is so yummy. And every time I consume it I just keep telling myself it’s fat free…it’s fat free…it’s fat free!

 

Caramel & Tea Root Beer Float

Ingredients

  • 2 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
  • 2 ounces Art in the Age Root Tea
  • 2 Tablespoons The Caramel Jar’s Caramel Sauce
  • ½ cup IBC Root Beer

Instructions

  1. Scoop ice cream into a large glass or milkshake glass.
  2. Drizzle warm caramel sauce over ice cream.
  3. Pour Root Tea & Root Beer into float and enjoy.
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Root Beer Float with a Twist 

“The Fall Flip”, with Art in the Age SNAP, part of Burlington, VT’s growing cocktail scene

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Fall Flip

The Gryphon, 131 Main Street, 489-5699. thegryphonvt.com

“One night a few weeks ago, this guy and his girlfriend came in, and they were the only people at the restaurant. Come to find out, it was Andrew Leichthammer … of [Winooski's] Mule Bar … We got to talking, and I said I wanted to make a bourbon-based drink, something really fall-like. He jumped behind the bar, and we played around until we came up with this one. It’s kind of like a bourbon eggnog.” — Niall McMahon

1 1/2 ounces Buffalo Trace or other fine bourbon

1/2 ounce simple syrup

3/4 ounce Art in the Age SNAP liqueur

1/4 ounce applejack liqueur

1 whole egg

Combine ingredients in a large glass or shaker and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Fill the shaker with ice and shake for another 30 seconds or so, until the shaker gets frosty. Strain into a coupe glass and serve.

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Fall Cocktail Recipes From Burlington’s Burgeoning Scene 

The “Pumpkin Bumpkin” with Art in the Age ROOT hits Tattooed Mom’s for the Pumpkin Fall Fest

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* Tattooed Mom (530 South Street) – Sip on the Pumpkin Bumpkin, a specially created craft cocktail featuring pumpkin, Art in the Age Root, Guiness Stout, Fireball Whiskey, milk and nutmeg.

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South Street’s 6th Annual Pumpkin Fall Fest Will Have Music, A Circus, Hayrides, and More 

“ROOT Beer Fizzip”: A Twist on one of History’s Best Rum Cocktails

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Rum is a spirit with serious legs. From Colonial-era flips to whimsical tiki fantasies, the molasses-based spirit has been an important part of drinking life over the last two-plus centuries. These days, industrious bars across the U.S. have taken classic rum cocktails and yanked them headlong into the 21st century. Drink up: This is history, alive and in drinking color.

1. The Flip

The Backstory: Made with rum, beer and molasses in a tankard and served hot, the flip was a tavern staple in the 1700s. Rum historian Wayne Curtis, author ofAnd a Bottle of Rum, pegs this drink, heated with a poker from the fireplace, as “the most famous early American rum drink,” with references appearing as early as 1690. The drink took shape as the colonial taste for home-brewed beer and hard cider began to fade, displaced by an abiding thirst for stronger liquors—namely, rum.

Bring History to Life: Root Beer Flizzip (Sugar House, Detroit, MI)
No hot poker needed for this foamy cocktail with attitude, built from molasses-rich Cruzan Black Strap Rum, Art in the Age Root Liqueur and a whole egg and garnished with grated nutmeg.

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The Best of History’s Rum Cocktails Brought to Life 

A ROOT & Hot Cocoa Drink For A Crisp Fall Day

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This morning there was a snap in the air that I hadn’t felt since the springtime. Not cold, but just another quickness to the day that it made me yen for a warming drink. Before you go hemming and hawing over what time it is, 8:28- please keep in mind that I’m a professional. This is what I am called to do. Not drink, but sip. Oh, I can see that is lost on you. Day drinking is what it is called. The morning often calls for a large mug of tea with raw honey added for fortitude. If I’m out on a yacht the mug of fortitude contains a healthy portion of rum. Since I’m land-locked so to speak, I’m forced by my good nature to use some bourbon whiskey, distilled down in Kentucky named Barrell Bourbon. You could say that I’m attracted to the good stuff because I like the very best. Barrell Bourbon is the very best because each bottling is different. It’s right up my alley because it is not chill filtered, nor pad filtered. It’s got stuff in there, like the natural fats and oils. The sediment is not taken out giving this bourbon a gorgeous appearance. It’s alive with possibilities!

Barrell bourbon is just like my wines that I enjoy. Unfined and unfiltered is what I seek in the wine world. Handcrafted with passion.

Barrell Bourbon may not be the easiest to find where you are, but it is available online from a multitude of locations.DrinkupNY and Caskerscome to mind.

Seek and ye shall find.

Root tea from Art in the Age is a pre-Colonial ingredient that is featured in a number of body warming elixirs. I love to take exuberant doses of it and weave it into a mug of both hot chocolate and Barrell Bourbon whiskey. Just so you know, Root is eighty proof, so everything has its place in this drink.
What is a strong drink? Take it from your friendly cocktail whisperer. When you mix the salubrious root tea with a portion of potent whiskey and your favorite spicy hot chocolate, sweetened to your taste all good things can turn bad, very quickly.

Remember the orange bitters. In this case I’ve chosen Gary Regan’s Orange bitters. They are, quite simply my only choice for a day drink.

Let’s just say it’s just too easy to enjoy this concoction. I don’t want to be a bad influence but if you cannot set a good example, at least serve as a terrible warning to all who follow! This drink is not going to hurt you in the very least, unless you have more than three. Then the world will be memorable indeed! Calling Fernet Branca! Fernet Branca!

From Whiskey Cocktails, a new book by Warren Bobrow 

Professor Meiklejohn’s Pinky

Named for a professor made famous for his relationship with the writer Robert Louis Stevenson, this bourbon whiskey–based cold-weather cocktail is sure to restore and inspire. And the best part: It’s really easy to prepare. Whip up a batch of the hot chocolate so it can play host to organic root tea liqueur, bourbon, and—since this drink really has a flair for the dramatic—a pinch of cayenne pepper. It’s a very grown-up version of every kid’s favorite wintertime treat. Serve after dinner alongside a plateful of simple, buttery cookies, like homemade madeleines. Or, mix yourself a sneaky Pinky on Christmas morning—no one but you will know that there’s a little something extra in your cup of joy. Oh, and be sure to preheat your mug with boiling water beforehand to ensure that your Pinky stays toasty warm.

 

Professor Meiklejohn’s Pinky

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce (30 ml) high quality whiskey *like Barrell
  • 1⁄2 ounce (15 ml) organic root tea liqueur (Art in the Age)
  • 3 ounces (90 ml) Hot Chocolate
  • Tiny pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 ounce (30 ml) Simple Syrup
  • 1 dash Regan’s orange bitters

Process

  1. Preheat your favorite ceramic mug by filling it with boiling water, and then pour the water out.
  2. Add the bourbon whiskey,the Root tea liqueur, and then top them with Hot Chocolate.
  3. Now add the Simple Syrup—about 1 ounce (30 ml), or to taste—and the cayenne pepper.
  4. Finish with a dash or two of orange bitters.

Lift your mug in a toast to the Professor.

And keep the Fernet handy should you enjoy the good Professor’s company a bit too much!

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A WHISKEY & HOT COCOA DRINK FOR A CRISP FALL DAY 

Peach Ginger Kombucha and RHUBARB cocktail at Juniper and Dash’s Twilight Peach al Fresco Dinner

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From Juniper & Dash… The weather in the Northeast has been simply amazing, and the evening of the Twilight Peach Dinner was no exception! We were able to sit outside under the lanterns and enjoy the nice breeze along with great conversation and delicious food. All the talented creatives that came together to put on this  dinner were spot on. We wanted to subtly tie in our peach theme throughout the event and that’s just what happened. From the lush florals, with accents of peach and blue, to the mismatched gold flatware, every detail was accounted for and together it created a lovely evening.

 

THE MENU

FAMILY STYLE PLATES: Grilled Local Peach, Prosciutto, and Burrata on Crostini Salsa of Fresh Peaches and English Cucumbers with Homemade Kettle Chips Brioche French Toast with Warm Peach Compote and Balsamic Glacé

SOUP: Velvet Peach Purée with Bailey’s Irish Cream and Pancetta Lardoons

SALAD: Watercress Greens, Panko Peaches, and Seven Sisters Cheese from Farm at Doe Run with Rosemary Shallot Vinaigrette

MAIN: Beef Short Rib Rubbed with Grains of Paradise Peach BBQ Glaze, and Foie Gras Butter Grilled Haricoverts and Creamy Farro with Peaches

DESSERT: Warm Peach Cobbler with Crème Fraiche

SPECIALTY COCKTAIL: Peach Ginger Kombucha with Rhubarb Tea, and fresh peaches and lemons

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Twilight Peach al Fresco Dinner 

Art in the Age store makes Where Traveler’s list of spots to shop in Philadelphia

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At Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (116 N. Third St., Phila., 215.922.2600), the shopping experience is as unexpected as the store’s unique moniker. Since 2008, the flagship Old City location has served as a hub for Philadelphia’s free thinkers and artistic innovators. The vintage sign that hangs above the door invites customers into a creative and welcoming retail environment. In addition to carrying the entire Art in the Age line of private label tees, the store stocks clothing and accessories like vests, hats, jackets and cuff links. As part of its mission to create a strong sense of community, Art in the Age collaborates with local students and vendors to create limited-edition products. The store also hosts performances and exhibitions by artists, musicians and authors.

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12 Spots to Shop Off the Chain in Philadelphia