Archive for the 'distilled spirits' Category

Rosskam, Gerstley & Co.

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Innovation has run in the blood of David Michael owners since 1896 – but did you know that whiskey-making is also burrowed in their DNA? In 1854 Isaac Rosskam partnered with Henry Gerstley and incorporated a liquor company in Addison, NY that would open one year later. In 1865, Rosskam, Gerstley & Co. moved to Philadelphia. Through the years, the company launched dozens of successful brands, including American Rye, Top of the Morning and R.G. & Co. Special Reserve. However, Rosskam, Gerstley & Co.’s flagship brand was always Old Saratoga Whiskey, often lovingly referred to as just Saratoga.

Three of Isaac Rosskam’s great great grandsons are currently at the helm of the daily operations here at David Michael & Co., keeping alive the long lineage of entrepreneurial innovators in the Rosskam family. Isaac is great great grandfather of current President and COO Skip Rosskam, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Steve Rosskam and Executive Vice President of Operations George Rosskam.

As Rosskam, Gerstley & Co. grew and prospered, additional offices were opened in the 1870’s and 80’s in Cleveland, Chicago and New York City. Meanwhile in Philadelphia, where distillers and liquor wholesalers were a dime a dozen at the time, the company was determined to find a way to make their product stand apart from the many other choices. And so was born the line-up of Rosskam, Gerstley & Co. giveaway and promotional items that are still considered collectibles today. Check out these gems:


Lithographed serving tray of dogs playing poker:

Rosskam Gerstley & Co. tray -

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Fall: Nature’s Perfect Culinary Muse

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

The leaves are slowly beginning to turn, the dog days of summer are in the rearview and somewhere ahead awaits winter’s wrath. But in the meantime we are on the precipice of what is arguably one of the most beautiful and enjoyable times of the year, at least here in our little corner of the world where we get to delight in the splendor of all four seasons.

The hum of the air conditioner is replaced with the street noise flowing in through the open windows. The weekends are filled with Farmer’s market harvests and football games. Scarecrows and pumpkins make their way onto lawns and porches while in the October air dangles the unmistakable smell of fall – and with it, promises of frosty mornings and cozy nights.

We get to wrap our chilly necks in scarves and hold a cup of hot chocolate for warmth.  We can carve jack-o-lanterns and give candy to adorably costumed neighborhood kids.  There’s less mowing the lawn and more playing in piles of crunchy leaves.  What could possibly make this time of year any better?  Only one thing, well, make that two: fabulous fall food and lavish libations!

For many, this time of year is synonymous with traditional autumn comfort foods and seasonal drinks.  From hearty chili and freshly baked apple pie to warm cider and orchard sangria, the list of this season’s beloved eats and treats is as lengthy as it is titillating. For those of you who love your traditional autumnal dishes, we’ve decided to take a look at some classic fall favorites with a fresh spin – whether it be through flavor or application. For the more daring palates out there, there are some new products to inspire and refresh your fall feasts.

Take a look at these new domestic product launches that caught our eye.  Hopefully you can snag these seasonal steals at a store near you or use them as inspiration for home-made deliciousness.

Barefoot Contessa Pumpkin Cupcake and Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Mix


What: Barefoot Contessa Pumpkin Cupcake & Maple Cream Cheese Frosting Mix


Why: Because bathing suit season is over and cupcakes can be our friends again.




Kashi Autumn Wheat Breakfast Cereal


What: Kashi Autumn Wheat Breakfast Cereal

Where: Supermarkets and superstores [Walmart]

Why: Because there’s no reason breakfast shouldn’t be festive!



Baker’s Pantry Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix


What: The Baker’s Pantry Pumpkin Pancake and Waffle Mix

Where: Select supermarkets and superstores [Cost Plus World Market]

Why: Because a fall weekend morning is perfect for an indulgent at-home brunch.




Toigo Orchards Pear Butter


What: Toigo Orchards Pear Butter

Where: Natural/Health Food Stores [Whole Foods Market]

Why: Because lightly seasoned tree ripened Bartlett pears are what fall is all about!




Trader Joe’s Sugar, Chocolate and Coffee Bean Grinder


What: Trader Joe’s Sugar, Chocolate & Coffee Bean Grinder

Where: Supermarket [Trader Joe’s]

Why: Because there are very few things in life that cannot be improved by adding sugar and chocolate.




Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Tortilla Chip Rounds


What: Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato Tortilla Chip Rounds

Where: Supermarket [Trader Joe’s]

Why: Because even football tailgates can be spiced up with fall flair.




These next picks may be a bit harder to get your hands on, unless you’ll be doing some traveling this season, but there’s no reason these global muses can’t inspire your fall cooking.


AP Gourmet Blueberry Pecan Brie CheeseTopper


What: AP Gourmet Blueberry Pecan Brie Topper

Where: Canada

Why: Because traditional appetizers can get boring. Also consider maple walnut or cranberry almond variations.




Knorr Secrets De Grand-Mère Potiron Pumpkin, Carrot and Rosemary Soup

What: Knorr Secrets De Grand-Mère Potiron Pumpkin, Carrot and Rosemary Soup 

Where: France

Why: Because your crock pot has felt neglected all summer.




Vegetarian Goats' Cheese & Butternut Squash LasagneWhat: Asda Chosen by You Vegetarian Goats’ Cheese & Butternut Squash Lasagne 

Where: UK

Why: Because butternut squash was made for more than just soup.



 Casino Délices Cranberry, Pecan & Pistachio Bars made in France

What: Casino Délices Cranberry, Pecan & Pistachio Bars 

Where: France

Why: Because this will spice up your fall dessert tray while adding a healthier option.




Sampford Courtenay Elderflower Cider made in the UK



What: Sampford Courtenay Sparkling Elderflower Cider 

Where: UK

Why: Because edible flowers are making a huge comeback in food and beverage and because cider is to fall what iced tea is to summer.




Fireball Cinnamon Whisky made in Finland



What: Fireball Cinnamon Whisky 

Where: Finland

Why: Because a cinnamon-infused nightcap will bring sweeter dreams.



Hopefully these picks get your fall flavor wheels turning. We’d love to hear about your favorite autumnal treats or any new products that have caught your eye, so don’t be shy, comment away!

Savory Cocktails – Trend or Fad?

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Blogs are exploding with reports of meaty cocktails on the menu. I’m not going to lie – my first reaction is “ewwww.” I want bacon with my morning OJ, not in it.

But then I let it simmer a little (sorry, it was one of the only puns not taken), and thought about the savory drinkables that have been around for a while. There is, of course, the Bloody Mary, with its sweet, spicy and savory components. Then there is the age-old Chelada cocktail that uses Clamato juice – a product that has always made me run away (but then again, I don’t exactly like clams). And recently, modern bartenders (a.k.a. bar chefs or mixologists) have reverted to hand-crafted cocktails from real fruit, herbs and spices, rather than relying on mixes (admittedly moreso in higher-end establishments and independents).

Considering these elements makes the savory cocktail seem like a no-brainer – so why the buzz? Oh, maybe it’s the term “fat-washing” that has us talking. Mixologists are adding fat (as in, bacon fat) to whiskey, popping it in the freezer, then cutting out the solidified fat. Bacon flavor infused – greasy fat in the trash.

And ok, I’ll admit it. With the extreme love for bacon I see on a daily basis, and the versatility we’ve been opened up to in the past few years, maybe this could work. After all, bacon is amazing in chocolate, so why not in my chocolate martini?

But how about salmon-flavored vodka? Now you’re cringing, right? Yes sir, one distiller has added a salmon flavor to their line-up. I’m all for shaking things up, but…

So, the question remains – is this a growing trend, or just a fad? Well, the thing about a fad is that most of the time, it has some basis in a functional long-term trend. Take leg warmers for instance – a fashion fad, but not for those in the dancing world. And in food, fads may fizzle, but they tend to stick around in one way or another. In other words, while the liquor store of the future may not stock the makings for a Philly cheesesteak cocktail, what we are seeing is a slow move away from overly sweet, candy-coated cocktails. We’re scaling back the sweet for a more balanced drink, be it savory, fruity or otherwise.

There are elements in the meaty drink craze that are shaping the future of drink. And focusing on those nuances, the driving forces, will help us determine future flavors for this category. Just please, don’t let it be salmon…

2009 Summer Fancy Foods Show Review – Part 3

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Another product that caught my fancy at this year’s show is healthDropzTM. Called a “Beverage Booster,” the company claims that by adding six drops to any beverage, you get the benefit of the supplement, free of flavor or calories. Available in energy, focus, and green tea, I decided that I was in grave need of a kick and tried the energy in water. There really was no flavor. I was truly surprised – it just tasted like plain water!

But since I am here to talk flavors, I was very pleased to find a line of flavored dulce de leche from the Argentian company el Semillero. Also a producer of chimichurri (yum), the dulces were available in mint, orange, and, I believe, cinnamon and coconut, aside from original, of course. I sampled the orange which was delicious. What a fabulous idea!

While walking the aisles of the show, I found inspiration for a friend’s baby shower at the Sutter Home booth. Alcohol Removed Fre® Wine tastes just like the real thing, and is available in all the classic varieties – Merlot, White Zin and Chardonnay, just to name a few. The Fre website also boasts “cocktails” using the wines. And at the booth, a few “Preggatini” recipes were available too – “cocktails for the mom-to-be.”

Other highlights from this year’s Fancy Foods Show included Jelly Belly’s new Superfruit mix, featuring acai, Barbados cherry, blueberry, pomegranate and cranberry flavors – a delicious mix, especially if you’re a red fruit fan like myself. Another fave, Brownie Pops take brownies, dip them in chocolate, and put ‘em on a stick – HELLO!

At the Winter Fancy Foods Show in California, hibiscus seemed to be all the rage, but in NYC it was all about the blood orange. In fact, quite a few blood orange flavored items (confit, juice, marmalade) took home Sofi Awards.

With over 2,300 exhibitors on the show floor, I had a tall order for this one-day jaunt. But once the feet start aching, and too much sampling leads to a thousand-yard stare, it’s easy to miss a great product. That’s why it’s always helpful to check out other show reviews – because we all see something different!

A few of my favorites this year are Bobby Flay’s review from the CBS Early Show (check out the video), New York Daily News (check out the mini-melon), Sara Moulton on ABC’s Good Morning America, and Slashfood’s day-by-day highlights.

Plus, you can revisit our reviews from the January Fancy Foods Show in San Francisco!

Bartender, can I have a brew?

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

From the evolution of molecular mixology to the rebirth of cocktail classics, bartenders are literally setting the bar a bit higher. Bartending has evolved into a culinary profession. At upscale establishments, bartenders are referred to as “mixologists,” creating bitters and tonics from scratch, and experimenting with infusions and tinctures (alcoholic extracts made from herbs).

Modern mixologists, or bar chefs as some are referred to, will source ingredients for their drink menus as they do the rest of the menu – focusing on seasonal and fresh ingredients, visiting farmer’s markets, locating exotic ingredients, handcrafting the above mentioned bitters, tinctures and infusions, squeezing fresh fruit juices on a daily basis, and stocking precious and obscure liquors.

Seeking to educate their patrons, and rid their glasses of the overly sweet appletinis and lemon drops, modern mixologists work with a combination of esoteric ingredients, science and creativity.

Modern Mixology Concoctions

But with a downturned economy, and an increase in at-home entertaining, how is the average consumer expected to keep up? Syrups and drink mixes are always helpful, but can sometimes lack the panache or versatility of a bartender’s arsenal. There are, of course, exceptions, and one of the most innovative products we’ve spotted recently is Tea Forté Cocktail Infusions.

With added visual appeal – it looks like a pyramid tea bag with a leaf for a string – Tea Forté literally brews a cocktail. And the flavors? Well, they’ve got us really excited. Lavender Citrus blends white tea with lavender, bergamot, grapefruit and violet. Lemongrass Mint combines lemon myrtle and spearmint. And Silkroad Chai merges black tea with cardamom, ginger and cinnamon.

And as for versatility, a great example is the Lemongrass Citrus, which is said to work well with Gin & Tonics and Mojitos, aside from custom recipes.

Of course, Tea Forté doesn’t just do cocktails – they’ve got a whole line of tea and iced tea bags, but this cocktail line truly shines. And now, I’m feeling inspired…and thirsty…

Believe it or not, I’m drinkin’ on air…

Monday, May 4th, 2009

If you’ve ever heard someone use the expression, “I could get drunk on the fumes,” they may be on to something. UK “food experimenters” Sam Bompas and Harry Parr have launched Alcoholic Architecture, a bar where patrons actually breathe in their cocktails, rather than drink them.

The interior of the bar is designed to look like a gin & tonic, and the drink is actually misted into the air. Patrons don plastic suits, to protect their clothes, and inhale the intoxicating air. And apparently, the mixture can even get you drunk…

Running Moonshine…

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Moonshine Whisky Still
Creative Commons License photo credit: CJ Sorg

I’ve only had the “pleasure” of drinking moonshine a few times in my life, but they’ve certainly been interesting. The first was at a farm where old peaches took on new life, and it knocked me out cold. The most recent, was at a wedding in Greece where a guest from Crete introduced us to a very mellow, but potent, grape-made version.

While the almost wine-like Crete spirit convinced me that not all moonshine tastes like lighter fluid, I still equate it more with the Duke boys than upscale bars and lounges. So, you can imagine my surprise when I recently read that distilleries are bottling the stuff and charging premium prices.

[That's not to say that homemade moonshine is not still strong in this country, and elsewhere, by the way. Just type in "moonshine" on the Google News tab and you'll find plenty of articles on arrests for possession and home distilling.]

Now that moonshine is going legit – with brands line Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine, the exclusive spirit of the 2009 GRAMMY gift bags – we’ll keep our eyes peeled to see if this is the latest in an interesting line of recent bar trends…

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