Skip to main content

The Daily Beast: "Art in the Age: Ex-Ad Man Steven Grasse’s Wonderfully Weird Spirits"

It's a little bit off the beaten path for this site, but as much as I'm passionate about television, I'm equally obsessed with food and cocktails, particularly the spirits made by Art in the Age, an organic, artisan spirits company based out of Philadelphia that produces “historically based artisanal crafted spirits, each one completely different.”

At The Daily Beast, you can read my latest feature, "Art in the Age: Ex-Ad Man Steven Grasse’s Wonderfully Weird Spirits," in which I talk to Hendrick’s Gin creator and former ad man Steven Grasse—once called “the Don Draper of outrageousness”—about his eclectic spirits venture, Art in the Age.

The shelves of local liquor stores are piled high with concoctions such as bubble gum vodkas and root beer schnapps, sickly sweet libations that are not only synthetically flavored but also reminiscent of a candy store.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Art in the Age, a Philadelphia-based spirits company that has carved out a name for itself as makers of what founder Steven Grasse—an ex-ad man once deemed “the Don Draper of outrageousness”—calls “historically based artisanal crafted spirits, each one completely different.”

In just a matter of a few years, Art in the Age has dominated that nascent spirits category with its sophisticated and original products, such as ROOT, SNAP, and Rhubarb Tea (formerly known as RHUBY). Each of the spirits has its origins in the Colonial and Federalist-era past, recapturing a piece of American history in a bottle. ROOT is based on “root tea,” a folk recipe from the 1700s and precursor to root beer; SNAP recalls a Pennsylvania Dutch Lebkuchen (ginger snap); Rhubarb Tea is based on an alcoholic rhubarb tea recipe favored by Benjamin Franklin. The company’s latest offering, SAGE, is now on shelves.

In keeping with the company’s ethos, SAGE is a “garden gin” redolent of sage, rosemary, lavender, and fennel, and is inspired by avid horticulturist Thomas Jefferson and Bernard McMahon, Jefferson’s botanical advisor. McMahon, the author of the 1813 book Flora Americae Septentrionalis, was tasked by Jefferson with chronicling the 130 different plants discovered by Lewis and Clark on their fabled exposition. With SAGE, Art in the Age has concocted a spirit that uses the botanicals that link Jefferson, McMahon, and Lewis and Clark. Like all of their products, it transports the drinker to a pre-industrial time in our history, recalling “an earlier, more verdant world, when nature was more abundant and adventures more frequent.”

The 47-year-old Grasse, Art in the Age’s founder, is passionate about reconnecting to pre-industrial times. (The company’s name is derived from Walter Benjamin’s landmark 1936 essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”) “It’s a personal interest of mine,” said Grasse, speaking to The Daily Beast. “I’m obsessed with before the world turned to shit, pre-industrial era—which started in 1840—and the stories of America before industrialization happened.”

“When we set out to start Art in the Age, we challenged ourselves,” he said. “I wanted to create the weirdest thing I could think of and put it in the simplest bottle possible and see if I could make that work. But I also wanted to create something that was really interesting and different and mix in my personal interest in history.”

Continue reading at The Daily Beast...

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What's Done is Done: The Eternal Struggle Between Good and Evil on the Season Finale of "Lost"

Every story begins with thread. It's up to the storyteller to determine just how much they need to parcel out, what pattern they're making, and when to cut it short and tie it off. With last night's penultimate season finale of Lost ("The Incident, Parts One and Two"), written by Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, we began to see the pattern that Lindelof and Cuse have been designing towards the last five seasons of this serpentine series. And it was only fitting that the two-hour finale, which pushes us on the road to the final season of Lost , should begin with thread, a loom, and a tapestry. Would Jack follow through on his plan to detonate the island and therefore reset their lives aboard Oceanic Flight 815 ? Why did Locke want to kill Jacob? What caused The Incident? What was in the box and just what lies in the shadow of the statue? We got the answers to these in a two-hour season finale that didn't quite pack the same emotional wallop of previous seas

Have a Burning Question for Team Darlton, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, or Michael Emerson?

Lost fans: you don't have to make your way to the island via Ajira Airways in order to ask a question of the creative team or the series' stars. Televisionary is taking questions from fans to put to Lost 's executive producers/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and stars Matthew Fox ("Jack Shephard"), Evangeline Lilly ("Kate Austen"), and Michael Emerson ("Benjamin Linus") for a series of on-camera interviews taking place this weekend. If you have a specific question for any of the above producers or actors from Lost , please leave it in the comments section below . I'll be accepting questions until midnight PT tonight and, while I can't promise I'll be able to ask any specific inquiry due to the brevity of these on-camera interviews, I am looking for some insightful and thought-provoking questions to add to the mix. So who knows: your burning question might get asked after all.

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .