It is a new year, why not add a little kick to your cocktail with a spirit that includes all the spiciness you need right in the bottle. Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction Craft Spirits (say that 5 times fast) is quite an interesting and innovative little brand that has created a line of spirits dedicated to bringing back flavors you loved as a child (root beer, gingersnaps, strawberry pie) through liqueurs with natural spice filled flavors. Whether sipped on their own over ice with a simple squeeze of citrus or blended into cocktails each sugar cane based, 80 proof liqueur brings a unique edge to any cocktail gathering or celebratory occasion. The brand, a part of the William Grant and Sons portfolio, has created four different spirits so far, SNAP, ROOT, RHUBARB and the most recent addition, SAGE, each made with a variety of different herbs and spices, capturing the essence of their name and each USDA certified organic.
I recently had a chance to try each of the Art in the Age spirits on their own and mixed into fresh and seasonal drinks. Here are some favorites and a little more about each spirit, keeping the basic idea in mind that you would use ROOT where you would use Rum; use SNAP where you would use Whiskey; and use RHUBARB Tea and SAGE where you would use Gin or Vodka. Samples of each spirit were given for editorial consideration.
The newest addition to the Art in the Age portfolio is SAGE, similar to any traditional gin except made without juniper berries. I was easily intrigued when I first heard about SAGE since the complaint I often hear from non-gin drinkers is that they don’t like the juniper flavor in gin. The Art in the Age team must have heard the same thing as this spirit is labeled a “garden gin” inspired by the herbs and botanicals grown by Thomas Jefferson at his Monticello home. Taking from this inspiration SAGE has very herbaceous and woodsy notes from the combination of ingredients including thyme, rosemary, lavender, dandelion, fennel, sage and sumac (the last giving it a slightly medicinal quality) but when mixed with sweet or savory ingredients the resulting flavor is fresh, invigorating and delicious.
2 parts SAGE
3 parts grapefruit juice (I like ruby red)
Directions: Combine ingredients together over ice in a rocks glass.
2 parts SAGE
1 part simple syrup
10 mint leaves
Directions: Muddle together mint leaves and simple syrup in a rocks glass. Fill glass with ice. Add SAGE. Stir to combine.
1.5 oz SAGE
4 oz Tonic Water or Club Soda
Directions – Pour in glass over ice, fill with tonic water, stir and enjoy.
Garnish with a lime or slice of apple if desired.
I am not a huge tonic water fan so keeping this clean and simple by just using club soda really let the herbal flavors of the SAGE shine. I added both the lime and a slice of very juicy honey sweet apple.
Though I haven’t tried it yet, I hear the SAGE adds a good herbal kick to your favorite Bloody Mary, just use it instead of vodka for a Bloody SAGE.
Also introduced not long ago was their RHUBARB Tea, a zingy twist on a Rhubarb and Strawberry tea that Benjamin Franklin supposedly brewed from his garden herbs, spices and vegetables mixed with fresh rhubarb. Sweet and tangy, fresh and vibrant this 80 proof spirit is summer in a bottle, created from fresh rhubarb with beet juice, carrot juice, lemon, pink peppercorn, cardamom, coriander and more, RHUBARB Tea excellent simply mixed with ginger ale or club soda with a lime, or mixed with cranberry or pomegranate juice with fresh mint or basil.
2 parts RHUBARB Tea
2 parts lychee juice
2 parts pomegranate juice
Fresh lime wedges for garnish
Directions: Add all ingredients to an ice filled rocks glass and stir to combine. Garnish with lime.
The Red Hound
2 parts RHUBARB Tea
4 parts red grapefruit juice
Dash of vanilla extract
Directions: Chill all ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker and then strain into a glass. Garnish with a floating slice of grapefruit.
The two original products from Art in the Age were ROOT and SNAP, both filled with sweet, baking spice flavors that remind you of rootbeer floats and ginger snap cookies. The origin of ROOT is from the Native Americans that brewed a Root Tea in the 1700’s that transitioned into non-alcoholic root beer in the prohibition days. This one pays homage to the original roots, with 40% alcohol and made with ingredients similar to those the Native Americans used, Birch Bark, Sassafras, Black Tea, Citrus and a mix of sweet baking spices like Cinnamon, all Spice, Nutmeg and Cloves. Though the flavor is sweet, it is not cloying, with the heat of the spice and earthiness of the ingredients marrying with the cane sugar for a modern day take on traditional flavors the first settlers in the country tasted 200+ years ago.
1.5 ounces ROOT
3 ounces apple cider
Directions: Pour in glass over ice, fill with cider, stir and enjoy.
1 part ROOT
1 part Rye Whiskey
1/3 part fresh lemon juice
1/2 part fresh ginger syrup
2 muddled blackberries
Directions: Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake until combined. Serve in a tall glass over ice and top with seltzer. Garnish with fresh mint.
2 parts ROOT
2 parts vanilla liqueur
Directions: Rim a martini glass with sugar. Add ROOT and vanilla liqueur to a shaker with ice and shake until very cold. Serve straight up in glass.
Similarly SNAP incorporates baking spice flavors into cane sugar to create a sweet, yet spicy liqueur based on a traditional German style ginger cookie known as a Lebkuchen. Created from the idea that if you took all the ingredients for the Lebkuchen cookie and distilled them into a spirit instead of folding them into flour you could create a refined spirit filled with character and personality. Made from Blackstrap Molasses, Clove, Nutmeg, Ginger, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Vanilla and, interestingly, Rooibos Tea, the red tea made from dried rooibos bush leaves in South Africa known for its healing powers and filled with antioxidants.
2 parts SNAP
3/4 part fresh lemon juice
Fresh apple cider to taste
Apple slices and cinnamon sticks for garnish
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a highball glass over ice and garnish with apple slices and cinnamon sticks, or increase the amount of each and pour into a large pitcher to serve a crowd.
2 parts SNAP
2 parts Summer Ale or other light ale
2 parts fresh squeezed lemonade
Lemon wedge for garnish
Directions: Combine ingredients in a highball glass over ice. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
You can take their objective and products as one of playful and smart marketing or as true belief, as the idea behind the work Art in the Age is doing remains in empowering artists to stand out on their own and do something unlike those around them, creating something special, unique and individual in the ever growing and competitive spirits world. As their philosophy states “In this troubling epoch of industrial commodification, standardization of reproduction, and fomentation of a society of shallow spectacle, Art In The Age issues a challenge and rally cry. We fight fire with fire, subsuming the onslaught of watered down facsimiles and inaccessible displays with thought-provoking products of real cultural capital.” I take it as delicious, individualist spirits.