Eating & Drinking

Discover DC’s Newest Cocktail: Now Madre Mezcal offers a Gateway to a Better Taste

Philly Cocktails! Now Madre Mezcal offers a Gateway to a Better Taste

Today’s conversation is with Ryan Fleming from Madre Mezcal.  The LA nightlife veteran reveals his time working behind the bar in some of Southern California’s hottest spots, as well as the inspiration that got him to travel to Mexico, discovering Mezcal. 

The aroma, flavors, science and food pairings for Mezcal.

Love Tequila?  Discover the Gateway to better taste with Madre Mezcal's Ryan Fleming

Love Tequila?  Discover the Gateway to better taste with Madre Mezcal’s Ryan Fleming

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  For the full, unedited conversation, visit our YouTube Channel.

 

“…I’ve been a big Mezcal lover before I ever sold it…”

Joe Winger:  Can you share the behind the scenes or how the brand itself was created? 

Ryan Fleming: I’ve been a big Mezcal lover before I ever even sold it or made a dollar doing that. So I got to actually meet Ron Cooper, who is the legend that started the Del Maguey label back in 2011.

I got to drink rabbit Pachuca with him and all these other amazing things. The reason I bring him up is he’s a kind of one of the people that we look up to, how to sustainably bring a brand and how to create culture that crosses boundaries in a sense. 

He has a beautiful book that I recommend anyone to read if you haven’t read Ron Cooper’s book.

But we share a similar story. One of our founding partners, Tony Farfalla and one of my good friends, Stefan Tony’s an artist and he was literally traveling through Oaxaca doing documentaries and embracing the art and culture. He happened to meet Jose Morales, which is the first family we ever worked with.

If you have original bottles of Madre [Mezcal] before the labels have changed, it used to say Jose’s name on the bottle. 

So Tony was bringing bottles back to Brooklyn in plastic water bottles and it snowballed. His friends in Brooklyn were like, this stuff’s great. Started out in plastic water bottles in 2014. I think it was 2016 when our first glass bottles actually came by and we became like of a more legit brand and company.  But it started with Tony and Stefan; and they brought on our CEO and COO, Chris and Davide.

Chris actually is one of the founding driving forces in the electronic scene in the 90s in Europe. Chris comes from a very artistic, music based background. Then he went on to work for some bigger alcohol brands in the vodka world. 

madre mezcal

Davide, who is our COO, my direct boss, who I love, is Italian and his whole family built furniture and he got his big break by importing and bringing furniture over [to the United States]. He also works with a beautiful high end apparel line. 

“…everyone has a very unique artistic background, which really reflects the brand and the label…”

So everyone has a very unique artistic background, which really reflects the brand and the label. Just not wanting to make a quick buck and actually make something we can stand behind and believe in.

As the families now blossom into four, we use three: the Vasquez family, the Blas family and the Morales family are our three main producers for our red and black label, which most people are familiar with. 

We just brought in Moises and he’s actually from Santa Catarina Minas.  That’s a little town where all they really make is their production. It’s a town known for nothing but clay pot distillation. So if you actually use a copper pot in, in Manera and Santa Caterina Minas, you’re looked at as what are you doing? That’s not what we do here. 

He’s our last and newest producer and he may be the most cowboy of them all, and he’s my favorite.

When you get to Tlaxcala, you have to walk over like a little rope bridge over like a river and stuff into the hills of Minas to see his production, and he’s got his grandfather’s old still, and he’s got his mom’s little kitchen that he wants to reopen, and it’s like a restaurant. But if you and I were to look at it, it just looks like a backyard set of tables and chairs with a cooking center.

No, this is a restaurant for the village. It’s really beautiful down in Minas. I recommend everyone, if you get a chance to go down there, it felt like the jungles in Costa Rica, cause it’s up near the hills and it’s just so green and lush up there.

 

“…I’ve been working in the alcohol industry for almost 15 years …”

Joe Winger:  What got you down there? Was it for a vacation or for Mezcal?

Ryan Fleming: 

So I’ve been working in the alcohol industry for almost 15 years and I worked for the Houston Hospitality Group for over a decade, helping run programs and menus. I worked for a couple other restaurants, but I used to work for Stillhouse Whiskey, which many people remember the terrible flavored moonshine in a gas can.

Yeah I actually sold that. I did pretty well, there was always one flavor that someone loved. I had the mint chocolate chip and I would keep it in the freezer to take care of my sweet tooth when I didn’t have ice cream. So that’s how it started.

My buddy, Stefan, who’s one of the founding partners goes, “Hey, we got this Mezcal company.”  I was just basically consulting for free lunches. 

One day he goes, do you want to go to Oaxaca? And I went, absolutely. 

I familiar with going down to Mexico city, but I’d never been as far South as Oaxaca. So I jumped at the chance.

[Meanwhile] we all got an email from Stillhouse saying “Hey, I know things are being shaken up right now, but trust me, everything’s fine. Don’t worry about it.” 

That weekend, apparently the whole team got laid off, but I didn’t get the email untll I came home Monday. They’re saying, “Ryan, are you going to be okay? Do you need help finding work?”

So I went down to Oaxaca, met the families, broke bread with Jose Morales, got to meet his mother who blessed the roast and cooked us dinner.  They offered me a job.

That was started my journey about six years ago with Madre [Mezcal ]and I’ve been with him since.

Fleming motions to tattoos on his arms and hands.

Discovering Madre Mezcal

I have it tattooed on my hand right here. I have it tattooed on my palm right here. And I think I have another one on the inside of my leg too. We do tasting events and we’ll have pop up tattoo artists all the time.

 

Tequila vs Madre Mezcal

Joe Winger: 

You mentioned the tastings and the education.  Are there quick lessons that you teach the most often?

Ryan Fleming: 

Basic production, culture, financial, environmental and economic sustainability. 

I don’t think people understand that Oaxaca is the second poorest state in Mexico.  Everyone thinks the Mezcal boom must be bringing so many jobs, but it really only affects about 20 – 40,000 people that live in Oaxaca for the production, 

Mezcal is great because it does bring some financial sustainability to the families. Jose started off driving a taxi to pay his bills and now he’s making Mezcal in his family’s tradition.  His whole family, his cousin, his uncles, they all make Mezcal for a living now.

There’s so much culture behind it. Even the old argument of did the Spanish bring over copper stills and that started distillation or does it go back to the Aztecs and Mayans? Because they found distillate and pottery from 3000 years ago. It’s those little nuances.

People really like to talk about the environmental, but giving back to the people down there by not just buying product, but giving them some ownership, which Madre does do, so that everyone has a little bit of skin in the game.

So I think Sustainability, whether it’s environmental, economical, cultural, and production. Those are the things I really like to talk about.

Joe Winger:  What is the basic difference between mezcal and tequila? Or is it more complicated?

Ryan Fleming: 

You could say production techniques, additives, mass production are probably the three biggest differences. 

Tequila can only be made with one agave. It’s a blue weber.  Mezcal can be made with the other 47-ish varietals, and that number is always fluctuating, based on classification and family genius.

Production is the big one. Tequila is made in massive factories and made with either chemicals or steam for the most part. 

Whereas mezcal is actually made by hand, roasted in an earthen oven. The biggest thing that separates Tequila and Mezcal is the 1% additive rule.

Tequila can have up to 1% by volume additives, and they don’t have to tell you. That’s why certain large brands will say 100% Agave, but it’s full of additives, because it doesn’t take much  with modern chemistry. Just a couple drops of glycerin or vanilla extract to change the flavor and hide  all the nuances.

Mezcal can’t have any additives by law. 

Joe Winger: Can we walk through the roles and responsibilities between the families that produce Madre Mezcal?

Ryan Fleming: 

Yeah, the four families. Let’s start with Jose Morales. Him and his brother both make mezcal. Now they produce for us in the US exclusively. We encourage all of our families to continue making mezcal to trade. They use it for a local economy.

Every time I go down there, [their operation is growing].  When they started, they had three stills. Now there’s 12 up and running and they have solar power.  It’s just so crazy to see how much the transformation has happened. 

The original recipe, the blend of cuishe and espadine at 90 proof, that’s his family’s recipe. So we expanded that and we brought on Carlos Blas and the Vasquez family. Unfortunately, Natalio the father passed away a couple of years ago.

His daughters are now producing in the family’s tradition and we take whatever we can from them. 

But what we do, that’s a little bit different is, we started out when it was just Jose, he was making the blend himself. Now we have them make the espadine and the cuishe separately.

All three families are part of the process. Sometimes we just get cuiche from Jose. Sometimes Carlos makes all the espadine, but Carlos is like a master blender. 

We blend a cold style like Scotch does. Even though it’s not the most traditional way, all the distillation and process is as true as it can be.

But by blending post distillation allows us to keep consistency, which was a huge problem because every batch with your wild fermentation, your wild yeast and all these beautiful nuances, it’ll be inconsistent as you grow as a brand.  It was hard for us to keep consistency.

But by blending multiple terroirs and three different families’ production, we can keep a consistent product that tastes the same as well as expanding and bringing on more families to help instead of just going to a large factory house and not making what I would call “traditional Mezcal.”

Joe Winger: So focusing on your background, you mentioned that you’ve been a bartender in the LA nightlife.  Any memorable adventures or lessons you can share?

Ryan Fleming:

There are some stories I could tell that I probably don’t want to share publicly. But there are some amazing stories I can tell.

One of the oddest experiences I’ve ever had, I worked at Good Times at Davey Wayne’s, which is one of the most famous bars in the Hollywood nightlife in the past decade. 

Paul McCartney showed up at our door. 

But because our staff is younger and our door guys are a little bit younger, they thought it was an old weird British man that just showed up and they turned Paul McCartney away from the door.

‘Holy crap, is that Paul McCartney’?

He was like, do you know who I am? The guys [were like] ”We don’t care.” Like straight up, blowing Paul McCartney off. One of our managers came out and was like, ‘Holy crap, is that Paul McCartney’? And they’re like, wait, the guy from the Beatles?! 

My manager ran out, “Please come back,” and Paul had a great time at the bar. We got him a special little area to sit down. It was a packed Saturday.  It’s not a nightclub where we have gated off [areas]. Even if you reserve a table, people are inches away from you where you’re sitting at your table. 

Justin Bieber showed up one time and everyone went nuts.  He comes in, walks around, does a loop, comes out and goes, “I thought this was a hip hop club.” and just left.

It was a 1970s themed bar and we played nothing but 70s music. 

The dichotomy between the two different generations and to see them all melt into one location was one of the coolest things about working at that bar. 

 

Joe Winger:It’s so crowded because it’s so popular.  The Houston Brothers always do such a good job.

Ryan Fleming: 

Yeah.  The cocktails are still really good too. For as much volume as we used to do there, the biggest thing is how can I make a really beautiful cocktail that’s still cost effective and doesn’t take 12 steps. We got really good at batching stuff and figuring out how to infuse things.  Luckily our back of house was just the most amazing.  Mariano is the best barback I’ve ever had in my whole life. He’s still there. 

He is just a workhorse that got all the infusions. He would cook, he would infuse all of our products and he was just great. Even if we just did a jalapeno infusion on our tequila, if it got too spicy, he could break down the ratio and water it down with more products so that we could keep the spice level approachable.

Joe Winger:

What is the secret to high quantity yet high value cocktails? 

Ryan Fleming:

Batching is definitely the way to do it. Any of your alcohols that are shelf stable, you want to put all of those in the proper ratios in a bottle.

Instead of grabbing a modifier and your base spirit and another modifier, you’re grabbing one bottle with a special tape at the bottom, so you know which cocktail it goes to and then all your fresh stuff. 

You can’t batch the fresh stuff. It has to be separated because you put citrus in something and it goes bad in three days.  Now the whole batch is bad. So keeping your fresh stuff separated.

Joe Winger: Back to Madre Mezcal.  Obviously the bottles themselves are where all the power is.  So let’s talk about labels and taste profiles.

Ryan Fleming:

People love our labels. Our branding is top notch. It’s one of the first compliments we always get. “Oh my God, I love your branding.” 

Madre Mezcal Artesanal

Madre Mezcal Artesanal

Looked at Oaxacan culture and some other like medieval culture and combined the art from the two.

As far as the red label it’s the woman on the bull. It’s a really beautiful message of Mother Earth coming down and starting to share humanity and move across the world to plants and spread love.  That’s why she’s on the bull.  It’s the combination of animal, Mother Earth, and humans. 

Madre Mezcal Espandin

Madre Mezcal Espandin

The black label is a beautiful logo of a woman on the ground.  She’s planting and spreading the seed of life that gives us agave and flowers and fruit and vegetables and everything else.

Madre Mezcal Ancestral

Madre Mezcal Ancestral

The ancestral is this beautiful clay bottle with old clay vessels from Greece that carried wine with the fluid coming out and it’s supposed to celebrate the ancestral way of making mezcal and clay pots and clay distillation.

I always love telling the story of people who say mezcal is not supposed to be aged, which is a true-ish statement in my opinion. But back in the day, everything got transferred in barrels. So Mezcal would accidentally get aged in barrels because it would travel from town to town on horseback after the product was made.

So the idea that Mezcal was never aged is it wasn’t aged on purpose. 

Mezcal was accidentally aged in wood. The traditional way that people would age Mezcal is in glass and they would hide it underground. 

I always tell people, if you have a beautiful bottle of Mezcal, you should open it and take it out and put a wine cork in it, or at least crack the bottle and get some air because it really lets alcohol open up and aerate.

Mezcal benefits from a resting period. Pouring it in a nice open glass, like a snifter or a wine glass, letting it sit for about 5-10 minutes will really open it up.

Madre Mezcal tasting notes 

Madre is designed to be less smoky. I really hate the term smoky. I like the word roasted because what you’re tasting is like barbeque.

You’re tasting the roasting of the agave and the charcoaling and the burning of the outside agave which will affect the sugars, the caramelization.

Madre really was designed to be a more approachable mezcal. We call ourselves ”The gateway to the category.” 

We want to bring people from tequila over to Mezcal so you can explore what agave spirits also have to offer. 

It’s bright, clean, and smooth. I always compare it to a really nice, made tequila.

Our Espadine is actually a close cousin of [tequila’s] Blue Weber. It tastes really bright, clean and smooth.  But you’re going to get some of that minerality and smoke in the end. 

Like easy drinking with some earthy aromas. 

Joe Winger:  That night when I met you, what you handed me was my first taste of the night. I love that it was so pure and smooth.  It didn’t clog up my mouth for the rest of the night.

Ryan Fleming: 

I’m like you. I want to have 2-3 cocktails a night. Not just one and my palette’s done. 

Our Espadine to me is a 2-3 second palette.  It clears up and you get like a breath and it’s fading.  Our Ensemble goes on for 10- 12 seconds.  From sweet vanilla to chocolate to mineral and then to smoke.  Then the smoke fades and you get just a really beautiful, crisp.  It’s viscous. You can feel the oil in your mouth when you swirl it around and it makes the best Negroni.

Joe Winger:  Let’s talk about food pairings.

Ryan Fleming: 

I want to know if this caught you off guard, but it’s Italian food.

Very rich foods. These beautiful Mezcals are light and almost floral and fragrant, It cuts through the richness and creaminess of food.

That’s why mezcal and chocolate are consistently paired together, but that was just way too easy. There’s always mezcal chocolate pairings, but like a really nice Italian dish, something creamy and rich, like an Alfredo or a really well done piece of pizza, like a margarita or a white sauce pizza.

“…I want to know if this caught you off guard, but…”

We are working on doing some [pizza] pairings with some places in LA.   Do a different slice of pizza with three different cocktails of Madre and then have a tasting at the end.

Chocolate has a big part of Oaxaca too. You can’t not have some chocolate and mezcal at the end of the night. 

Espresso martinis are so hot again right now. Try making one with mezcal instead of vodka and just [see] how coffee helps open up the agave and the notes, and you’re going to get so much more going on in your cocktail.

If you pair a nice espresso martini with  beautiful, dark chocolate from Oaxaca.  That is your final cocktail at the end of the night, it won’t let you down.

Joe Winger:  You mentioned replacing Mezcal with vodka in a martini, are there any traditional or more common cocktails we should also try replacing Mezcal in?

Ryan Fleming: 

When I tell you this, it may blow your mind. Most gin cocktails are a little bit better with Mezcal.

There are certain times you need botanicals, but a lot of really good classic gin cocktails, if you sub them for Mezcal, are absolutely fantastic. 

Joe Winger:  I’m shocked because most gins have such unique aromatics.

Ryan Fleming: 

Which Mezcal has so many of those same unique terpenes going on that it changes the cocktail, but it works.

So instead of having botanicals, you have all these beautiful vegetal and mineral notes that just come from agaves. 

Joe Winger:  What are the biggest misconceptions in the world of Mezcal?

Ryan Fleming: 

A lot of people have a misconception, especially on the trade side, that we have grown exponentially. It’s been a lot of hard work. People think we have this massive team behind us.  There’s less than 20 of us on the whole team. That includes our team down in Oaxaca, who  watches over manufacturing and production for us down there. 

We don’t have an office.  We have a little tiny apartment in Venice for meetings.

A lot of people don’t understand the hard work that goes into creating a small brand. It’s just a lot of people working hard to create beautiful Mezcal, especially the families. 

People [unfairly comparing it to] tequila.  What do you mean, we can’t get more? Why is it so expensive? We have people going out hand collecting wild agaves and harvesting espadine.  All of that is hand cut, hand chopped.   I’ve hand cut agaves with the families.

None of this is industrialized or mechanized like tequila. 

Appreciate every drop of mezcal you have, because someone put a lot of love and labor into it.

Joe Winger:  Ryan, as we wrap up, let’s talk about where can learn more about Madre Mezcal? 

Ryan Fleming: 

We have a beautiful Instagram.  Madremezcal.com is our website. 

We also have this Instagram called mezcal. Learning and it’s a little short videos and little blurbs to talk about production, families, history, and culture. It is focused on Madre, but it’s not just Madre, it’s Mezcal as a whole.

If you want to know more about our families who produce, where it’s made, you can find all that information on madremezgal. com. 

Our bottles are in most of your nicer bottle shops, liquor stores. In California, we’re lucky enough to be in Trader Joe’s for the Espadine and Whole Foods has our Ensemble.

If you can’t find it,  go to madremezcal.com and we ship bottles to almost every state in the U S.

We’re in nine countries, too. Australia. All over Europe, Costa Rica.  We’re working on Japan and South Korea as well. So I’m just excited to see the culture of mezcal just expand beyond just America and see how excited because I, when I talk to people that are in London or, people in Australia, and they’re so excited about the idea of being able to get mezcal.

Joe Winger: What is the future for Madre?

Ryan Fleming: I can’t tell you about the big one.

But, [exciting things for] our Ancestral, which is pretty new and every batch of that’s going to be hand numbered and labeled.

We’re going to start doing small batch productions that will be very limited. Then the desert waters, which we have ready for summer. 

To learn more about MadreMezcal, visit MadreMezcal.com. Find them on Instagram at MadreMezcal

 

DC Demands Caffeine: Nitro Black, Double Espresso, Flat White! Chameleon Organic Coffee Introduces Ready-to-Drink Cold-Brew Cans

DC Demands Caffeine: Nitro Black, Double Espresso, Flat White! Chameleon Organic Coffee Introduces Ready-to-Drink Cold-Brew Cans

Chameleon Organic Coffee®, the original purveyors of handcrafted bottled cold-brew coffee, today announced the expansion of its ready-to-drink category with the debut of four ultra-convenient 8 oz. cold-brew cans.

Handcrafted with 100% organic beans, Chameleon’s new ready-to-enjoy canned cold-brew line features four distinct flavors with sweetened and unsweetened options.

Each delivers unparalleled convenience by offering sustainably sourced coffee in a shelf-stable format, providing optionality for retailers and customers alike.

“We recognized the growing demand for variety and ease of convenience in the RTD coffee segment without compromising on quality and flavor,”

Andy Fathollahi

CEO of SYSTM Foods

“Our new canned cold-brew line provides our loyal customers with another delicious, no-prep option to enjoy their daily coffee ritual on-the-go, anytime.”

Each 8 oz. can contains approximately 130mg of naturally occurring caffeine, providing the perfect boost on the move or at home.

Flavors include:

Nitro Black: Chameleon’s first nitro cold-brew offers a smooth, creamy experience in every sip.

Double Espresso: Bold and smooth organic cold-brew made with dark roast espresso beans delivers a flavorful kick.

Sweetened Black: Black cold-brew lightly sweetened with just the right amount of organic cane sugar.

Flat White: Black cold-brew blended with whole milk creates a traditional flat white experience with a creamy, velvety finish.

The upcoming line complements Chameleon’s existing portfolio of award-winning products, including a variety of organic ready-to-drink 10 oz. cold-brews and 32 oz. multi-serve concentrate cold-brews; each handcrafted to match every mood.

Launching just in time for summer, Chameleon’s Nitro Black, Double Espresso and Sweetened Black 8 oz. canned cold-brews will be available for purchase online at ChameleonCoffee.com and Amazon, as well as at select retailers nationwide starting June 2024 with Flat White availability to follow.

For launch updates, please visit ChameleonCoffee.com.

About Chameleon Organic Coffee®
Founded in 2010, Chameleon Cold-Brew is Austin’s original purveyor of bottled cold-brew coffee. Providing a one-of-a-kind, completely customizable coffee experience, Chameleon uses certified organic, responsibly sourced coffee. Chameleon’s proprietary brewing process produces a super smooth, less acidic, highly caffeinated coffee that can be enjoyed hot or cold. The brand’s portfolio of organic coffee offerings includes ready-to-drink cold-brew varieties, cold-brew concentrates, and now whole bean and ground coffee.

For more information, please visit ChameleonCoffee.com.

DC wants the coolest cocktails — Bark and Barware Shows You How with Cocktail Smoker

DC wants the coolest cocktails — Bark and Barware Shows You How with Cocktail Smoker

Bark and Barware enters the cocktail market with their premium cocktail smoker, including 6 flavors. 

Bark and Barware’s Harel Levy

Bark and Barware’s Harel Levy

Today, Bark and Barware’s Harel Levy joins us for a conversation about cocktails, creating your long-lasting drinking crew, picking the right flavors, the perfect pairings and more!

The below conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full conversation at our YouTube channel.

 

Joe Winger: Can you tell us a little bit about your story? And what inspired you to create this cocktail smoker kit?

Harel Levy:  I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last seven years. While there are no mistakes, I actually found [the cocktail smoker] by mistake. I was planning to buy something for my Dad. I usually won’t give something if it’s not 100%. So I’d rather not give a gift that I don’t really like.  Because I really care about what the recipient is going to feel. 

“I really love the idea of cocktail smoking kits. […]  It’s another tool to have a great night.

I don’t want to give something cheap, because if you really love someone, you really want to make sure that everything is spot on, right? 

Even on yourself, you will be more forgiven in terms of what you buy than someone else.

I really love the idea of cocktail smoking kits. It’s not that it’s only cool and it’s a great addition to having those nights with friends, with family.  It’s another tool to have a great night.

I went to Amazon and I saw there is no one who actually sells it in a premium, wooden box.  And with many flavors.  I talked with [my company’s] CEO about it, what’s missing here.

Bark & Barware's Smoker Kit

Bark & Barware’s Smoker Kit

We came up with a wooden box. It came from my passion to give something that looks good.

For almost a year, we went back and forth with factories. The smoke.  The flavor.  Details with the box.

When we released it, we were very happy.  We knew my criteria.  If I can give it to my Dad, not being afraid he’s not going to like it.  Then I know that other people are also going to enjoy it because I have high standards for giving a gift to someone that I love. That’s how we came up with the product and the product.

The second thing we are planning is to bring a mixologist,  make it a more holistic experience. 

Extend the journey with our customers, give them cocktails, give them recipes, give them ideas, The journey doesn’t end when the transaction happens for us. We want to continue to build trust and serve our customers.

 

Joe Winger: You have a very comprehensive website.  Can you walk us through your Cocktail Smoker Kit? When we buy it what do we get?

Harel Levy: There are six different chip flavors, the culinary torch, the smoke lid.  Ice tongs, whiskey stones. Unfortunately, we don’t include butane [gas for the torch] because shipping is very heavily regulated, 

“In every smoker kit you get six different chip flavors, the culinary torch, the smoke lid.  Ice tongs, whiskey stones.”

We have six flavors: cherry, oak, pear, maple, hickory and apple. Our plan is to listen to our customers and come up with new flavors based on what they ask for.  It’s not a one-time product release.  We’re going to offer refills, extensions, more.

Each taste is very delicate.  The world of wine, flavor, alcohol is so wide and you can get very specific sometimes. When you do get specific, you get the best results, right? 

 

Joe Winger: Has there been one or two major lessons you’ve learned?

Harel Levy: Initially we had more flavors. After we gave out samples and heard about which flavors were the favorite, we removed some. 

Joe Winger: You mentioned flavor pairing.  What’s your favorite cocktail pairing?

Harel Levy: It’s a tough question because taste is something that is extremely subjective.

We usually put it with scotch. That’s our personal preference.  Our customers get very creative with their ideas. That’s why we initially started with those six flavors. But listening to customer feedback, it’s going to grow and change.

 

Joe Winger: Over a year of research and development, were there any unexpected surprises?

Harel Levy: A lot of people agreed with me on the wooden box.  People started asking for smoke refills.  They’re going through the smoke faster than I thought.  When we launched, I was expecting this to be used for special occasions.  But people are using it every week, all the time.  

 

Joe Winger: In the past few weeks, I’ve been in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia.  All those places have bars where they’re serving smoked drinks.  Now people want to have that experience at home.  

Harel Levy: That’s going to make you the hero of the party.  You’re the one who brings the cool stuff. I always like to do that. 

We really advise [anyone trying this] to taste all of the flavors. Not just one or two.   The spectrum of what flavors someone likes or doesn’t like is very wide.  You’re probably going to really like 1-2 [of the flavors], and less like the others.

Those 1-2 that you really like, we’re going to offer you refills.

When I host friends [at my house], I drink scotch and it goes well with cherry.

But it’s like a game.  You try a lot of things. You find out something that you’re really going to love.

“That’s going to make you the hero of the party.  You’re the one who brings the cool stuff.”

Joe Winger: This first kit is a starter kit or a sampler kit. I get those six flavors and I get to decide, “Oh my gosh, I really like this one. Now I need a refill.”

Harel Levy:  Exactly. It’s exciting me on a personal level because I’m curious […]. What’s going to make people upgrade a scotch that costs hundreds of dollars?

I can play with the flavor. That will upgrade an experience for the end customer cost hundreds of dollars. I did my part, right? And for them, they’re going to be over the moon. They’re going to be super happy. It’s just going to become one of their routine.

“What’s going to make people upgrade a scotch that costs hundreds of dollars?”

Joe Winger: There are smoking kits all over the place. Dozens of competitors on Amazon.  Why should someone choose Bark and Barware?

Harel Levy:  It’s the full experience that we offer. It starts with the package. Then the flavors. Most of our competitors offer four, we offer six. We tasted all of the competitors and our flavor is better.  Otherwise I would not have released the product.

Our post-purchase [experience] the recipes.  We’re working with a mixologist to just create a mini course to go with the kit, go with specific drinks. Customers are going to have access to all of it. How do I mix it? What should I mix it with? 

Joe Winger: What does the future of the brand look like?

Harel Levy: We’re planning to release big packages [re-fills] of each flavor. Second thing is the mini courses. We really want to inspire because that’s fun.  

The process of drinking with friends, the process of smoking. It’s a fun process. You sit on your balcony, with friends, you open a bottle of wine as well.  That’s a fun process. 

Our goal is to inspire. Someone [will realize they] like a specific cocktail.  We will give them all of the information on how to make it,  how to mix it, then we earn a customer for life. 

Joe Winger: You mentioned picking a cocktail is like picking a favorite kid. It’s so hard to do. What is your favorite cocktail to use with your smoker? 

Harel Levy: Yeah, so that’s a great question. I like the combination of the apple and scotch.

Joe Winger: Because you’re a foodie, are there any specific cocktail and food pairings that you really enjoy with any of your specific flavors?

Harel Levy: My favorite is having an apple flavored scotch with a ribeye. Someone I work with loves the hickory flavor.  That’s the beauty of this world, every person has their unique taste.

Shop for Bark and Barware’s Cocktail smoker hit on amazon here: https://amzn.to/3P5c42g 

Learn more at: https://www.barkandbarware.com

Bark and Barware enters the cocktail market with their premium cocktail smoker, including 6 flavors. 

Bark and Barware’s Harel Levy

Bark and Barware’s Harel Levy

Today, Bark and Barware’s Harel Levy joins us for a conversation about cocktails, creating your long-lasting drinking crew, picking the right flavors, the perfect pairings and more!

The below conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  Find the full conversation at our YouTube channel.

 

Joe Winger: Can you tell us a little bit about your story? And what inspired you to create this cocktail smoker kit?

Harel Levy:  I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last seven years. While there are no mistakes, I actually found [the cocktail smoker] by mistake. I was planning to buy something for my Dad. I usually won’t give something if it’s not 100%. So I’d rather not give a gift that I don’t really like.  Because I really care about what the recipient is going to feel. 

“I really love the idea of cocktail smoking kits. […]  It’s another tool to have a great night.

I don’t want to give something cheap, because if you really love someone, you really want to make sure that everything is spot on, right? 

Even on yourself, you will be more forgiven in terms of what you buy than someone else.

I really love the idea of cocktail smoking kits. It’s not that it’s only cool and it’s a great addition to having those nights with friends, with family.  It’s another tool to have a great night.

I went to Amazon and I saw there is no one who actually sells it in a premium, wooden box.  And with many flavors.  I talked with [my company’s] CEO about it, what’s missing here.

Bark & Barware's Smoker Kit

Bark & Barware’s Smoker Kit

We came up with a wooden box. It came from my passion to give something that looks good.

For almost a year, we went back and forth with factories. The smoke.  The flavor.  Details with the box.

When we released it, we were very happy.  We knew my criteria.  If I can give it to my Dad, not being afraid he’s not going to like it.  Then I know that other people are also going to enjoy it because I have high standards for giving a gift to someone that I love. That’s how we came up with the product and the product.

The second thing we are planning is to bring a mixologist,  make it a more holistic experience. 

Extend the journey with our customers, give them cocktails, give them recipes, give them ideas, The journey doesn’t end when the transaction happens for us. We want to continue to build trust and serve our customers.

 

Joe Winger: You have a very comprehensive website.  Can you walk us through your Cocktail Smoker Kit? When we buy it what do we get?

Harel Levy: There are six different chip flavors, the culinary torch, the smoke lid.  Ice tongs, whiskey stones. Unfortunately, we don’t include butane [gas for the torch] because shipping is very heavily regulated, 

“In every smoker kit you get six different chip flavors, the culinary torch, the smoke lid.  Ice tongs, whiskey stones.”

We have six flavors: cherry, oak, pear, maple, hickory and apple. Our plan is to listen to our customers and come up with new flavors based on what they ask for.  It’s not a one-time product release.  We’re going to offer refills, extensions, more.

Each taste is very delicate.  The world of wine, flavor, alcohol is so wide and you can get very specific sometimes. When you do get specific, you get the best results, right? 

 

Joe Winger: Has there been one or two major lessons you’ve learned?

Harel Levy: Initially we had more flavors. After we gave out samples and heard about which flavors were the favorite, we removed some. 

Joe Winger: You mentioned flavor pairing.  What’s your favorite cocktail pairing?

Harel Levy: It’s a tough question because taste is something that is extremely subjective.

We usually put it with scotch. That’s our personal preference.  Our customers get very creative with their ideas. That’s why we initially started with those six flavors. But listening to customer feedback, it’s going to grow and change.

 

Joe Winger: Over a year of research and development, were there any unexpected surprises?

Harel Levy: A lot of people agreed with me on the wooden box.  People started asking for smoke refills.  They’re going through the smoke faster than I thought.  When we launched, I was expecting this to be used for special occasions.  But people are using it every week, all the time.  

 

Joe Winger: In the past few weeks, I’ve been in Los Angeles, Brooklyn, New York, Philadelphia.  All those places have bars where they’re serving smoked drinks.  Now people want to have that experience at home.  

Harel Levy: That’s going to make you the hero of the party.  You’re the one who brings the cool stuff. I always like to do that. 

We really advise [anyone trying this] to taste all of the flavors. Not just one or two.   The spectrum of what flavors someone likes or doesn’t like is very wide.  You’re probably going to really like 1-2 [of the flavors], and less like the others.

Those 1-2 that you really like, we’re going to offer you refills.

When I host friends [at my house], I drink scotch and it goes well with cherry.

But it’s like a game.  You try a lot of things. You find out something that you’re really going to love.

“That’s going to make you the hero of the party.  You’re the one who brings the cool stuff.”

Joe Winger: This first kit is a starter kit or a sampler kit. I get those six flavors and I get to decide, “Oh my gosh, I really like this one. Now I need a refill.”

Harel Levy:  Exactly. It’s exciting me on a personal level because I’m curious […]. What’s going to make people upgrade a scotch that costs hundreds of dollars?

I can play with the flavor. That will upgrade an experience for the end customer cost hundreds of dollars. I did my part, right? And for them, they’re going to be over the moon. They’re going to be super happy. It’s just going to become one of their routine.

“What’s going to make people upgrade a scotch that costs hundreds of dollars?”

Joe Winger: There are smoking kits all over the place. Dozens of competitors on Amazon.  Why should someone choose Bark and Barware?

Harel Levy:  It’s the full experience that we offer. It starts with the package. Then the flavors. Most of our competitors offer four, we offer six. We tasted all of the competitors and our flavor is better.  Otherwise I would not have released the product.

Our post-purchase [experience] the recipes.  We’re working with a mixologist to just create a mini course to go with the kit, go with specific drinks. Customers are going to have access to all of it. How do I mix it? What should I mix it with? 

Joe Winger: What does the future of the brand look like?

Harel Levy: We’re planning to release big packages [re-fills] of each flavor. Second thing is the mini courses. We really want to inspire because that’s fun.  

The process of drinking with friends, the process of smoking. It’s a fun process. You sit on your balcony, with friends, you open a bottle of wine as well.  That’s a fun process. 

Our goal is to inspire. Someone [will realize they] like a specific cocktail.  We will give them all of the information on how to make it,  how to mix it, then we earn a customer for life. 

Joe Winger: You mentioned picking a cocktail is like picking a favorite kid. It’s so hard to do. What is your favorite cocktail to use with your smoker? 

Harel Levy: Yeah, so that’s a great question. I like the combination of the apple and scotch.

Joe Winger: Because you’re a foodie, are there any specific cocktail and food pairings that you really enjoy with any of your specific flavors?

Harel Levy: My favorite is having an apple flavored scotch with a ribeye. Someone I work with loves the hickory flavor.  That’s the beauty of this world, every person has their unique taste.

Shop for Bark and Barware’s Cocktail smoker hit on amazon here: https://amzn.to/3P5c42g 

Learn more at: https://www.barkandbarware.com

DC: Introducing New Passover Wines approved for 2024: Lovatelli, Cantina Giulian

Introducing New Passover Wines approved for 2024: Lovatelli, Cantina Giulian

The Festival of Passover starts April 22 – 30, an eight day holiday celebrating the Israelites’ Exodus from Egyptian slavery.

The most important event in Jewish history is marked by eating a festive meal with matzah, telling the Passover story (Seder) and drinking four cups of wine.  And, when you have four cups to get through in one Seder dinner, wine quality is paramount.

Passover wines perfect for 2024

Royal Wine Corp. is the largest manufacturer, importer and exporter of Kosher wines and spirits, with a portfolio that spans hundreds of brands and thousands of bottles of world-class wines.

For Passover 2024, they are introducing top quality wines from some of the finest wine producing regions including California, France, Italy, Spain and Israel, among others.

Lovatelli

Lovatelli

While forty percent of annual kosher wine sales occur for the Passover holiday, sales of kosher wine and spirits have been growing significantly throughout the rest of the year.

The not-so-secret to perfect passover wines

According to Jay Buchsbaum, VP of Wine Education at Royal Wine Corp.,

“There’s nothing cookie-cutter about these Passover wines – they are top notch, award winning and distinctive.”

Jay Buchsbaum

VP of Wine Education at Royal Wine Corp

“And, while red wine is traditional for the Passover Seder, it can be a nice Burgundy or a Pinot Noir, or a Cabernet – just as long as it is kosher for Passover. There are dozens to choose from. And, just to be clear, our portfolio consists of  acclaimed wines that just happen to be kosher, recognized for our quality and value.”

These Passover-approved bottles will complement any Seder fare. “L’Chaim”

  • Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico, world famous winery producing kosher wine for the first time. This renowned and well regarded brand is producing kosher wine for the first time exclusively for Royal Wine Corp. (with more to come); SRP $25
  • Lovatelli, a new line of fine and affordable Italian wines, including a Salento Primitivo, SRP $17 and a Barbera d’Asti, SRP $25; Coming soon:  Nebbiolo, a Super Tuscan, as well as two new vermouths.
  • Cantina Giuliano, fully kosher boutique winery started in 2014 in Tuscany, Italy. The winery was started  by a young couple, who inherited wineries from their grandparents. It’s now fully kosher with new bottles and labeling.
  • Many new kosher wines are being imported from South Africa by ESSA and J Folk wineries (among them are : Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, Cabernet Sauvignon and more).

  • Bartenura – Flavored Moscatos in cans such as Peach, Lychee, and new Blueberry.
  • Château Dauzac Grand Cru Classé and Aurore de Dauzac Margaux ’21
  • Chateau Roubine Cru Classé Lion & Dragon Red
  • Des Moisans Deau Cognac Privilege
  • Herzog Lineage Momentus Rose
  • J de Villebois Sancerre Pinot Noir
  • Kamisa Winery – Galilee, Israel
  • Malbec du Clos Triguedina – Cahors
  • Shamay Winery Upper Galilee, Israel
  • New Carmel Black Cabernet Sauvignon, Galilée, Israel (SRP $30)
  • Brio de Château Cantenac Brown, Margaux

Is Kosher for Passover Wine Hard to Find?

Actually, it’s rather easy! Most kosher wine is also kosher for Passover, making it easier to sell this wine (and for consumers to stock up on bottles) year-round. Any kosher-for-Passover wine will have a “P” symbol or “Kosher for Passover” next to the kosher certification on the label.

But that’s not the case with some spirits. For example, you’ll be unlikely to find kosher-for-Passover whiskey, as whiskey is made with grain.

Fine kosher wines are made the same way that fine non-kosher wines are made,” adds Buchsbaum. “There is no kosher winemaking ‘technique.’ What’s required for the wine to be considered kosher, is that the wine be handled only by Sabbath-observant Jews. And there are plenty of fine winemakers and cellar workers who are Sabbath observant. Great grapes and skilled winemakers yield great wines—kosher or not.

Consumers looking for wines from renowned regions throughout the world can satisfy their thirst with more options than ever before. It seems the problem is not the availability of great wine but the overwhelming number of great wines to choose from. Royal Wine offers a delicious selection of kosher for Passover wines from around the world,” says Buchsbaum. “Some of the top producers are creating award-winning varietals at every price point, and with Passover just around the corner, we want to take the guesswork out of buying wine.”

 

Why Four Cups of Wine

One of the rituals served at Passover is the custom of drinking four cups of wine. The four cups of wine are consumed in a specific order as the story of Exodus is told. Served to the adults throughout the dinner, these four wines represent points from the exodus story. While there are several explanations for the significance of the number four, the connection to “freedom from exile” is often referenced. For observant Jews, the wine served should be kosher. Although a kosher wine uses the same grapes as other wines, the wine making is handled by “sabbath-observant Jews”.

Taste of Iceland Festival Kicks Off U.S. Tour in Washington, D.C., March 8-9

Taste of Iceland Festival Kicks Off U.S. Tour in Washington, D.C., March 8-9

Taste of Iceland 2024, organized by Inspired by Iceland, returns to Washington, D.C.Friday, March 8 and Saturday, March 9. The cultural festival celebrates the land of fire and ice with events across the city showcasing the best of Icelandic culture, including food and beverage, music, nature, literature, art and design, wellness, and more.

Taste of Iceland celebrates and shares the traditions and culture of Iceland with the people of North America. In partnership with local businesses and Taste of Iceland’s official partners, featured events will be hosted at Brasserie BeckEaton DCMind Your Body OasisOld School HardwareSongbyrd, and Wild Days.

Most events are free and open to the public. Event tickets are required, and guests are encouraged to arrive promptly to guarantee entry. Tickets are available on the Taste of Iceland Website. Reservations are required for the prix-fixe Icelandic dinner through the Taste of Iceland Website.

FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

Friday, March 8 – Saturday, March 9

  • Icelandic Menu at Brasserie Beck: Brian McBride, Partner-Chef at Brasserie Beck, in collaboration with Bjarki Snær Thorsteinsson, Chef on Iceland’s National Culinary Team, will prepare a pop-up menu inspired by Icelandic flavors and ingredients, including seafood, lamb, and skyr. 4:00 PM – 9:45 PM at Brasserie Beck. Reservations for the prix fixe menu are available through the Taste of Iceland Website.

  • Wheel of Prizes Presented by Icelandair: March 8-9 at various events during the Taste of Iceland festival in Washington, D.C., selected participants will have the opportunity to win various prizes, including a trip for two to IcelandClick here for more information.
    • March 85:00 PM at Wild Days before the Cocktail Class with Iceland’s Reyka Vodka
    • March 93:00 PM at Eaton DC, Beverly Snow before Icelandia Presents: Geology with Helga
    • March 97:00 PM at Songbyrd, during and after Reykjavik Presents: Iceland Airwaves Off-Venue

Icelandair is also offering special sales on roundtrip flights to Iceland from Washington, D.C. Learn more here.

Friday, March 8

  • Pizza Time with Flétta and Ýrúrarí: During this family friendly interactive exhibition showcasing Iceland’s commitment to sustainable design, Icelandic design teams Flétta and Ýrúrarí will open a pizza parlor where guests can order freshly felted wool pizza slices made of leftovers from the Icelandic wool industry. Guests can select toppings to customize their order and bring home a wool pizza slice as a one-of-a-kind art piece. Pizza Time was first exhibited at Iceland’s premier global design festival, DesignMarch, in 2023, and was awarded Project of the Year at the Icelandic Design Awards. 4:00 PM at Old School Hardware (next to Ellē). Click here for more information. 

  • Cocktail Class with Iceland’s Reyka Vodka:  Join a free cocktail class with Reyka Vodka where brand ambassador and mixologist, Jeff Naples, will shake up some tasty Iceland-inspired cocktails and teach attendees how to make these drinks at home. DJ Hermigervill,  a longtime heavyweight of the Icelandic music scene, will welcome guests with tunes curated by experts at Iceland Music. Guests must be 21 years old with a valid ID to attend. 5:00 PM at Wild DaysClick here for more information.

Saturday, March 9

  • Elemental Sound Bath with Blue Lagoon Iceland and Icelandic Provisions Skyr Bar: Join Icelandic energy healer Jósa Goodlife for an hour of inner peace and healing meditation. Sound Bath attendees will receive a complimentary Blue Lagoon Iceland yoga mat, an Icelandic Provisions beanie, an Icelandair blanket, Icelandic Glacial water, and a Blue Lagoon Iceland Skincare gift. After the Sound Bath, guests are invited to an Icelandic Provisions Skyr Bar. 11:00 AM at Mind Your Body OasisClick here for more information.

  • Iceland’s Crime Fiction Royalty: A Conversation with Ragnar Jónasson and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir: Join global bestselling Icelandic authors Ragnar Jónasson and Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, known as the Queen and King of Icelandic crime fiction, for a conversation about their recent novels, literature, and life in general. Ragnar Jónasson will discuss, “Reykjavík,” his recent crime novel co-authored with Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir. Yrsa Sigurðardóttir will discuss, “The Legacy,” the first in her popular crime series that has won numerous literature awards. 1:00 PM at Eaton DCBeverly SnowClick here for more information.

  • Taste of Iceland Cooking Class: Chefs Haflidi Halldorsson and Bjarki Snær Thorsteinsson will present and teach how to prepare the main ingredients on the Taste of Iceland menu. Learn how to prepare and cook the wild Icelandic cod starter, the Icelandic Lamb main course, and naturally a delicious dessert of the Icelandic Provisions skyr. The group will then sit down and enjoy the fruits of their labor with the chefs. 2:00 PM at Brasserie BeckClick here for more information.

  • Icelandia Presents: Geology with Helga: Join volcanologist Helga Kristin Torfadottir to learn about Iceland’s fascinating volcanology, including current geological activities in Iceland. Helga specializes in the evolution of magma and the structure of volcanoes and is actively studying Iceland’s most significant volcano, Öræfajökull. There will also be Icelandia VR demonstrations where participants will be virtually swept away to Iceland to see the country from a new perspective. 3:00 PM at Eaton DCBeverly SnowClick here for more information.

  • Reykjavik Presents: Iceland Airwaves Off-Venue: The City of Reykjavík, in collaboration with Iceland Airwaves and Iceland Music, will host a free concert featuring Icelandic artists, singer-songwriter Axel Flóvent, multi-instrumentalist JFDR, and punk trio GRÓA. DJ Hermigervill, a longtime heavyweight of the Icelandic music scene, will host the evening. Doors open at 7:00 PM at SongbyrdClick here for more information.

Taste of Iceland is an annual festival that celebrates Iceland’s vibrant culture. The festival is organized by Inspired by Iceland, which promotes Iceland and Icelandic products. It is presented in partnership and with support from Icelandair, Visit ReykjavíkIcelandic Seafood, Business Iceland, Reyka Vodka, Blue Lagoon IcelandIcelandiaIceland MusicIcelandic Provisions, Icelandic Lamb, Icelandic Glacial, Landsvirkjun, and Isavia Keflavik International Airport. Additional Taste of Iceland 2024 events will be held in Denver, CO (May 9-11), New York, NY (September 5-7), and Seattle, WA (October 3-5).

For more information about Inspired by Iceland and Taste of Iceland, visit www.inspiredbyiceland.com.

To learn more about Business Iceland, visit www.business iceland.is.

Calling DC! Why does Wisconsin Already know the Big Winner on Superbowl Sunday?

Wisconsin Already knows the Big Winner on Superbowl Sunday

When the Big Game rolls around each February, Wisconsin Cheese knows that eyes are on both the TV and what’s on the table.

If you do the cheese math, Wisconsin crafts 600 types, styles, and varieties of cheese, which means there are 600 options for cheese A, 599 options for cheese B, and 598 options for cheese C. The total combinations equal 214 million cheeseboard options, and with 126 million households in the U.S., no two game day spreads need to be the same.

“With friends gathered around the TV and taste buds craving something extraordinary,

Wisconsin Cheese is here to elevate the game day experience

with artisan cheeses for a vast array of cheeseboard combinations,”

Suzanne Fanning

CMO of Wisconsin Cheese

Wisconsin crafts 50% of the nation’s specialty cheese, which means The State of Cheese has the award-winning cheeses to make every spread score points with fans of any team.”

Play your starting lineup: an award-winning cheeseboard that will win over every guest’s taste buds. Whether you want to keep it classic or try a creative new play with thrilling flavors, these cheese boards will enliven your snacking array:

Whichever team you’re cheering for this season, Wisconsin Cheese is always a winner during the big game. Find inspiration for future game day parties with another one of our cheese board recipes, like this Fiesta Cheese Board, this Wisconsin Cheese and Charcuterie Board, or another spread that suits your style from our selection of over 300 handcrafted recipes featuring Wisconsin Cheese.

Be sure to share your creations with us on Instagram and Facebook. For more information about award-winning Wisconsin Cheese and winning recipes, visit www.wisconsincheese.com.

Wisconsin Cheese

The tradition of cheesemaking excellence began more than 180 years ago before Wisconsin was recognized as a state. With 90% of the State’s cow’s milk being turned into cheese, Wisconsin’s 1,200 cheesemakers, many of whom are third- and fourth-generation, continue to pass on old-world traditions while adopting modern innovations in cheesemaking craftsmanship. Wisconsin has won more awards for its cheese than any other state or country.

For more information, visit WisconsinCheese.com.

Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin

Funded by Wisconsin dairy farmers, Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin is a non-profit organization that focuses on marketing and promoting Wisconsin’s world-class dairy products.

DC Heartbreak: “Goodbye Pies” for Valentines Day with Pizza Hut delivering Spicy News in a Sweet Way

DC Heartbreak: “Goodbye Pies” for Valentines Day with Pizza Hut delivering Spicy News in a Sweet Way

Pizza Hut announces a new Valentines Day offering, “Goodbye Pies” with the launch of its new sweet yet spicy Hot Honey pizza.

There’s a misconception that breakups don’t happen around Valentines Day, but research shows it’s actually a holiday centered around the most heartbreak with 45% of people agreeing it’s better to do the deed right before the holiday itself*.

Red Tuesday this Valentine’s Day

There’s even a phenomenon called ‘Red Tuesday’, which is the Tuesday before Valentine’s Day, where people break up most often in the year.**

That’s why starting this Red Tuesday, February 6, through Valentine’s Day, Pizza Hut is launching new, limited-edition Hot Honey “Goodbye Pies” to help deliver spicy news in a sweet way for FREE.

By sending a Goodbye Pie, Pizza Hut will help you break up with your significant other by delivering a personalized, simple message on custom packaging with a sweet and spicy Hot Honey pizza to ease the pain.

Goodbye Pie pizza boxes for Valentines Day

The custom Goodbye Pie pizza boxes also leave a space on the top for the break-upper’s name to be added.

To submit for a chance to send a free Goodbye Pie, simply visit GoodbyePies.com starting February 6 to ditch that awkward break-up convo and send a pizza instead.

This offer will be available through February 14 at select locations in the three major U.S. cities notorious for heartbreaks – NYC, Chicago and Miami, while supplies last. Not available in your city?

Easier than the Awkward Breakup this Valentines Day

The website above can also be used to request Pizza Hut instead write a breakup text for you to send, along with a link to a gift card for your future-ex to redeem a free Hot Honey pizza. Limited quantities only available during this limited time.***

“The rising popularity of the sweet-heat flavor profile

has led to Hot Honey becoming the most requested test item by our team members

and we are thrilled to have it as the newest addition to our menu,”

Lindsay Morgan, Chief Marketing Officer at Pizza Hut.

“With the launch of Goodbye Pies, we are bringing that perfect blend of sweet and heat experience to real life, delivering spicy news in the sweetest way for Valentine’s Day.”

Pizza Hut’s Hot Honey Pizza and Wings can be found nationwide at participating Pizza Hut locations starting at $11.99 for a medium pizza and $5.99 for 6 count boneless wings. Pricing and participation may vary.

  • Hot Honey Pizza: Featuring a pizza crust topped with marinara sauce, a generous layer of cheese, classic pepperoni, a hot honey drizzle made with real honey infused with chili peppers and crispy cupped pepperoni, balancing the honey’s sweet heat with the savory-salty taste of the pepperoni. The crisp pepperoni cups are ideally shaped to hold the hot honey drizzle.
  • Hot Honey WingsAvailable in both bone-in and boneless versions, these wings are coated in Hot Honey and double-dipped in sensational sweet heat flavors.

This new Hot Honey innovation will be spotlighted in a new Pizza Hut campaign, titled “Pizza wHut!?” which will roll out nationally in February bringing to life Pizza Hut’s commitment to flavor innovation as the brand continues to reinvent and perfect everyone’s favorites with new and craveable flavors.

Visit PizzaHut.com for more information.

*According to YouGov.com poll.
**Described on The-Sun.com.


*** AVAILABLE FIRST-COME, FIRST-SERVED, WHILE SUPPLIES LAST EACH DAY. QUANTITIES ARE LIMITED. Open to legal US residents physically residing in the 50 U.S. and D.C who are 18+ years of age. Offer Recipients must live in select zip codes in New York CityChicago or Miami. Ends at 11:59:59 pm CT on 2/14/24, or when all available Incentives are claimed (whichever comes first). A minimum of 10 Goodbye Pie Incentives and 50 Breakup Text Offers are available each Incentive and Offer Period per Market. Limit one (1) Incentive and Offer per person and per household. Other restrictions apply.

For Incentive and Offer Periods and a list of eligible Zip Codes and full Terms, visit www.goodbyepies.com/terms

DC gets Yummy for Valentines Day! 10 Unique Food and Beverage Gift Ideas

DC gets Yummy for Valentines Day! 10 Unique Food and Beverage Gift Ideas

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and we all know the drill — flowers, chocolates, candy, rinse and repeat.

Although a lovely sentiment, it’s not exactly the stuff that legends are made of, right?

So, we dove deep into the web and came up with a list of food and beverage items that say “I love you” in an unconventional and out-of-the-box way.

These gems are not your garden-variety tokens of affection; they’re off-beat, they’re fun, and they scream “Be Mine” in the most deliciously distinctive ways.

From quirky snacks to sippable surprises, here’s our list of

10 unique food & beverage gifts for Valentine’s day

Olive & Cocoa Chocolate Heart Pretzels for Valentines Day

Imagine a dozen crunchy pretzels, each smothered in a dreamy mix of milk and white chocolate and then dotted with playful pink hearts.

Both salty and sweet, as most relationships are, these tantalizing treats arrive in a chic, handcrafted wooden crate, tied up with a red ribbon, and just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Trust us, they are the yummiest way to say “I heart you!” 

Visit Olive and Cocoa here 

BareOrganics Ashwagandha Root Powder

Ever heard of Ashwagandha Root?

It’s like nature’s own love boosting superfood – the Ayurvedic secret often dubbed as a ‘natural viagra’ for both ladies and gents. And, it’s not just about cranking up your libido and vitality; it’s also great for knocking down stress and anxiety, which are the usual, and unfortunate romance killers.

Sprinkle some of this 100% USDA Certified Organic magic powder into your daily routine and get ready for a more sumptuous and satisfying sex life.

Visit the Ashwaganha Root

 

Hungry this Valentines Day

Lou’s Heart Shaped Chocolate Chip Cookie & Heart Shaped Pizza

Double the love straight from the Windy City!

We’re talking about Lou Malnati’s heart-shaped deep dish pizza for two, with your pick of cheesy goodness or savory sausage, paired with a giant heart-shaped chocolate chip cookie. And this cookie isn’t just any cookie – it’s the same recipe used in Lou Malnati’s iconic pizzerias.

It’s like a big hug from Chicago, sent straight to your door this Valentine’s Day. Who can resist that?

Click here for Taste of Chicago

Be My Huckleberry Hand Pies

Get ready to fall hard for these delicious hand pies, bursting with juicy Montana huckleberries and blueberries.

Elle’s Belles country kitchen whips up each small-batch bakes with love, making these some of the tastiest treats you’ll ever devour.

And here’s the kicker — each pie is handcrafted, ensuring your gift is as unique as it is delicious. But remember, all good things take time, and these handmade beauties need 24 hours to bake and package before heading your way.

Click here to check out Huckleberry Hand Pies

Dora’s Heart-Shaped Ravioli for 2

 

Whisk your taste buds to Italy on Valentine’s Day with Nonna Dora’s heart-shaped ravioli, a beloved staple for 25 years at New York City’s I Trulli!

Handcrafted with special Italian flour, these beauties get their charming stripes from beet puree and are filled with creamy Italian ricotta. Boil them up, sauté with butter and sage, and voilà—a romantic dinner to remember.

Behind these gems is “Nonna Dora” Marzovilla, a pasta-making legend for over 70 years, now delighting NYC with her own spot, Nonna Dora’s Pasta Bar. It’s like getting a squeeze from an Italian nonna in every bite! 

Click here for Dora’s Heart-Shaped Ravioli

 

Have A Manly Valentines Day

Jerky Heart

Why settle for the same old same old chocolates in a heart shaped box when you can gift BEEF JERKY instead!

The Man Crates Exclusive Heart Box includes: 1 Dave’s Pepperoni Pork Stick, 1 Dave’s Wine Pork Stick, 1 Dave’s Orange Habanero Pork Stick, 1 Dave’s Honey Bourbon Formed Beef Bit, 1 Dave’s Honey Root Beer Formed Beef Bit, 

1 Dave’s Sesame Ginger Formed Beef Bit, 3 Cajun Beef Sticks, 2 Teriyaki Beef Sticks, and 3 Habanero BBQ Beef Sticks to highly satisfy your most beloved carnivore. 

And, for that extra touch of testosterone, you can have the box “gift wrapped” in red colored duct tape.

Visit Man Crates

Tipsy Bubbly Rose

Yup!  That’s right folks… a phallus shaped bottle of pink sparkling rosé wine for that very special someone. We’ll just leave it right there…

Click here to visit Tipsy Brand

Candied Bacon Bouquet

What better way to say “I love you” than with an elegant bouquet of long-stemmed candied bacon shaped roses. Perfect for anyone who can’t resist the sweet and salty combo of maple syrup and bacon, each rose shaped flower is topped with a red sugar coating to keep those roses a brightly blooming red. 

Visit Bacon Bouquets

Meat Card

Why settle for a Hallmark card when you can have your love note laser engraved on a 4″ x 9″ sheet of meat? 

Manly Man Co. offers customized greetings of 100 characters at max on a 100% edible sheet of savory beef jerky. 

Made to order and vacuum sealed for freshness, it’s the yummiest way to share your affection.

Visit Manly Man Co

Heart-Shaped Tea Bags

Heart-Shaped Tea Bags

Seeking a little romantic tea time with your honey?

Jacqueline Aliotti’s heart-shaped tea bags are the perfect choice to heat things up. Inspired by her childhood in Lyon, France, surrounded by the warmth of her parents’ tea shop, each boxed set includes 5 English Breakfast, 5 Earl Grey, and 5 White Berry tea bags, perfect for sharing a romantic afternoon with your Valentine. 

Visit UnCommon Goods

Bourbon Podcast announces 2023 Whiskey of the Year

Bourbon Podcast announces 2023 Whiskey of the Year

“Big, bold, packed with flavor” – Bourbon Podcast announces 2023 Whiskey of the Year

After sampling over 100 whiskeys in 2023, Bourbon Podcast announced its 2023 Whiskey of the Year: Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon®.

The highly anticipated 2023 release of Garrison Brothers Cowboy Bourbon® was limited to 9,600 bottles coming in at 140.9 proof.

Cowboy Bourbon® is bottled at cask strength, uncut and unfiltered, providing a unique flavor that is distinctly Garrison Brothers and unapologetically Texas.

“The 2023 release of Cowboy Bourbon® really stood out to us,”

Joe Nassif

co-host of Bourbon Podcast

“It is a big, bold, hazmat bourbon that is packed with flavor. It tastes like a dessert in a glass, with notes of brown sugar, chocolate, raisins, and cinnamon.”

Each barrel of Cowboy Bourbon® was hand-selected by Master Distiller Donnis Todd and stashed away in Garrison Brothers’ barrel barns for at least six years.

The process and high heat in Texas allows the bourbon to soak in even more flavor and texture, resulting in an incredible product. “Cowboy 2013, the first Cowboy ever released, put Garrison Brothers and Texas on the bourbon map,” said Donnis Todd, Master Distiller, Garrison Brothers Distillery. “It’s an honor a decade after the first release having the 2023 Cowboy named as the 2023 Whiskey of the Year,” Todd said.

Founded in 2005, Garrison Brothers Distillery is located in Hye, Texas. In 2006, the distillery was granted the first stiller’s permit for bourbon outside of Kentucky and Tennessee, which makes it the oldest legal bourbon distillery in Texas.

In addition to 2023 Whiskey of the Year, Bourbon Podcast announced the following 2023 Honorable Mention Whiskeys:

2XO Gem of Kentucky, 108 Proof, MSRP $199
Old Forester The President’s Choice, Barrel #30, 117 Proof, MSRP $189
Russell Reserve 13, Batch 4, 114.8 Proof, MSRP $150
Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 10 year (Spring 2023), 100 Proof, MSRP $140
Angel’s Envy Cask Strength Rye, 114.4 Proof, MSRP $270
Elijah Craig Barrel Strength (C923), 133 Proof, MSRP $70
Elijah Craig Barrel Strength (B523), 124.2 Proof, MSRP $70
Garrison Brothers Balmorhea, 115 Proof, MSRP $180
Michter’s 10 Year Single Barrel Bourbon, Barrel #23G2651, 94.4 Proof, $185 MSRP 
George T. Stagg, 135 Proof, MSRP: $125

Bourbon Podcast is the premier podcast for whiskey enthusiasts, consistently ranking in the Top 10 of Apple Podcasts in the United States in the hobbies category. Bourbon Podcast has thousands of weekly subscribers made up of whiskey enthusiasts and industry insiders. With over 60,000 followers on social media, Bourbon Podcast has distinguished itself as one of the top sources for news and reviews of whiskey in the United States.

For more information: www.bourbonpodcast.com

Instagram: @bourbonpodcast
Facebook: facebook.com/bourbonpodcast

 

Flavor! Fire! Expand Your Hot Sauces Collection with Truff Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce

Fiery yet Refreshing! Flavor! Fire! Expand Your Hot Sauces Collection with Truff Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce

Truff expands hot sauce with Truff Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce

TRUFF, the truffle brand known for reimagining and elevating pantry staples, releases TRUFF Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce, its newest hot sauce variation.

Fiery yet Refreshing! Truff Expands their Hot Sauces with Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce

Truff Expands their Hot Sauces with Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce

This vibrant green sauce boasts an entirely new flavor profile – and color – from the brand’s line of luxurious hot sauces.

It offers a harmonious blend of fiery green jalapeño peppers and refreshing lime with TRUFF’s namesake ingredient, the black winter truffle.

“Our goal with TRUFF has always been to create products

so unique that they offer a flavor experience like no other,”

Nick Ajluni

Co-Founder and Co-CEO at TRUFF

“This time, we are taking inspiration from the rich, vibrant, and colorful culture of Latin cuisine to create a flavor profile that has yet to be explored.”

Truff's Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce

Truff’s Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce

TRUFF has brought truffle-infused products to a broad consumer base through its premium condiments line spanning hot sauce, pasta sauce, mayonnaise, oil and salt. TRUFF’s hero product, its hot sauce, is a leading seller in the natural channel and the fastest-growing hot sauce in conventional grocery.

The new TRUFF Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce is the brand’s latest addition

“We dove deep into Latin cuisine, indulging in endless tacos, ceviches, aguachiles and chilaquiles. We noticed that two ingredients – green jalapeño and lime – were commonly used to complement and enhance dishes,” says Nick Guillen, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at TRUFF.

Truff's Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce

Truff’s Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce

“We pursued these bold flavors and the result is a sauce that is both elevated and celebratory in nature. Whether drizzled over dishes from your local taco truck or added to a Michelin-starred culinary creation, the TRUFF Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce is designed to elevate any meal.”

TRUFF Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce will be available in 6-ounce bottles

TRUFF’s new Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce will be available in 6-ounce bottles topped with TRUFF’s distinctive truffle-inspired cap in a captivating green. It will launch exclusively at Whole Foods Market this January and will be available online at TRUFF.com starting January 11, 2024.

TRUFF has experienced groundbreaking company growth since its launch in 2017. The brand’s distinctive flavor, high-quality ingredients, new product innovation, and social following have helped it build a significant base of loyal consumers, an impressive list of collaborators, and accolades.

The brand’s latest partnerships include launches with Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and The Super Mario Brothers Movie. In November of 2023, it was announced that SKYY Partners— Jay Sammons and Kim Kardashian’s private equity firm focused on high-growth, market-leading consumer brands — had acquired a significant minority stake in TRUFF.

Truff's Jalapeño Lime Hot Sauce

For more information please visit TRUFF.com or @sauce on Instagram.

TRUFF’s lineup of luxury pantry staples is designed to elevate the dining experience.

TRUFF’s lineup of luxury pantry staples is designed to elevate the dining experience. Originally founded through a popular food and lifestyle Instagram blog called @sauce, TRUFF immediately propelled into social media virality with the release of its hot sauce in 2017.

The brand quickly became the fastest growing company in the hot sauce space due to its distinctive flavor profile, pristine bottle, Truffle Inspired cap, and of course the coveted Instagram account @sauce that makes tagging a no-brainer. Taking inspiration from the flagship black truffle experience, TRUFF has expanded its family of products to include other popular favorites like Pasta Sauce, Mayonnaise, Oil and Salt.

You can find TRUFF’s variety of products in stores nationwide and around the world in the UK, AustraliaKuwait, and South Korea. TRUFF is gluten-free and non-GMO. Visit www.TRUFF.com for more information and recipes.

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