As you all know by now, I believe that the secondary ingredients that go into cocktails are just as essential as the main spirits. If you choose a great rum to make your Dark and Stormy, then you’d better choose a ginger beer that can stand right beside it! It also helps to have the right equipment. For this reason, I am happy to report that the Art in the Age store at 116 N 3rd Street in the Old City section of Philadelphia is an absolute bonanza of excellent cocktail making supplies, ingredients, and books. Housed in a historic building where the original signage is still hanging out front and the interior boasts preserved brick walls, AITA is a very cool place to visit anyway, but if you have the passion for cocktails that I do, then you’ll be in heaven for sure! Among the products that you can find at AITA are Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. syrups, tonics, and chicory root cherries, DRAM bitters (individual sizes and an awesome sampler pack), Royal Rose simple syrups in flavors like Orange Vanilla and Hot Ginger Lime, Dashfire bitters in Clove, Bayleaf, Hibiscus, and citrus, Pickett’s syrups, Bittermilk cocktail mixes, Hudson Standard shrubs, and Walker’s cocktail rimmers and mixes. That’s a long list, I know, and I’m not quite finished. You’ll also be able to grab tonic water, ginger beer, and Victorian Lemonade from Fentiman’s Beverages, ginger ale from Boylan Heritage, and Egbert’s brandied cocktail cherries. I personally could not resist the Tippleman’s simple syrups; I bought the Burnt Sugar flavor and you can bet I’m going back for the Double Spiced Falernum!AITA also carries a good selection of cocktail making equipment like strainers, juicers, muddlers, barspoons, whisks, and that indispensable citrus zester/peeler tool that makes long thin strips for garnishing. You can also find Peak ice cube trays here in medium and large sizes. They are my absolute favorite because they have rigid sides and lids, and removing the cubes is easy – definitely not true for most other brands. If you’re thinking along the lines of Christmas gifts for the cocktail enthusiast in your life, there is a Bar Roll Tool Kit that includes essential drink-making equipment in a handy waxed canvas roll that’s easy to store, a Homemade Gin Kit which allows you to make your own aromatic 36 hour spirit infusion, and Cutting Board Sets in medium and large from Snow Peak where the knife stores inside the foldable, hinged cutting board. A big hint, hint goes out to the young Camels and Mr. Camel on this last item (in medium, please).In addition to all the amazing cocktail necessities that AITA carries, the store is also a tasting room for the AITA spirits created by Steve Grasse in conjunction with Tamworth Distilling and Mercantile in New Hampshire. (I’m thinking a Thirsty Camel road trip might be in order here!) Root, Snap, Rhubarb, and Sage are part of the Historical Recipes collection and are based on formulas from the colonial era. The Garden Infusion collection reflects AITA‘s “commitment to fresh, local ingredients and totally unique flavors” and includes Beet Root, Chicory Root, and Sweet Potato vodka infusions, Black Trumpet Blueberry Cordial, Apiary Gin, and a Tamarind Cordial called Von Humboldt’s Natur Wasser. The most recent addition is Sweet Lips, based on Martha Washington’s recipe for Cherry Bounce (rye whiskey, cherries, and apple brandy all stored in oak), discovered by Grasse while doing research for his book Colonial Spirits. All of these AITA spirits are available for tasting right at the Old City location. Because of the Pennsylvania laws regarding liquor sales, the store cannot sell spirits, but the historical collection is available at the PLCB Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores, as well as in numerous locations in NJ (list available on the AITA website). The Garden Infusion spirits can be special ordered from the PCLB. There are also a number of Philadelphia restaurants that serve AITA spirits; this list is also available on their website.You can purchase all of the cocktail essentials and equipment online, but don’t miss out on the opportunity to actually visit the store. You’ll be glad you did. You can easily spend an hour or so there browsing and tasting the spirits and then head out to one of Old City’s nearby restaurants for lunch. Before coming home be sure to stop by the Fine Wine and Good Spirits Store on 2nd Street near Chestnut and grab a bottle from the Historical Spirits collection!
I’ll leave you today with my recipe for a Rum and Root Old-Fashioned made with ingredients purchased at the AITA store.
Rum and Root Old-Fashioned
2 oz Gosling’s Black Seal rum
1/2 oz Art in the Age ROOT
1/4 oz Tippleman’s Burnt Sugar syrup
2 dashes DRAM Apothecary Palo Santo bitters
Orange peel for garnishing
Place all ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice. Stir with a long handled bar spoon for 20-30 seconds or until well-chilled. Strain using a julep strainer and pour into an Old-fashioned glass with one large cube of ice. Garnish with an orange peel. Enjoy!
Art in the Age Store 116 North 3rd Street Philadelphia, PA 19106