Wine and Food

Starbucks to stop selling alcohol at more than 400 US stores

NEW YORK (AP) — Starbucks will stop selling beer and wine at more than 400 U.S. stores next week as it ends its “evenings” program.

The coffee chain says the “Starbucks Evenings” program in 439 company-owned stores in the U.S. will end Jan. 10. It said the program may continue in some of the nine licensed stores where it is offered, or overseas. The program was first tested in 2010 near Starbucks’ headquarters in Seattle, and was expanded as a way to drive sales beyond the morning rush. In addition to alcohol, the evening menu featured foods like bacon-wrapped dates.

Starbucks said in 2014 it planned to expand alcohol to “thousands” of stores. Now, it says it will integrate beer and wine into its higher-end retail format, such as Roastery stores.


Culinary trends to watch for in 2017

In the world of food, one thing is certain: Every year is sure to be more exciting than the last.

Chefs push boundaries a little more each year, challenging our taste buds with what they put on our plates. Home cooks gain confidence with every meal, which leads to cooking led by intuition – often the best kind. Farmers harvest new produce, inviting us to take chances on unfamiliar ingredients grown in our own backyards.

Even the very idea of eating evolves with each passing year: The tradition of sitting down to three home-cooked meals has made way for a culture that enjoys breakfasts on the go, healthful snacks throughout the day and dinners comprised out of small plates.

So what does 2017 have in store for us? According to industry experts who predict food trends each year, we can look forward to ethnic flavors and spices, food halls, house-made charcuterie, artisan ice creams, and vegetables as the stars of a meal.

We gathered information from the National Restaurant Association, which polls more than 1,000 professional chefs each year; The James Beard Foundation and restaurant consulting firm Baum + Whiteman; read on for a detailed look at what you will be eating this year.

Spice things up

First things first – get yourself a jar of turmeric. The yellow powder, prized for its anti-inflammatory properties, is most often found in curries but has many other uses in the kitchen. Stir it into scrambled eggs and soups, toss with roasted vegetables, mix into smoothies or blend with almond milk and grated ginger for a soothing drink. Start with a small amount: The flavor is mild and earthy but slightly bitter.

Other spices to try this year are harissa, a North African hot chili pepper paste or powder; peri peri, a South African hot sauce made with African bird’s eye chillies; ras el hanout, a spicy and floral Moroccan blend of more than a dozen spices; and shichimi, a Japanese mixture made with ground chiles, tangerine peel and flakes of nori, or dried seaweed.

If you need a little sweet with your spice, no worries: “As a nation we seem to have crossed the fine line between pleasure and pain,” said Baum + Whiteman. “But smart chefs are balancing the heat, often with sweetness.”

FIND IT: The hot chicken biscuit – fried chicken with hot sauce and honey on a homemade biscuit – served during brunch at Cardinal Provisions in Asbury Park; Korean fried chicken wings with a sauce of honey tobanjan, a spicy miso condiment, at Teak in Red Bank.

Bowled over

Every foodie with an Instagram account will tell you – food in bowls is where it’s at: oatmeal bowls, smoothie bowls, grain bowls. Things just seem to taste better when arranged in a big bowl, and the experts agree.

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“It all began innocuously with acai bowls for breakfast and then spread to fast-casual (restaurants) when chains discovered their customers were rejecting breads and wraps in favor of greens and grains,” according to Baum + Whiteman. “Office workers are discovering that takeaway bowls are less likely to spatter their laps and laptops, and chefs are finding that assembling a decorous bowl is easier and faster than the complexity of plating upscale entrees because they don’t have to fuss around with all that white space.

“What’s more,” they say. “if you hold a bowl Buddha-like while eating, you are psychologically more prone to mindfulness about your meal. You’ll also stand a better chance of catching all the flavors and textures with every bite and think you’re full a lot faster, even if you chuck the white carbs.”

FIND IT: Ramen – chicken or Berkshire pork belly with soft-boiled eggs – at Cornerstone Kitchen & Tap in Jackson; polenta with grilled halloumi cheese, chile and cilantro at Talula’s in Asbury Park

Vegetables as the star

“Vegetables in 2017 will extend their domination of the dinner plate, shoving animal protein to the edges – or off the plate altogether,” experts say. “We’re seeing a surge of serious chefs tilting their menus toward vegetables, but equally significant is the commotion among fast-casual chains.”

This refers to places like Sweetgreen, with locations in New York and across the country, and Beefsteak in Washington D.C.: Both are heavily focused on vegetables and have been very well received.

“It is no secret that Americans are eating less meat (26% of consumers said so last year) and that vegetarian/flexitarian diets (are) going mainstream,” reports Baum + Whiteman.

The James Beard Foundation says cauliflower is the new kale; the oft-overlooked cruciferous veggie has been growing in popularity lately. Chefs chop it small and use it in place of rice and to make pizza crusts, and some even serve thickly sliced “steaks” as an entree.

FIND IT: Zoodles, or yellow and green zucchini “noodles,” with asparagus pesto at Harvest Local Seasonal Cuisine in Farmingdale; wild mushroom tacos at The Belmonte in Red Bank; cauliflower-topped pizza at B2 Bistro + Bar in Red Bank

Ice cream evolution

For a few years, mint chocolate chip was all the rage. Then came fro-yo and vegan ice cream.

This year, things are going to get a little crazier.

Last year, Joe D’Esposito opened an ice cream shop in Belmar that specializes in scoops served in fresh-baked waffles. Then he started making an outrageous dessert that experts predict will be everywhere this year.

D’Esposito calls his creation the sideshow shake; the confection is an Australian-born treat known there as the freakshake. “They’re pretty wild,” he said. “It’s a milkshake with ice cream piled on top and all kinds of (toppings) stuck to it, like giant lollipops, cotton candy, chocolate-covered potato chips or pretzels, caramel corn.”

Keeping with the veggie craze, trend watchers predict the rise of ice creams and pops made with avocado, sweet corn, sweet pepper, sweet potato and pumpkin.

A third ice cream trend is Thai rolled ice cream, which starts with liquid ice cream base poured onto an icy cold metal plate. It is scraped quickly with metal paddles, add-ins are mixed in, then it firms and is shaped into rolls.

FIND IT: Sideshow shakes at Coney Waffle in Belmar; Burger 25 in Toms River, which on occasion tops shakes doughnuts from Uncle Dood’s in the township; Thai rolled ice cream at Angel’s Recipe Ice Cream in Hoboken

Meals on demand

Work, school, kids’ activities, exercise – people are busy these days. While busy people need to eat, busy people don’t always have time to shop or cook.

“Peapod, the country’s leading online grocer, recently found that most Americans (70 percent) cook the majority of their weekly dinners at home at least four nights a week, so it’s no surprise services that make it easier to do so are on the rise,” said Baum + Whiteman, which included meal kits on its list of top 10 food concept trends for 2017.

That’s where meal kit services come in. These gained major traction last year; think Blue Apron, HelloFresh and Plated. They eliminate the need to grocery shop and send pre-measured ingredients and recipes to your door.

For those who want to skip the cooking, meal delivery services are heating up, too. These are businesses run by chefs and food professionals who put effort into preparing healthy, satisfying, home-cooked food.

FIND IT: Deliboy Delivery in Old Bridge, Harbour Trading in Red Bank, Cavé in Avon, Eat Clean Bro in Freehold


1. Sorghum: Hailed as the new “it” grain, sorghum has more bite than couscous and is slightly sweet. The ancient grain also is gluten free.

2. New cuts of meat: shoulder tender, oyster steak, Vegas strip steak, Merlot cut

3. Street food-inspired dishes: tempura, kabobs, dumplings, pupusas (a thick, stuffed corn tortilla)

4. Savory desserts

5. Horseradish

6. Radishes

7. Jackfruit: This huge Asian fruit does double duty: Before it ripens, the meaty flesh makes a great substitute for pulled pork or chicken. Once ripened, it is sweet and juicy.

8. War on waste: Veggie extras are being turned into condiments and toppings.

9. Meat aged in whisky, sake lees (the remnants of sake production) and miso powder.

10. Caccio e pepe: In English, cheese and pepper. Traditionally found on pasta, the combination is being used to add flavor to veggies and meat.


Dunkin’ Donuts, NHL team up for corporate alliance

Dunkin’ Donuts, Canton, Mass., and the National Hockey League (NHL) announced a multi-year agreement, making Dunkin’ Donuts the official U.S. coffee, doughnut and breakfast sandwich of the NHL. The partnership, which marks Dunkin’ Donuts’ first national sports league partnership, will officially launch during the 2017 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic outdoor game, which takes place Jan. 2, 2017, in St. Louis.

As part of the deal, Dunkin’ Donuts will be prominently featured at several of the NHL events, including the NHL Winter Classic, NHL All-Star Weekend, NHL Stadium Series and the NHL’s year-long Centennial celebration. Dunkin’ Donuts will be included in advertising, LED Signage and jumbotron displays, as well as on-site activations at each event, the company says.

Dunkin’ Donuts also will have significant presence across NHL’s broadcast and digital platforms in the United States, it says. Dunkin’ Donuts also has a multi-million dollar partnership with NBC Sports that will include custom in-game features and dashboard visibility, as well as advertising across broadcast, digital and social media channels beginning Jan. 2 and continuing throughout the NHL season.

New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh and Boston Bruins center David Backes will join Dunkin’ Donuts as national brand spokespersons. McDonagh and Backes will be featured in a series of advertisements, along with U.S. Women’s Team Captain and star of the Boston Pride, Meghan Duggan, it adds.

“As the NHL celebrates its Centennial year, we are thrilled to be partnering with such an iconic league, giving our fans many more opportunities to engage with their favorite hockey teams,” said Tom Manchester, vice president of field marketing for Dunkin’ Brands, in a statement. “NHL fans, much like Dunkin’ Donuts fans, are some of the most loyal, energetic and passionate fans around. Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee, doughnuts and breakfast sandwiches are sure to keep hockey fans running throughout the season.”

Dave Lehanski, senior vice president of business development and global partnerships for NHL, added: “This groundbreaking deal, marking the NHL as the first professional sports league partner for Dunkin’ Donuts reflects the power and reach of the NHL brand and our ever-growing fan base. Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee, doughnuts and breakfast sandwiches are synonymous with hockey at all levels — whether you’re a hockey fan, parent or player. We’re excited and proud to welcome Dunkin’ Donuts to our NHL family and look forward to working together to engage hockey fans all across the country.”

For a limited time, Dunkin’ Donuts also will offer special NHL team logo doughnuts throughout the season at participating U.S. restaurants in select markets, it adds.

Prior to launching a league-wide partnership with the NHL, Dunkin’ Donuts has maintained a history of local partnerships with several prominent NHL franchises, including the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals, the company says. As a result of Dunkin’ Donuts’ partnership with the NHL, the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues have joined the brand’s roster of local NHL team sponsorships. Additionally, Dunkin’ Donuts became the first official corporate sponsor of the new National Women’s Hockey League in December 2015 and entered into a partnership with USA Hockey that includes designation as the Official Coffee Shop of the U.S. Women’s National Team in February 2016, it adds.


Anything-but-basic meat and potatoes

Meat and potatoes. The phrase has grown to mean more than just a protein and a starch. It’s become a descriptor, shorthand to describe an unadventurous—possibly even boring—eater. Every so often, you’ll hear a chef or manager describe their customers this way: “Well, I would love to put something different on the menu, but our customers…they’re very meat and potatoes.”

Well, meat-and-potato dishes like chorizo empanadas, Cornish pasties, Southwestern shepherd’s pies and Indian samosas just might be the way to change all that. Flavor profiles from around the globe and portable presentations take meat and potatoes (and your “meat and potatoes” customers) on a flavor adventure.

Miner Food and the Latin American Hot Pocket

Let’s begin underground to find the origins of portable meat and potatoes. The tin miners of Cornwall are said to be the originators of the Cornish pasty, a sturdy pastry shell surrounding meat, root vegetables, gravy and diced potatoes. The pasty was a portable lunch, taken into the dark depths of the mine. Pasties stay warm for hours, can be eaten without cutlery and—legend has it—are tough enough to survive a fall down a mineshaft.

Kerala shepherd’s pie, named for a state in India, features warm spices like cinnamon and cardamom mixed with lamb. The potatoes are spiked with shallots, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Photo: True Aussie Beef and Lamb

Let’s begin underground to find the origins of portable meat and potatoes. The tin miners of Cornwall are said to be the originators of the Cornish pasty, a sturdy pastry shell surrounding meat, root vegetables, gravy and diced potatoes. The pasty was a portable lunch, taken into the dark depths of the mine. Pasties stay warm for hours, can be eaten without cutlery and—legend has it—are tough enough to survive a fall down a mineshaft.

From those mines, the Cornish pasty traveled to miners’ lunchboxes across the ocean to the mining towns of the new country.

In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Cornish pasty is a local favorite, something the chefs at Michigan State University (MSU) are very familiar with. This portable meat pie is a jumping-off point for Jason Strotheide, executive chef, MSU Culinary Services, East Neighborhood, who finds meat-and-potatoes inspiration everywhere.

“One of my favorite things about food is that across the globe there are different cultural versions of the same foods represented in countless ways,” Strotheide says. “It’s all about the methods of preparations and, more importantly, what ingredients the locals have to work with.”

CURRY UP: Indian spices are a quick route to an out-of-the-ordinary beef stew with potatoes. Photo: Idaho Potato Commission

In a college dining environment, the idea of a portable feast that works for every daypart and even catering, is especially appealing, and Strotheide draws on the “endless varieties of the prestuffed, folded sandwich,” he says.

“In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, it’s Cornish pasties. But how about a curried lamb samosa from India?” Strotheide muses. “Both of those are great, but my favorite is the empanada: The Latin American version of the beloved Hot Pocket.”

Empanadas in the MSU kitchen begin with masa harina (translated to “dough flour,” it’s a traditional Mexican flour made with corn). Strotheide likes to blend masa harina with white flour, a combination that yields a tender dough with a light corn flavor and a crisp snap when fried.

For the filling, he browns crumbly chorizo sausage with onion, garlic and diced potatoes (skin on), along with some spicy chilies. Strotheide tastes the filling, and if chorizo lacks oompf, he adds some chili powder and cumin. The filling is then cooled, queso fresco or queso Chihuahua cheese is added along with cilantro. From there, the empanadas are formed: dough circles, filling added and edges crimped with a fork. These can be baked, but, “let’s be honest, we all know they taste better out of the fryer,” Strotheide says.

TWO NEW WAYS WITH POUTINE: Poutine is a meat-and-potatoes dish that’s overdue for adaptation. In this version (at left), Bombay chili cheese fries by Mehawan Irani of Chai Pani in Decatur, Ga., fries are topped with kheema, a mixture of lamb or turkey seasoned with chili powder, garam masala, serrano peppers, ginger, cumin, turmeric and coriander that’s been simmered with yogurt and crushed tomatoes. Shredded mozzarella or havarti cheese provides the cheesy finishing touch. Classic poutine features squeaky cheese curds and gravy made with veal stock. Photos: Idaho Potato Commission

“Once they’re finished cooking,” he cautions, “no matter what your mind tells you, do not take that first bite for a couple minutes, unless you like searing pain on the roof of your mouth! Then, go ahead and take your best shot.” He also recommends “minimizing the damage” by offering some cool guacamole or crema on the side.

Living dangerously aside, empanadas like these present a great opportunity to use the last of late summer’s bounty. Sweet corn, peppers and zucchini all go great with chorizo.


The liquor industry is experiencing 3 seismic changes

Whether you prefer whiskey, vodka, gin, or rum, you may have noticed some recent shifts in the liquor business.

In an international, incredibly broad industry, it’s hard to know which trends are causing seismic shifts, and which are just blips on the radar.

So, Business Insider turned to Gilles Bogaert, CFO of Pernod Ricard, the parent company of brands including Absolut and Jameson.

Here are three trends you need to know about that Bogaert believes are truly changing the liquor industry:

1. ‘Home-tainment’ is a new way to drink.
While restaurants and bars have historically dominated the spirits market, Bogaert says that in 2016, the focus is on discovering new moments in which consumers are drinking.

“At the end of the day, we aim to accompany the good moments of life with consumers,” says Bogaert. “People, more and more, want to have good moments with their friends at home.”

In the US and Europe, the shift is part of a growing movement to blur the line between entertaining at home and going out. In some emerging markets, concerns regarding safety are additionally helping drive at-home drinking culture.
For Pernod Ricard, the challenge goes beyond providing the correct beverages for the opportunity.

Succeeding in “home-tainment” means “not only bringing our bottles there,” says Bogaert. The company is looking into helping organize parties and using social media as a medium to share photos from moments spent entertaining at home.

2. Consumers are getting more savvy.
In recent years, sales of Pernod Ricard’s Absolut Vodka has dropped in the US, while Jameson Irish Whiskey has thrived. The reason for one brand’s slump and the others’ success is, according to Bogaert, how customers interpret the authenticity of the two brands.

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Pernod Ricard

While Jameson’s Irish heritage has been front-and-center, Bogaert acknowledges that Absolut’s marketing in the US got “maybe too emotional,” losing its focus on the actual quality of the product.

Now, the company is refusing to make the same mistake again.

So, instead of releasing new, out-there flavored vodkas and whiskeys, the company is promoting authenticity and quality. Absolut recently release ‘Oak by Absolut,’ vodka made in oak barrels, as well as Absolut Elyx, a “handcrafted luxury” vodka. In October, the vodka brand revamped its bottle branding for the first time it debuted in 1979 to emphasize its authenticity, heritage, and quality.

The quest for authenticity also shaping acquisitions. In late January, Pernod Ricard acquired a majority stake in “hipster-favorite” Monkey 47 gin, despite already owning mainstream gin brands Beefeater and Seagram’s.

“If we want to recruit the new consumers, millennials, we need to adjust a few things in our ways of working,” says Bogaert. “We have a fantastic starting point… all of our brands have a strong heritage and history. Absolut is coming from Sweden — it isn’t coming from just anywhere.”

3. E-commerce is essential.
When asked what he thinks is the top change shaping the liquor industry today, Bogaert had a surprising answer.

“The digital revolution,” he says. “It fundamentally changes the way we interact with the consumer, it changes the way marketing is done, and it can bring us a competitive advantage if we move ahead of the others”

In the next seven to eight years, Bogaert says that Pernod Ricard hopes that 5% of all sales will be through digital channels. The company already has its own digital platforms selling brands in countries including the UK and France, and is utilizing relationships with ecommerce giants like Amazon to further grow sales.

More immediately, social media and online marketing give the company a direct line to customers. Pernod Ricard can quickly respond to consumer habits and concerns, as well as meeting consumers where they already are. That, according to Bogaert, is an even bigger shift than any drinker’s preference for whiskey or vodka.


Traversing the best wine countries in Africa

The mention of wine for many, brings a lot of imaginations especially those of luxury, vineyards, dining and wining. For others, the fancies go all the way to romantically exotic destinations, fondly sipping glasses of some red or white wine with their inamorata(o)s. For wine lovers planning to turn their flight of fancy into reality, here are Africa’s best wine countries to consider for your bucket list.

South Africa

South Africa leads in having some of the best wine destinations not just in Africa but also in the entire world, having been identified as a wine growing country since the late 17th century. Traversing the country’s thousands of vineyards, some whose history dates back to 1659, will create a completely enticing world whose sheer beauty immerses you into an unforgettable adventure. From the Constantia wine valley located at the foot of the Constantiaberg Mountain, to the Stellenbosch Winelands which is the second oldest wine producing region, sample some of the best wines that SA has to offer. Traverse through the ancient settler’s town of ‘Paarl’, not forgetting the Franschhoek Wine Valley and experience its homely atmosphere and lush scenery.

If you like, go on a binge and once in awhile losing yourself to the wine world. The South African wine valleys are also child friendly, offering great play fields for your little ones. Whether seeking a solo encounter, a romantic getaway or a family bonding wine indulging experience, South Africa should top your list. Gourmet foods are available and accommodation to suite every style.


Argued to be the second largest wine country in Africa, Algeria is a close rival of South Africa also seeking to claim its position as a top wine producing destination in the continent. The Hauts Plateaux region is a force to be reckoned with, for remaining steady in the production of Algerian red and white wines including Algiers, Coteaux De Mascara, D’hara, Coteaux De Tlemcen Chlef and Béjaïa; all favorites of many connoisseurs of wine. Take a tour of the wine cellars, sample the various tastes and get treated to alluring views of the country’s dense vineyards.


Is Rose Wine your most favorite of them all? Tunisia is the best African country you can possibly experience this magical red wine, made from a variety of red grapes including Grenache, Clairette, Cinsaut Mourvèdre, Carignan, Syrah, Merlot and Alicante Bouschet. If red in not your thing, feel the white’s touch of lost paradise from the Muscat of Alexandria, Pedro Ximenez and Chardonnay grapes. The French flavor from Tunisia’s wine is everything you would like to sample in the wine world.


Morocco is yet another wine producing African country and while the industry is said to have a long way to go, it remains a major destination for wine lovers. Visit the Atlas Mountains that command quite a share of fame in producing renowned wines in the country. White is more common, while red is still grown in some parts of Morocco.

Cape Verde

It is not so popular with wine production, since only the Chã das Caldeiras, a small community in the Fogo Island produces wine. Yet, you can find some of the best red and white wines in Cape Verde that will activate your smell and taste glands with the brut.


Few people know Ethiopia as a wine country, yet Ethiopian wine enthusiasts have since 1998 been enjoying locally produced wine from Ziway, a small region in the Horn of Africa. visit the country’s Rift Valley and have a chance to indulge in both red and white wine from Bordeaux, whose consumption goes well beyond the Ethiopian borders. Enjoy the scenic lakes enclosed by an impenetrable woodland with thrilling bird life for your adventure.


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Colour-Changing Cocktails

Disco Sour, Restaurant 492

As explored in Food & Colour: Visualising Flavour, the food and beverage landscape is benefiting from experimental and compelling colour applications that are helping to elevate dining and drinking experiences to new sensorial heights.

Wine, in particular, is enjoying a multi-hued moment as product developers look beyond traditional white, red and rose iterations. See Alcohol Trends 2016 for insights into orange wine – a variety becoming increasingly popular for its light and refreshing taste delivery – as well as Blue Wine, a Spanish variety that uses indigo pigments to create a visually arresting product.

Bringing creative colour treatment to the world of mixology, South Carolina-based restaurant 492 has invented the Disco Sour – a cocktail that changes colour from pale yellow to deep violet. Dubbed by the restaurant as a “magical mood-ring ingredient”, butterfly pea flower (a bright blue flower native to Asia) is used to catalyse the colour transformation as it slowly bleeds its blue-toned ink into the beverage. Lemon juice can also be added to trigger a purplish tone.

Appealing to consumers’ desire for culinary drama, similar applications have been seen in other food categories. See Colour-Changing Ice Cream and Holographic Chocolate. These concepts are all focused on eliciting surprise and delight for thrill-seeking ‘culinary explorers’. See Nightlife Eats for more on bar and after-dark leisure culture.

For further insights into culinary experimentation using science and materiality, see Food & Materials: New Edible Forms. For more on current mixology trends in the at-home and on-the-go markets, see DIY Mixology.


Wild Turkey introduces Matthew McConaughey in global marketing campaign

A new voice for a bourbon brand
This month, Academy-award-winning-actor Matthew McConaughey began starring in Wild Turkey’s new global campaign, which reintroduces the world to the bourbon brand through a series of TV, print and digital ads. McConaughey also is serving as the brand’s creative director and is telling the story of Wild Turkey from behind the camera and in front of it, the company says. “Wild Turkey has the history and qualities of a brand that depicts the dedication of someone to do something their own way — even if that way isn’t always the most popular,” McConaughey said in a statement. “I want to help share their unique story, starting with a new ad campaign that I feel really captures the special essence of this brand while introducing itself like never before.” A short film on YouTube chronicles McConaughey’s visit to the Kentucky distillery as he explores what has made Wild Turkey a legend in the bourbon business.

In search of fine wine
California accounts for about 90 percent of the total U.S. wine production, according to the Wine Institute. Reveling in consumers’ fascination with both wine and celebrity, wine experts Nick Wise and Linda Sunshine take readers on a journey through the Golden State and the vineyards of the rich and famous, including Francis Ford Coppola, Kurt Russell, Yao Ming, Mike Ditka and more, in their second book “California Celebrity Vineyards.” The book features exclusive interviews and more than 250 color photographs of vineyards along the West Coast — from Napa to Los Olivos — as part of the authors’ two-year quest to find great wine and give readers a peak into the lives of the athletes, actors and artists who have all turned to the art of winemaking.

Travel in style
Heineken USA, in partnership with Tumi, kicked off the seventh year of its #Heineken100 initiative by releasing the first of three travel, business and lifestyle accessories. Heineken is partnering with the most innovative brands in the retail market to develop limited-edition, co-branded products that are seeded to 100 of the world’s most influential men, the companies say. The first release is a custom, Miami-inspired Tumi tote featuring signature Heineken-green detailing and superior functionality, it says. The second Tumi #Heineken100 product, curated for New Yorkers, will debut in September, while Amsterdam’s item will round out the 2016 initiative in October, it adds.

Beer with a cause
Green Flash Brewing Co. kicked off its sixth annual Treasure Chest beer release and event series Aug. 27 in San Diego. The program again included the release of Treasure Chest beer on draft and packaged in 22-ounce bottles available through November. Green Flash will host the third annual Treasure Chest Fest at its brewery on the East Coast in November, it says. “As a six-year breast cancer survivor, I am thrilled to see the Treasure Chest program grow every year,” Green Flash Co-Founder Lisa Hinkley said in a statement. “Thanks to the support of our consumers, we are proud to have raised over $220,000 dollars for our national and regional charity partners to date.”

Adding new talent
Muscle Milk signed a partnership with Noah Syndergaard, a pitcher with MLB’s New York Mets. Syndergaard, who uses the brand’s protein products, will be featured in marketing efforts throughout New York and the rest of the country, the company says. Muscle Milk will feature Syndergaard in marketing collateral at retail locations, in digital and social content, and through unique brand experiences for retail and distributor partners. “Noah is a unique young talent. His strength, drive and humble confidence are each consistent with our brand,” said Greg N. Longstreet, president and chief executive officer of CytoSport Inc., in a statement.

Elevating lives
Tequila Avión announced the launch of its new brand platform, Yo/Elevado, which encourages seasoned and novice tequila connoisseurs alike to elevate their spirit choices and lives, the company says. Inspired by Avión’s birthplace and the drive of its founder, Yo/Elevado highlights the parallel between the literal and the figurative, it adds. The platform has been brought to life in its Tequila Elevado a un Arte campaign, which explores what happens when one stops worrying about time and efficiency and strives to elevate tequila to an art. The company engaged both Spanish- and English-language creative directors from the Opperman Weiss agency to create the campaign, which includes a mix of traditional media, digital and social media, as well as a short film. The campaign will run through 2016.

Saying ‘no’ to beer pressure
Stoli Vodka partnered with extreme sports athletes to debut a video series titled “Extreme Cocktailing.” In a recent survey conducted by the company, 74 percent of millennial men said that they enjoy flavored cocktails; however, 63 percent avoid drinking them for fear of scrutiny from their peers and instead choose beer. So, Stoli launched a four-episode video series on and YouTube to show the 63 per-cent what they’re missing out on, it says. The series includes professional slackliner Spencer Seabrooke, champion bull rider Zach Miles, professional mountain biker Kyle Norbraten and world-renowned kayaker Benny Marr.

Make a TEAcision
This month, Snapple launched two new seasonal flavors — a Red Fruit tea flavor and a Blue Fruit tea flavor. The new teas are being backed by an integrated marketing campaign that taps into the 2016 Presidential election. Prior to the launch, Snapple visited cities hosting major political events to give fans a sneak peak of the new flavors, it says. Actor Michael Rapaport served as a break time correspondent and arrived at various stops in a wrapped Snapple “Break State Bus,” which was used as a base of operations for giveaways, blind taste tests and consumer debates about anything except politics, it adds. Digital creative supporting the new teas includes an interactive “create-a-campaign” break tool to generate a customized, patriotic campaign ad and an online “Can-Tea-Date” quiz, where consumers can see whether they lean Red Fruit Tea or Blue Fruit Tea, the company says.


Small-batch distillery makes strawberries and cream gin

Picnic-Gin-EMAIL-1-762x1024Independent, small-batch distillery Poetic License has transformed the classic strawberries and cream combination into a limited-edition gin.

The UK-based company has spent six months perfecting the seasonal recipe, which it said is believed to be the first of its kind on general sale. It combines traditional botanicals, including juniper and coriander, with a mix of real strawberries and cream that are both distilled and infused to ensure a stronger, fruitier taste.

Poetic License’s 37.5% ABV strawberries and cream picnic gin, best served with a premium elderflower tonic water or lemonade and mixed fruit, is being produced in a limited run and sold, subject to availability, from late May.

“Many flavoured gins are either distilled or infused but ours uses both processes to pack as big a punch as possible,” said distiller Luke Smith.

“After months of experimenting we have now found the perfect combination and hope Poetic License strawberries and cream picnic gin will soon find its way into picnic baskets across the UK.”