Local Wine Co's Blog

Trade Shows by cdbakunas
April 26, 2011, 7:54 am
Filed under: Travel, Word on the Street | Tags: , , , ,

Trade shows are the ubiquitous gathering of wine and spirit professionals in regional areas where one distributor takes three or four hours to highlight all their wares and invites their entire customer base to attend. In major markets these events get very large. The question is how do distributors differentiate themselves in this rather cookie cutter style event; how do they position themselves to their customers; and how do the wineries and distilleries that attend make an impact amongst dozens to hundreds of other colleagues vying for the small attention of the buyers? And let’s be honest, palate fatigue sets in rather quickly, there is always a high percentage of consumption which clouds the rational mind (but makes the event a helluva lot of fun) and beverage professionals tend to have short attention spans, especially when coming from the fast paced and hectic environment of restaurants.

I believe that one way to stand out in the crowd, as a producer, is to be honest, humble and sincere (be yourself) and to offer better product and better prices than your competitor. Of course if you have a product that is completely unique, like the only Old Tom Gin produced in America, that makes a huge difference, but if you are making California Cab or Chardonnay, why are you unique? Not saying that you can’t be, but what is it that makes you unique in this over burdened supply side world of domestic and international wines?

And as a distributor, what are you doing to separate yourself from the crowd. Cream Wine Company in Chicago is doing a very interesting thing this year at their annual Small Batch portfolio tasting. And remember, this is one of the top five markets in the US. Only owners, winemakers or distillers are allowed to present at this years tasting. That means no regional sales managers, no marketing interns, no national paper pushers will be pouring and entertaining the beverage professionals. I have not seen this done anywhere else in the US and I love the idea. It gives separation from their peers (distributors) and offers the highest level of quality information to the buyers who attend this tasting because the get to speak directly with the man or woman who is responsible for making the wine, the whiskey, the vodka, etc.

I hope to see more innovations in trade tastings over the coming years. It’s all to easy to fall into conformity and do what the other guy is doing. Let me know what else you’ve seen out there that is unique and wonderful.


Maude’s Smokey Violet Smash Cocktail by cdbakunas
January 5, 2011, 1:51 pm
Filed under: Libations, Making Cocktails | Tags: , , ,

A big thank you to our friend Jean Tomaro at Chicago’s newest hot spot Maude’s for the following Ransom Old Tom Gin cocktail. If you find yourself in the Windy City you deserve to treat yourself to a fantastic cocktail at Maude’s. Make sure to stay and eat as well, the food is fantastic.

Here’s their sublime Smokey Violet Smash

Rinse double old fashion with a few drops of Laphroaig
muddle 3 lime slices, 2 lemon slices, 7 pieces mint
add 1.25 oz Orchard Creme de violette
.5 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin

add crushed ice, rock back and forth 3 times.
top with Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters
garnish with a lemon swath, an orange swath and a mint cap


Enjoy another cocktail brought to you by the proud folk at Local Wine & Spirits.

To Make a Cocktail – Day 2 – Punch by cdbakunas
December 15, 2010, 12:31 pm
Filed under: Making Cocktails | Tags: , , , , , , ,

So I went out last night to gather ingredients for our first day of cocktails, Brandy Punch session (page 70 Imbibe, David Wondrich) and discovered a few things about myself. When out of my comfort zone I stand still like a deer in headlights.  Still, I’m so glad I’ve decided to make every cocktail in this book. It is such a different point of view when you read something and say, “ya, that’s a great idea,” then to actually go out and do it is another story.

I went to our largest retailer of wines and spirits here in Chicago and headed directly for the Brandy section. It never dawned on me that unless you are buying Cognac or Armagnac the brandy selection in the United States is pretty lame. Okay, extremely lame. Christian Brothers or E&J (E&J’s selling point is that it is a “classic” and in a shatter proof plastic bottle…hmmm).  And I really didn’t want to spend $85 on a bottle of Cognac that was being made into a punch.

I love me some good food and interesting ingredients, but where in the world go you find guava jelly if you don’t live in the tropics. A tough bill to fill in winter in Chicago. Whole Foods seemed like the obvious outlet, they did after all have tamarind jelly, but I’ll be damned if I can find some guava here in the winter.

And when your recipe says Jamaican rum what level of rum should I get? Aged, clear, pricey, moderate? Fuck, so many questions I didn’t think to ask. It’s like I needed a life line telephone call to help sort this all out.

So I have the ingredients and a few friends are on their way over right now and punch time commences within the hour.

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