it's okay to play with your food

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Root of the Matter

E at Foodaphilia and The Sugar has been something of a food blog mentor to me. She started following kitchenplay earlier this year and introduced me to the Philly food blog community. She helped me get set up on Food Buzz and has offered lots of great comments on kitchenplay posts. Plus, I try to score as many baking tips from her as I can!

Not surprisingly, when she posted on Facebook that she was seeking company for a new liquor tasting, I jumped at the chance. It was for something called Root. A cursory online search informed me that it was a "new American spirit," produced by the folks at Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, brown and in a beautiful bottle. Other than that, I didn't know what to expect.

Here's the skinny. It's root beer, but alcoholic. In other words, it's genius.

Root takes as its starting point the original recipe for root beer, when it was known as (the alcoholic) root tea. Back in the day, Native Americans taught the recipe to settlers. It was particularly popular in Pennsylvania as the necessary ingredients were readily available. During the Temperance Movement, a pharmacist in Philly removed the alcohol and created the root beer with which we are familiar today. We can thank the creators of Hendrick's Gin for taking root beer back to its, ahem, roots.

Nicholas Jarrett tended bar at the tasting, mixing cocktails with the old-fashioned flair and attention to detail one expects from an Apothocary bartender. As interesting as the cocktail combinations were, my favorite incarnation was basic: straight, on the rocks, in a snifter. Coming in at a close second was the Root and Birch, simply Root with birch beer on ice.

I love a few things about Root. 80 proof with birch bark, orange, spearmint, and ten other flavors, Root is sweet, smokey, herbal and delicious. It also encapsulates two things I adore about Philadelphia: our colonial history and the DIY spirit that runs through our city, the art scene in particular.

In addition to being a delicious liqueur, E and I were abuzz over the baking/cooking possibilities... a sauce for ice cream, pies, truffles... the idea of truffles intrigued one of the Art in the Agers behind Root. While nothing is for certain yet, there just may be limited edition Root truffles sold at Art in the Age produced by E and kitchenplay. Stay tuned...

Root hits state liquor stores and select bars this June. In the meantime, check out one of Mr. Jarrett's recipes below and start thinking about all the delicious things you'll try with Root.

Forbidden Root
by Nicholas Jarret for the Private Tasting of Root

3/4 oz. Root
3/4 oz. TRU vodka
1 oz. freshly squeezed white grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1/4 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 oz. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
dash of Angostura

Shake and strain into a cocktail glass

Check out E's companion post on Root at

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