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Producer Profiles

Spirit Savant & Tamworth Distilling Founder Steven Grasse

Photo for: Spirit Savant & Tamworth Distilling Founder Steven Grasse

10/02/2022 Steven Grasse, who admits his work is influenced by punk rock and New England transcendentalism, is the founder of Quaker City Mercantile, an advertising agency specializing in strategy and creative concepts for liquor brands.

He's the brand builder and creative mind behind some of the most iconic booze brands of the twenty-first century, think, Hendrick's Gin, Sailor Jerry Rum, Guinness, Pilsner Urquell, Narragansett beer, and Miller High Life. Steven Grasse, who admits his work is influenced by punk rock and New England transcendentalism, is the founder of Quaker City Mercantile, an advertising agency specializing in strategy and creative concepts for liquor brands. His distillery, Tamworth Distilling & Mercantile, opened in 2015 and gained international press and awards within its first year. He is also the author of Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History, The Good Reverend's Guide to Infused Spirits, and Evil Empire, and he's just brought out The Cocktail Workshop.


Why did you write The Cocktail Workshop?

The book brings to life our mission for the Art in the Age store in Philly to demystify craft cocktails and make high-quality cocktails accessible to a broader audience.

We feel that The Cocktail Workshop is for anyone who has ever made cocktails at home," said Grasse.

"We've worked together with Lee to show the proper methodology for crafting truly impressive cocktails without expert training. I'm very proud of The Cocktail Workshop; it fits into a broader conversation about the average imbiber taking cocktail edification into their own hands."

What will readers learn from The Cocktail Workshop?

Readers will learn to craft elevated, classic cocktails, as well as create unique, flavor-forward contemporary takes on cocktails from Martinis and Negronis to fat-washed whiskies, fresh-fruit shrubs, and postmodern slushies. Using the building blocks of iconic cocktails, including the daiquiri and the Old Fashioned, readers' base-level cocktail knowledge will improve markedly as they practice crafting each drink. In addition, the Cocktail Workshop expounds on hands-on skills such as the proper way to dry-shake an egg white cocktail or carve a manicured lime twist while understanding the fundamentals of cocktailing: how drinks are created, related, and integrated.

How did the partnership with Adam Erace come about?

Adam is a food and travel writer, restaurant critic, and recipe developer. We loved Adam's work on his two cookbooks, Laurel: Modern American Flavors in Philadelphia and Dinner at the Club: 100 Years of Stories and Recipes from South Philly's Palizzi Social Club. And he's a Philly guy through and through, so when it came time to find a partner for the book, he was an ideal fit.

How did the pandemic change your own drinking style & cocktail habits?

Like many people, I began testing out my at-home cocktail skills more, but the style didn't change. If I'm drinking, I typically like whiskey straight up or a simple improvement on that.

Do you have a particular favorite of the 20 classic libations featured in your new book?

The rye Manhattan, and the Breakfast Manhattan, Reversed.

What do you think 2022 will bring in terms of cocktail trends?

Aperitivo hour will continue trending, so the low and no-abv cocktail trend will follow with it. And every time you turn around, there's a new celebrity jumping in on the RTD cocktail trend, so I'm sure that kind of publicity is going to keep pushing the RTD category forward too.

What can we expect from Tamworth Distilling in 2022?

Tamworth has bought an additional 105 acres, and we are going to expand in 2022 by building new barrel houses and two new stills. We will also be coming out with some amazing new and extremely unique spirits in our House of Tamworth line of whiskies.

Three songs on your current playlist to go with your cocktail hour.

The playlist depends on what we are drinking:

Our Deerslayer venison whiskey goes great with the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack (James Fenimore Cooper wrote both The Deerslayer and Last of the Mohicans).

Our Old Man of the Mountain Bourbon goes great with the whole first side of Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick."

And our Tamworth Garden gins go exceptionally well with Upon Drinking in a Bow" from the Libertine soundtrack by Michael Nyman.

Dream Bar

Tokyo's Old Imperial Bar designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1923.

Interview By: Colleen Thompson, Writer, Photographer, Content Developer

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