Spicy Condiments by Bushwick Kitchen

Sugar and spice is coming at you this holiday season and Santa’s going to make a stop off the L to grab it for you. Bushwick Kitchen has the proverbial elves creating a short list of flavorful honeys and a stand out signature siracha. All are made from NY sourced honey and spices from chinatown in neighboring Queens. These will surely make your holiday dishes a stand out.

Available from Bushwick Kitchen.

Single Malt Whiskey by Westland

Alongside all of those condos and apartments springing up to fill the needs of a growing Seattle tech market are lots of breweries and distilleries to serve the thirsty masses. Westland Distillery is a local standout that has also received global attention from Scottish whisky diehards for its single malt creation. The spirits start their journey in the SODO district of Seattle in the beautifully outfitted Westland distillery space with a grain bill featuring a pale base malt grown in Washington. A select batch of grain is dried and smoked with peat, an old world trick to a smokier profile, for a “peated” malt. On the Olympic Peninsula there is a wealth of peat harvested by the distillery. After fermentation and distillation the alcohol is aged in either New American Oak or Sherry that was harvested in the American south then used as casks for a century in Spain and repurposed back home. Westland wants to make Washington the place you think of for quality whiskey so look out Bill Gates.

Available from Westland Distillery.

Hand-poured Candy by Quin

Somewhere along the line candy started to be made in a never ending line of machines, molds, and lots and lots of artificial flavors. Jami Curl wanted to bring the charm of old-fashioned hand made candy into the modern world of shape, color, and flavor. She is personally responsible for all of the design and flavor by Portland based candy makers Quin. Here every single candy from lollipop to gum drop is made in small batches and packaged by hand. The ingredients are real. Things like honey, hazelnuts, berries, and salt all that are sourced locally from Oregon.

Available from Quin.

Dry Hot Sauce by Benny T’s Vesta

There are enough hot sauces out there to fill a pool to swim in but rest assured they are all watered down compared to Benny T’s Vesta. Ben Tuorto has a thing for heat and a few years ago went the distance by starting to grow his own chiles. Now he has a harvest of all varieties he combines in a few different brow perspiring recipes that give more dimension to spicy than other red condiments. You can start out on the ground level of a Jalapeño and Serrano hot mix and kick it all the way up to a Habanero and Ghost mix. Ouch. Yum. From soil to jar everything is grown and packaged in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Available from Benny T’s Vesta.

100%Materials and labor all American.

PROFILE – TOPO Distillery

Truly American grown.

Yeah, there are a bajillion micro-breweries across the nation, some of which you might even find in someone’s basement. What you won’t find many of out there are micro-distilleries. And even fewer still, micro-distilleries making their own alcohol from domestic and organic raw ingredients. You can count those on one hand. Then once you add in all of the environmentally friendly practices that TOPO Distillery has incorporated into their distilling process you are talking about a truly unique beverage. TOPO, or Top of the Hill, got their start as a pub and restaurant over looking the scene of many college basketball victory celebrations on Franklin St. in the little college town of Chapel Hill. After securing an iconic spot and becoming successful at their own micro-brewery, the next step was obviously to make their own Vodka, Whisky, and Gin.

It all starts with a soft red winter wheat organically grown down the road in Scotland Neck, NC. The wheat is ground and turned into mash which ferments in a huge fermenting chamber that is temperature controlled.

With a custom built distillation tower that uses up to 70% less water and energy TOPO separates the alcohol from the mash in about half the time it would normally take. Part of what makes this process so efficient is recycling water which cuts down on water use and makes it easier to control the temperature. Most distilleries don’t even make their own alcohol, but instead buy it from facilities that do just that. And the process has really only just begun.

TOPO then takes the separated alcohol, puts it in the beautiful copper pot still, and begins the rigorous purification process. Rigorous because if you are going to make a clean crisp tasting vodka then you are going to need to get rid of impurities like methanol and aldehydes. For vodka TOPO starts with alcohol that is above 80 proof and runs it up a tower with 22 condensation plates where the alcohol goes from gas to liquid at each stop getting rid of those impurities. This is done 3 times essentially distilling the alcohol 66 times to give you a 97 proof product.

TOPO has a white whisky that goes through a shorter distillation column and straight to the bottle or to a red oak barrel to be aged and bottled later. Gin is infused with Juniper and other botanicals before going through the column. Botanicals and flavors were at first sourced from all over, but with strong ties with their farming partners TOPO convinced them to grow those ingredients too. Now approximately 97 percent of all TOPO’s ingredients come within 150 miles from the distillery.

Even their bottling, labeling, and packaging is done in house. All their efforts in building an environmentally conscious craft distillery has earned them a Green Plus label, lots of awards, and should earn your top shelf.

Find out where you can buy a bottle at TOPO Distillery.

100%Materials and labor all American.

Cured Meats by Olli Salumeria

Even Italy will be envious.

It was a sad state of affairs before Olli Salimerua was started by a naturalized Italian that comes from 160 years of cured meat expertise. The Italian, named Olli as you can guess, was living in the U.S. and still importing his favorite prosciutto and salami before his friend and now business partner Chip posed the question “Why can’t you get that here?”. After partnering with top notch family-owned pig farmers from New Jersey and Iowa who raise their animals feeding from the pasture, having the right ingredients here was no excuse anymore. With all of Olli’s knowledge and family history imported from Italy to Mechanicsville, Virginia and the perfect pieces of pork Olli set to making what might make Mario Batali stay stateside for a while. From calabrase to prosciutto to pepperoni, everything is cured in Virginia and never has to cross an ocean to get to you unless you are ordering from Italy.

Available from Olli Salimeria.

100%Materials and labor all American.

Cold brew Coffee by Slingshot Coffee

Okay so it’s still technically winter, but imagine yourself in the dead heat of summer with a hot coffee…wait. Scratch that. You need that caffeine, but think ice cubes and a bottle of black gold. Yeah…that’s what’s up and Jenny Bonchak of Slingshot Coffee Company is taking you there. Slingshot is slangin’ the finest coffee from Counter Culture Coffee roasters in Raleigh, NC and bringing it to you all over and via the internet. The beans origin are hand printed on this handmade brew’s label. It comes in 2 kinds of brews. One which you can sip right from the bottle and another more concentrated brew that you can mix to your hearts content. Recipes are included on the website.

Available at Slingshot Coffee Company.

Organic Spirits, Liqueurs, and Bitters by Greenbar

The carbon negative cocktail.

Distilling fine spirits is so much a part of America’s heritage that even George Washington himself owned a distillery. Since then the industry hit some snags like well…prohibition, but craft distilling is coming back in a big way and Greenbar Collective is leading the way in redefining American made spirits. Greenbar is the first distillery in Los Angeles since the 1920’s, but they started out in a much smaller way. Husband and wife Melkon Khosrovian and Litty Mathew began experimenting with infusing vodkas with different ingredients before they were married. As both their passion for each other and creating unique tasting spirits grew so did the requests from friends and family to make more. Jump ahead a few more years and Greenbar now boasts the largest organic line of spirits on the market and a facility just a little bit bigger than a kitchen in a part of Los Angeles built to bring manufacturing back downtown known as the Cleantech Manufacturing Center.

Going organic was a decision that started with the relationships Greenbar had built with local farmers who had decided to switch over their produce to organic because of the better flavors. Greenbar gets it’s produce like lemons and oranges within 50 miles of its distillery. The TRU vodka is made with American grown wheat. Other flavors like jasmine and hibiscus from locally grown organic flowers are used to make Fruitlab Liqueurs that taste like a spirit experiment gone right.

Ingredients are only part of what makes these drinks taste so unique. The refined process for each individual product is the other half of what makes them stand out. Greenbar’s rum, which is made from organic molasses and sugarcane, is distilled using a micro-oxygenation technique borrowed from winemakers. Unlike the other clear gins out there, the TRU gin gains its honey like color from taking 2 months to infuse flavors like juniper, coriander, chamomile, and lavender. It is then redistilled to capture the purified aroma and alcohol. Lastly, a white whisky produced from three organic grains (oats, malt and spelt) which are fermented slowly to bring out the taste and aroma but not aged like other whiskys to create the equivalent of what Khosrovian calls a silver tequila. Greenbar’s actual tequila is the only spirit they make outside of the U.S. in Mexico. They use a distillery and agave farm as resources which they fly down to operate and oversee.

So is it just organic ingredients that is taking down so much carbon? No. On top of going organic Greenbar uses less material in their bottles, recycled labels, and they plant one tree in central America for every bottle sold. That equates to close to 200,000 trees and enough carbon absorption to erase a day of your carbon footprint for every 2 ounces of Greenbar product consumed. So drink up. We have to fight global warming somehow.

Find available retailers at Greenbar Collective.

Empire Mayonnaise Co.

Making even NYC sandwiches richer

Empire_Mayo_JarsStraight out of the foodie pretentious Prospect Heights area of Brooklyn, Empire Mayonnaise Co. is creating some flavorful mayonnaise combinations that could turn your everyday turkey sandwich into something even Oprah is talking about.Empire has a wide range of the classic condiment to choose from like miso, red chili, wasabi, lime-pickle, and malt vinegar. They also have a classic recipe and if you feel like putting on the ritz with your spread they have a white truffle flavor too.

Empire_Mayo_SpreadEmpire_Mayo_SpreadEmpire Mayonnaise Co. was started in 2011 by chef Sam Mason and designer Elizabeth Valleau. They have a small storefront where they sell their unique mayo and also distribute to a number of other stores across the country. Into every mayo goes organic products including locally sourced eggs from upstate New York and other organic spices from both domestic and global sources. Not to mention a well designed attractive container made of glass.

Available at Empire Mayonnaise Co. and stores across the country.

Empire_Mayo_StorefrontEmpire_Mayo_StoreEmpire_Mayo_Chefsphoto credit to Weekend Warrior Brooklyn

Maple Products by Tonewood

We've come a long way since syrup.

Tonewood_MapleIn the woods of Vermont there may be a Sasquatch, but chances are you would have a better chance spotting a maple tree. Tonewood, based in Mad River Valley, has tapped into the abundance of Vermont maples to create some traditional products like maple syrup and a few not so traditional ones like maple cream, maple wafers, and maple flakes. They take special care to responsibly harvest the sap with their artisan sugarmakers who use refined techniques to transform the sap into pure maple syrup. Tonewood also has an “adopt a tree” program allowing customers to enjoy the harvests of their very own tree. They have partnered with other local independent maple farmers to collaborate with on the adoption concept. These high quality maple syrups and products are sure to please any pallet…even a Sasquatch’s.

Available at Tonewood.

Tonewood_SyrupTonewood_CreamTonewood_Flakes100%Materials and labor all American.