You may have heard of our neighbors to the north, Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. This boutique is a must stop during my many Philly trips. That and the Italian Market of course. Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’s carefully curated shop features small label goods from the likes of Billykirk, Wren, Shabd and Property Of, as well as posters from local artists’ like Alex Lukas. The shop has a lot to offer, but I’ll be focusing on their hand crafted liqueurs. Actually, you can’t buy them in their store. You’ll have to go to the liquor store down the block to get your bottles of Root and Snap.
Root was created by Steven Grasse, you know… the guy responsible for Hendricks Gin (psst… love this site). You may notice the similarity in branding style with both Hendricks and Root. Anyway, Root’s fantastic back story hooked me and I had to pick up a bottle when I was in PA. Unfortunately, you can’t purchase it here in Maryland.
The video they produced titled The Story of Root does a fantastic job explaining the history behind this liqueur. I’ll keep my explanation short and sweet… it’s an old Native American recipe. Ok, you can push play now.
The Story of Root
Root is a dark brown organic liqueur. Its aroma is dominated by the wintergreen and spearmint. But you can also pull out the anise. You may be surprised to hear that it doesn’t necessarily taste like root beer. Sure there’s a base root beer flavor to it, but it’s way more complex than that. And quite frankly, thank God, because most root beer flavored liqueurs I’ve come in contact with have been awful and way too sweet. Root has a nice balance of sweet and bitter.
The bottle lists the organic ingredients as follows: birch bark, smoked black tea, cinnamon, wintergreen, spearmint, clove, anise, orange, lemon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom and pure sugar cane.
Root is complex, reminiscent of an amaro. The balance between the anise and the mint flavors is really what sets this liqueur off. You’ll notice licks of the cinnamon, nutmeg and clove, but it’s the birch bark that’s kicking you out the door.
So when I heard Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction gave birth to Root’s sibling, I had to try it. And what do you know, it also has an interesting back story. Introducing Snap.
The Story of Snap
My Snap bottle lists the organic ingredients as such: blackstrap molasses, clove, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, rooibos tea, vanilla and pure sugar cane.
Ok, it smells like ginger snaps trapped in a bottle. All of a sudden I have this strange urge to build a gingerbread house. Shake it off! We’ve got work to do. I know it’s hard to consider sipping liquid gingerbread cookies work… ok it’s not work. I’ll drop it. You’ll notice a bold vanilla presence, accompanied by the baking ingredients of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and of course ginger. Sure it’s a sweet one, but what I like about this liqueur is that you get the sweet notes from the molasses and brown sugar.
I must say I enjoy sipping Root neat more than I do Snap. However, both liqueurs are versatile when it comes to making cocktails. Here’s a cocktail recipe that I named the Goulet Bruleé using Snap. It was featured at one of my Libation Lounge events.
- 2 oz pecan bourbon
- 3/4 oz Snap
- Bar spoon of sweet potato purée
- Grand Marnier foam
- Top with Turbinado Sugar
- Angostura flame bruleé
Add pecan bourbon, Snap and the sweet potato purée, in a mixing glass with ice and shake. Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with Grand Mariner foam and place some Turbinado sugar in the middle of the foam. With an olive oil mister filled with Angostura bitters and 151 rum bruleé the top of the cocktail. Always use caution with fire.
I always loved root beer, but didn’t realize it might have been my PA upbringing that gave me the affinity for the taste! Must grab a bottle of this liqueur next time I’m in Philly.
PA is responsible for a lot of good things. Next time you’re in Philly you must grab a bottle AND check out the shop.
Hey all the Baltimore peoples, The Wine Source in Hampden now carries Root!
You CAN buy it MD. I found some in Hagerstown.