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St. Augustine Distillery interior. Photograph courtesy of St. Augustine Distillery

St. Augustine Distillery interior. Photograph courtesy of St. Augustine Distillery

Permanent Federal Excise Tax reduction and loosening direct-to-consumer shipping laws breed optimism amidst ongoing challenges

By Jake Emen


After several rounds of temporary enactments, craft distillers have finally achieved permanent federal excise tax (FET) reduction with the passage of the Craft Beverage Modernization & Tax Reform Act in December 2020. This keeps in place the temporary reduction of FET on spirits from $13.50 to $2.70 per proof gallon on the first 100,000 proof gallons removed from bond annually—a boon for craft distillers, as 98 percent of craft distillers in the country produce less than this annually, according to the American Craft Spirits Association (ACSA).

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Posted by on in June 2021 Editions
Wilderton Lustre. Photograph courtesy of Wilderton

Wilderton Lustre. Photograph courtesy of Wilderton

Contemporary gins and new spirits categories drive innovative explosion in botanical offerings.

By Jack Robertiello


In the beginning, there was gin. More than one type, of course—genever, Old Tom, sloe gin, and more—yet ultimately the dominant style became London Dry, a bracing botanical spirit, tangy, and juniper-led.
But at the turn of the last century, as spirit entrepreneurs crowded the market with new ideas, the range of botanicals exploded, and gin became a more wildly diverse category, particularly with the creation of the low- or no-juniper, citrusy New Western Dry style. Gin distillers further made their marks by introducing a cornucopia of ingredients—chamomile, lavender, tea, mint, ginger, and far beyond.

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In his 93 years, Peter Frank has witnessed Prohibition, the Repeal of Prohibition, a World War, Space Walks and Moon Walks.  For much of his time he has been an active member of the beverage alcohol business. In fact, he holds the distinction of being the longest living director of the Maryland State Licensing Beverage Association (MSLBA) board.

What’s his secret?  “I’m not retired,” he said, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal. “But I think it’s important that when people do retire, they at least get into volunteer work. They need to keep active. If they don’t keep active, their mind will go, and then their body will follow. Not me! I’m 93 and I’m still pretty active. You have to stay with it. And to stay with it, that means keeping up with everything.”

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Some of the best days are golf days. You’re away from the demands of your business, your family, your day-to-day life, and it’s just you and the ball . . . and maybe two or three of your buddies or colleagues. You shot a pretty decent round, you’re feeling pretty good about yourself, and now you just want to relax at the clubhouse and have a drink. A beer is always good. So is a soft drink. But a lot of golfers will tell you that the best drink after 18 holes -- or at the turn -- is the Transfusion.

A mix of vodka, ginger ale, and grape juice, Transfusions are not only great to replenish the fluids, they’re also good to share in social circles. Now, Links Drinks LLC has come up with a canned, ready-to-drink version.  

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Even though restaurant and bar employment is trending higher, staffing levels remain well below normal.  According to Bruce Gindy at the National Restaurant Association, “Eating and drinking places added a net 187,000 [U.S.] jobs in April. While the trend-line is pointing in the right direction, eating and drinking places are still 1.7 million jobs (or 14%) below pre-pandemic levels.”

Why is the industry still 14% below pre-COVID staffing levels?

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Richard Fisher has been a beer, wine, and spirits man ever since he went to work part-time at The Liquor Pump in Parkville. That was 1985. While at The Liquor Pump, Fisher soon discovered he had a real head for the packaged goods business and worked his way up to store manager. An opportunity eventually presented itself to purchase the old Timonium Liquors on the corner of York and Timonium Roads. He seized it and operated that store from 1994 to 2002.

In August of that year, he transitioned to Freeland Wine & Spirits. "We initially rented," he recalled, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal. "But in 2008, we bought the property and did an extensive expansion."

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INTRODUCTION  

Whoever said that the 2021 Session of the Maryland General Assembly would be narrowly focused on a few issues because of the COVID pandemic could not have been more wrong.  In fact, the pandemic had very little effect on the number of bills or subject matters that the Legislature took on.  From the budget, to healthcare, to police reform, and hundreds of other subjects, legislators considered 2,359 bills and resolutions, compared with 2,497 bills and resolutions during the 2020 Session.  They remained in Session for the full 90 days, unlike 2020 when their work was cut short due to the onset of the pandemic.  The annual meeting began at noon on Wednesday, January 10th and concluded at midnight on Monday, April 12th.

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As I write this, Maryland’s General assembly has just adjourned its annual legislative session. There is little doubt that Maryland’s lawmakers will again have impacted how we live our lives and run our businesses here in “ahem” The Free State.  Their actions imposing new controls or rescinding old ones will be embraced by some and decried by others.  

The legislative fallout from the executive branch’s response to covid-19 will take some time to parse. I fear the crisis caused by the restrictions on individual liberty will propel the same government that caused the need for temprary de-regulation to permanently change industry safeguards without understanding the basis and purpose of the original policies. 

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Across Maryland, bars and restaurants are hurting. Among those who have been hurting the worst are those in Baltimore City where Mayor Brandon Scott has imposed some of the tightest restrictions and longest lockdowns in the state. To the rescue has been The Famous Fund, which has been disbursing thousands of dollars to eating and drinking places in Charm City -- and garnering national headlines for doing so -- since its inception back in January.

The fund started as a wager between John Minadakis, owner and President of Jimmy's Famous Seafood, and Barstool Sports site owner David Portnoy, who is currently doing a national fund in support of struggling eating and drinking places. The bet was on the Baltimore Ravens vs. the Buffalo Bills playoff football game back on Jan. 16. If the Ravens won, Portnoy would have saved one restaurant in the city of Baltimore.

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Dwayne Johnson at Destileria Teremana. Photo courtesy of Destileria Teremana

Dwayne Johnson at Destileria Teremana. Photo courtesy of Destileria Teremana

There’s a gold rush in Mexico as a growing number of famous personalities launch tequila and mezcal brands—but which ones will have staying power?

By Jack Robertiello


When Keeping up with the Kardashians star and fashion mogul Kendall Jenner announced in February that she was the force behind 818 Tequila, social media exploded with accusations of cultural appropriation and then counterclaims of sexism.

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Posted by on in April 2021 Editions

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"Giant Food is great for my business. It's the anchor of my shopping center. But I'm two doors down. If they were permitted to sell beer and wine, I would be out of business!"

So says Joe Gray, proprietor of Festival Wine & Spirits in Annapolis' Festival at Riva Shopping Center. Gray is one of many packaged goods store operators statewide who's alarmed that the Legislature year in and year out considers allowing major supermarkets and big-box retailers to sell beer, wine, and possibly spirits.

"I don't think people understand the ramifications of what chain stores can do to small businesses," he told me during a recent interview. "When big chains take over and push out the mom-and-pops, customers lose variety. They lose service. You won't go into a grocery store and find somebody like me there to explain a wine to you. You completely lose that kind of service. The variety will suffer too. A chain store will basically go towards the streamlined stuff. I don't know if consumers or legislators really understand that."

But it's part of Gray's side job as President of the Anne Arundel County Licensed Beverage Association (AACLBA), an affiliate of the Maryland State Licensed Beverage Association, to make as many people understand as possible. It's all about getting the word out and showing strength in numbers.

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Photograph Courtesy of istock.

As legalization increases, major beverage alcohol companies are investing in cannabis beverages. Could this help legitimize the category?

By Ryan Malkin


The tide is changing for cannabis in the U.S., and the beverage alcohol industry is noticing—and increasingly, getting in on the game. Cannabis sales in the U.S. are expected to reach $16.2 billion in 2021, with cannabis beverage sales comprising $1 billion of that, according to BDS Analytics. 

These blockbuster sales come as cannabis legalization becomes far more widespread; only three states—Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska—lack some form of legal cannabis, according to the National Cannabis Industry Association. New Jersey and Arizona, among others, passed adult recreational use of cannabis this past November, and New York is poised to be next.

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Posted by on in April 2021 Editions

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As I write this, we are a year to the day after Maryland Governor Hogan imposed his first of numerous covid-19 emergency orders restricting the freedoms and liberties of citizens and their businesses.  The initial plan was to reduce the pending run on hospital beds.   Citizens considered the 15 day emergency order that would flatten the curve and slow the spread reasonable ... especially when sold images of ambulances lined up outside hospitals and freezer trucks filled to capacity with occupied body bags.  

Today, one year later and a far cry from hospitals being at capacity, Governor Hogan’s latest decree has, “lifted most of the state’s restrictions on economic activity.”  This most recent diktat removes capacity limits on restaurants and bars.   Or does it?   The order still requires that on-premise patrons must be seated, tables must be at least six feet apart, and masking as well as distancing requirements remain in effect.  “Patrons may not stand at a crowded bar,” Hogan instructed.  

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A trend towards innovative cask finishes challenges the category’s light-bodied, easy-drinking reputation

By Amanda Schuster 

Irish whiskey is widely regarded as an accessible, beginner’s brown spirit for good reason: All are triple-distilled by law, and most of the classic expressions from prominent brands like Jameson’s, Bushmills, Powers and Tullamore DEW are matured in ex-bourbon American oak barrels for that familiar ultra-smooth texture and toasty flavor, and bottled at 40 percent ABV. 

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Joe Carolan started Casa Mia's White Marsh in 1986 as a small carryout without any beverage alcohol. He originally had only 12 employees. Flash forward nearly 35 years later, and his payroll is at 46. These 46 staff a business that has grown as the Perry Hall/White Marsh community north of Baltimore has grown. Today, Casa Mia's is a restaurant, a catering service, and a delivery operation.

"We deliver everything that we sell," Carolan stated, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal, "including packaged goods. A customer can call up and get a bottle of Jack Daniels or red wine and also order lasagna and a crab cake if they want. I did deliver cigarettes up until about five years ago … but that got too crazy!"

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Perrine's Wine refridgerated delivery van, named Jean-Louis, serves as a brand-building tool as well. Photograph courtesy of Perrine's Wine

Perrine’s Wine refridgerated delivery van, named Jean-Louis, serves as a brand-building tool as well. Photograph courtesy of Perrine’s Wine

Retailers share best practices for delivering beer, wine, and spirits to homes across your state—where it’s legal

By Christy Frank


A robust delivery program can increase your shop’s revenue and expand its footprint beyond the customers that walk by your door. During times like these, when stay-at-home orders and general COVID-19 concerns may limit your customers’ ability and desire to walk in your door, it can become essential. In this ever-evolving pandemic landscape, many states have revised alcohol delivery restrictions in the past year to now allow liquor stores to deliver directly to homes, including Georgia (House Bill 879) and Ohio (House Bill 674), with Arkansas and Illinois poised to pass similar bills soon. It’s a new lifeline and operational reality for shops of all sizes.

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Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon, became Clyde Tavern, with sanitizer and partitioned ordering menus part of the new normal. Photograph courtesy of Jeffrey Morgenthaler.

Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon, became Clyde Tavern, with sanitizer and partitioned ordering menus part of the new normal. Photograph courtesy of Jeffrey Morgenthaler.

Bar owners from across the country share strategies for staying in business

By Chall Gray


Catastrophic may risk understatement as a summary of COVID-19’s impact on the bar industry. Like restaurants, many bars have shuttered permanently; in September, the National Restaurant Association forecasted 100,000 closures in 2020, and colder weather will doubtless bring many more permanent closures as further restrictions are placed on establishments, causing revenues to dip and expenses to pile up.

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Jaskinder Gill is an American success story. After coming to this country from India, he became active in the restaurant business and worked within the industry for the next 25 years. In 2016, Neal Dicken and his father were looking to sell Party Time Liquors in Mount Rainier. Gill leapt at the opportunity.

Upon taking ownership of Party Time, Gill immediately adopted an operating philosophy that he had embraced throughout his years in hospitality, the same one shared by the previous ownership of Party Time.

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Solemn Oath in Illinois optimized its parking lot, turning it into a beer garden. Photo courtesy of Solemn Oath

Solemn Oath in Illinois optimized its parking lot, turning it into a beer garden. Photo courtesy of Solemn Oath

Breweries were forced to adapt in 2020. Which pivots are poised to become permanent fixtures on the brewing landscape?

By Joshua M. Bernstein

Confronted with shuttered taprooms and closed bars, restaurants, and stadiums, breweries made many devastating choices last year. Some were forced to dump draft beer or ship off IPAs and pilsners to distilleries that created hand sanitizer.

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For so many, 2020 was a year of fear and uncertainty as the coronavirus ravaged the country and put the on-premise side of the industry through its worst year in history. The economy came to a halt as millions of Americans sheltered in place, and businesses were forced to close indoor spaces.  The National Restaurant Association (www.restaurant.org) has gathered some interesting statistics and trends I wanted to share…

About 110,000 restaurants across the nation fell victim to dining restrictions imposed due to the pandemic, closing either temporarily or for good.

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I've been writing this Maryland state legislative preview article each year at this time for nearly a decade now. The annual feature is usually a look ahead to the next General Assembly Session. But there's no way to move ahead with 2021 without acknowledging 2020, quite possibly the toughest, most challenging year on record for all facets of the beverage business.

The Year of the Pandemic worked its way into each of the three interviews I did for this feature. The COVID-19 crisis was a part of many answers to the questions I posed. Ultimately, though, all concerned expressed hope for the year ahead -- hope that business can return to something resembling normal. Just as important, they are hoping that state government will work with them rather than against them in 2021.

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From Greece to Glen Burnie, It's Been a Family Affair

Christos Discount Liquors has been a pillar of the Glen Burnie/Ferndale community since 1962, and the Christopoulos family has operated the business since that time of JFK, Johnny Unitas, and Ed Sullivan.

Today, three of the family's five siblings -- John Christopoulos, brother Nick Christopoulos, and sister Madia Toll -- are the proprietors. The trio bought the business from their parents in 1991.

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Photograph by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Photograph by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

Drinks professionals share their big goals, and how they plan to achieve them

By Rachel Tepper Paley


The year 2020 didn’t play out like any of us imagined. From the devastating physical and economic tolls of the pandemic to an overdue reckoning with diversity and inclusion in our industry, leaders across the drinks space are grappling with new realities and difficult choices. But from great adversity comes possibility. We spoke to 10 forward-thinking drinks professionals to learn their New Year’s resolutions for 2021 and how they plan to forge a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable future.

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Posted by on in January 2021 Editions

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Farewell and adieu 2020 … may 2021 bring fair-weather.  Well, at least a more fair business climate.  The age of Covid-19 has demonstrated that not all businesses are created equal ... in the mind of our elected and appointed leaders.  Large box stores are immune to the virus while on-premise establishments have been deemed the virus’ favorite haunt (especially after 10:00 pm).  

It is true that while local and state governments deemed some businesses essential and some not, the off-premise side of the beverage alcohol industry has dodged the bullet.  Will that always be the case?  Would the local neighborhood liquor/package store have been deemed essential if grocery stores, box stores and/or chain stores sold beer, wine and liquor?  

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Photograph courtesy of iStock.

Photograph courtesy of iStock.

From gifting to bubbles to ecommerce, Trade Pros prepare for an anything-but-normal season

By Courtney Schiessl


It’s difficult to make any definitive predictions about holiday sales across the beverage alcohol industry, particularly as the pandemic has affected different channels and product categories in disparate ways. In addition, liquor laws in various states are changing, which presents both new opportunities and challenges to operators. 

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Posted by on in December 2020 Editions

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Navigating a Course Into the Future

A  lot of packaged goods stores pride themselves on their customer service. Chartley Liquors in Reisterstown is proud of its customer relationships.

"We have been in the same location for 24 years," said owner Nick Vitale, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal. "During that time, we've grown to know our customers and their families in a very close and personal way,” added Tricia Vitale (Nick’s wife and co-owner). “Our customers enjoy being greeted by their first name. Our staff makes them feel welcome, and we give them the special attention and service. No matter how small or large their purchase is, they're all treated equally. I find it very true that what you give of yourself comes back to you tenfold whether it's a smile, a kindness . . . but, most importantly, loyalty!"

Chartley Liquors is named after the boulevard on which it is located. Vitale describes his core clientele as middle class local residents, hard working families, and single people who mostly purchase the same product over and over again. 

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Posted by on in November 2020 Editions

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2020.  What. A. Year. As if the tariffs  on European imports early on weren't enough, the wine and spirits industry had to deal with coronavirus, forest fires, and restaurant closures as well. But the calendar is wasting no time, and we as an industry are now entering the holiday season—which is reason to celebrate!

Along with the annual influx of holiday trimmings, the retail sector typically enjoys an injection of Value Added Packs (VAPs) to help guide customers with their gift-giving. Granted, this year’s “curbside pickup” culture may put a damper on retailers’ intent to create storefront displays. And some may plan to put the gift-boxed sets behind plexiglass this year, but overall the the array of holiday offerings for 2020 will not disappoint.

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There are a number of businesses in our industry that can correctly be labeled "family businesses." Huber's Orchard, Winery & Vineyards in Starlight, Indiana, is something beyond that. It is a legacy business, one that dates back to 1843 when Simon Huber settled a farm in the southern part of the Hoosier State and used his experience from his native Germany to grow fruit and make wine and brandies.

Over the decades, the farm has expanded from its original 80 acres to 700 acres today, and Huber's vision has been perpetuated through the generations of Hubers who have lived and worked the farm since. Among them is Dana Huber, Vice President of Distribution and Public Relations, and wife of co-owner Ted Huber. Ted and his first cousin, Greg Huber, are the sixth generation to run the business. And more and more beverage aficionados in the Mid-Atlantic are coming to know their products.

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Posted by on in November 2020 Editions

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Riverside Liquors is ALL about family! Co-owner David Butler says his family's roots in the packaged goods business date back to 1986 when his father, Albert, opened his first liquor store in Frederick. Dubbed Willow Tree Liquors, Albert eventually turned over management of the business to David's older sister, Cheryl Young, to return to his previous career in the computer industry.

David started working at the store part-time while going to community college and then went to work there with Cheryl full-time at age 20 (with their dad still contributing financially). In the early 1990s, the siblings heard about a new shopping center called Spring Ridge being built that would be anchored by a Weis supermarket. They eventually opened Spring Ridge Liquors at the site after selling Willow Tree to fund the move.

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Posted by on in October 2020 Editions
Readying barrels at Balcones Distilling in Waco, Texas. Photograph courtesy of Balcones Distilling

Readying barrels at Balcones Distilling in Waco, Texas. Photograph courtesy of Balcones Distilling

Distillers push for regional terroir expression—as well as a formal definition—in the burgeoning American Single Malt category

By Jack Robertiello


The young, fast-growing American single malt whiskey category is at a crossroads. For the past two decades, the curiosity factor surrounding American single malt buoyed producers as they ramped up production and fine-tuned the skill of distilling malted barley.

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Tip Top Photograph by Mia Yakel

Tip Top Photograph by Mia Yakel

How bartenders and craft distillers are revolutionizing the fast-growing RTD category with bar-quality cocktails in a can

By Alia Akkam


hen Tom Macy, a partner at Clover Club and Leyenda in Brooklyn, New York, created a bottled Paloma at Leyenda, he “discovered that it was better than the Paloma we made at the bar.” Intrigued, Macy sampled every ready-to-drink (RTD) product he could find and concluded: “We thought we could do it better.”

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Posted by on in October 2020 Editions

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The story of Nikita Corn Vodka starts during the Cold War Era when the then Premier of the Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev, impressed by the corn agriculture in the U.S., sought to plant corn throughout all the regions of the country--even in Siberia.

The idea proved to be mostly a disaster, but not for Ukraine. Corn is considered the "gold" of Ukraine. It is one of the main agricultural crops. There are ideal conditions for its cultivation, including fertile Ukrainian chernozem (soil rich in minerals and high moisture retention capacity). 

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S & W Liquors is celebrating 50 years in business and is, "Still Fighting the Good Fight!"  Some journalists are just fated to write certain articles. September 2020 will mark my 50th year on this planet. August 2020 marked S & W Liquors' 50th year in business. A random assignment? Or … destiny? I'm going with the latter.

Kevin Shifflett is the third-generation owner and operator of the Temple Hills store that has been in his family since the late summer of 1970. "I've been here my entire life," he said, during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal."

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Posted by on in September 2020 Editions

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A Family Legacy Continues

John Holmes, proprietor of Antietam Spirits in Boonsboro, recently turned the store over to his son, Chase, after running the business since 1972. Holmes had taken over the store from his own father, who founded it (as Ye Olde Spirits Shop in Frederick) in 1960. Along the way, he received lots of good advice from his dad -- advice that he has imparted to his son.

Chiefly? 

"Number one," he replied during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal, "you have to have product that people want. Today's customers want to know their choice is going to be there. They want to get in and get out. If people come in too many times and can't find what they want, they're not coming back. Also, you cannot have enough personal service for people! This is not a high-profit business. You have to do volume to make real money."

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Changes in state-level COVID-19 restrictions, as well as consumer behaviors, have led to crests and troughs in customer traffic across all industries.  Each industry has been impacted differently, and some are further along in their economic recovery than others.  Unfortunately, the on-premise side of the beverage alcohol industry has seen the deepest dip in business and has been the slowest to realize any significant bounce-back.

Let’s take a look at some numbers … just in the State of Maryland: 

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Medalla Light, Puerto Rico’s top-selling beer is now in Maryland and Washington, DC

Cervecera de Puerto Rico, which has crafted Medalla Light for 40 years, officially announced their partnership with EMD Sales, Inc. for beer distribution in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Medalla Light is brewed on the tropical island of Puerto Rico by Cervecera de Puerto Rico … one of the leading barley-based companies in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Medalla Light’s reputation for its premium quality and crisp, refreshing taste has quickly become the beer of choice for those seeking a chance to celebrate. Medalla Light has won multiple awards and has earned worldwide recognition at the Monde Selection in Brussels, the North American Beer Awards and the Australian International Beer Awards. 

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Ten Rising Stars Charting Creative New Paths—and Pushing for Inclusivity—in the World of Wine, Beer, and Spirits

By Dorothy J. Gaiter


It has been a long time coming and progress is still slow and fitful, but Black people are having an increasing impact in the world of wine, beer, and spirits. Some have well-established reputations, such as André Mack, winemaker and owner of Maison Noir wines; legendary mixologist Franky Marshall, who has mentored countless Black spirits professionals; and Brooklyn Brewery’s supremely talented brewmaster, Garrett Oliver.

Beyond them, however, is a growing number of tough, imaginative Black men and women, less-widely known, who are determined to make a mark in their trade through hard work and creativity. And, as they pave new paths, they are  just as determined to find ways to raise up others. In this issue, we profile 10 professionals who are helping make the world of beverage alcohol a more delicious and inclusive place.

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Posted by on in September 2020 Editions

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Experts weigh in on how to recruit top talent, avoid common hiring mistakes, and ask better interview questions 

By Hannah Wallace


People are the most essential asset to any business, yet hiring the right person for the right role is one of the most difficult skills to master. Even experienced recruiters say that hiring—part science, part art—requires years of experience, observation, and study to get it right.

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The IMC Unit of MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center is very appreciative of the crab cake platters prepared by Costas Inn and paid for by Drug City Liquors.

Off-Premise Establishments Help Front Line Heroes by purchasing Meals from On-Premise Establishments to then be delivered to Healthcare, Law Enforcement and Community Services ... Sound Like a CHALLENGE?  It Was!

Six years ago, the world became captivated by the Ice Bucket Challenge, an initiative that involved the dumping of a bucket of ice water over a person's head to promote awareness of and raise funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease. The challenge encouraged nominated participants to be filmed getting doused and then nominating three others to do the same. If the nominees either didn't comply within 24 hours or simply refused to get soaked, they would have to make a charitable donation to an ALS organization. The campaign raised over $220 million in research funds.

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Photograph courtesy of Cascahuin

Photograph courtesy of Cascahuin

Largely dependent on American bars and restaurants, Mexico’s craft distillers face a fractured pipeline

By Ferron Salniker

Cascahuin Tequila is among the many boutique agave spirits championed by U.S. bartenders who have pushed the diversity of Mexico’s distillation traditions into the spotlight. 

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Photograph courtesy of Crowler Nation

Photograph courtesy of Crowler Nation

Sales of tap beer to-go—canned on-site In ‘crowlers’—skyrocket amid shutdown and beyond

By Nickolaus Hines

Wild East Brewing Co. started brewing beer in Brooklyn in late December 2019. It distributed a small amount of beer to local shops through February while working toward opening a taproom in the late spring. And then New York City shut down.

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Chief's Bar is the kind of place people REALLY miss going to when there is a snowstorm, a tropical storm, when  they're traveling … or when there's a global outbreak of a deadly coronavirus. The business has been a community hub in Tall Timbers, Md., since 1927. David Dent is the second generation of his family to own the business since 1978. He has come to appreciate both Chief's history and the place it has in people's hearts.

"Chief's is truly 'Your Neighborhood Bar,'" he declared, during a late May interview with the Beverage Journal. " I am always amazed at the number of guests who celebrate their birthdays with us. We have hosted birthday parties for guests as young as one year old to guests well into their 90s.

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On-Premise Establishments Are NavIgating The Fog of Reopening

Nationwide, restaurants, taverns, and bars are gradually reopening in the pandemic era. And to ensure the return of nervous customers concerned with their health and exposure to a virus still active in the population, some are taking some pretty bold steps. In St. Louis County, Mo., chef-owner Robert Zanti has installed transparent, Plexiglas dividers between tables in his dining room to put guests at ease. Dan's Place Restaurant in West Greenwich, R.I., has retrofitted its indoor HVAC system with an ultra violet light and metal catalyst that effectively kills viruses in the air. 

Closer to home in Maryland and Washington, D.C., our intrepid owners and operators are being similarly aggressive. For example, several popular eateries have purchased ActivePure air purifiers from Vollara Health & Wellness. Dana and Alex Theodoropoulos, proprietors of the Black Forest Taphouse in Fallston, Md., are among them.

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Martin "Marty" Kutlik got into the beverage alcohol business right out of high school in 1977. While others his age were watching Luke Skywalker blow up the Death Star that summer or the Bandit run circles around Smokey, Kutlik was working long hours as a cashier/clerk at Dutch Liquors in Parkville. Four years later, he landed a job as a salesman with McCarthy-Hicks, then Maryland distributor for Seagram's brands.

But he dreamed of being his own boss. That opportunity came in 1986 when he purchased Ridgely Liquors in Lutherville and eventually transformed it into the popular Ridgely Wines & Spirits of today. 

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Boordy Vineyards is taking orders and payments over the phone and will bring your wine to your car.

beveragemedia_may20_retail_covid_BMG_covid_logo_Some are getting by with a little help from their friends. Or, in the case of Jimmy Spiropoulos, operator of Town Center Market in Riverdale Park, a few special customers.  "We're now working behind sheets of Plexiglas that we have installed," he said. "They're hanging from the ceiling at each one of our five checkout counters. Basically, I went and bought five large sheets, and I had one of my local handymen -- who's actually a customer of mine -- install them. Customers seem to really appreciate the steps we've taken to try and protect everyone."

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Posted by on in May 2020 Editions
Powered by to-go packaging, new signage, and a dose of social media, restaurants like Route 66 in Manhattan shifted gears to stay open after the dine-in shutdown. Photograph courtesy of Route 66

Powered by to-go packaging, new signage, and a dose of social media, restaurants like Route 66 in Manhattan shifted gears to stay open after the dine-in shutdown. Photograph courtesy of Route 66

Fine dining turns to takeout to save (some) jobs during the coronavirus shutdown

By Kathleen Willcox 


beveragemedia_may20_retail_covid_BMG_covid_logo_Forced into survival mode by the coronavirus pandemic, many restaurants and bars shuttered. Those that stayed open have had to drastically rework their businesses, many pivoting to takeout and delivery for the first time. Menus were scaled down and revamped, pricing was adjusted, and beverage service was completely reimagined.

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Posted by on in May 2020 Editions
Beast PDX was among many that had hoped to open for take-out, but after weighing costs and benefits, chose to temporarily close. Photograph courtesy of Beast PDX

Beast PDX was among many that had hoped to open for take-out, but after weighing costs and benefits, chose to temporarily close. Photograph courtesy of Beast PDX

Slammed by unprecedented shutdowns, the restaurant industry braces for a hard-to-predict future

By Beverage Media Editors 


beveragemedia_may20_retail_covid_BMG_covid_logo_The two-week stretch from St. Patrick’s Day, 2020, to the end of the month, will surely be recorded as the biggest shock in restaurant history. Mandatory dine-in shut-downs in every state left millions of servers, dishwashers, line cooks, and bartenders suddenly jobless.

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Vine Wine in Brooklyn was among many retailers setting up new store protocol. Photograph courtesy of Vine Wine.

Vine Wine in Brooklyn was among many retailerssetting up new store protocol. Photograph courtesy of Vine Wine.

After seeing early sales spikes, merchants deal with shifting consumer behavior and regulations

By Courtney Schiessl 


beveragemedia_may20_retail_covid_BMG_covid_logo_The industrys one bright spot during the devastating coronavirus pandemic has been the recent weekssurges in wine, beer, and spirits off-premise sales across the country. Even as the on-premise sector shuttered and Americans were confined to their homes, consumers were very much drinking. For many alcohol retailers (deemed essential businesses in most states), business boomed as consumers stocked up on alcohol, alongside toilet paper and household disinfectants.

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Fishpaws Marketplace in Arnold, Md., features a unique tag line both in store and on its website: "It's not a shopping trip … it's an experience!" And that is truth in advertising. This independently owned  business has operated at the same location since before Prohibition. Today, it offers an extensive selection of imported and domestic wines; an assortment of craft, microbrew, imported, and domestic beers; and a broad array of liquors and gourmet cheeses and foods.

Kim Lawson is the proprietor. And she is a firm believer that experiential retail is the way to stand out in today's crowded and intensely competitive market. Touting her store's features, she said, "We have a 12-tap draft system to accommodate crowler and growler fills. We have a Napa Technology Wine Station -- we call it the Wine ATM -- which allows customers to sample one-, two-, and four-ounce pours at any time. And we employ a certified cheese specialist, who will assist you in pairing your cheese or charcuterie course with your beverage of choice."

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As the Beverage Journal continues to closely monitor reports concerning the COVID-19 outbreak and the guidance being provided by the relevant health and government authorities, we want to ensure you that our Dynamic Search database is fully operational. 

State/National Resources

Industry Relief & Activist Efforts

Resource Hub for Customers

  • Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits has launched sgwscustomercare.com — an online hub for trade customers, providing COVID-19-related updates and resources for businesses in the hospitality industry. It includes federal and state-specific guidance for employers and employees; SGWS customers can also sign up on the website to receive email updates as new information is posted on the site. 

News Impacting the Industry

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