PUNCH FEBRUARY 3, 2020
Natasha Bermudez Doesn’t Do Tropes
With no blueprint from which to draw inspiration, Llama San's head bartender has forged a truly original menu.
Seven Years Cycle
Conceived for the menu at Banzarbar in 2018, Seven Years Cycle was built outward from one central ingredient: Clear Creek cranberry liqueur. Bermudez set out to make a savory cocktail, pairing the cranberry with rosemary, before taking a different tack by calling on the citrus-forward Edinburgh Christmas Gin, which is also infused with frankincense and myrrh. Ancho Reyes chile liqueur adds a smoky note to the shaken cocktail, while the finishing touch comes by way of half a teaspoon of Vicario’s Monk’s Secret liqueur, an herbal, vegetal elixir that, in Bermudez’s words, “is the one thing that made the drink finally work.”
10th Good Food Awards Recognizes 219 Crafters from 38 States, Washington, D.C. and Guam
Dolores Huerta, Michael Pollan, Alice Waters & 1,000 guests gathered to celebrate.
San Francisco, CA (January 17, 2020) – The nation’s leading food crafters, grocers, chefs, journalists and activists gathered tonight at a gala Awards Ceremony in San Francisco to honor the 219 Good Food Award Winners of 2020. An annual recognition program now in its tenth year, the Good Food Awards celebrates American food and drink crafters who demonstrate a commitment to creating tasty, authentic and responsible products and in doing so, bettering our nation’s food system. Each of the 2020 winners demonstrates both a mastery of their craft and a commitment to maintaining exceptionally high social and environmental standards in their work.
This year, the Good Food Awards distinguished makers in sixteen categories (beer, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, cider, coffee, confections, elixirs, fish, grains honey, pantry, pickles, preserves, snacks, spirits). The 2020 winners come from 38 states, Washington, D.C. and Guam, rising to the top among 1,835 entries in a blind tasting with 252 judges held in September. The highest scoring entries were underwent a rigorous vetting process to verify they were not only exceptionally tasty, but met the sustainability and social responsibility criteria required to become a Good Food Award winner. Of the 219 winners selected from 320 finalists, 50% are first time winners. The greatest number of winners come from the Golden State (48), followed by Oregon (21), Washington (20) and New York (17). Following closely were Vermont, North Carolina and Colorado (11).
The gala Award Ceremony began with a glass of sparkling cider from winner Far West Cider and snack from Isadore Nut Co. and ended in an affirmation from Director Sarah Weiner of why, at this particular moment in time, the work of the 219 winners – each one a talented artisan, local business owner and sustainability advocate – is so important:
“Each of you is a living example of something that is impossible to imagine for so many people. Leaving a corporate job to join a rural economy; transforming one’s body and life through a curiosity for real food; reinvigorating an entire coastal community with a delicious idea. The 219 stories in this room make the impossible feel possible. You show us it can be done. Open our minds. Help us grow our gardens. That is your legacy.”
The Modern Bartender’s Essential High-End Spirits
We asked dozens of bartenders to reveal their go-to high-end spirits for mixing. Here's what they had to say...
" Vicario Spirits produces a wide line of expressive liqueurs, including Savage Cherry; the entirety of their line is “amazing on its own, on the rocks, or as a cocktail modifier,” says Chu.
Upstate Business Journal
Vicario Liqueurs and Spirits opens tasting room
"Five years after it first began selling its specialty liqueurs, Vicario Liqueurs and Spirits has opened the doors of its new tasting room in Greer.
The company has already made a name for itself in the competitive craft spirits scene of New York City, having won two Good Food Awards and three double gold awards from TheFiftyBest.com. Now company founders Janette Wesley and Vicario Renato are looking to give the local community a taste of their 15 handmade liqueurs, which are bottled right here in the Upstate.
“Come and visit,” Wesley said. “We think people will be surprised by what they experience here.” Read the full article here.
Introducing the 2020 Good Food Award Finalists
Selected from 1,835 entries to the 10th annual Good Food Awards, these 403 products represent 42 states and have passed vetting for category-specific sustainability standards.
Vicario Amore Mio Aperitivo has been listed as a finalist, and was selected as one of the seventeen finalists in the Spirits Category of the Good Food Awards held in San Francisco, January of 2020.
"Our Aperitivo is crafted with love, and old traditions of liqueur making that celebrate the end of the work day, and transition into the part of the evening when you can share your cares and thoughts with friends and the ones you love over a drink, usually served with a savory snack. Made with Estate Grown Wall Germander and Estate Grown Dittany of Crete, these herbs along with hibiscus flowers and several other herbs and spices give a vegan aperitivo option with no red food dye added.
We are super proud to be a part of the Good Food Awards, as the standards truly fit our company mission and philosophy overall. " Janette Wesley
"After a completely blind tasting in September, Finalists are announced in November. Finalists are the five highest scoring entrants in each category from each region of the country – North, South, East, West and Central. Of these, three in each region become the Winners. All companies that score well on taste undergo a rigorous vetting process to ensure they meet the Good Food Awards Standards before being named Finalists or Winners. After the blind tasting, finalists provide information on sourcing and their sustainability and social responsibility practices to verify they meet the Good Food Awards standards details listed in the Entry Form. "
Good Food Awards.
by Lillia Callum-Penso of the Greenville News
Also hosted on USA Today.
Tradition Wrapped in Award Winning VICARIO Liqueurs Made in Greer
Just off Interstate 85, just a few turns past the BMW manufacturing facility in Greer, sits home base for VICARIO Liqueurs and Spirits. The artisan spirits producer has been six years in the making and is one of the few in the country making traditional Italian liqueurs in the traditional way, with traditional ingredients.
The VICARIO “garden-to-glass” approach also is unique...
October 14, 2019
MARCH 13, 2019 story: BRAD THOMAS PARSONS
Amaro’s Long Lost Cousin Is Back
Will it be American distillers that finally give Italy's brooding, bitter walnut liqueur a chance to break through?
" With organic farms in Tuscany and South Carolina, Italian-born Renato Vicario produces and imports an extensive range of Old World-inspired Italian liqueurs, ranging in flavor from olive leaf to mirto, or myrtle. His take on a classic nocino is fragrant and fruit-forward with a slightly bitter, nutty taste."
While the name alone makes this bottle a worthwhile purchase (who doesn’t want a bottle of Dragoncello on their bar?), the flavors are equally incredible. Though it’s produced in South Carolina, this liqueur is decidedly European. The main botanical is artemisia dracunculus (aka French tarragon), which owners Renato Vicario and Janette Wesley cultivate on their farm of Italian botanicals. The liqueur is heavy on the tarragon with twinges of anise and other heady herbs. It is absolutely beautiful sipped solo, but also works in variations on classics like Sazeracs or Manhattans."
"Elsewhere, Naren Young, who describes himself as “a bit of a closet Frangelico junkie,” routinely laces drinks at his bars with the liqueur, ranging from the toddy-style Calypso Coffee (hot coffee plus rum, Frangelico and honey) to a rye-based Manhattan for two. In the case of the latter drink, each serving receives a quarter-ounce of the liqueur, in addition to an equal measure of walnut-based Vicario Nocino.
“I use it sparingly,” Young explains. “When applied with a steady hand, it can add some really subtle nuances to various drinks and pairs with a lot of spirits, especially aged ones.”
Naren Young, Dante at Genuine | New York
"My favorite find was the line-up of Italian-style, made in Greenville, SC, liqueurs and amari, Vicario (as a spirits judge at Good Food Awards, we awarded their Dragoncello liqueur in our annual blind judging last year). "
The Best of 2015 in Restaurants, Bars, Hotels & Travel
"Edmund’s Oast is one of Charleston’s food and drink treasures.
They also excel at cocktails, thanks to head bartender Jayce McConnell, like Olde Thyme Punch or classic Chatham Artillery Punch on draft, or Mountains of Madness combining Vicario Savage Cherry liqueur, Stranahan’s whiskey, a blend of three amari, chocolate and aromatic bitters, dusted with an amaro powder McConnell makes himself adding a textural, herbal kick."
The Southern Fork, Podcast #38, provides access to some of the South's most interesting culinary stories.
" Sometimes, at least most of the time I hope, a meal is more than a meal. It can be a time to bond, to celebrate, to linger at the end of the day with someone. That’s the world that fuels the creative passion of Janette Wesley and Renato Vicario of Vicario Liqueurs and Wines and Spirits." -Stephanie Burt, introduction to her podcast.
Vicario Monk’s Secret Herbal Liqueur
"Fans of European herbal liqueurs rejoice! Now we have a delicious and groovy nostrum made in the USA. Abundant with layers of herbal and earthy delights, the flavors begin minty and sweet, but the finish is complex and lengthy. Was that thyme? Oregano? I will happily contemplate the “secrets” of this concoction any day!"– Bambi Ray
Food Republic January 6, 2016 by Virginia Miller 2015: Best Drinking Experiences. The Ones We Remember. Southern Edition.
Virginia writes of Edmund’s Oast in Charleston, South Carolina, "Thanks to head bartender Jayce McConnell, the place also excels at cocktails, such as the Olde Thyme Punch or the classic Chatham Artillery Punch on draft, and Mountains of Madness, combining Vicario Savage Cherry liqueur, Stranahan’s whiskey and a blend of three amari, chocolate and aromatic bitters. It’s dusted with an amaro powder McConnell makes himself, adding a textural, herbal kick. 1081 Morrison Dr., Charleston, SC 29403; edmundsoast.com
— Virginia Miller
The Upstate Business Journal, Vicario Wine and Spirits, page 6. "Vicario Wine and Spirits’ “little
dragon” is a winner. The Dragoncello Liqueur handcrafted by Renato Vicario at his Greer micro-distillery Salute! LLC was named as recipient of a 2016 Good Food Award."