Ritual Drinking at Tales of the Cocktail 2013

Bone Luge. Pickleback. Menu Backing. Mixologists do some weird things. Come try them with us — me, Jason Littrell, and Daniel de Oliveira — at our Spirited Dinner sponsored by Altos Tequila at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail:

The rebirth of the cocktail has given us exquisitely balanced, complex drinks. It has also given us some very strange drinking rituals. From the Pickleback to Menu Backing to the Bone Luge, odd drinking trends have a way of spreading virally and bringing friends together. Popularizers of these trends — Jason Littrell from New York, Daniel de Oliveira from Chicago, and Jacob Grier from Portland — bring them to the Spirited Dinner table along with some of their favorite craft cocktails, featuring the blanco and reposado expressions of Altos Tequila and food pairings from Sylvain.

Attendees at this dinner will not only enjoy multiple courses of food and cocktails, they’ll also have fun taking part in unusual drinking trends and gaining an understanding of why they spread.

Sylvain is one of my favorite restaurants in New Orleans, so I know the food is going to be great and I’m thrilled that we’re able to work with them. The dinner menu is at the link, with cocktail and drinking ritual menu coming soon. There are only 30 seats and reservations are $100. I hope to see you there on July 18th.

[Pictured: Original Bone Luger Danny Ronen.]


More questions from the FDA

Good news: The FDA is once again taking action on the application of Hestia Tobacco, the aspiring start-up whose case I profiled in The Atlantic this week. Bad news: The agency returns with a new round of demands for information.

To recap, in order to bring their cigarettes to market, Hestia Tobacco and brand owner David Sley must prove that their product is substantially equivalent to a product that was already on the market before February 2007. Sley identified the original blend of Natural American Spirit as his chosen predicate and submitted a report demonstrating the very tight similarities between it and his product.

Natural American Spirit is an established brand, successful enough that its parent company was acquired by Reynolds American in 2001. Even if you don’t smoke, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with it. Yet Hestia Tobacco’s newest task is proving that this product really was for sale, as explained in an email Sley received this morning and in a phone call yesterday:

Dear Mr. Sley,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with CTP’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement today regarding your 905(j) submission. In follow-up to our conversation, please find below a summary of the information we requested.

1. Evidence demonstrating that the predicate tobacco product was commercially marketed in the United States as of 2/15/2007

Please provide evidence to demonstrate that the predicate tobacco product was commercially marketed in the United States on 2/15/2007. If you cannot provide evidence demonstrating the tobacco product was commercially marketed on 2/15/2007, per our discussion, we suggest that you provide evidence that your product was commercially marketed before and after 2/15/2007.

Examples of such evidence may include, but are not limited to, the following:
• dated copies of advertisements;
• dated catalog pages;
• dated promotional material;
• dated trade publications;
• dated bills of lading;
• dated freight bills;
• dated waybills;
• dated customer receipts; or
• dated distributor or retailer inventory lists.

2. Evidence Description

Please provide a brief statement or chart explaining and identifying any abbreviations (e.g. item number and/or product description) in the evidence and how it references the predicate tobacco product.

3. Package Description

Please provide a statement as to whether the cigarettes are sold as a soft pack or hard pack.

4. Statement that the predicate tobacco product was not in a test market as of 2/15/2007

As you stated in the teleconference, your predicate tobacco product is Original Blend Natural American Spirit and you do not own the product. Thus, in addition to providing a statement that to the best of your knowledge the predicate tobacco product was not in a test market only on 2/15/2007, please provide additional evidence to show that product was not in a test market only. Examples of this additional evidence can include but are not limited to: dated copies of U.S. advertisements, dated U.S. promotional materials, dated online U.S. product reviews, dated U.S. articles, etc.

We request that you provide the above information for the following 905(j) Report (SE0004644) as soon as possible.

You may receive additional requests if further information is needed. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you!


Hestia Tobacco’s application was submitted in June of last year. As explained in my article, the law implies that these reviews should be complete within 90 days, or at most 180. Regardless of whether one considers this latest request for information legitimate, it’s rather late for the agency to be getting around to it. And the timing — arriving the first business day after my article ran — is something to ponder.


Markets not in everything

My article today at The Atlantic looks at the anti-competitive effects of the FDA’s regulation of tobacco:

David Sley wants to sell cigarettes. This, by his own admission, does not make him the most sympathetic person to feature in an article about excessive government regulation. Yet Sley, an aspiring entrepreneur who has spent more than two years trying to navigate the Food and Drug Administration’s new tobacco regulations, has legitimate cause to complain. The entire cigarette industry has been brought to a standstill by the FDA, forbidden from introducing any new products since March 2011. Tobacco companies contend that the agency’s actions rest on uncertain scientific and legal grounds — and, for once, they may be right.

In the article I document Sley’s attempt to launch a new cigarette brand, a process which has dragged on for more than two years without resolution. As you may remember, the Tobacco Control Act was backed and negotiated by Philip Morris, who just might have anticipated such a result.

The extremely slow approval process also bodes poorly for the premium cigar market, which is even more dynamic than that for cigarettes. Cigar lovers should pay close attention when the FDA issues its proposed rules for cigars later this year.

Read the whole thing.


Year of Aquavit: Dill Collins

When we hosted Aquavit Week at Metrovino back in December, there was one American version that we weren’t able to bring into state stores in time to feature. Distilled in Wisconsin and based in Minnesota, Gamle Ode dill aquavit has been a standout for everyone I’ve introduced to it. It’s excellent chilled straight from the freezer, but my favorite way to drink it is in a simple twist on the classic Collins. I first wrote about this drink for Culinate, and now that the spirit has finally made it to Oregon, it’s on our regular menu at Metrovino.

1 1/2 oz Gamle Ode dill aquavit
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup (1:1)
dill or lemon peel for garnish

Build in a rocks or collins glass with ice, stir gently, and garnish.


California brings smoking ban inside the home

It was only a matter of time:

Millions of Californians would not be able to smoke tobacco inside their own homes under new legislation that would raise the bar nationwide for fighting secondhand smoke.

No state ever has ventured into personal bedrooms and living rooms with its smoking restrictions, but California is going even further than that by targeting owner-occupied residences as well as rental units.

Specifically, the measure would prohibit lighting up a cigarette, cigar or pipe in condominiums, duplexes and apartment units. […]

Levine’s bill would permit outdoor smoking near apartments or condos, but only in a clearly marked area that is at least 20 feet from any housing unit and 100 feet from a playground, school or pool.

Who could have predicted that ignoring property rights and letting bad science go unchallenged would lead to this?