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News Briefs for April 10, 2012

April 10, 2012

Diageo has expanded its Smirnoff flavored malt beverage portfolio with the launch of Smirnoff Ice Black. Available in Lemon Lime, Fruit Punch and Watermelon expressions, the Smirnoff Ice Black malt beverages contain a higher abv (8%) than parent brand Smirnoff Ice, and are targeted toward “legal drinking age adult males that are looking for more bold and flavorful alternatives when it comes to beer.” Packaged in a black can, the new offering is available in 16-ounce and 23.5-ounce formats nationwide, priced at $1.69 and $2.69, respectively. In addition to Smirnoff Ice and Smirnoff Ice Black, Diageo’s Smirnoff malt beverage line-up also includes the Smirnoff Premium Malt Mixed Drinks range.

•Petaluma, California-based Lagunitas Brewing Co. has revealed plans to build a new brewery in Chicago. Lagunitas owner Tony Magee confirmed the move yesterday via Twitter, saying construction would be completed by July 2013, with the first mash going in by the fourth quarter of that year. The Chicago site will include a 250-barrel brewhouse, similar to the one Lagunitas is installing at its original Petaluma facility, as reported by Shanken News Daily on March 8. Concluding this month, that expansion will more than triple annual capacity from 185,000 barrels to as much as 600,000 barrels and allow Lagunitas to enter 14 new markets, bringing total distribution to 49 states. Currently one of the country’s fastest-growing craft brewers, Lagunitas is expected see a 60% volume increase this year from last year’s total of 161,000 (31-gallon) barrels.

•Kansas City, Missouri-based Marquee Selections has been named the exclusive U.S. importer for South African winemaker Backsberg Estate Cellars, effective this month. Backsberg produces about 150,000 cases annually and its line ($12.99-$24.99) includes the Premium Range, Mediterranean Range, Tread Lightly by Backsberg, Backsberg Family Reserve and a Kosher Range. Backsberg joins a Marquee Selections portfolio focusing on wines using organic and sustainable winemaking practices, including brands from California, Argentina, Australia, France, Italy, Portugal and Spain.

•Anchor Distilling has launched a new super-premium rum brand, Pink Pigeon ($34.99 a 750-ml.), into select U.S. markets. Produced by Mauritius’s Medine Distillery (and owned by the U.K.’s Berry Bros. & Rudd), Pink Pigeon is made from molasses and blended with handpicked Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar and the Reunion Islands. The brand, which is aimed toward the mixology segment, is named for the rare and endangered Pink Pigeon found off the coast of Africa. Currently available in California, Arizona, Florida and Nevada, Pink Pigeon will extend into additional markets in the coming months.

•The New York State Liquor Authority (NYSLA) has introduced an interactive online map of the state’s licensed liquor retailers, bars and restaurants, which number about 55,000 venues. The map, which will be updated daily on the NYSLA website (www.sla.ny.gov), will help new licensees by allowing them to explore potential locations’ proximities to other licensees, as well as comply with distance requirements related to licensed establishments near churches and schools, according to state senator Daniel Squadron, who supported the project. The map also includes individual locations’ disciplinary histories and pending license applications.

•Celebrity chef Jose Garces is opening a new restaurant concept in Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. The yet-to-be-named eatery is slated to open in January 2013 and will have a designated chef’s table, where Garces will cook off-menu items for 16-20 guests. Garces will not work in the restaurant every night, and the chef’s table will only operate when he’s present.

•Washington, D.C.’s historic Howard Theatre reopened this week after a 32-year hiatus and a $29 million renovation. The arts landmark—known for launching the music careers of such legendary artists as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and The Supremes—is hosting a grand opening lineup that includes musical artists, comedians and performers, including Chuck Berry, The Roots and Wanda Sykes, among others. The theatre will serve a full dining menu of Southern American cuisine designed by consulting chef Marcus Samuelsson. The Howard Theatre is operated by Blue Note Entertainment Group, the company behind New York City-based venues Blue Note, B.B. King Blues Club and Highline Ballroom.

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