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News Briefs for November 25, 2014

November 25, 2014

•Brown Forman’s Old Forester Bourbon has unveiled its Whiskey Row Series, a new lineup inspired by the brand’s history. Rolling out this month, the Whiskey Row Series makes its debut with 1870 Original Batch, which commemorates the year Old Forester switched from being sold by barrel to becoming a batched Bourbon. 1870 Original Batch is made according to brand founder George Garvin Brown’s 1870 batching process, using barrels from three different warehouses. Priced at $44.99 a 750-ml., the 90-proof expression will be available in select cities, including Chicago, Denver, Louisville, Nashville, New York City, Seattle and San Francisco. Additional Whiskey Row entries, including a post-Prohibition-style Bourbon, are slated to follow.

•Spoke & Steele, a new restaurant with an ambitious cocktail program, is scheduled to launch December 4 in downtown Indianapolis. Spoke & Steele will be located at the newly opened Le Meridien Hotel, on the site of the former Canterbury Hotel that closed more than a year ago. With seating for 160, Spoke & Steele will offer three different barrel-aged cocktails each month. According to general manager Jason Yelton, the cocktail ingredients will be aged between two and four weeks in 10-liter barrels sourced from Hudson Whiskey in New York and Journeyman Distillery in Michigan. The names of the cocktails include the Mezcal-based Smoke Over Chicago and the Bone Snapper Rye. Spoke & Steele will also offer regular customers membership in a cocktail club, with a different aged cocktail kept in members’ own 750-ml. bottles on the premises (at a cost of $75 a month), a concept borrowed from Saxon + Parole in New York City. The wine list will span 50 labels, priced from $30 to $370, according to Yelton, who was formerly a beverage manager at the St. Regis Deer Valley in Park City, Utah.

•One of the co-owners of the Purple Pig restaurant on Michigan Avenue in Chicago has filed a lawsuit against fellow investors alleging embezzlement and breach of fiduciary responsibility. Scott Harris, who owns 39% of the Purple Pig, charges in local court documents that partners Jimmy Bannos Sr., Jimmy Bannos Jr. and Tony Mantuano misappropriated restaurant funds to make improper payments to themselves and pay for personal home repairs and auto expenses and engaged in “abusive spending” while attending the James Beard Awards banquet in New York. Harris is seeking nearly $600,000 plus $1 million in punitive damages. Harris is also the owner of 23 Francesca’s Italian restaurant units in Illinois, Wisconsin, California and North Carolina. Bannos Sr. is a cookbook author and chef-owner of three Heaven on Seven Cajun-style restaurants, while Mantuano is an author and a partner and chef at the acclaimed Spiaggia restaurant as well as two other eateries in Chicago. In court documents Harris also accused Purple Pig managers of deleting hours from employee time cards to avoid triggering overtime pay. Lawyers for the defendants did not return phone calls.

•Pernod Ricard has unveiled a new social media campaign for its Ballantine’s Scotch whisky brand. Running under the tagline “Ballantine’s Live,” the campaign uses data generated by hashtags, images, filters, time and location of fans sharing their brand experiences online. The posts will be sorted to either Ballantine’s Finest or 12-Year-Old occasions and published on Ballantine’s website. This year, Pernod Ricard has also launched its online Ballantine’s Gold Club and partnered with popular music channel Boiler Room. The world’s second-ranked Scotch, Ballantine’s grew 3.5% last year to reach 6 million cases globally, according to Impact Databank.

•Stella Artois has unveiled a new holiday campaign. Running across 10 global markets, the Belgian brew’s “Give Beautifully” initiative includes a TV ad and short film series, which Anheuser-Busch InBev says showcases people receiving real-life gifts from around the world. The short film series is currently available on YouTube. Concurrently, Stella is launching a new limited edition pack, gift packs and a 750-ml. holiday-themed bottle ahead of the gifting season. An Impact “Hot Brand,” Stella Artois was up 12% last year, to 22 million (2.25-gallon) cases in the U.S.


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