“EVEN THE MOST PERFECT REPRODUCTION OF A WORK OF ART IS LACKING IN ONE ELEMENT: ITS PRESENCE IN TIME AND SPACE, ITS UNIQUE EXISTENCE AT THE PLACE WHERE IT HAPPENS TO BE”
— Walter Benjamin,
“The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.”
A decade ago, we opened Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction in Old City Philadelphia. Borrowing its name from Walter Benjamin’s canonical 1935 essay, the store began as an artists’ collective, rooted in the traditions of American craftsmanship. Founder Steven Grasse developed a line of spirits in that same tradition, using recipes and ingredients drawn from the history of Pennsylvania, and the Art in the Age brand was born. As the experimental arm of his spirits-focused creative agency, Quaker City Mercantile, Art in the Age has remained at the forefront of innovation in the spirits industry.
How did we get there? Like the Transcendentalists who fled the industrial wasteland in search of spiritual truth, we headed to Tamworth, New Hampshire and began distilling for ourselves. We wrote a book, Colonial Spirits, about what drinking was like over 250 years ago. We partnered with local distillers at New Liberty, to create spirits inspired by the history of our city, Philadelphia: from the early days of revolution, through its industrial heyday, up to its current renaissance.
With our partners at New Liberty Distilling, and at our Art in the Age Test Kitchen in Tamworth, NH, we’re creating new and exciting flavors in the spirit of these discoveries. Whether they’re historically inspired, like our Chicory Root Vodka, or an unexpected flavor combination (Black Trumpet Blueberry, anyone?), each one is a unique expression of its time and place.
Which brings us back to our inspiration, Walter Benjamin. These spirits aren’t mechanically reproduced: we mill our grain by hand, forage for berries, and grow our own botanicals, all in accordance with the seasons. They may not be the same every year. There may only be a few bottles. But each one is a work of art — and the only place to get them is Art in the Age.
The Art in the Age Tasting Room and Home Bar Supply is the workshop and testing ground for Quaker City Mercantile, and the only place you can taste the company’s newest innovations. It will soon serve as a designated “satellite location” for New Liberty Distilling, allowing us to sell New Liberty’s products as well as new Art in the Age products bottled there. Alongside this curated lineup of unique local spirits, Art in the Age is a one-stop-shop for the home bartender. The shop stocks bar tools, mixers, bitters, and glassware. We also offer educational workshops, tastings, and home mixology training.
© 2017 ART IN THE AGE OF MECHANICAL REPRODUCTION