Out & About

Ginjan x WeWork

We’ve become big fans of working with WeWork.  Let’s quickly consider what that looks like.  In case you didn’t know, WeWork is a shared office concept that has hundreds of buildings worldwide, each with roughly 400-800 members.  What’s remarkable (and perhaps up for debate) is that these are possibly the most ideal demographic to sell to.  They’re those young, upwardly mobile millennial ‘techies’.  What’s perhaps more remarkable, is how easy the relevant WeWork community teams make it to connect with them.  Quite simply, every single time we connected with community leads at each respective building, we were met astoundingly friendly, courteous and helpful folks who made the process of setting up a demo hour and marketing it a cinch.

This is one of the most under explored marketing tools out there.  Take note.

We offered members a taste of Ginjan and at WeWork State Street in Chicago we hosted a happy hour with Hendrick’s Gin, serving up the African Spy cocktail.

 

Ginjan x James Beard Awards 2018 Chicago

I’ve personally wanted to go to the James Beard Awards for several years now.  The #oscars of food, I mean, it’s the best of ALL worlds, and the whole 2018 experience really didn’t disappoint.  We were very fortunate that we got to experience more than just the Gala night.  With tickets (and conviction) in hand we called the biggest mofo Uber car on offer (sadly, Uber Copter is not yet available in Chicago) and headed to #chefsnightout on Sunday, May 6 at Theater on the Lake – with views of the Chicago skyline that inspired awe, and an appetite rather quickly.  Fortunately, with about 15 or so spirit and food tables peppered throughout the event, we were set.

 

After months of preparation, we made it, so at the very least deserved a heavy handed and stiff drink.  At least so I thought, the idea of having a nice drink, yummy bite and kicking back a bit sounded like a warmly welcoming concept.  Personally, I could have happily died on Chef’s Night Out, if only having learned the magic of duck champagne.  (I’ll tell you the story privately, feel free to email 🙈) It was a night of beautiful views, gracious people and stupendous food. In retrospect, it was the perfect primer for the next day (and the hard work it will require) of the Gala Night at the Lyric Opera – perhaps the jewel in the James Beard Crown, as it were.

 

We Gala, They Gala, One must Gala.

Officially, we were a sponsor in the spirit and beverage category, but were the only non-alcoholic drink there (other than water) and with tongue firmly wedged in cheek, the only one of our kind.  We served Ginjan as itself, but also we’re offered an opportunity to collaborate with Hendrick’s Gin and we took it since Rahim and I both have long been fans of this high quality spirit.  Their generosity and willingness to work with us are both notable.  #WeLoveHendricks.

 

 

  • So we made a cocktail called the African Spy (you see that #OfficialDrinkofWakanda and Wakanda WarDogs mood completely unable to leave us???) with Hendricks, Ginjan, shaken and infused with fresh Rosemary.   In case you still haven’t heard, Ginjan brings life to cocktails unlike anything else and works with almost every spirit, including wines and champagnes.  Recipe starved?  Check out our cocktail recipes here.

Food is the new Fashion.

This shouldn’t be news to anyone as this has been on track since at least 2010.  The explosion of food shows, festivals and special tasting events are notable and set against a backdrop of a wilderness of food celebrities.  James Beard, however – even as prestigious as it is – reminds you of why you are really there: to take a breath and appreciate the recognition of the people working unimaginably hard in bringing art to food, rather than jumping on the glamor train so often found [and annoyingly so] in clickbait backstreet food blogs and instagram stories.

 

It wasn’t hard to see that James Beard is about enduring excellence.  However fast, loose and messy things are in the kitchen, food is a vocation, not a fad and The James Beard Foundation seem convincingly devoted to this.  Beyond the awards and reverie, their community outreach and industry engagement programs are all inspirational, and important.

While the gala reception had great food and drinks throughout the gilded halls of the Lyric Opera, during the Gala Awards however, a more exalted, tempered and respectul tone encouraged focus on the progress and achievements of the creators crafting in cavernous kitchens throughout the land.

And I liked this, because to me, it makes it clear that the James Beard tradition won’t succumb to flash in the pan trends.  In many ways, it is the trend. The Gala Night also taught me a thing or two about presentation.  #AddedtoEvernote

 

“Special mention should go to our meeting of perhaps the whitest boy alive (other than possibly, myself), incidentally the owner of HeavenSake – another sponsor on the night – who came over to declare his love for, and his experiences in Conakry and drinking Ginjan the vintage way, from a bag.  Stunned, but inspired we handed him a Ginjan.  He wasted no time in declaring that ours was a superior version to what he had experienced in Guinea. We’ll take it from the white boy.”

 

Check out our James Beard Awards Supercut video below:

 

In being a James Beards Awards Sponsor

Being a sponsor was a special, and memorable experience.  Not just for the superbly efficient, helpful and professional treatment we got from the entire production crew, but also the reverie amongst the sponsors at large.  Many came over to our table and we in turn, visited theirs.  A spirit of ‘were in this together’ was refreshing and the interactions were largely devoid of ego.

 

When needed, I got sparkling water from San Pellegrino, cookies from another stand and when my salt urge/vice kicked it, an amazing Chef lovingly fed me because she said I looked like I was going to faint/looked thin. I didn’t want to point out that I was indeed on the 45 year fasting diet (see:#whiteguilt), but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.  I’m also really glad that I hadn’t, because her venison (sous vide to perfection) with fennel aioli whatever it was, was surely one of the better things I had tasted in over a decade.  Naturally, it took little imagination to see why she was there.  She was peculiar, notable, and talented.  I regret not taking her card; all that I could remember was a first name of Veronica.  Wherever she may be now, she is to be endlessly thanked for saving me.

 

Story continued below image slide

 

The great thing about being a sponsor on the Gala Night is that the over 700 guests approach the tasting reception with a keen openness.  It also doesn’t hurt that a large portion of them work in the epicurean world, so their receptivity should perhaps not be such a big surprise.  But I mention this because in our overly advertising saturated world, we have quite often found it hard to overcome people’s cynicism and apprehension in tasting something “African”, which, let’s face it is truly the most foreign thing to most people and understandably so, since there is so little US market exposure of African products*.

 

Conversely, at the James Beard Awards, people were mobbing just about every table they visited.  The enthusiasm and curiosity was rather seductive, but very welcoming after all the hard work we put into the preparation for the event. It was also, admittedly, somewhat of a relief, as we – a small fish swimming amongst the food world sharks on their turf – had no idea how we may have been received or perceived.  It’s perhaps a good thing that our drink tastes so fucking amazing, considering.  If you’re in the food world and can spring the funds (it’s not as much as you may fear, and less than you may hope) to go to the James Beard Awards, we highly recommend it.  The gain is commensurate to the investment.  You’ll make many friends (and notable business contacts if you’re prepared) and you’ll have the time of your life.

 

The James Beard Awards humbled/inspired us, but it affirmed so many other things for us, also. Mostly, that we continue to draw immense joy in every Ginjan event we do – no matter how short the sleep nights or long the toiling days – but more importantly, that we’re doing the right thing, a good thing, a new thing, an inspiring thing, a real thing.

 

*Besides making superior and high quality, organic beverages of an African inspiration, the Ginjan Bros (see: Mohamed and Rahim) are actually on a diabolical & fanatical journey to make superb quality and authentically African products as commonplace, as, say, sesame chicken on a rainy tuesday night. 

 

Ginjan x Detroit

Much has been said about the ‘destruction’ of Detroit – a dilution of the local economy – the resulting housing crises and the hollowing out of entire neighborhoods.  Sure, that’s an open secret and no less depressing.  It’s an in your face reality and it’s hard to escape.  But, as we’ve seen with a number of “flyer-over” cities and midwest urban areas, a lot of creativity seems to seep through the cracks – ableit slowly – but with a keen eye on creating some new development.  As with cities like Louisville, Nashville, Pittsburg and Detroit, locals have decided to stay and imports to make a new home, opening up retail spots with a flavor torn out of the Brooklyn playbook.  Make no mistake, in Detroit we’ve driven on roads and seen entire neighborhoods abandoned, hollowed shells of buildings and empty streets, but you can also see the possibility, and it’s inspiringly seductive.

Michigan Avenue – Corktown

 

Michigan Avenue – Corktown

 

Abandoned Building – Corktown

 

Michigan Avenue toward Downtown

Just a few streets away from an entire abandoned ‘superblock’, a coffee shop grows like a tree, full of hope and well, some great coffee, cheer and a dedicated weekend morning ‘shredding playlist’.

 

Astro Cafe

 

Astro Cafe – African Chocolates!

Check out Astro Coffee Detroit on Michigan Avenue and how they’re creating a haven for coffee culture.  Next Door, Sugar House, serves up some mean drinks with a smooth set of culturati chatting the night away. Down the road, we grabbed dinner and shred some Nebbiolo at Ottava Via – be sure to stop in and sit at the bar.  The pizzas are worth a mention and so is the female bartender. (we didn’t take names)

 

Downtown Broadway

 

The Belt Alley Entrance

 

The Belt Alley

 

The Belt Alley

In Downtown, we enjoyed a few drinks along “The Belt Alley” at Stand By, again, refreshingly exposed to a new creative set of people.  Down Woodward Avenue a new retail and workspace strip has taken hold.  We stopped by WeWork Campus Martius for one of our on-going WeWork Tastings Hours – this time with Tito’s Vodka and got to meet with some of the local creatives starting professional fires in the city.

 

WeWork Campus Martius

 

WeWork Campus Martius

 

We can say that the overall impression of a fluid Detroit has been an inspirational one. Sure, the progress is mercurial and sporadic, but the quality of the execution betrays an understanding of the new millennial – and may we dare to say ‘hipster’ – aesthetic, and customer experience expectations.  Yet, everywhere, you’d be amiss not to acknowledge the cranes, shop fitting and renovations going on. Flame on, Motor City, flame on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like, want free Ginjan?

We’re feeling generous.  For your chance to win a case delivered to your home, do one of the following.

 

  1. post your best Ginjan picture and use the #ginjan tag and tag us @ginjanbros on instagram.
  2. write an ode to Ginjan on facebook and tag us – facebook.com/ginjanbros
  3. give us a cocktail recipe using ginjan to blow our minds (and add a pic) – facebook.com/ginjanbros – or on instagram @ginjanbros

 

Let’s go!  We’ll pick a winner in about a week.

Ginjan and Sugar – Some Insights

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of watching an expert at work. Victoria Hewitt has conducted dozens of Ginjan tastings at supermarkets and grocery stores all over Manhattan and Brooklyn, covering lots of different neighborhoods and spanning the incredibly diverse population of New York City.

 

The Ginjan demo station

Victoria Hewitt preparing to sell out a store’s supply of Ginjan.

 

“Hi Honey, would you like to try Ginjan? It’s an amazing African ginger and pineapple drink,” she’ll say as busy shoppers stream through the stores. Her smile is arresting and many of them stop and taste Ginjan, either cold or, in these frigid months, hot from a Thermos flask that Victoria brings along. Her record is remarkable: by the time she leaves nearly every store has empty slots in the cold-pressed beverages refrigerated shelving area where Ginjan had been stocked.

 

People ask us about the sugar in Ginjan

 

There are usually some questions about the drink that Victoria handles with ease, but one recurring theme relates to sugar content. It’s no secret that sugar is the new fat, demonized by doctors and media alike. It’s also not a secret that Ginjan’s proprietary formula of all-organic, non-GMO ingredients includes cane sugar and, of course, naturally occurring sugars from pineapples. How can Ginjan Bros. claim that their flagship product, Ginjan, is healthy given the sugar content, you might ask. It’s something we’ve thought a lot about and the short answer is, it’s complicated!

The first thing to note is that if you are on an uncompromising, absolutely zero sugar diet, then Ginjan isn’t something you’re going to want to consume at this time. If, on the other hand, you’re just careful to limit the amount of sugar or carbohydrates in your diet, or you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, we have potentially good news based on some recent studies on the myriad beneficial properties of our lead ingredient, ginger.

diabetes.co.uk reports that:

Researchers from the University of Sydney, Australia, found that extracts from Buderim Ginger (Australian grown ginger) rich in gingerols – the major active component of ginger rhizome – can increase uptake of glucose into muscle cells without using insulin, and may therefore assist in the management of high blood sugar levels.

 

And as reported in TIME Magazine, a review published in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences,

examined the findings of 60 studies, performed on cell cultures, lab animals and humans. Overall, these studies “have built a consensus that ginger and its major constituents exert beneficial effects against obesity, diabetes, [cardiovascular diseases] and related disorders.

In fact, ginger is an incredible overall health aid; GreenMedInfo.com reports that

there are over 2100 published studies on the medicinal properties of ginger in the scientific literature, and the Greenmedinfo.com database contains evidence that it has value in over 170 different health conditions, and has over 50 different beneficial physiological effects. Notably, of all the conditions the research on ginger we have indexed reveals its therapeutic value for, type 2 diabetes is top on the list, with seven studies on our database providing proof of its efficacy.

We’re not medical professionals, so these articles are referenced as a starting point for you to discuss with your doctor. Having said that, it’s beyond dispute that ginger offers multiple health benefits, blood sugar management potentially being one of them.

One last thought: new research reported by The Guardian suggests that:

Artificial sweeteners, which many people with weight issues use as a substitute for sugar, may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to research… ‘This study supports the concept that artificial sweeteners could reduce the body’s control of blood sugar levels and highlights the potential for exaggerated post-meal glucose levels in high habitual NAS [non-caloric artificial sweeteners] users, which could predispose them to develop type 2 diabetes,’ said the authors.

Ginjan Bros. believes in all organic, non-GMO natural ingredients, fully disclosed. We’ll keep bringing you more information about the properties of Ginjan in the coming months. Here’s to your health!

 

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your doctor before relying on any of the information above.

OUR COLUMBUS, OHIO TOUR!

Just Wrapped up our Columbus, Ohio tour. It was great fun, catch up with old buddies. Thanks @moustaphabayo and the # Miss Guinea Ohio crew. Heading back to NY now and here’s what we ran into in PA, safe to say we’ll be here for a while.