Chaîne Garden State Baillage

The Garden State Chapter of the not-for-profit Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs is a dynamic group of food and wine enthusiasts, in excess of 60 members, with discerning palates who share a common interest in a passion for fine cuisine and wines based in education, camaraderie and fun around the table

Contact Information

George Staikos
Garden State Bailli

Craft Cocktail Tasting & Dinner

Garden State Bailliage

Craft Cocktail Tasting & Dinner

By Victor S. Sloan, MD, Vice Chargee de Presse

(908) 968-3804;


On Sunday, September 13 2020 the Garden State Baillage came together for a Social Distancing Craft Cocktail Tasting and Dinner at Brick Farm Tavern in Hopewell, NJ. Everyone took appropriate precautions, including wearing masks except while eating or drinking, seating at least 6 feet apart, and screening questionnaires before coming to the event. Planned by Bailli George Staikos and yours truly, this was the first cocktail dinner for the Bailliage in 12 years, and given the resurgence of craft cocktails, it was time.

Before dinner, we were treated (in small groups) to a tour of Sourland Mountain Spirits, just yards from the restaurant. After distilling was legalized in NJ in 2013, founders Ray and Erica Disch, fresh from the sale of their award-winning Triumph Brewing Company, started the distillery in the heart of the Sourlands Mountains, an area rich in history. During the Revolution, it was the site of the largest gathering of Revolutionary military leaders near Hopewell, the site of our dinner. In 1932 it was the site of the Lindbergh kidnapping, and during prohibition, there were numerous bootlegger’s stills.

Despite the masks, my wife Sandra Gong recognized Ray as a former colleague from Merck. She mentioned that when he left Merck to start Triumph, everyone at work thought he was crazy. But he pursued his dream and has brought craft beers and now craft spirits to New Jersey. In addition to making fantastic spirits, Ray and Erica have an incredible commitment to their community. Their website has almost 50 local and national charities that are supported by the Distillery. For every purchase of their newest product, Pride Vodka, the Disches donate $1 to the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice in Princeton.

Ray and Erica gave us short tours of the distillery, which is known for its use of local ingredients. For example, the corn comes from an organic farm only a few miles away and is ground at a grist mill in Bucks County, PA that is more than 100 years old. Their flagship gin was awarded both Top 100 Spirits and 92 points from Wine Spectator. The tour concluded with an open-air tasting of all of their spirits. Many of us left with purchases!

We then moved to the tent where we were treated to a four-course meal, each paired with an artisan cocktail created by the beverage director and general manager Patrick Amice. Working with executive ChefJason Freed, each dish was matched with a cocktail featuring spirits from Sourland Mountain Spirits, with other ingredients sourced almost exclusively from the tavern’s own farms. The Tavern is one of the few restaurants in the country that has its own slaughterhouse, so as Chef Freed told us, the pork that we were eating was oinking a week ago. Most of the rest of the produce comes from either the tavern’s own farm or other local farmers. A particular highlight of the dinner was the Berkshire pork duo with summer squash, Jimmy Nardello pepper, strawberry aigre-doux, goat cheese polenta, and pickled mustard seed, paired with Sourland gin with New Jersey strawberry, basil, apricot, lime, and bitters.

While the Garden State Bailliage has been a pioneer in innovative virtual events, it was extra special to be together for a truly unique experience, combining hyperlocal cuisine with artisanal spirits distilled within walking distance of the restaurant. It is our hope that come this time next year, we can gather together in health and safety.