Upgrade Your Cocktails With Homemade Bitters

Williams Sonoma Bitters Making Kit

If you love entertaining guests in your home, the next upgrade you make to step it up a notch could be home made bitters to satisfy for your inner mixology pleasure. If you’re a history buff and glance at any cocktail book printed in the early 20th Century, you will most likely come across recipes that reference the use of bitters. Bitters were made using herbs and citrus fruits, and popularized as medicinal preparations to help cure various ailments.

Okay warning.. when tasted alone bitters can be pretty unpleasant hence the need to add it to your cocktail and not consume as a stand-alone drink. This early tradition provided the basis for what we know as the popular term “cock-tail”, as described in the May 13, 1806 edition of “Balance and Columbian Repository” as “a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters.(Credit: Oh Gosh)
Sounds dated and far-fetched… Well thanks to a partnership between William Sonoma and New York artisan distillery Dutch’s Spirits you can now own a to kit that includes everything you need to make two types of craft bitters at right in the convenience of your home within 15 days.

  • Kit includes everything you need to make Aromatic and Citrus Ginger bitters, including premeasured botanicals, an infuser ball, a swing-top glass jar for steeping the botanicals in vodka and complete directions (see More Info tab for details).
  • Easy to use: follow the step-by-step directions to enjoy your first batch in a matter of weeks.
  • Included bottles with droppers are ideal for dispensing small quantities of your homemade bitters for cocktails and other beverages.
  • Citrus Ginger botanicals blend orange peel, lemon peel, and ginger root to create a delicate bitters well suited for gin and vodka cocktails.
  • Aromatic botanicals blend allspice, clove and anise seeds to produce a bold bitters perfect for bourbon and whiskey cocktails. (Credit: Williams Sonoma)


Williams Sonoma


Editor’s Choice: Follow These 12 Artists on Instagram Now

Many will agree that there is an abundance of creative talent on Instagram, and it has indeed maintained its position as the visual-first, social network of choice for Artists and multidisciplinary Creatives. After many years of thumbing down this digital rabbit hole, I’ve stumbled upon a plethora of inspirational and soul-stirring visual content and truly brilliant content creators that have sparked a flurry new or extended creative concepts, emotions, online conversations and reposts.

Although there are many amazing artists missing from this list, below is a list of some of my personal favorites on Instagram. If you’re an artist or multidisciplinary creative, please leave your link in comments or email me at CraftBrandTheory@gmail.com.

1. @SandraChevrier | Montreal based. Pencil Drawing. Painting. Illustration.

The Cage2. @Alexis_Diaz | Puerto Rico. Muralist

El Sagitario

3. @Salavat.Fidai | Russia. Experimental. Pencil Carving

Salavat Fidai

4. @xpayneart | Illustration. Painting


5. @RisingRedLotus | Atlanta. Muralist. Illustration

Rising Red Lotus

6. @Tsteed10 (Terran Steed) | Pencil Drawing

Wale Drawing

Kendrick Lamar Unfinished

7. @SwoonHq | Brookyn. Printmaker. Experimental


8. @KehindeWiley | Los Angeles. New York. Portrait Paintings

Kehinde Wiley

9. @Kesh | London. Los Angeles. Experimental

Kesh10. @AniekanReloaded | Washington DC. Muralist

kango girl

11. @aakashnihalani  | (Aakash Nihalani) New York City. Experimental

Aakash Nihalani

12. @demontpinder | Washington DC. Painting. Muralist.

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SAWA: Ethiopian Footwear With A Conscience

What a great feeling to discover products and makers that seek a healthy balance of purpose, aesthetics, and functionality. I recently stumbled upon SAWA Footwear- an incredibly beautiful retro footwear collection with a deep connection to the local community of Ethiopian craftspeople.

Not only is SAWA a shoe company doing business in Africa, the company sources their materials, production and even web design and communications in Addis Ababa Ethiopia and uses this approach as a real way to support local community.  These lightweight shoes are not just a fashion statement, they are built out of quality materials—and if you want ’em, check out the company website here to purchase online or learn more about the company.

Sawa IV


Sawa V

Artists I’m Diggin: Dregs – New Zealand Street Art Documentary

Its such a great feeling stumbling upon underground stories of creatives and communities driving vibrant culture across the globe in places I’ve never visited. In search of late night creative inspiration, I came across ‘Dregs’ a very cool documentary released in 2012 that showcases New Zealand’s incredible and prolific underground art movement. Dregs is the culmination of filmmaker Karl Sheridan and renowned street artist Cinzah Merkens. The documentary features candid interviews with New Zealand’s most celebrated street artists such as Askew, Component, Flox, Gasp, Ghostie , Wert 159, Yelz and Cinzah. Beautifully shot, Dregs truly illustrates how New Zealand’s vibrant underground culture emerged into legitimate art scene in the Southwest Pacific and abroad.

Hand-numbered and limited to 500 copies in the first edition, this DVD will certainly be a collectors item. The DVD packaging is printed on recycled craft card, and signed by both directors and producers of the film.

Dregs DVD

Please check out the film trailer below and visit the official Dregs site HERE to watch it online or purchase the DVD.

DREGS – A New Zealand Street Art Documentary from Monster Valley on Vimeo.


Great news for DIY fashion designers and artists, Epson is making moves in the fashion world with it’s dye-sublimation and direct-to-garment printing technology released over a year ago allowing independent entrepreneurs access to cheaper fabric equipment to own and use. Dye sublimation (“dye sub” for short) refers to the process of using high heat to transfer dye onto a material, much like a giant iron-on transfer. During the Fall 2015 New York Fashion Week, Epson drew attention to its SureColor F-Series printers that yield high quality, industrial level print affording designers the ability to print their own patterns directly on large fabrics. The only downside uncovered from a number of users is that the printer only works on heat-reactive synthetic materials like polyester.

Epson F Series

The SureColor F-Series models support a range of applications, including soft signage, sportswear, apparel, accessories, and customized promotional items such as mouse pads and ceramic mugs. Depending upon the application, F series models can output at speeds up to 618 sq ft/hr, boast output up to 720 x 1440 dpi on leading transfer papers, and feature an integral high-capacity 1.5 liter bulk-ink system.

Epson also introduced a line of dye-sublimation transfer papers designed specifically for the F series printers. Epson’s low-tack adhesive sublimation paper is designed for high-end cut-and-sew fabric and apparel production. This paper utilizes a unique chemical coating that allows for heavier ink loads to provide superior color and is available in a variety of sizes.

Priced on the low end at $9,000 for the F6070 and on the high end at $20,000 for the F7070, they’re at a price point that could make them within the budget of many fashion entrepreneurs and emerging fashion houses.

To read more about this new printer, click here for visit the Epson website.

nyfw fashion models


Like many people these days, we demand quality from the products we purchase. We require quality design, functionality, and we have a deep appreciation for products made with quality materials and a focus on excellence. It is important to remember that the customer experience doesn’t start when you begin using the product or service, it begins at the first customer touchpoint which can be the website, printed marketing materials, storefront presentation, or the product packaging. DJ Qbert and his partners get it, so we are excited to celebrate not only his extraordinary turntablism skills but his marketing savvy as well.

Photo Credit: www.anotherwhiskyformisterbukowski.com
Photo Credit: www.anotherwhiskyformisterbukowski.com

This week we feature the World’s First Interactive Album Packaging, DJ Qbert’s Extraterrestria, his long-awaited follow up to the groundbreaking debut album, Wave Twisters from 2001. QBert’s company Thud Rumble partnered with Algoriddim and Novalia to create the Extraterrestria album cover equipped with a Bluetooth chip and reacts when touched, allowing the users to scratch, mix and fade any songs they load into the software. By accessing DJ QBert’s album (or any MP3) through the DJay app, you’re able to manipulate and effect the songs with the use of the built-in controller. This amazing feature will be available for both vinyl and CD packaging. Incredible right, well most of the copies will be going to those that funded the project on Kickstarter, with only a small number made available through Thud Rumble but there may still be a chance to get your copy. It definitely pays to be an early adopter.

To learn more about DJ Qbert and this project please click here to visit the official Extraterrestria site.

Watch the video below to see it in action!

If you’re not familiar with the DJay2 app required to access this technology check it out here.

At Craft Brand Theory, we are aim to foster richer connections with the people, products and experiences that are featured on the blog. Having said that, I would encourage readers with an interest in DJ culture and studying the art of turntablism to visit Qbert’s Skratch University for some free sample lessons.

Skratch University

pop-up distillery: Make Your Own Homemade Gin

Having spent almost a decade marketing and studying the world of fine spirits, I’m super geeked to share my new discovery- a homemade gin distilling kit. One of my all-time favorite brands is Tanqueray Rangpur so I’m not sure about you but I’m anxious to see how I can create my own interpretation of a quality batch of gin without the expensive distilling equipment and corporate barriers.

Join me in the exciting world of DIY booze making and let’s explore together. I’m looking forward to hearing about your concoctions so don’t forget to hashtag #CraftBrandTheory.

You start with a bottle of vodka, which will act as a blank canvas, then add the kit’s hand-weighed juniper berries, mixed spices, and botanicals. The ingredients will need to steep for about 36 hours. Afterwards you’ll enjoy a floral-tinged gin redolent with lavender, sandalwood, and green cardamom, as well as the requisite perfume of sweet juniper. The kit contains two attractive glass bottles for pouring and displaying your batch of quality homemade gin.

If you’re still in the creative zone why stop there. Make some fresh tonic to go with your gin with the Tonic Making Kit.

Try one of my favorite gin cocktails- The Mule


10 mint leaves
1/2 ounce simple syrup (or to taste)
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 1/2 ounces gin
2 ounces chilled ginger beer
garnish: lime wedge and mint sprig

Gin Mule

You can order both the gin making kit and tonic making kit at http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/homemade-gin-kit.

Enjoy and don’t forget to drink responsibly.

doc·u·men·ta·ries FOR CREATIVES: REGGAE-The Story Of Jamaican Music


If you’re a musician, music and culture enthusiast, or film buff, today is the perfect day to watch the 02’ BBC three-part documentary series- Reggae: The Story of Jamaican Music. Produced by Maxine Gordon in collaboration with Mike Connolly, the film explores the origins of reggae starting in the late 50’s with the development of ska, its global transformation during the 60’s and 70’s, and its notable impact on western music, most notably hip hop. Since the days of sound systems and dub music, reggae has continued to reinvent itself as a mighty music and cultural global force. It’s important to note that reggae was not just another genre offered to the world; at its core exists an inseperable intimate connection to the people and the political and social climate of the environment. It was fascinating to learn about the influence of the African drum music traditions of Burru and Kamina on the Rastafarian sophisticated drum ensembles, as well as the influence of bebop jazz on a generation of young classically trained musicians, and early Jamaican DJ party rocking techniques over dub reggae on hip hop’s DJ culture. For your edutainment, please check out this three part series below.


Part 1: 1950’s Ska period & history of Jamaican Independence

Part 2: Roots Reggae & Bob Marley

Part 3: Progression of Reggae in the 80’s and beyond


Roughly twenty years ago I was introduced to the technique of relief printmaking in high school which has had a transformational impact on my art style and overall creative palette ever since. So what is relief printmaking you ask? Well, in short relief printing can be defined as a printing process by which a carved or otherwise created three-dimensional master is used to make duplicates of an image. Woodblock, linocuts and wood engraving are all common relief print methods. In woodblock and linocut printmaking, the parts of the block that are not to appear on the print are removed from the block by cutting them away with a knife or other tool. For printing, the raised parts of the block are inked and the paper is pressed on it by hand or by a press. Printmaking originated in China where both fabrics and books were printed using wooden blocks at an early stage. Woodblock printing had reached Europe by the 14th century and was much used for producing broadsheets and printing books.

Over the past two decades I’ve produced two mixed linocut and woodblock print collections Sirius Art Collection I and The Frustrated Artist Series. In this post, I will provide an abbreviated and simple description of each phase in the process of linocut relief printmaking. I hope that you find this ancient art technique as intriguing as I have and are inspired to create your very own linocut or woodblock print. Please share your work on your social media outlets using hash tag #CraftBrandTheory.

Okay, let’s get started.

Big Band Theory hand sketch

The Image
Almost all engravings will start with a drawing. I often start with sketchbook drawings. The main thing to remember is that the image you cut on the block is the reverse of the final print. I often make my preparatory drawings in sketchbooks or scrap papers. Most of my ideas are generated from personal experiences and photographed images that I have taking personally and/or collected from another source.

The Block
The wood engraving block is cut across the end grain of the block. The traditional wood used for wood engraving is boxwood. The wood has to be capable of coping with the finely detailed work of some engravers. I enjoy using linoleum because of the softness of the texture, which makes it easier to carve and make very detailed engravings.

Preparing the Block for Engraving

In this stage, the method used for preparing the block for engraving may vary according to each engraver’s preferences. I draw in ink or pencil on the natural wood surface of the block. Sometimes I square up the block to transfer the drawing accurately. Occasionally I use tracing film to place the main elements of the design and then add the rest freehand. I will often work freehand throughout. I often make very detailed marks on the block. I find that this helps me make a more lively engraving. Now we need some tools.

Printmaking Tool Kit

The Engraving Tools
Wood Engraving tool developed from metal engraving tools. I use about six different tools in all, but for most of my work I stick to four favorites. The SPITSTICKER is my main drawing tool, especially for curved lines. I have two widths, narrow and medium. I also use them for stippling – making small round marks. The SCORPER cuts straight lines and is good for clearing out areas of white. The TINT TOOL is good for cutting thin parallel lines. The LOZENGE GRAVER cuts lines on varying width.

The handle sits neatly into the palm of the hand and the ‘blade’ is held between thumb and forefinger. The tool is held at a very low angle to the block when the cut is made. It is very easy for the tool to slip and make a mistaken mark that is nearly impossible to deal with so part of the ‘free’ hand (which is actually holding the block) can be used as a ‘stop’ to prevent this. It is important that each mark is a deliberate and considered cut. As with many forms of art, it is difficult to know exactly when to stop. You can always go back and engrave more but you can’t go back if you have cut too much!

Ink Rolller

Inking the Block and taking a Proof
In this stage I typically use a 64mm treothene roller, with a wooden handle and metal frame. I use a black linseed oil-based ink, which I spread across a glass slab. This is then rolled out thinly until it has a velvet look.

Printmaking Process at a glance

At this point, I take the roller and roll ink onto the block from several directions. A lot of this is trial and error and you have to experiment to get it right. If you use too much ink it will clog up the fine lines and not enough ink gives an unsatisfactory print. I then take a piece of thin paper and place it over the block. I take a smooth wooden tool and carefully but firmly rub it until the design has been transferred to the paper. The sheet is carefully pulled from the block and the print is seen for the first time. I like to use an expensive rice paper to achieve the highest level of print quality.

Now that you’ve completed your linocut relief print don’t forget to share your masterpiece using hash tag #CraftBrandTheory. I can’t wait to see your work.

We must create,



As a former Marketing executive with a passion for the arts, there is nothing more satisfying than to see a brand (small or large) connect with the creative community in a truly authentic cohesive way that affords the artist reasonable autonomy to express the brand’s personality and message through his or her own personal style. When the brand and artist partnership is vetted properly and the necessary trust and understanding is established, true magic and brilliance will follow suit.

In this video, the Ballantine Scotch brand partners with South African DJ and musician, Black Coffee to create a short film that embodies the brand’s mantra, “Stay True, Leave an Impression.” The film is directed by Novemba of Cap Gunna Collective and features an a cappella performance of one of Black Coffee’s best known productions, “Rock My World” by a 40-person choir. Witness a brilliant creative piece that reinforces the brand’s identity without any forced or obligatory product placement.

Although Ballantine is a massive Scotch whiskey, second highest selling worldwide in fact, it’s origin as a small whisky brand in Edinburgh is quite fascinating. Ballantine’s origin dates back to 1827, when George Ballantine set up a small grocery store supplying a small range of whiskies to his clientele. In 1865, he transitioned the store operations to his eldest son Arhchibald while he set his sights on larger operations in Glascow. He then had time to concentrate on global trading and began creating his own blends. As demand exploded in new markets and time passed, ownership changed hands to larger investors with the capacity to continue driving the business. By 1986 Ballantine was named the #1 brand in Europe and the third largest in the world… not bad for a once small batch whiskey eh. In 2005, the award winning Scotch brand was purchased by Pernod Richard and continues to live up to George’s high standard of quality and principles.

Check out the video and visit http://www.ballantines.com/en to learn more about the brand.


Check out Chivas Regal’s $1Million Fund to support and inspire visionaries and entrepreneurs to create positive change through their work. The Venture video opens with powerful message from Academy Award nominee Chiwetel Eliofor followed by other individuals such as Award Winning Actor Liao Fan, Mexico’s coffee businessman Pablo Gonzalez, and Raan & Shea Parton of Apolis. For more information on this initiative visit www.theventure.com.