News Bites: RI Spirits’ New Rhodium Citron Vodka / RI Land Trust Council Hosts Land Trust Days / RI DEM Mini-Grants for Food Producers / Kristin Allain Named CPO of Newport Restaurant Group

by David Dadekian

Current news releases—Eat Drink RI is not the source for these items—please follow any links for more information.


Rhodium Citron Vodka; RI Spirits’ New Product Launches

Rhodium Citron Vodka from Rhode Island Spirits

Rhode Island Spirits announces the launch of Rhodium Citron Vodka, a corn-based vodka flavored with real lemon zest. Like RI Spirits’ other vodkas, gins, and liqueurs Rhodium Citron Vodka is all natural, gluten-free, and made in small batches in downtown Pawtucket. 

“I infused a few bottles of vodka with lemon early in our tasting room days,” said co-owner Kara Larson. “It was popular with our customers, and opened up a lot of options for new cocktails. Immediately, our tasting room customers wanted to buy it.” Initially planned for a 2020 release, the pandemic delayed the process until now. 

Co-owner and distiller Cathy Plourde said, ”We take pride in using fresh and real botanicals for each flavor profile. Citron was an obvious addition to our vodka lineup, and we’re happy to give bar managers, stores, and home bartenders a local option for a staple spirit.” 

Rhodium Citron Vodka offers a crisp, full flavored, and refreshing vodka option for cocktails or a flavorful vodka and soda. Its light yellow color comes from natural lemon oil, and the yellow and white gingham label continues Rhode Island Spirits’ nod to the textile history of its home, the Blackstone Valley. RI Spirits Tasting Room Manager Amy Gravel said, “it looks and tastes like summer in a bottle.”

Analise Stettner, Beverage Director of The Boom Box at the Dean Hotel has created a new cocktail featuring the product, Downcity Summer, and says Rhodium Citron Vodka “is wonderfully bright and has a well balanced flavor, great for mixing in a cocktail.”

Bottled at 80 proof, Rhodium Citron Vodka is a great addition to any spirits collection. It is available statewide in Rhode Island through Horizon Beverage Company. 

Rhodium brand gins, vodkas & liqueurs feature fresh, farmed and foraged ingredients in every bottle. Organic, gluten free, and packed with real ingredients and flavors, the spirits are uniquely the spirits of Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Spirits is the home of Rhodium brand premium gins, vodkas, and liqueurs. The company is the brainchild and full time occupation of Cathy Plourde & Kara Larson, who are the founders, owners, and distillers.

Rhode Island Spirits makes:

  • Rhodium Citron Vodka
  • Rhodium Classic Gin
  • Rhodium Forager’s Gin
  • Rhodium Classic Vodka
  • Rhode Island Red Vodka
  • Rhodium Coffee & Black Walnut Vodka
  • Rhodium Limoncello
  • Rhodium Grapefruitcello

“We believe in offering unique flavors and distinctive spirits. Our commitment to gluten free, organic, and kosher products is rooted in a belief that everyone should be able to enjoy premium spirits that work with their needs. We forage botanical ingredients and partner with local small farms because we value the uniqueness of Rhode Island and the Blackstone Valley. We seek to make spirits here that could be made nowhere else.” Kara & Cathy RI Spirits owners


Land Trust Days Celebrates Special Places in Rhode Island

The Rhode Island Land Trust Council is gearing up to host Land Trust Days- the 11th annual series of outdoor events designed to celebrate the trails, landscapes and open spaces across Rhode Island, and the hard work of the individual land trusts that are protecting them. 

Land Trust Days takes place over eight weeks, from August 26 – October 23, 2022, at land trust properties across Rhode Island. This celebration includes guided hikes, birding events, fitness activities, music, art workshops and other unique outdoor festivities. With over 30 events planned statewide, there is something for everyone. Events are hosted by individual local land trusts who look forward to introducing visitors to spectacular protected places across the state. 

“Land Trust Days is an opportunity to get to know Rhode Island’s land trusts and the important work that they do- protecting and stewarding open spaces for the benefit of all Rhode Islanders. Land Trusts do the hard work of protecting drinking water supplies, stewarding lands to improve wildlife habitat, conserving farmland and strengthening our local food systems, and more.  Get out on the trail and meet new friends, or even explore a corner of Rhode Island that you’ve never been- the Land Trust Days season has it all.”

The kick-off event is at Haile Farm Preserve in Warren, a property conserved by Warren Land Conservation Trust. This guided walk on August 26 at 9am, will focus on the resident and early migrating birds, wildflowers, butterflies and more. This property is adjacent to the pristine salt marsh habitat along the Palmer River. Registration is required.

Learn more about Land Trust Days and the schedule of events at landtrustdays.org


DEM Begins “Mini-Grants” To Boost Specialty Food Producers

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is announcing that it has established a program to award grants ranging in size from $2,500 to $10,000 to support Rhode Island farmers and food businesses that produce and distribute specialty crops such as fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops including floriculture. These “mini-grants,” administered by DEM’s Division of Agriculture and Forest Environment, will be eligible to applicants whose operations have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID continues to affect our country in so many ways, including challenging small businesspeople who produce specialty crops and have needed to quickly and completely pivot their operations as demand shifted away from traditional markets like restaurants and food service,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “DEM hopes that these mini-grants will help Rhode Island’s small-scale producers mitigate costs and bring home a greater share of the food dollar.” 

In response to COVID-19, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Management and Budget has provided flexibilities to grant applicants and grant recipients through the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP). Funds awarded through DEM’s new mini-grant program must still meet the requirements of SCBGP, but there is an emphasis on projects that COVID-19 assistance and relief.

Mini-grants must fit within one of the three funding areas:

o        COVID-related expense relief: A part of this funding will be used to assist businesses, organizations, and individuals with eligible expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

o        Produce safety: This grant can help defray the costs of implementing on-farm food safety practices to help growers transition to compliance with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule and/or meet market demands for on-farm food safety. This can include improvements to irrigation systems that mitigate risk associated with agricultural water use in lieu of current drought conditions.

o        Digital media: This grant can provide funding for modernization and access to digital media for eligible entities. It is meant to increase/improve a producer’s market access.

All applications must be submitted on our website. Applications will be accepted from Aug. 9-Dec. 31, 2022 at 11:59 PM. For more information about the grant process, please visit the grant website.

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.


Newport Restaurant Group Names Kristin Allain Chief People Officer

NRG veteran has been a driving force in the company’s human resources and recent recruiting efforts

Kristin Allain
Kristin Allain

Newport Restaurant Group (NRG), an award-winning collection of unique restaurants and hospitality venues located throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts, is pleased to announce the promotion of Kristin Allain to Chief People Officer.  In her new position, Kristin will continue to provide leadership within NRG’s employee-ownership culture, helping operational leadership build teams of hospitality professionals by exposing staff to the technical and life skills necessary to build successful careers in the hospitality industry. 

Allain, a native Rhode Islander, began her hospitality career as a teenager, bussing tables at a favorite restaurant on Aquidneck Island. She worked for several different Newport-based restaurants before joining Newport Restaurant Group in 1997 as a bookkeeper for Castle Hill Inn. Kristin worked in the accounting department for five years before starting the company’s Human Resources Department in 2002.

As the company expanded and grew its portfolio, Allain grew with it.  She was named Director of Human Resources in 2011, her most recent position, overseeing all HR functions including compliance administration, employee relations, employment law, recruiting, training and payroll. She also provided leadership for compensation planning and design, benefit program analysis, succession planning and performance management strategy.

“I am so proud to announce Kristin’s promotion to Chief People Officer,” said Paul O’Reilly, CEO, Newport Restaurant Group.  “Kristin has been the driving force behind all major human resources initiatives in our company and has been instrumental in building the thriving culture we now have, even in increasingly challenging times. Above all, Kristin is a prime example of the type of career potential and path that is possible in an employee-owned company, and we are so thankful for her passion and dedication.”

Allain is a graduate of Salve Regina University and earned her HR Certification from Bryant College.  She has served on multiple HR panels and currently serves on the RI Hospitality Association’s HR Council.  Allain currently resides in Bristol, with her husband John.

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