Stock Your Bar With These Unusual Spirits
You have vodka, gin, and whiskey at home: It's time to add some spice to your bar.
Last week, New Orleans was the host city for Tales of the Cocktail (TOTC), a weeklong celebration of spirits. TOTC started in 2002 as a walking tour of the cocktails of New Orleans and turned into an event filled with tasting rooms, seminars, and large-scale parties (past events have included Mardi Gras floats, Star Wars Stormtroopers, and live camels).
I flew into New Orleans for a whirlwind 36-hour weekend and took in the TOTC “Meet the Distillers'“ event, where 40 distillers showcased their wares. Among some very good whiskies, gins, and tequilas, there were a few interesting spirits that would make great “add-ons” to anyone’s home bar. So, if your basic bar is set up and you’re looking for a few additions, here are some great suggestions.
I am normally not a fan of super sweet cordials and liqueurs, but this Italian liqueur is an exception. Faretti is made in the town of Volano in the Trentino-Alto Adige region in the Dolomites and ultimately distills the taste of a biscotti in liquid form with notes of citrus, nuts, and fennel. I want to add this over ice cream, pour some in my cappuccino, use it in a dessert martini, or make a biscotti sour. It’s priced at around $35 and available at most online liquor stores in the U.S.
Low ABV and zero ABV cocktails are here to stay — and I like the trend. I cannot tell you how many times I drive to an event and want a drink in my hand. A Cut Above is the solution to this dilemma: The mezcal is especially deceiving with its smoky notes. I mixed it with some agave-based margarita mix that I found and the cocktail was a satisfying alternative to a margarita. I would recommend purchasing a few bottles for your next party — imagine keeping your friends talking and laughing and not having to worry about over-serving or morning-after hangovers. They’re priced at $34.99 and can be ordered directly through the company website.
Here’s the scenario: You’re an old soul. You prefer a black and white film festival to a pool party. Yet, it’s still 85 degrees outside. What do you do? You drink this absinthe hard seltzer. Actually, anyone tired of drinking alcohol-spiked Jolly Ranchers will appreciate this seltzer, which has subtle botanicals and licorice notes without it being overpowering. This would be amazing served with a watermelon slice over ice as a porch pounder. It would also make an amazing spritzer when topped over a crisp white wine. OldKnow also makes a vodka seltzer and a gin seltzer — both refreshing alternatives to the big-name hard seltzers. OldKnow is available through Georgia and will soon be sweeping most southern states.
Absinthia absinthe is made with California biodynamic grapes, distilled in California using Organic botanicals grown in Oregon. The result is a trio of absinthe that are balanced rather than bitter. This woman-owned company makes a bright Absinthe Blanche, a traditional Absinthe Verte, and a rich, honeyed barrel-aged Absinthe. Try the verte in a Death in the Afternoon — the cocktail Hemingway invented: a potent blend of only two ingredients — absinthe and champagne. Absinthia costs $44.99 a bottle and is available online through the company website.