When it comes time to unwind, I usually reach for domestic drinks. Bourbon, American gins, and our amazing wealth of microbrewed beers are high on my list of go-to tipples. But every now and then I get adventurous, and yearn to explore an exotic destination. These 3 bottles offer a trip around the world—no passport required.
'That's The Spirit' on Serious Eats
If you're not a whiskey-obsessive like myself, odds are your interaction with rye whiskey is limited to classic cocktails such as the Manhattan or the Sazerac. While those time-tested concotions certainly deserve their success, the world of rye has come a long way from the spirits that inspired them. So what exactly is a rye?
The world of whiskey is highly regulated, and in order for a bottle to be labeled Scotch, Irish, bourbon, straight, or rye, the qualifying characteristics are quite precise. In order to be called an American whiskey, on the other hand, a spirit must be produced in America and distilled from cereal grains. That's it! Think of American whiskey as the whiskey world's bloomin' onion outpost—no rules are just right! With such tremendous latitude allowed to distillers, there are a wide variety of styles and interpretations of the spirit. Want to explore the options a bit? These are three bottles worth seeking out.
Q: What do a Native American medicinal herbal drink, lebkuchen, and a legendary (if possibly apocryphal) tea brewed by Benjamin Franklin have in common? A: They've all served as the inspiration for unique and exciting liqueurs from Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.
Today we're tasting through the offerings from Bushmills, including Bushmills Original, Black Bush, 10 Year Old Malt, and 21 Year Old Malt, in order to get a sense of the house style and determine which bottle is the best value. Perhaps we'll even pick out a whiskey to add to our Christmas wish list.
Whenever you start to yearn for the sweet scent of the grill, salvation is only as far away as the closest bottle of mezcal. Sombra ranks particularly high on the list of potable proxies for, or delicious additions to, a sunny charcoal tending session.
From the suburbs of Munich, bartenders Stephan Berg and Alexander Hauck of The Bitter Truth have been creating various flavors of cocktail bitters since 2006. They've come a long way from the orange bitters that launched their product line. With the release of their E**X**R Kräuter Liqueur, they're branching out into the other kind of bitters—the digestive liqueurs Italians call amari.
Though perhaps not quite as American as hard cider, applejack and apple brandy occupied an equally overlooked dusty shelf in the liquor store for much too long. Luckily, we're now experiencing a resurgence of quality apple distillates such as Clear Creek Distillery's Eau de Vie de Pomme.
Crafted with wild juniper berries from central Oregon and mountain spring water, this golden gin practically promises a Christmas tree in a bottle. Let's see if it delivers.
Relatively unknown in North America until about five years ago, elderflower liqueur has come a long way from its humble origins as a medicinal cordial. Today we're comparing the popular brand St-Germain to another version from Pür Spirits.
Novo Fogo is located on the edge of Brazil's coastal rainforest and produces two styles of seriously delicious organic cachaça. Their Silver is dangerously balanced and crisp and unlike any other cachaça I've ever tried.
Distilled from Eastern Washington-grown winter wheat and flavored with dried Washington apples, mint, juniper, and hops, this spirit is almost more of a genever than an American gin. It's very aromatic, with a nose perfumed with green apple, grapefruit, and malt and only a hint of the telltale juniper and botanicals.