Entrepreneur. Cocktail and spirit champion. Old world wine provocateur.
Lists, lists, lists. You can tell we’re turning (or have turned) the page on 2010 when the lists start hitting your twitter feed. It’s the best of this and the best of that. The best tweeters, drinkers, eaters, chefs, bartenders, mixologists, trends, terms, tacos, ads, videos, youtube clips and restaurants all get their day in the sun. So I figured I’d join the fray and throw in my own list.
In no particular order, here are my top five spirits from 2010.
1. Luxardo Maraschino – This is by no means a new spirit, but it has become better represented and it comprises an important part of my favorite cocktail, the Aviation. A sweet yet slightly bitter liqueur that adds depth and intrigue to anything it touches. Just measure carefully or you’ll be maraschinoed out.
2. Ypioca Cachaca – Cachaca is the new black. Sugar cane is the new molasses. Wicker wrapped bottles are the new something or other. If you can get past the creepy old man on this bottle, you’ll discover a fragrant bombshell under the wicker. The most herbaceous and interesting cachaca I’ve come across. And reasonably priced to boot. Get it, taste it, love it. And try making this cachaca old fashioned. Or this strawberry+basil+cachaca cocktail.
3. Dolin Vermouth – This vermouth has a smoother, sweeter palate than almost every other vermouth on the market. It soothes and caresses your martinis and manhattans, lending a velvety and round mouthfeel to your all spirit drinks. You heard me right, caresses. Buy a bottle, put it in your fridge, and drink the shit out of it. If you’re not feeling a martini or manhattan, try out this recipe for the Bronx.
4. Gin – Really any kind of gin works for me, although I do have my favorites. The forward anise flavors of Aviation, the cucumber and peppery notes of Hendrix, or the limeyness of Tanqueray Rangpur. They all work and show great versatility. Check out this summer sipper in the form of a champagne cocktail or the classic Clover Club.
5. Bitters – This seems like an obvious choice, but that’s ok. Everything doesn’t need to be different, crazy and unpredictable. Sometimes you need to return to your roots. Bitters add complexity and flavor while balancing sweetness and building depth. Learn to use them and you’ve immediately upped the ante. You can either make your own or just find some of these great brands.