In no particular order…
My 10 Favorite – and Unusual – Bottles on my Back bar
Riga Black Balsam
This is a spirit that is difficult to find. I came across this bottle at one of my favorite places to buy spirits in San Francisco. I was mostly intrigued by the menacing looking bottle and the fact that it has been produced since 1752, according to the label.
As for the taste, I usually describe it in comparison to Fernet Branca. I usually describe Fernet as Jagermeister with the sugar taken out. Then I’ll say Riga’s Black Balsam as a bigger, bolder version of Fernet. It has more alcohol (45%), is more bitter (if you can imagine that) and tastes as if it has less sugar than Fernet. In other words, this is not a spirit for the faint of heart!
Pau Maui Oaked Vodka
With this spirit you will definitely taste some of the tannins from the wood, but the faint sweetness and vanilla notes make it a very fun spirit to work with. Plus… it’s vodka made from pineapple. Awesome.
Lucid Absinthe Supérieure
As such, it’s a bit of a time-capsule, allowing us to experience what drinks were supposed to taste like before “real” absinthe was banned in the USA (and before awful absinthe substitutes subsequently took over the marketplace.) By the way – did you catch our seminar with Lucid last year? You can still sign up for the replay!)
Sonoma Rye Whiskey by Sonoma County Distilling Company
Back in 2014 we had a chance to interview the master distiller and Adam Spiegel further cemented my love for this spirit. (By the way – they have grown a lot since that video and one of these days we’ll have to do a follow up visit / tour!
Los Cantiles 1905 Bacanora – Blanco and Reposado
The Blanco is the “wilder” of the two with the aroma reminding me of fresh cut pumpkin (of all things!) There is definitely some vegetal elements to the spirit as well as a touch of salinity. The Reposado has calmed the spirit down a bit, but has given the spirit much more depth. Oak has brought out some of the smoky qualities of this spirit and the funk is much more pronounced on the nose.
I keep coming back to this spirit as a interesting sipping agave spirit, and I love to work with it in cocktails when I want to add some vegetal funk. (That should seriously be a band name…) It doesn’t hurt that the bottles look beautiful on the back bar!
Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol
The Hacienda de Chihuahua Sotol’s exhibit savory elements that I have rarely seen in a spirit. These savory elements along with hints of herbal notes like eucalyptus and rosemary make this a truly unique spirit.
Nocino della Cristina
Sloe Gin by Spirit Works Distillery
Plus I can’t overlook the fact that the Spirit Works crew are just plain good people! If you’re ever near Sebastopol, California you should definitely go for a visit. (Tell them we sent you!)
Créole Shrubb – Rhum Clément
La Quintinye Vermouth Royal
This is just a beautiful vermouth. The bottle is gorgeous as is the product inside – it’s something that you can (and should) drink on its own, or with a touch of soda water. The flavor is perfectly balanced and I almost feel bad using it in cocktails because it’s so darn good on its own!