Here are some ideas for a delightful bottle to bring to that holiday gathering or, simply a fun addition to your liquor collection. These are 10 spirits and liqueurs that are sure to break the ice and warm up a cold winter evening.
1. Cocchi Americano An Italian aperitivo that is similar to Lillet, but with a nice bitter edge from the ingredient Cinchone bark. This drink is great chilled with some citrus peel or, substitute it for Lillet in a drink like the corpse reviver #2.
2. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur A liqueur from Croatia made from the pits of the cherry Marasca giving it a distinct almond cherry flavor. Used in the classic cocktail the Aviation.
3. Koval Pear Brandy A pear flavored brandy from Koval, a local Chicago distillery. This brandy is a great sipper or would be lovely substitute for Cointreau in a sidecar.
4. Bols Creme de Cacao A clear chocolate liqueur, flavored from vanilla and the cacao seed. A staple ingredient in one of our favorite cocktails the 20th Century.
5. St. Germaine Made from Elderflower blossoms that are handpicked in the Alps. With floral and stone fruit notes, this liqueur tastes great in just about everything. Try it in sparkling wine.
6. Chartreuse An herbal liqueur with anise notes made by Monks in the Chartreuse mountains of France. It comes in green and yellow. The green bottle gets its color from the chlorophyll found in its secret blend of 130 herbs. The yellow bottle gets its golden tint from saffron, is lower in alcohol and has a milder, sweeter flavor.
7. North Shore Sirene Absinthe Verte A 19th century spirit with a high alcohol content. Absinthe is made with wormwood containing the notorious chemical Thujone, said to be a hallucinogenic when taken in large amounts. It is now believed that these hallucinogenic properties were exaggerated and it is no more dangerous than other spirits when used in moderation. Absinthe has an anise flavor with a nice bitter aftertaste. Try it in a cocktail like Death in the Afternoon.
8. Amaro Nonino Amaro translates to bitter in Italian. This is a light style Amaro with nice citrus notes. Use Amaro instead of Campari in a Negroni to switch it up.
9. Carpano Antica sweet vermouth A high-end, sweet vermouth. Because vermouth is a fortified wine, it can go bad quickly. We recommend you keep it refrigerated. This is great in a manhattan.
10. Zirbenz stone pine liqueur Made from Arolla Stone pine, handpicked in the Alps. Substitute this liqueur for sugar in an old fashioned as a seasonal twist.