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I am completely smitten with this Amaro. The primary ingredient is blood orange from Sicily with the bitter, herbal components taking somewhat of a backseat, and the result is a brighter, more feminine, style of Amaro that is complex and delicious. It is floral, fruit-forward, mineral, and long with red berry fruits and herbs building on the finish. This is simply a fantastic after dinner drink. Tim Gagnon
A Texas Wildflower Honey, Turbinado Sugar and Mission Fig Spirit
Pronounced 'Beer', this is a unique tonic with roots in the Languedoc region of south-west France. Local red wine is infused with 10 botanicals, most apparent of which is the bitter quinine bark. Fans of vintage advertising should seach for Byrrh posters and they will be rewarded with over 100 years of signage, including rich Art Nouveau images. The beverage itself should be enjoyed chilled, on its own or with soda water and a twist; it could also make a good addition to a Negroni or other classic coctails. JR
This is quite dry with lovely citrus notes to balance the bitterness. cb One of the best values in Amaro. Caffo has bright Calabrian citrus flavors and classic herbal bitter flavors. Fantastic on its own, but dangerously drinkable in seltzer. JR
Delaware Phoenix is the passion-driven distillery owned and operated by Cheryl Lins. She started making the first traditional Absinthes in New York in the town of Walton on a tiny pot still. The results are superb, and compare favorably with Europe's best. The "Walton Waters" bottling is distilled with the classic herbs: Grand wormwood, Anise, Florence Fennel, Roman wormwood, Lemon balm, and Lemon Thyme. The spirits are high proof (136) and should be diluted with three to five parts ice cold water. JR
Perhaps the benchmark for dry french Vermouth. Both complex and subtle, with floral and herbal flavors derived from the 54 or so secret ingredients. The first Vermouth I reach for when making a Martini, and an excellent drink on ice. JR
The Forthave Marseille Amaro is truly unique affair. Based on a medieval recipe of four thieves who, as the story goes, traded their secret concoction for clemency. It is at once soft and assertive. Eucalyptus, mint, cinnamon, dried lemon peel, dried tea leaves, and honey dominate the nose, while the palate further reveals star anise, lemon extract, a touch of vanilla, and cloves. Marseille uses raw honey as a sweetener, and similar to something like Amaro dell'Erborista by Varnelli, it gives it a wonderful, soft and lush texture. Perfect as an after dinner digestif. Oskar Kostecki
A fuller-bodied style of American gin, the Forthave Blue Gin is creamy and viscous on the palate, with notes of citrus rind, juniper, aniseed, allspice, mint, pine, lavender, and a long, savory finish. A perfect choice for classic gin cocktails like a Negroni or Aviation, it also plays beautifully in a straightforward Martini. Make this your choice for an autumnal local gin! Oskar Kostecki
A delicious vermouth with a base of select white wines from the Southwestern France, Pineau des Charentes Blanc, and 27 different botanicals. A beautiful golden color, it is heady, floral, and intensely aromatic with underlying currents of licorice and anise. It is incredibly dry, but maintains a balance on the palate and it is here that its Pineau des Charentes roots show. This is perfect for sipping or in a more adventurous Martini. Tim Gagnon
Here we have a very amaro-esque bitter with a Teutonic twist. The botanical recipe skews toward rich and soothing, and to create the complex, spicy flavor gentian root, juniper, coriander, vanilla, angelica root, star anise, clove, violet root, lemon balm, cinnamon bark and orange peel are macerated for four weeks in a sugar and beet alcohol solution. Forest is the perfect stand-in for an amaro or brandy at the end of a meal. The complexity and slight sweetness also make it a fantastic ingredient in cocktails calling for red vermouth. John Rankin
This is a delicious, bracing, alpine-style aperitif from the heart of Berlin. In order to make this invigorating, herbal cocktail, Michelberger combines lemon peel, juniper, coriander, peppermint, lemon balm, cardamom, fennel, sage, anise seed, orris root, thyme and caraway seed in a solution of beet sugar spirit. This is double distilled in traditional pot stills, and then mellowed in earthenware pots before being bottled. Served ice-cold, this would be a great way to start a dinner or end a night. John Rankin
From the famed vermouth-producing city of Reus, just southwest of Barcelona, Miro is just what I’ve been looking for to make the ultimate Martini. Made from a base wine of Airen and Macabeo with herbs and wormwood sourced from the Pyrenees Mountains, it is exceptionally dry (no sugar added!) and exhibits all of the piquant, herbal, and briny notes of olives. This is no doubt the reason it works so well in a Martini, but there are compelling wormwood-forward notes along with a touch of spice, bracing acidity, and minerality that make it a perfect aperitif. Seriously delicious! Tim Gagnon
A longstanding tradition throughout the Alps is the annual production of a rich and aromatic walnut liqueur. Each summer the family picks fresh green walnuts from wild stands of the delicate “Weinsberg” variety near the village of Sankt Peter in der Au. These walnuts steep for months in Weinbrand (a grape brandy) and for the last month with a variety of spices and alpine botanicals. For three generations the Purkhart family has produced this all-natural walnut liqueur from the same family recipe, renowned for its balance and exceptionally smooth finish.
This newly imported electric green liqueur caught us all by surprise. It’s an herbal apéritif with bitter botanical and fresh mint flavors—think Chartreuse with an added pine-y kick—from the Franche-Comté, a region famous for absinthe production. Sapins’ distinctive evergreen quality comes from the addition of young fir buds to the other macerating components. The spirit is delicious as a digestive, but one could add it to seltzer and ice for a refreshing long drink. JR
Chinato – an aromatized and fortified wine usually based on Barolo – has created quite a stir around the store. We’ve always loved Cappellano’s, and tried a few others here and there, but an offer of many vintage Chinatos illuminated the fact that these spirits show quite well when cellared like their mother-wine Barolo. The intense, bitter, quinine bark flavors mellow and become a more harmonious part of the drink. Also, like world class dessert wines, the sugar becomes less “sweet” tasting and shows more rich-bodied character. Which brings us to Rovero’s delicious Barolo Chinato. For under $35 a bottle, I’d highly recommend stashing a couple of these away for a later after-dinner surprise. It may not be the Technicolor, herbal rollercoaster that Cappellano is, but it’s a very fine stand-in at an incredible price. John Rankin
Sommeliers Nicholas Finger and Fairlie McCollough started St. Agrestis in 2014 after a three month trip through Italy solidified their love for traditional, regional Amari. Everything is done in their warehouse in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY from the maceration of organic herbs, roots, and citrus in neutral base spirit to the short-term aging in whiskey barrels (sourced from the Van Brunt distillery in Brooklyn), and the addition of organic cane sugar followed by bottling and labeling. The sugar rounds out the classic bitter components of this Amaro making for an easy going yet complex and balanced digestif that begs to be consumed after dinner this Thanksgiving! Tim Gagnon
This is the most powerful Amaro I have ever tried. To drink it is to experience a brisk and bracing shock of mountain roots and herbs. The flavors are intense enough to make one’s whole mouth tingle, and the experience lasts for several minutes. As a warning, it must be said that this tonic is brutally dry, rich, and smoky. One could tackle a glass neat after dinner, or a splash could go a long way in creating unique cocktails. This tonic is made with botanicals that are smoked prior to maceration, and mountain honey is used (extremely sparingly) as a sweetener. For the adventurous there is nothing else quite like it! JR
Looking for something sweet for after dinner? Look no further! Made from real Italian espresso according to the traditional recipe of the Varnelli family, this liqueur has decadent aromas of roasted espresso beans, vanilla, and sweet spice accompanied by tobacco, cocoa nibs, and wildflower honey. The palate is sumptuous, yet balanced, with persistent espresso character. Try it on its own, or add a splash to your coffee! Tim Gagnon
In Italy Varnelli is eponymous with this delicious Anise liqueur. Locally, Varnelli is splashed over espresso. The bottle says secco, but there is a touch of sweetness to the spirit that tempers the intensity of the anise flavor. This stuff makes your average Sambuca look like overly sugary candy water. There is a secret proprietary method for distilling the aniseed that remarkably preserves the anise’s medicinal quality and depth of flavor. The spirit is not bitter, but is still reported by the distillery to aid with digestion. JR
Punch is a lighthearted rum liqueur with a hint of mandarin orange and spices. Traditionally this should be served warm, undiluted, and garnished with citrus, but intrepid home bartenders could find lots of applications especially as a sweetening agent in cocktails or punches. Different and delicious! JR
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